Zendrive 2 Tubes - What I Found Out..

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by BillyK, May 18, 2008.

  1. BillyK

    BillyK Supporting Member

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    Want to know if the tube in the Z2 makes a difference? The answer is:
    Yes.

    Today I spent some time swapping tubes. I waited about 6 months (per Alf's suggestion) to make sure the original tube was burned-in and that I knew what it was capbable of.

    The tubes that I tried included a bunch of new production and NOS 12AX7's, 12AT7 and 12AY7. The NOS tubes were excellent mid-60's examples of these tubes.

    First off, I was quite surprised how much of a difference the tube makes in the Z2. The stock Mullard reissue is not bad at all. The collection I tried in the Z2 brought out a bunch of differenct voices and and a range of feel/response.

    Out of this bunch, a new production Tung-Sol 12AX7 was the stand-out when using single coils through vintage Fender amps. The NOS 12AX7 tubes compressed more and sounded "sweeter" and laid back, but the Tung-Sol made the Z2 very "present", very articulate and the lower strings had way more definition. Tjhe gain structure is excellent with the Tung-Sol.

    I was expecting the lower gain tubes (AT7, AY7) to be the shoe-in for me, but they all made the Z2 more "receding" and too "smokey". Not my thing at all.

    So, if you have a Z2 and have been wondering if it's worth 30 minutes of your time to sxplore tubes, I'd say "Yes!". You may end up liking the stock tube best, or you may like the laid-back sound/feel of a NOS tube. But if you have a new Tung-Sol sitting around, do yourself a favor and give it a try. The Z2 really has improved "bark" and is very toneful with that tube. In some ways, it's closer to the original Zendrive.

    The funny thing is that I never liked the Tung-Sol as a pre-amp tube in any of my Fender amps, that's why I had one available. Now it's got a new mission!
     
  2. ed84246

    ed84246 Member

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    Interesting - which tubes would you say yielded the best Dumble type Ford/Carlton tones? I have a Bogner Shiva which has a clean channel kind of like Blackface Fender, but a bit more mids.
     
  3. BillyK

    BillyK Supporting Member

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    The Zendrive 2 is quite dumbly regardless of tube, IMO. The differences had more to do with voicing and feel within that category of "Dumbley". So all tubes had that mid-chirp thing happening that Zens are known for. I just found the Tung-Sol to be more agressive and bold across the board, with better low string articulation.
     
  4. DaSkip

    DaSkip Member

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    I'm thinkin' you mean "Dumbley or Dumblish" but, I mean what you know.

    :BEER
     
  5. BillyK

    BillyK Supporting Member

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    Fixed DaSkip.
    Thanks!
     
  6. guitarmind

    guitarmind Supporting Member

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    I've had good luck with the Tung Sol also
     
  7. fast ricky love

    fast ricky love Supporting Member

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    That sounds like something I'd like... which tubes did you use to get this result? Thanks. :)
     
  8. Curt

    Curt Member

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    Unless I'm mistaken, the 12AX7 is not in the signal path as such, but used for clipping. The pedal will actually work fine without a tube.
    When I owned a Zen 2, I swapped out the tube using almost ever brand of 12AX7, 12AT7 and 5751 I had.
    If there was any difference in tone, I couldn't hear it.
     
  9. Rick1114

    Rick1114 Member

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    I tried a couple tubes in the Zen2. The Tung Sol 12AX7 makes gives the low strings a lot more "crunch", at the same time the higher strings sound thinner, which I thought was a drawback. I'll have to try it again though as I'm getting a little bored with the JJ12AT7 I've been using....I liked the GT5751 as well.
     
  10. Angle Loss

    Angle Loss Supporting Member

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    The tube is only used as clipping diodes. It is not amplifying at all, so comparisons to how they (your favorite tubes) work in your amp (warmth, gain,etc) cannot be made. I could here a difference between some of the tubes in the clipping threshold, but I wouldn't recommend wasting your favorite NOS tube in it--the stock tube should be just fine. It is about 90% the same as the regular Zen and as Curt said, it can be run without a tube and will sound closer to the regular Zen.

    I like the Z2, but ended up keeping the Z1 because (a) I liked the Z1 better, it was creamier (b) I felt like I wasted $70-80 on $10 worth of parts in comparison to the z1. The Z2 is more marshally to me and was a little brighter.

    edit: looks like I was talking at Curt, but was agreeing with him.
     
  11. kenoflife

    kenoflife Supporting Member

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    best place to buy a tube or two?
    like to try out the Tungsol or 5751
     
  12. BillyK

    BillyK Supporting Member

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    Mullard Shield Logo and an old Amperex.
    Still, the el cheapo Tung-Sol reissue was best for my rig.

    -bk
     
  13. BillyK

    BillyK Supporting Member

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  14. Rick1114

    Rick1114 Member

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    I put the tung-sol in again last night (when I did it the first time, I really didn't know my way around the ZD2's tone controls). Yes - it does have great gain structure with that tube, especially with strats. I'll probably be using it for a while. Thanks for the tip!!!
     
  15. kenoflife

    kenoflife Supporting Member

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    I drunk the Kool Aid and ordered one yesterday (ebay merchant - $17 including shipping)- will report back!
     
  16. BillyK

    BillyK Supporting Member

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    Happy to help guys.
    It works for me!
    -bk
     
  17. Frenster

    Frenster Put your Rock Face on!

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    Just got my Zen2 today. Sounds like my Zen1 with more bottom.

    I love it. Sound amazing together 1 > 2.

    I think I'll follow advice and keep the stock tube in for a while. At least until my next tube order comes in!
     
  18. BillyK

    BillyK Supporting Member

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    Enjoy.

    I keep coming back to using the Zen/Zen2 combo. It just keeps working over time for me, as other OD's come/go.

    There's magic in them boxes.
     

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