Used tubes

Discussion in 'Sidewinders Bar & Grille' started by JustABluesGuy, Apr 8, 2021 at 9:00 AM.

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  1. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Senior Stratmaster

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    There are some used tubes for sale near me. Any advice on about how much to pay for unknown and untested tubes?

    Are there any special tubes I should be looking for besides the obvious ones. It looks like there are a lot of them, so how much should I offer for a large quality of unknown tubes?
     
  2. s5tuart

    s5tuart Perfecting time travel since 2525

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    Honestly....unless there's something you want in the batch and you have a safe way of testing them I wouldn't bother.
    A faulty tube could take out your amp :eek:
     
  3. Rudedawg

    Rudedawg Senior Stratmaster

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    I'd personally never buy used untested tubes save some grief and buy new; buy once cry once rinse & repeat.
     
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  4. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar Silver Member

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    Agreeing with the above, a used tube in unknown condition is not worth much to me. I wouldn't be afraid to try them, but I wouldn't pay more than about 1/4 of the price of a new JJ. Maybe not even that much.
     
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  5. BlurgyWurgyWibble

    BlurgyWurgyWibble Strat-O-Master

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    Honestly? Nothing. I wouldn't even waste my time. You can't properly evaluate a tube without hearing/using it. Even then you can't really properly evaluate the condition in terms of how far through its service life it is without a tube tester. A tube tester will cost you more than some new (tested) tubes from a reputable supplier.

    Just buy some new tubes. :thumb:
     
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  6. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Senior Stratmaster

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    Thanks for the feedback folks.
     
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  7. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar Silver Member

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    If he wants to sell them all as a lot, it could be worth seeing what price he has in mind, but be sure there are plenty of the kind you want in there. I have a box of tubes from the era of tube televisions, and only a small percentage are useful in guitar amplifiers.
     
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  8. rolandson

    rolandson Most Honored Senior Member

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    Nothing wrong with used tubes. But...
    ...that presumes the ability to test them is available.

    If I were in a circumstance where many years of dabbling in this sort of thing was in my future, I would most definitely acquire a tester and learn how to use it (which would include calibrating). ebay comes to mind.

    I imagine building one is also quite possible, as is buying some $80 thing on Amazon...

    But would I spend a boat load of money on a used tube and then stick it in my 50 year old blackface untested?

    No. No I would not.
     
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  9. Tremoluxer

    Tremoluxer Strat-Talker Gold Supporting Member

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    I've never paid more than $1 for a used tube, usually in the 10¢ to 75¢ range -- but that was in the '90s, before the used tube market got really hot. I bought a few weak tubes, but also good Telefunken, Amperex, RCA, GE, etc., 12AT7, 12AU7, 12AX7, 6L6, 6V6, 5Y3, 5AR4, etc. I don't recall any that were outright bad; I suppose those usually get tossed into the trash, not the old parts bin.

    My prize tube is a Realistic-labeled 5AR4, stamped "Made in Great Britain," a Mullard GZ34 per the manufacture code: B6A4.

    B=Mullard (Blackburn)
    6=1966
    A=January
    4=4th week of the month

    That's about a year after I began playing guitar! It's currently in my SF Princeton Reverb.

    I wouldn't buy any currently or recently manufactured tube that's used. If you're going to buy in person, take along your amp to test them, or ask the seller if they have a amp for testing them.
     
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  10. circles

    circles Resident Pinball Enthusiast

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    Reminds me of when my dad used to go to the hardware store to test TV tubes.
     
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  11. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar Silver Member

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    I remember too. Peoples Drug, a couple blocks from my house, had a row of six tube testers across the front of the store, and racks of tubes. As the 1960s became the 1970s, the machines disappeared a little at a time. One day I went in there and there was only one tester left, and then pretty soon you couldn't buy tubes at the drug store any more. Around 1980 they had gotten so scarce that when I went to price a couple 6L6s at Fairway Electronics in Kensington, MD, they were $20 each, the equivalent of about $64 each today!
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021 at 4:08 PM
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  12. StummerJoe

    StummerJoe Senior Stratmaster

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    I wouldn't buy them unless I planned on getting a tube tester as well.
     
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  13. fezz parka

    fezz parka fezz parka

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    I buy pulls all the time.

    And I'll slap them in my amp too.

    Worst case scenario...you'll take out the fuse.
     
  14. The_Whale

    The_Whale Strat-Talker Silver Member

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    You can bet all the valuable tubes from that collection have already been sold....
     
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  15. Namelyguitar

    Namelyguitar Most Honored Senior Member

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    As someone who recently sold a Hickok tube tester, and keeps spare NOS and/or new tubes on hand, I agree!
     
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  16. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Senior Stratmaster

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    I was told that they were all gone soon after my original post was made.
     
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