Where do NOS tubes come from?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by KGWagner, Dec 18, 2009.


  1. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

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    I see the term "NOS" bandied about on this forum quite a bit, and often in ways that imply that there may be some misunderstanding of what that acronym means.

    It's not a brand name, trademark, or quality rating. "NOS" stands for New Old Stock. What that means is the part is old. It's been in stock for some time but has never been used, so is still considered "new".

    "Old" is a relative term. A loaf of bread that's been on a store shelf for 5 days is old. A tube that's been sitting on a warehouse shelf for 6 months or a year is not.

    There seems to be a longing for tubes built back in the days when they built a lot of tubes because the tools they used to manufacture them were newer and more accurate, materials were more consistent, the factory people knew more about what they were doing, quality control was better, and so on.

    But, those days are long gone. To truly get a NOS tube today, it would have to have been sitting on a shelf somewhere for roughly 40 years. Does anybody think there are secret stashes of tubes somebody squirreled away 40 years ago, banking on the idea that someday everybody would be sorry they invented transistors and the value of his stash would skyrocket like a vault full of Rembrandt paintings? And even if someone were that prescient, how big a stash do you suppose he had? They've been selling NOS tubes for years now. Where are they coming from? Did somebody invent a time machine?

    Any thoughts? I have an inquiring mind, and I wanna know <grin>
     
  2. saxophonist56

    saxophonist56 Supporting Member

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    there are stashes....eg former RCA employee retired and was given 600 tubes. a friend of mine is such a person.
     
  3. davess23

    davess23 Member

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    Strange though it may seem to us, many people don't get all that excited about NOS tubes. My guess is that a lot of scavenger types who go into dusty basements after antiques, war memorabilia, etc, would probably move a box of old RCA blackplates aside to see what might be behind it.

    So you can sometimes find stashes of these things lying forgotten in commercial buildings where electronics-related businesses (like tv/radio repair...yep, people would actually get 'em fixed in those days, and not just buy a new one) used to be. I'd imagine that there are still "mother lodes" here and there in the more remote corners of warehouses, too.
     
  4. GearHeadFred

    GearHeadFred Member

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    There are stashes.. My dad was a tube-era electrical engineer and he has a mountain of them.

    You have to remember that in the 30's through the 60's, EVERYTHING electronic used tubes. TV's, radios, test equipment, etc.. Even car radios! It's akin to microprocessors now..

    And best of all - they required occasional replacement! So there were stores of replacement tubes everywhere.

    So you had this ENORMOUS supply of them in stock all over the world.. and since the 70's, most applications of them have gone away.
     
  5. Macaroni

    Macaroni Member

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    I know for a fact there are guys who have been collecting and hoarding big stashes of NOS tubes for the last few decades, fully aware of what they were/are doing. Some of these guys aren't even selling them yet - just hoarding till who knows when. Some of these guys get big batches from European connections.

    Like the others said, there are also many older technician types that have stashes from yesteryear, not realizing what they have.

     
  6. Dr. Tweedbucket

    Dr. Tweedbucket Deluxe model available !!!11

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    Something to remember is a lot of NOS tubes have been picked over and you aren't exactly getting the cream of the crop anymore. Some of the current manufactures are producing some pretty decent tubes these days, so unless you have golden ears and think the old stuff sounds better, it's your money and go for it!

    I did a mini tube shootout with one of my amps that is very tube sensitive (only one pre amp tube, and one pair of power tubes) and it's amazing how crappy some NOS tubes can sound and how good something like a JJ ECC803S or EL84s can sound! To be fair, there are some great sounding NOS tubes, but you really have go on a tube to tube basis, there are a lot of overpriced dogs out there!
     
  7. small axe

    small axe Member

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    they come from kcanos tubes...hahaha
     
  8. yabasta

    yabasta Member

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    people stash em.

    then sell em.

    I haven't heard one single current production tube that compares to anything NOS.

    You can great american NOS tubes on the cheap. maybe $10-$15 for preamps, thats where your guitar hits first.

    I have been rocking some early 90s Teslas man those things rock!
     
  9. tonesurfer

    tonesurfer Senior Member

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    I bet as the economy continues to worsen some of these stashes will open up.
     
  10. JoeB63

    JoeB63 Supporting Member

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    they come from santa
     
  11. mbratch

    mbratch Member

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    lol - I was going to say, the NOS Tube Fairy.
     
  12. Luke

    Luke Senior Member

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    Some of us bought them up in the mid to late 1980s, acquiring a life time or more worth. At one time I had over 100 vintage NOS Mullards, just stacked up in my closet.
     
  13. tonesurfer

    tonesurfer Senior Member

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    Just put a $100 bill under your pillow and you'll get a mullard. :p
     
  14. Trout

    Trout Member

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    I love internet lore.

    NOS = Nasty Old Stuff

    What is really ironic, this actually happened to me as well near Dekalb IL.
     
  15. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

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    Thanks to all for your comments. I must say I'm still skeptical, but I'll allow as to that they exist. I particularly enjoyed the story at the link Trout provided at message #14. That guy sounds honest and knowledgable enough to deal with if one were interested in NOS tubes.
     
  16. Trout

    Trout Member

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    There are lots of top notch NOS tube vendors around. There are also millions of un-discovered stockpiles of NOS tubes yet to be located.
    In Fact, just ths evening I found a collection of 50,000 tubes going up for sale.
    Now odds are that only 5% at best of these tubes are audio related. But hey, that is where they come from.
     
  17. falconer

    falconer Member

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    I've purchased several tubes from him. No BS, just honest answers and suggestions. The ones he recommended were not the more expensive glass. I'll buy from him again without hesitation.
     
  18. Doctor Morbius

    Doctor Morbius Member

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    A friend of mine discovered an old electronics store that had some in their back room. I think we've cleaned him out though. Most of what they had were preamp tubes. NOS JAN Philips 12at7wc tubes can be had for $8 each online. Just bought a few for the V3 & V6 positions in my Twins.
     
  19. Ben S.

    Ben S. Member

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    I have a friend who has at least 20,000 NOS tubes he got mostly from an ex air force engineer. Just this year a Los Alamos computer was de-commisioned and the Air force sold off almost 25,000 perfectly unused 12AX7's that were stored since 1959.
    Yes, they are out there; and yes, there are some people who have been squirreling them away for decades.
     
  20. jaydub69

    jaydub69 Member

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    Santa brings them.
     

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