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Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Trotter, Jan 29, 2012.
I've always been curious...
It's generally top secret but I know a few individuals that have been lucky enough to find a retired TV repairman with quite a stash. More and more you see used tubes on the 'vintage' tube market.
Anywhere you can imagine (that makes sense).
I saw a large box (couple hundred) of tubes at a flee market for $50 that I still wish I would've bought. I didn't have any way to test them at the time though.
In a typical large lot of random tubes about 5% are audio/guitar tubes and the rest have almost zero value. The percentage is continuing to diminish over time.
That makes me feel a little better. Is there any way to know on the spot, or is it just a crap shoot?
Check the numbers? Were these in individual boxes or loose?
I'd bet (though I could be wrong) that people are getting them from grey market "dealers" who source them from former Nato country stockpiles. When I see a picture of a hundred Brimar tubes, I think old Nato stock that was liberated by an enterprising warehouse guy in *vakia, or any of the former Baltic states. Same goes for East Germany, or any of the Soviet Block countries.
They were all loose. I've come across different lots though, and some have been in boxes. My wife likes to go antiquing a lot, and I tend to gravitate towards the old electronics.
Visit junk yard.
Rape old t.v. in landfill.
Sell on Ebay for profit. (make sure to use the codeword "NOS' in the listing, people like that)
Yah... Somehow I can't see mike or any of the other good reputation dealers scrounging flea markets for pulls... The military and government stores were mostly sold years ago, but I'm sure there are some pack rats holding on to bulk boxes of them. They'll probably pull them out in 5-10 years when all of the boomers decide to unload their vintage collections ; )
This is what I'm thinking too. I can't imagine tube dealers wasting their time hitting garage sales, thrift markets, etc trying to locate NOS tubes for their inventory. They have to be contacting private individuals with a large surplus somewhere in the world. How does one get in contact or even find these guys?
There has to be some secrets to the trade...
I have run an ad in a southern Iowa shopper newspaper for the last ten years and it turns up something every so often, enough to make it worth paying the fifteen bucks a month it costs. About seven years ago I was cleaning out some of this stuff out west of here and the guy says "Are you interested in transistor radios?" I say "sure." He brings out a Regency TR-1 in its original box and says "this was the first one around here." I say "How much do you want for it?" He says "Would fifteen bucks be too much?" I paid the man and didn't feel too bad about it since I was already buying about $600 worth of other stuff.
What that does is get you known as a picker and that knowledge can end up in some strange places.
Well in those places you would most likely not find any NOS, ANOS maybe, mostly just old tubes.
I've always been more curious that when they find them how is it that they get so many ones that test "new"
I've been lucky enough to find a lot of tubes way back in the early 1990's. Back then they were hard to find, but when you did find them, they would sell for cheap...and even then we passed up on them (D'oh). These days people run to eBay, find an expensive value then think they will get top dollar for their lot...
A friend of mine brought over two crates full of tubes and I found 5 in over 200 that were applicable to my circuits, or circuits I've worked on. He says he's got about 800 more...not really that stoked to dig through em to be honest!
edit: but I will say we scored a few mullard 12ax7s out of it
Do you remember that government warehouse at the end of the Indiana Jones movie?
There is one entire section packed full of NOS tubes!
Actually, unless they're found by and tested by "pickers" (guys who know about tubes and have years of contacts, but not about guitar amps, who have no desire to match tubes, test for microphonics or spend hours on the phone talking tone with customers, many of whom never buy anything) the percentage of "test as new" tubes is kinda low. So, there's risk, test time and rejects that all figure into the retail price.
Yeah, ALL guitar tubes too!
I had an old TV repairman give me a box of 330 tubes about 25 years ago. Many were NOS/NIB and others were pulls; an RCA stuffed in a Sylvania box. I wound up with 18 tubes that were compatable with guitar circuits.