Thread: what is your tube brand preference?

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  1. #1
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    Default what is your tube brand preference?

    what is your tube preference?
    for guitars mostly, but whatever.
    say you have to buy new, and can't rely on a new old stock score or something like that.
    what do you like?
    thanks!
    I'm a fan of cheese!
  2. #2
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    Default Re: what is your tube brand preference?

    I was the NOS guy when I had a THD Univalve. What I picked up from the THD forum was that THD users are pretty much up to date with current tubes. Though I couldn't find the original forum - maybe there's some info here!
  3. #3
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    Default Re: what is your tube brand preference?

    The "gold standard" was Telefunken but they are long gone.
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: what is your tube brand preference?

    Shit, I didn't look too closely. Not much traffic on that page. Sorry.
  5. #5
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    Default Re: what is your tube brand preference?

    For 12ax7s, Tung Sols are my favourite. It's all shades of grey between valve brands really, but generally I find the Tung Sols to be nice strong valves with clarity and punch. And perhaps more importantly I've not had any weak/ broken ones and they don't go microphonic too quickly. My only caveat is that they sometimes have short lives in cathode-follower positions because the grid/cathode voltage difference is too high for them. This is true of most Russion 12ax7s, actually... so for cathode follower positions, I like Chinese Golden Dragons.

    Of the other preamp brands I've tried, I don't like EHX's - I've had lots of weak ones and they sound too thin for my tastes, and JJ valves (VALVES, I am British ) are too dull/ flat.

    I've enjoyed all the Mesa preamp valves I've heard, I don't know what their selection process is as they re-badge from other manufactures.

    For power valves;

    EL84 - JJs have proved most reliable from new production. When you have an AC30, this matters. They've also got to my ears the most balanced sound - not too bright, not too dull. I'm trying out a quad of TAD EL84s and they're good too but quite different - much smoother up top and more solid bottom end.

    EL34 - Mesa, followed by JJ. Winged C were the brand of choice until recently, they've either gone downhill or totally stopped production.

    6L6 - I'm British, I don't know what this is.

    Rectifier valves - Buy NOS! Modern production are nowhere near as reliable as even cheaper brand '60s production, though of course this is a generality.

    Re; NOS vs New production, apart from rectifiers, I actually don't think NOS is all that, and this is after experiencing Brimars, Mullards, RFT, Fisher brand Telefunkens, Tungsrams... I'd say the main advantage is that they have more defined "family sounds", so you know what you're getting. But just making a value judgement on the guitar tones in isolation, I don't think using modern production hampers my (in)ability to get good tones or make good music.
  6. #6
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    Default Re: what is your tube brand preference?

    There are a LOT of counterfeit NOS around. The new ones go noisy much much faster.

    In the old daze manufacturers pretty much just made tubes, measured them and sorted them into types. The very best became audio tubes. Today very few are made and they are all designated as "audio tubes." OK for guitar amps but pretty disappointing for mikes and other audio gear. I wish I'd known enough to stock up back in the '70s.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: what is your tube brand preference?

    I wish I'd known enough to stock up back in the '70s.
    Some things seem so obvious in hindsight, eh?
  8. #8
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    Default Re: what is your tube brand preference?

    There was a whole lot of Tung sol mentioned in the old THD forum. Especially their 6550 got high praise.
  9. #9
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    Default Re: what is your tube brand preference?

    The "gold standard" was Telefunken but they are long gone.
    They are hoarded by collectors and used as currency like rare art. Like bottles of wine that have become to valuable to open and drink.
    Man! You have GOT to try a hit of this RANGE SUNSHINE!

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  10. #10
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    Default Re: what is your tube brand preference?

    As far as new tubes go, there's an interesting phenomenon:

    50 year old NOS tubes were made with new, pristine equipment.

    Brand new tubes are being made with the same equipment which is now a half century old and has seen better days. I don't think anyone is investing in new equipment for manufacturing tubes. CMIIW

    EveAnna Manley was asked about the tubes that are provided with new Manley gear and she replied something to the effect that they would get big batches of new tubes, test them extensively, and reject a lot of them.
    Man! You have GOT to try a hit of this RANGE SUNSHINE!

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  11. #11
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    Default Re: what is your tube brand preference?

    6L6 - I'm British, I don't know what this is.
    Don't get me wrong; I love EL34 and EL84 valves, but...

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    Jimmy Page isn't British? You've never heard the first Led Zerppelin album? If not, I highly recommend it!

    The Beatles used them also. Every amp in this picture has them.

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    Man! You have GOT to try a hit of this RANGE SUNSHINE!

    IMTBO = In My Thoroughly Biased Opinion
    CMIIW = Correct Me If I'm Wrong
    Never underestimate the amount of contempt a failed musician has for those of us who are still trying.
    If the party's good enough, you can actually suck to a remarkable degree.

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: what is your tube brand preference?

    Mesa and JJs. If I were to get tubes for my Massive Passive (which I should have some on hand really), I would just get them from Manley.

    Most of my tube mics have a spare in the case. I don't know what they are as they came with the mics.

    I had some GTs sitting around, but they were all microphonic when I put them in. I guess Fender owns them now and they came in my Blues Jr. I had it modified with the BillM Audio kit and when I did that I put in some JJs. I couldn't really tell you what the tubes did as I had the tone stack modified, but the whole thing sounds much better now. Not so midrangy (midrangie, midrangey, midrang-y, etc...?)
    Mike
  13. #13
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    Default Re: what is your tube brand preference?

    Not so midrangy (midrangie, midrangey, midrang-y, etc...?)
    "Midrange-esqe" or "Midrange-alogue" are both acceptable.
  14. #14
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    Default Re: what is your tube brand preference?

    My setup revolves around Tung Sol for preamp although I'm not yet about the clean sounds in my current amp and Winged C for 6L6 or EL34, JJ for EL 84. Not sure what I'm going to do with the next re-valve about power tubes if Winged C aren't any good these days. TAD are okay if you're on a budget. I source all mine through Watford Valves. (Forget Cryo treated and I personally found their own brand Harma too bright) YMMV.
    shut up and play yer guitar...
  15. #15
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    Default Re: what is your tube brand preference?

  16. #16
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    Default Re: what is your tube brand preference?

    That wiki article is a hoot. RCA was owned by Marconi, Westinghouse and GE! RCA was a partner in EMI from having acquired Victor with Sarnoff sitting on the EMI board for a while!
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: what is your tube brand preference?

    Don't get me wrong; I love EL34 and EL84 valves, but...

    Jimmy Page isn't British? You've never heard the first Led Zerppelin album? If not, I highly recommend it!

    The Beatles used them also. Every amp in this picture has them.
    Jimmy who?

    I know plenty of British acts have used american amps/ valves, I was just having a joke.

    I source all mine through Watford Valves. (Forget Cryo treated and I personally found their own brand Harma too bright) YMMV.
    I used Watford until the guy was an arse to me on the phone re; a redplating EL84. Karltone is my new UK-based valve hero.
  18. #18
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    Default Re: what is your tube brand preference?

    Page.

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  19. #19
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    Default Re: what is your tube brand preference?

    Thanks! JJ's seem to be consensus.
    Thanks all.
    I'm a fan of cheese!
  20. #20
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    Default Re: what is your tube brand preference?

    Have not bought new tubes in more years then I can count?
    I go to the closet and grab what I need.
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