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NTD - EL84's & 12AX7's

Discussion in 'Amp Input - Normal or Bright' started by gjohnson441496, Aug 9, 2018.

  1. The-Kid

    The-Kid Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
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    Feb 15, 2014
    SO CAL USA
    I really think this is a myth....


    Id argue tubes are more consistent know than before...same thing with amps and anything else.


    The tolerences back then were 5-15% now its down 3-5% one would argue given that, modern stuff is more consistent and well IMe having tried NOS tubes vs current production its just a myth.

    Id take a current Chinese shuguang or JJ over vintage stuff anyday.
     
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  2. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR I appreciate, therefore I am... Strat-Talk Supporter

    Feb 8, 2014
    Minnesota USA
    '
    I have heard many exceptional modern tubes, so I'm apt to agree with you.

    I guess my main point is that tubes can be great or suck no matter when they were made - something I have witnessed on various occasions...

    '
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
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  3. gjohnson441496

    gjohnson441496 Strat-Talker

    Age:
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    TN
    That's why I asked. I kinda figured tubes are subjective to the user. That's why I started with the $13 Tung Sol's, which I'm very happy with. I was on the verge of paying $35 each for the Preferred Series 7189 EL84's.
     
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  4. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR I appreciate, therefore I am... Strat-Talk Supporter

    Feb 8, 2014
    Minnesota USA
    '
    Here's the thing:

    When you buy a so-called "NOS" tube you really have no way of knowing what its actual history is and even if it sounds great it may be on the verge of frying at any moment.

    Then all you're left with is a $150+- piece of crap!

    You can go through a dozen $13 Tung Sols for that price...


    '
     
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  5. Pete_C

    Pete_C Strat-O-Master

    509
    Jan 10, 2016
    United States
    I doubt that the claimed numbers reflect the actual performance of the tubes. check out this guy's test of basically all 12ax7 tube types: http://la-economy.blogspot.com/2013/05/current-production-12ax7-tubes-ten-of.html
    Current production varies wildly, while the NOS tubes are extremely consistent, within a few percent in most cases.
    Also, watch the Mullard factory tour on youtube and see how efficient and sophisticated the facilities are. Then, look up the Shuguang factory tour, which demonstrates a dirty, bare-bones facility running on ancient equipment. The Russian factories aren't much better, and they too pale in comparison to the Mullard facility at its peak. The quality of the facilities is consistent with the results as shown above.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
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  6. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR I appreciate, therefore I am... Strat-Talk Supporter

    Feb 8, 2014
    Minnesota USA
    '
    I'd go as far as to say that tubes made back in the "tube golden age" were made in a era when practically every electrical device used tubes, so it stands to reason that they got pretty good at making them.

    That, and the fact that practically every drug store had a tube tester, so no doubt most of the bad ones were probably identified and weeded out more consistently as well.

    But I also think it stands to reason that the highest quality tubes from that period are getting increasingly more difficult to find as time goes on.

    Anyway, all I can say is that my current batch of modern tubes are as good as any NOS tube I've used, so I know for a fact that there are nice tubes available new and I can honestly say that I have been adequately impressed by what I've heard...


    '
     
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  7. gjohnson441496

    gjohnson441496 Strat-Talker

    Age:
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    TN
    Interesting. I haven't read the whole thing yet, but the 2 EL84's that I replaced, and 1 of the 12ax7's just said China on the tube. Are they generic? Do tube manufacturers buy tubes from China and slap a brand on them? From what I've read tubes are manufactured in China, Russia, and the US. The Sovtec tubes are obviously Russian. Is RCA a generic American brand?
     
  8. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR I appreciate, therefore I am... Strat-Talk Supporter

    Feb 8, 2014
    Minnesota USA
    '
    Most tubes are repackaged from who knows where, so all you're really left with is how well they are tested for quality assurance by the brands that are moving them.

    That's why I like Mesa Boogie, since I literally have never gotten a bad tube from them.

    I also like Electro Harmonox 12AX7EH tubes for the same reason.

    I've also had good luck with JJ tubes...



    '
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
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  9. gjohnson441496

    gjohnson441496 Strat-Talker

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    The Myles tube report slams EH, but while researching tubes, I found EH got a ton of good reviews across the board (various web sites). I believe reviews that come from the general public. Manufacturers can say anything, but a general consensus from the general public can't be denied.
     
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  10. heltershelton

    heltershelton ASKED TO LEAVE THE STAGE Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jun 5, 2013
    Not Florida
    are you talking about old mullards or new ones, because the new ones are made in the reflektor plant in russia. so are the tung sol, sovtek, exh, and others.
    tubes are pretty much made in three places now.....the new sensor stuff in russia, jj's in slovakia, and the shuguang stuff in china.
    https://www.thetubestore.com/tube-brands
     
  11. RJ Squirrel

    RJ Squirrel Strat-Talker

    Age:
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    There used to be a "Platinum" matching option available for New Sensor owned tube brands (Sovtek, EH, Tung-Sol, etc.). This process subjected the tubes to a 24 hour burn in and then the tubes were tested and matched. This process would weed out a lot of tubes subject to fail prematurely. Tubes matched after the burn in tended to drift less and maintain a closer match over their life. I don't know if this option is still available. I do know that the Platinum Matched tubes were the only EH tubes that some vendors carried. These vendors tended to have fewer problems with tube quality.

    The Apex Matching option that Antique Electronic Supply offers looks promising as a screening option.
    https://www.apexmatching.com/
     
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  12. Percy

    Percy Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    I've read that changing the pre amp tubes on modern production combo amps does wonders
     
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  13. Tone Guru

    Tone Guru Senior Stratmaster

    Dec 13, 2011
    Music City TN
    The only tubes being made in the US currently are high power broadcasting and industrial types.
    The US audio tubes were done by the late '80s, with Sylvania being the last.

    Toward the end of the existence of the RCA Corporation most of their tubes were rebranded from various other manufacturers depending on the type.
    I've got examples of 6V6GTAs on hand of RCA made tubes labeled "GE", and GE made tubes labeled "RCA".
    So the rebranding of tubes is not a new phenomenon by any stretch.
    There were certain tube types that RCA did not make and would routinely rebrand such as 6CA7s and EL34s.
    The early RCA EL34s were Mullard made in Britain, the later 6CA7s were rebranded Sylvanias.
    However, RCA did make some of the better tubes of the day such as their 6L6s, 6V6s, 12AX7As and 7025s as used in iconic Fender amps.

    IMO, the current trend of rebranding using traditional and recognizable brand names (Tung Sol, Mullard) causes confusion and ambiguity.
    The current tubes are nothing like the original US and British made examples.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
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  14. rolandson

    rolandson Most Honored Senior Member

    Keeping in mind that the tour was recorded some 40 or 50 years ago.

    @gjohnson441496 , you are aware that the current "Mullard" and "Tung-Sol" tubes are not manufactured by the companies that established those brands back in the last century...yes? That they are in fact all russian made by the same people who bring us Sovtek...yes?

    A guy bought up the rights to print those names on cheap russian tubes and has been marketing them as premium quality items when in fact a Sovtek will cost you less and deliver the same marginal results. Because it is effectively the same tube with a different name stamped on it. He owns the factory in russia.

    The article @Pete_C linked to is pretty specific, as are many of the responses to your OP...pay attention to the manufacturer, not the name. What's printed on most current production tubes, thanks to the guy with the screen printer, is meaningless.

    As far as i know, there is only one current manufacturer marketing its own brand of tubes. They seem to have a handle on quality control. Something russia and China forgot about.
     
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  15. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR I appreciate, therefore I am... Strat-Talk Supporter

    Feb 8, 2014
    Minnesota USA
    '
    Absolutely!

    The reason I was touting the Electro Harmonix 12AX7EH in particular was that I have had outstanding results using them.

    A while back I purchased several of them just to test their overall quality and consistency.

    I also own several vintage (not necessarily NOS) 12AX7s, including a mid 60's Mullard I pulled out of a Hammond organ myself, and after a lot of swapping I still ended up sticking with the EH.

    I used one amp in particular as a test mule - a single ended Class-A amp with a single preamp socket to get the most accurate results. After swapping over a dozen new and vintage 12AX7s I always came back to the EH.

    I also have a vintage RCA 6V6 in the same amp and, if it is better than the Mesa Boogie it replaced, it's only "marginally better" at best. In fact I'd say it's too close to call and I'm sure I'd still be plenty happy if the Mesa Boogie 6V6 was in it now.

    Anyway, I'm not saying all EH or Mesa tubes are created equal, but, rather, what I am saying is that vintage tubes aren't necessarily the "Holy Grail" either.

    Case in point...

    I have three early GE 12AX7s that are identical in quality and tone, but they are currently resting in their boxes because they aren't particularly great sounding to me. I'm not saying they sound "bad", but they just don't sound "as good". Very flat actually, so they may be good for certain applications that suit them better.

    I also had an excellent RCA 12AX7A once that was the "Holy Grail" (to me) but it has since fried.

    So everything that's vintage isn't made of gold - but, even if it is, its life expectancy may be very limited.

    Anyway, going back to the 12AX7EH, this tube just ended up being clearer, tighter, more articulate and well balanced tonally than all the others I tried in my test amp, so it's staying for sure!

    That said, I have Mesa Boogie SPAX7-A preamp tubes and EL84/6BQ5 output tubes in my Mesa Boogie TA-15 and TA-30 amps and they sound excellent too.

    Bottom line: I once bought into the whole "NOS is better" rhetoric but have since discovered that any tube may have the potential of being the "Holy Grail", so you should keep that in mind before spending your kid's college fund on NOS stuff that may turn out to be total garbage...

    Good Luck!


    '
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
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  16. gjohnson441496

    gjohnson441496 Strat-Talker

    Age:
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    Jun 6, 2017
    TN
    Whereas before the change, overdriven chords sounded like mush. With the new tubes overdriven chords are distinctive.
     
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  17. gjohnson441496

    gjohnson441496 Strat-Talker

    Age:
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    Jun 6, 2017
    TN
    I was not. Appreciate the info.

    Who is that manufacturer?
     
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  18. gjohnson441496

    gjohnson441496 Strat-Talker

    Age:
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    I can vouch for this^
     
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  19. The-Kid

    The-Kid Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    28
    Feb 15, 2014
    SO CAL USA
    I think hes refrencing JJ
     
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  20. rolandson

    rolandson Most Honored Senior Member

    JJ's.
    http://www.jj-electronic.com/en/

    I also think that JJ's are probably the highest quality tubes in current production. They're available pretty much everywhere. I usually buy them from Eurotubes.

    https://www.eurotubes.com/store/pc/home.asp

    Whether you do business with them or not, their website is a decent resource for tube related information.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018