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When are Expensive NOS Tubes Worth It?

Sub City

Member
Messages
1,459
If I'm playing a BF Deluxe Reverb at low volume levels just for home use, i.e. 2 1/2-3, is it really worth it to get expensive NOS tubes, i.e. RCA blackplate 6V6GT's, Mullard, GE 12AX7A's, etc? Can you really hear the difference at such low volume? Or am I better off just getting Tung Sols & JJ's?
 

itkindaworks

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,253
It probably depends how picky your ears(and mind?) are. Maybe try just changing the power or preamp at first, then if you like where it's going, do the other.
 

m@2

Member
Messages
5,071
is it really worth it to get expensive NOS tubes
not to me. I've tried them, but did not get enough improvement to justify the cost. I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority on this subject however.

I have heard the difference with really cheapo tubes, and a lot depends on the amp... seemed to be bigger impact with el84 style amps than 6L6 for example

Some folks swear by $$ tubes though
 

tybone

Member
Messages
1,076
I buy my OS and usually get pretty good results. Plus I started hoarding about 10 years ago so things were a little cheaper and there were more organ pulls etc.

For your purposes however JJs and tungs will do nicely.
 

stratzrus

Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
21,654
New tubes are further out of spec (less consistent/greater variance tube to tube) and don't last as long. Tone wise it's up to you, but the good NOS tubes are less likely to sound harsh.

Even with NOS tubes you still need to swap them in and out in order to find the best match for your particular amp.
 

Jarrett

Member
Messages
14,594
Can you really hear the difference at such low volume? Or am I better off just getting Tung Sols & JJ's?
As mentioned previously, depends on your level of pickiness. I did the NOS thing and found it was not that big of a deal to me. I found that I generally liked the Tung Sol reissue 12AX7s and SED Winged C 6L6s (from a reputable source) as much or more than any of the NOS stuff I tried. And I'm thankful for that because NOS is getting to be slim pickins it seems these days.
 

Jon C

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
17,530
the main time it's not nec. worth it to me is on a contemporary amp designed around current mfr. tubes ... in a vintage amp, IMO you will hear the difference (good) with good NOS tubes.
 

teleman1

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
15,099
Put an NOS or pull in your V1 slot and then come back and share your thoughts. Thats the cheapest way to introduce yourself to the better tone.
 

John55

Member
Messages
294
I like NOS pre amp tubes in old amps, but the power tubes are optional for me. I think the pre amp tubes affect the tone more anyway, especially in a low volume setting.
 

rockon1

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
13,197
Speaking for pre amp tubes.....Depends but even the most "unlikely" amps can be improved dramatically if inferior tubes are being replaced-at any volume. For instance the difference between a Sovtek 12AX7WA and a Mullard long plate is huge in every amp Ive tried them in -at any volume. Of coarse in a case like this your going from probably the flatest sounding tube ever made to one of the most open warm sounding tubes ever made IMO. The difference between one of the better new production tubes and a "lesser" old production tube may be more a bit more subtle but is still there in every instance Ive tried-which has been quite a few I should add.:) Bob
 
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jcs

Member
Messages
8,086
just remember all tubes of any given number will sound and respond slightly to very different.

nos are very popular because they usually will out last new production and you have more choices overall,plus they are a 'reference' of what is proven to sound good in certain classic amps.

overall nos tubes deliver more clarity and definition and will last longer as a rule,many nos types are more 'touch sensitive' and dont tend to 'fizz out' when hit with heavy distortion (mullard el34 for example)

others have more clean headroom (sylvania big bottle 6l6gc and 7581 for example).

i agree nos makes more of a difference in say non master marshalls-tweed-blackface and silverface fenders and especially trainwreck style amps which are very finicky about tubes.

the other thing is how are the other parts of the tonal chain?

if you have for example speakers that are slightly muddy or lacking in clarity and dynamics, you wont hear the tonal differences as distinctly as with superior speakers.

same with guitars and pickups,the bottom line for most of us that really dig nos tubes is we dont want any weak links in the 'tonal chain' so to speak.
 

dk123123dk

Member
Messages
3,892
I think its worth it when you keep an eye out for older tubes at yardsales etc. Might not be "new", but oftentimes a used old Mullard will sound better than a new JJ. If you can manage to gather up a few tubes here and there, then its worth it. But if you were going to retube the entire amp with NOS, I would consider a mix of new production and NOS where you can afford it.

dk
 

NotWesYet

Member
Messages
5,303
I have a '67 Pro Reverb. I had GT's throughout and tried the new Mullard 12AX7 reissue and heard a difference. I then went with a NOS Mullard 12AT7 in the V2 position as I like the lower volume. Really big difference in the dimensionality of the sound.

Now, I tend to play at low(er) volumes with vintage gear (53 Les Paul) and my touch is light as I play in more of a jazz style than anything else. And I am using Lotz and fulltone cables. Sometimes a couple of Monte Allum modded pedals.

I want to replace all the tubes with NOS RCA Blackplates or Mullards and it will not be cheap. At least $300-$500. But I have one amp and three guitars, so my focus and needs are limited.

To me it will be worth it.

Edit: I recently had a cap job, a couple of sockets replaced and a bright switch, as well as having Greenbacks installed as the originals were not the desirable Jensens and were shot to hell.
 

59Vampire

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
4,439
When you're the one selling them.
What a ridiculous remark.:horse Anyone who sells NOS or ANOS would make more money by selling JJs and EH/Sovteks. Why? They crap out after about 200 hours.And you have to buy them again. Pay 100 for a pair of power tubes that unless you break them, youwont have to replace them for many many years. Buy a set of new production and you will replace them every 6-8 months depending on how you play and how often.

I have a65 Danelectro that is loaded with its original bugle boys it came with. I have had it since 1979 and know for a fact that I have put atleast 2000 hours on it. Not including what the guy before me who bought it new did.

My Scott 299 audio amp is dated 1961. My dad bought it new. ITs in my den right now loaded with all the original Telefunkens that it came with. Those tubes are rated at 10000 hours. Hmmm a current new production tube with its 200 hour lifespan would need 50 of them to equal one telefunken. How much is a new mullard or tung sol reissue? 20 bucks. SPend a thousand on crap or 50-100 and be done with it.

Sounds like to me youput down the NOS because you either dont want to spend the money which is yourr choice or simply cant afford them. But dont insult the majority of the members here who do appreciate and can hear the difference.

Stick with your line six. Its models definitely sound better than my marhsall and fender amps.
 

rockon1

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
13,197
agree nos makes more of a difference in say non master marshalls-tweed-blackface and silverface fenders and especially trainwreck style amps which are very finicky about tubes.

same with guitars and pickups,the bottom line for most of us that really dig nos tubes is we dont want any weak links in the 'tonal chain' so to speak.
Well I have to disagree. I own multiples of virtually every old stock production tube and new stock production tube ever made. Done enough tube rolling to make the best of tube sockets weep! lol! I own no NMV amps or even boutique amps though for that matter. My whole "tonal chain" is a weak link ! lol! That said however I can easily hear the difference in pre amp tubes in my Peavey Rockmaster pre amp or Crate GT50 amp....oh yeah...old glass rules! :dudeBob
 

blues

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,765
IF your not playing that loud you may not hear a difference with nos tubes.Im not sure if you use pedals if you would hear much of a difference with NOS,maybe others could chime in. I like to turn my tweed deluxe up all the way and plug straight. Then I hear the difference with NOS. They are worth it to me,and they last alot longer. I had to replace a set of new jj tubes that were in my 1974x after 4 months.If you can try and mix nos and some new tubes to find a sound you like. I like the new tungsol powertubes. They were in my tweed deluxe when I first got it,as well as two grovetube preamps. I do use pedals (cot 50, purple plexi 100,and provalve) once in a while and they sounded good with the new tubes. I did not try the pedal since I have to nos in.
 
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Sub City

Member
Messages
1,459
Excellent replies; thanks everybody. Regardless of which way I decide, I'll get the tubes from Mike at KCA.
 




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