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Why so many tube changes

Discussion in 'Amp Input - Normal or Bright' started by Birdsong, Sep 12, 2018.

  1. Birdsong

    Birdsong Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    48
    29
    Jul 24, 2018
    Nenc
    I’m kind of new to this site but not tube amp’s. Why do people have to replace tubes so often? My dad has an old silver tone and fender amp that I play through sometimes at his house, sometimes and they never had tubes replaced, probably 50 years old. I have two fender tube amps from the 80s with the same tubes?
     
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  2. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 27, 2018
    North Central NC
    I think a lot of the tube changes you read about here are from people playing around with sound, seeing if they like the amp better with different tubes. I agree that guitar amps don't kill tubes very fast. When television sets had tubes, they'd go years before needing tube replacements, and they're typically turned on a lot longer per day than guitar amps. I have a Silvertone amp that still has some of its original tubes, too.
     

  3. DickBanks

    DickBanks Strat-Talker

    Age:
    57
    249
    May 2, 2017
    Olathe, KS
    If you have a 50 year old Fender or Silvertone with original tubes, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that a tube change would make them sound LOTS BETTER...
     

  4. Lonn

    Lonn Mod Admin Staff Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Admin Post
    A couple of years ago I bought a 48 Vega amp that still had the original tubes and sounded pretty good. May not have been running at peak performance but still....

     

  5. sam_in_cali

    sam_in_cali Scream for me Strat-Talk! Strat-Talk Supporter

    Feb 21, 2014
    Santa Maria, CA
    Tubes either burn out completely and need to be replaced or after awhile, they just kinda wear out and lose their original tone. They are kind of like strings...some people can seem to go forever on a set of strings and never end up changing them. Others like to put on a fresh set every now and then or just experiment around with different kinds.
     

  6. rolandson

    rolandson Most Honored Senior Member

    Those who move their amplifiers frequently, especially combo amplifiers that are on wheels, experience tube 'failure' more often than amps that are mostly stationary, simply because of the rattling the tubes are subjected to.

    Failure, in the form of preamp tubes going microphonic...

    I always carried a complete set of replacements with me, because ya just never know....!
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018

  7. carver

    carver The East Coast Strangler Strat-Talk Supporter

    I replace tubes when they short and are no longer useable

    Over my playing life. I have had this happen 3 times. Thats not bad.. one time was on a custom amp that the builder made a mistake on, so I have a hard time considering that to be actual failure when it was a design issue. the other was a peavey 5150 that was covered in many many odd stains both inside and out so I think it had a rough life before I gave it life again. And the last was a Fender BDRI that I ran really really hard for about 5 years.

    all the amps other than the custom one were simple fixes. just new tubes, a new use and a bias and I was off to the races. the custom needed to be reworked and I never really did get along with that amp so it eventually found its way to the used market.

    one special mention to a mesa Triple rec that I got used.. got it home and it died right away. bought some new tubes and inspected.. well yeah.. one of the friggen rectifier tubes was jammed in wrong and the pins broke. so Im sure that would explain everything. super easy fix. new tubes (thats 300 bucks in this damn amp) removed the broken pins.. back to slaying riffs
     
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  8. AxemanVR

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

    Feb 8, 2014
    Minnesota USA
    `
    I once bought an old, well used RCA tube radio off eBay from something like the 1940's that had tubes I never heard of and it worked great, so it is curious how some things last so long...


    `
     
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  9. mabley123

    mabley123 Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    59
    Oct 21, 2010
    kentucky
    Theres also no question modern tubes are not as robust as the oldies. Military, and Hospitals relied on those tubes, and were built to be consistent, and durable.

    Modern tubes are but a shadow of tubes that had to be relied on in critical applications. Very few uses for that anymore.
     
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  10. AxemanVR

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

    Feb 8, 2014
    Minnesota USA
    `
    So, you're saying that playing in a dive bar with three people in the audience (one passed out) isn't "critical"...?


    `
     

  11. rocknrollrich

    rocknrollrich Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    47
    Jan 8, 2016
    philadelphia
    The danger with waiting until a tube fails is..... what will that failed tube take with it?
    An output transformer is a likely candidate.
     
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  12. carver

    carver The East Coast Strangler Strat-Talk Supporter

    most tube amps have these fuses in them that tend to blow before anything else.

    certainly something I always check on a used amp. make sure the fuses used are the proper ones... I have had one amp that had the ground lug from a wall plug in the place where the fuse should have been. doing stuff like this will certainly cause problems if a tube shorts. but a proper fuse will save the amp.

    for the sake of discussion based off of your comment, when should someone change their tubes to avoid any potential issues?

    to share. I have been playing guitar through tube amps for around 20 years. I have never had an ot melt down. I have had three amps that shorted, and one amp that was messed up right out of the gate. no melt downs. only things damaged were the fuses, and they simply just did what they needed to do. maybe I am just really really lucky?
     
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  13. rocknrollrich

    rocknrollrich Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    47
    Jan 8, 2016
    philadelphia
    I have a 1484 silvertone with original tubes in it. It doesn't see a lot of playing time tho. Maybe 2x a year.

    Its pretty much down to hours and physical shock when it comes to tubes.
    They have a finite amount of hours to give. Barring physical damage, you get what you get.
    It's much safer and less expensive to change them before they die.
    If they die in a catastrophic way, they might very well take a more expensive component(s) with it.
     
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  14. roadhog96

    roadhog96 Strat-Talker

    Age:
    67
    264
    Oct 11, 2017
    CT
    18B642E0-D7D3-4F8A-91DB-57BAAC5371DF.jpeg F086AFF3-240B-4154-B373-1901488348C4.jpeg 7E80A16A-1AAD-49C3-9EF0-770C5F42C36B.jpeg 342335DB-3E9B-4E81-82B6-86A68D401A78.jpeg 68EEF522-7DEA-4A37-A0D7-C566B22F84E4.jpeg Vintage tubes were manufactured to higher quality standards and generally last for many years. Power tubes will last extremly long if they are not Biased to hot. The tubes that wear the most often in a Fender amp are the Phase Inverter 12AT7 pre amp tubes. The phase inverter is one of the most important tubes in your amp and the hardest worked tube in the preamp section of your amp. For that reason I keep plenty on hand. I mostly use vintage tubes in my amps so it can get exspensive with a bunch of amps but the difference in tone and reliability is worth it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
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  15. amstratnut

    amstratnut Peace thru Music. Strat-Talk Supporter

    Dec 1, 2009
    My house.
    My boogie seemed to eat power tubes and I never really cranked it.

    My current amp has had a set of ruby 6l6s for 3-4 years now.
     
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  16. Wayne

    Wayne Strat-Talker

    102
    May 6, 2011
    Baltimore
    I tried rolling some 12AX7s in my Monoprice 5 watt a few weeks ago. The differences were significant. There was nothing really wrong with the original tube but the one I settled on sounded better.
     
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  17. sssstratsss

    sssstratsss Strat-Talker

    Age:
    26
    170
    Dec 6, 2017
    Shreveport, Louisiana
    My monoprice 15w came with a burned out el84. Guess it was just a cheap chinese tube or something. I put some JJ Electronic ones in there and it sounds superb. Hopefully they'll last a while. Tubes are cheap
     
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  18. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 27, 2018
    North Central NC
    From what I've read, Monoprice will be glad to replace defective tubes in new amps they ship if you call customer service. I understand you may have preferred JJs.
     
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  19. mw13068

    mw13068 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 29, 2009
    Ithaca, NY
    Because folks will do *anything* to keep from actually playing the guitar.
     

  20. sssstratsss

    sssstratsss Strat-Talker

    Age:
    26
    170
    Dec 6, 2017
    Shreveport, Louisiana
    Yeah, this is actually the first tube amp I've owned. A friend recommended the jj's so I went for it. The amp sounds great though, I see why a lot of people compare them to blues jr's and stuff. I'm totally happy with it lol
     
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