NOS versus new production tubes

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by budda12ax7 » Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:36 pm

This is a GREAT thread.....

Maybe some more insight here..

As pointed out in the thread "re tubing" became popular in the 80's when people started "re tubing" Marshall JCM 800 heads with the then new and popular "Groove Tubes"....

This became the "standard" sound that was accepted...everything else was measured by that sound...
As people became more aware of gear...people went back a generation to the 70's and 60's to see what was in those amps.....
Well...those amps were still around...as we went into the 1990's Mesa Boogie's became popular with the "Rectifier" series....these amps had the ability to switch tubes in and out..(I think they sound like poo)...BUT tube knowledge was born into the common guitar population....


My Case is this....I bought a JMP 50 watt Marshall that sounded very good...somebody put Groove Tubes into the pre-amp spots...it sounded good, because that sound was the "Standard" sound found on many cd's from the 80's and early 90's....BUT....

I purchased some RCA Black Plates 12ax7's and some Mullard 12ax7's from the late 60's and early 70's as NOS tubes...

That amp just came alive...it was a HUGE difference in sound...deeper, thicker, ....it was unbelievable...

Yes...cables, pick ups, all that other stuff matters in the sound chain, but the NOS made a big difference...

Another Point....I purchased the first or second run of Budda phatman tube overdrive pedals....it came with Groove Tubes..two 12ax7's....it sounded very good, but ...

I dropped the two RCA 12ax7's into it and the sound became so big and beefy....just with the pedal on a the clean channel....

The problem is that companies that produce modern tubes...such as Groove Tubes and others use the name Mullard on their production tubes....



I will give up my secret tube places....Brent Jessie.com...I bought tons of stuff from this guy...

My super secret tube spot....Darcell Tubes in El Monte Ca...this guy has a warehouse full of tubes in boxes...he will let you rummage through and pick some out.....I DO NOT WORK for these places either, but they got good stuff...

I think for a reasonable investment in tubes your amp will sound huge...it's funny because everyone has no problem dropping 170.00 bucks for a Mastery Bridge...

My two cents...

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by øøøøøøø » Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:35 pm

more gold from Oliver Archut:
For the last 25 years I am collecting and hunting down historic tube making documents, like blue prints, chemical compositions, production manuals, test apparatus, etc. etc.
I also spoke with most of the tube engineers that were working in germanys tube factories, and I am still in contact with the ones that are still alive (no to may left)...

Making a tube is not a problem, Chinese, Russians and other companies prove it, making a high quality one that is equal to the historic counterparts is very difficult to nearly impossible.

There is no tube manufacture currently making a tube that is usable as a replacement for vintage equipment, nor useable for modern high quality tube design.

The reason why is quite simple, the entire supply structures are gone!
In 1960 "Hoesch Metal Werke/Metal Works" in germany made approx. 200 metric tons of clad aluminum nickel steel needed for the plates of receiving/audio tubes.
"Plansee" in Austria made approx. 250 Tons of support wire alloys, etc. and so on and so on.
That's a lot of raw material for a electron tubes that weigh in the best case 45 gram.
In 1960 these materials were easy to get a hold off and fairly inexpensive.
Today hardly nobody needs those alloys, and quite rare to start with, you still can custom order them but so the cost is about 100 times higher than in 1960.
There same is valid for all other materials...

99% of all tubes in production, use substandard material to start with, plus various problem with the structural support, etc.

A few years back I supplied some in production pre amp tubes to retired tube engineers for evaluation.

All what I got back was, "Those tubes would have never passed the QC, the list of problems is to long..."

There is a very nice web-page about the vintage RCA works http://www.vintagetubeservices.com/page14.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
the same sophistication applies to the historic Telefunken and Philips/Valvo/Mullard works...

Best regards,

...and a GOLDEN quote:
PS We do not live in the audio dark ages, it is more like after the atomic price cut bomb(s) were dropped, and we are in a nuclear audio winter...

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by Brock the Mod » Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:48 pm

øøøøøøø wrote:PS We do not live in the audio dark ages, it is more like after the atomic price cut bomb(s) were dropped, and we are in a nuclear audio winter...
:whistle:

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by budda12ax7 » Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:36 pm

That's why I am dusting off my Fender Cyber Twin....who needs tubes when I can have midi and amp modeling... :-/

Image

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by zhivago » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:09 am

I've been away from the computer for the holidays, so returning late to the thread,

great info from everyone...I just checked with Nik at Ceriatone, and it seems my 6L6 Deluxe will also run 6V6s, so I might look into getting some NOS tubes to see what the fuss is :)

the extra life is really appealing to me...JJs aren't really that cheap in Europe, to be honest, and the pair I bought a while back feels a bit lifeless lately.


so I think I'll put some 6V6s in my Deluxe...I'm mostly playing at home lately anyway, so reducing the volume would also be great ;)

any particular ones I should look for brand-wise, and even numbers-wise?

I find tube numbers confusing! ;D

it seems that say 5AR4s are tha same as GZ34s...?

is there something similar with 6V6s?

and what about pre-amp tubes? Are there quite a few that have different numbers, but are essentially the same?
Resident Spartan.

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by PaulDesmondTutu » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:40 am

Sorry to post a bit off-topic but I heard an interesting story the other day. One of my drummers is a real tube fanatic and told me how Russia still, even after the collapse of the Sovet Union still continued the research in tubes, unlike the West, but kept it quiet during the Cold War. I'll have to ask him about the name of the tube but they seem to have developed it so far to overcome the usual downsides of tubes being unreliable and weather sensitive etc. Don't quote me on that. If anyone is interested I'll ask him tonight.

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by øøøøøøø » Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:36 am

zhivago wrote:I've been away from the computer for the holidays, so returning late to the thread,

great info from everyone...I just checked with Nik at Ceriatone, and it seems my 6L6 Deluxe will also run 6V6s, so I might look into getting some NOS tubes to see what the fuss is :)

the extra life is really appealing to me...JJs aren't really that cheap in Europe, to be honest, and the pair I bought a while back feels a bit lifeless lately.


so I think I'll put some 6V6s in my Deluxe...I'm mostly playing at home lately anyway, so reducing the volume would also be great ;)

any particular ones I should look for brand-wise, and even numbers-wise?

I find tube numbers confusing! ;D

it seems that say 5AR4s are tha same as GZ34s...?

is there something similar with 6V6s?

and what about pre-amp tubes? Are there quite a few that have different numbers, but are essentially the same?
Honestly, I'd look into getting some JAN/Philips 5881s in your case. They're affordable and sound pretty good, and you could stay with the 6L6 thing, since you seem to like that. If you wanted a little slice of heaven, spend a bit more and get Tung Sol 5881s (the real ones). These are the best tubes ever in tweed amps, in my opinion. I'll accept nothing else, as long as I can still afford them. They just seem "made" for tweed. These tubes are the single biggest difference between the originals and most modern reproductions, in my opinion.

For 6V6s, RCAs are my favorites. The ones with the grey glass, or the ones with the black plates and clear glass. The ones with the gray plates and clear glass are from the 1970s and are pretty good, too. I also like the Marconi/Westinghouse 6V6G. Other good brands are Brimar, Mazda. You might find those in Europe more easily, who knows. Sylvania, GE, Tung Sol etc. are perfectly fine if not "magical."

Most 6V6 are actually called "6V6" with a suffix. If it is JUST called 6V6, then it's a metal tube. This might work fine in your amp, but it has a pin connection on pin 1 that connects to the case (ground), so it might be good to ask your amp builder if it can accept a metal 6V6. If it can, this is actually a good alternative sometimes, because they're cheaper than the glass versions. Same stuff inside, just in a metal envelope instead of glass.

12AX7 has a few aliases:

12AX7, 7025, ECC83, ECC803, CV4004

Maybe others, but I can't remember. You can probably google and find out more info than I can remember off the top of my head.

12AX7s I like: RCA, especially the ones with the long black plates. All other RCA are pretty good, too. They're usually not super-expensive, and you can get them used, "tests new". I usually do. Used, if they test strong, they can be had for cheaper than a new production tube, and will still very often have MORE life left in them (and better sound) than a brand new new production tube will. Amperex of Holland are some of my favorite, especially the ones with the longer plates. Short plate ones are OK. Same goes for Mullard. Short plate ones not usually great enough to be worth the premium price relative to a long-plate RCA or similar. Telefunken are very expensive and really really good for Hi Fi, maybe too good... they're not my favorite in guitar amps, and even if they were, I think it's like 'throwing pearls to swine' in this non-critical application. These are microphone-grade tubes. In a guitar amp they can be rather boring, and it wastes their textbook performance. Sylvania, GE are again "OK." Not too special.

If you find some you like, bite the bullet and buy a few extra. It could very well end up being a "lifetime supply," as these old tubes last and last and last with performance undiminished. the biggest consumer of tubes back then were military, and they were all made up to those standards, at least mostly-- even the consumer-market ones.

We reap the benefits. They HAD to be good, and they had to last.

I'd get a really nice pair of power tubes and a really really nice V1. The rest you can fill in with new production, or to go a step above that, budget NOS like sylvania, GE, etc. Sylvania and GE are good tubes, don't get me wrong. They just don't have that 'special' magic about them that some of the other NOS tubes do, to me... of course that's just personal taste.

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by budda12ax7 » Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:59 am

I have the RCA black plate 12ax7's....nice tubes...not totally expensive......well worth it..

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by øøøøøøø » Wed Jan 05, 2011 7:09 am

Also, try a 6072/12AY7 in V1 of your tweed Deluxe. This is the tube that was originally used there by Fender, and I like tweed amps best with the proper 12AY7 front end. Just a thought.

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by Stratelejazzuar » Wed Jan 05, 2011 7:20 am

All of this tube substitution talk reminded me of my 68/69 Princeton Reverb. when i bought it, the seller told me before he shipped:
I HAVE THE AMP RUNNING WITH A 5Y3 RECTIFIER..ITS A SLIGHTLY LOWER VOLTAGE..SLIGHTLY BROWNER SOUND AND JUST A TAD LOWER IN VOLUME..MAYBE 2 WATTS LESS..I LIKE IT THE BEST WITH THIS 5Y3..IF YOU WANT I CAN REINSTALL THE 5AR4 WHICH CAME STOCK AND WILL REBIAS TO THAT. ALOT OF THE PRINCETON REVERBS CAME WITH 5U4 WHICH IS LOWER THAN A 5AR4 ANDHIGHER VOLTAGE THAN A 5Y3..DEPENDING ON WHAT YOU ARE USING THE AMP FOR ANY OF THE ABOVE CAN BE USED
and then
THE TUBES RUN A HAIR COOL WITH THE 5Y3 AND A LITTE HOT WITH THE 5AR4. I RECCOMEND USING THE 5Y3 IF POSSIBLE. IT IS JUST EASIER ON EVERYTHING IN THE AMP..THE CAPS THE TUBES THE TRANSFORMERS. YOU CAN JUST SWITCH THEM OUT..
relating to the OP, if one is going to try changing out tubes (ex. a 5U4 for a 5Y3), is it better/safer/whatever to replace a production with a NOS?

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by øøøøøøø » Wed Jan 05, 2011 7:33 am

Everything the seller told you is true. I'm not 100% sure I understand the question... but in any case, NOS 5U4 and 5Y3 are so cheap that it's almost a no-brainer.

NOS 5AR4/GZ34 are a completely different story. The best AND most common (how often does that happen?) are Mullards. They're ridiculously expensive. GE made a few. They're merely "insultingly" expensive. I've never tried one. The best new production 5AR4 is the Chinese one, actually. That's what I'd recommend for a 5AR4 unless you happen to have a few Mullards sitting around, or a ton of disposable cash to buy what actually is by far the best.

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by Stratelejazzuar » Wed Jan 05, 2011 7:40 am

øøøøøøø wrote:Everything the seller told you is true. I'm not 100% sure I understand the question...
I mean, since production tubes aren't made the same as NOS, is it still safe to make the common substitutions to achieve whatever desired result? And if not, then would it be better to make the subst. with a NOS tube?

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by øøøøøøø » Wed Jan 05, 2011 7:57 am

Stratelejazzuar wrote:
øøøøøøø wrote:Everything the seller told you is true. I'm not 100% sure I understand the question...
I mean, since production tubes aren't made the same as NOS, is it still safe to make the common substitutions to achieve whatever desired result? And if not, then would it be better to make the subst. with a NOS tube?
yes, it's still the same. :)

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by jetset » Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:31 am

øøøøøøø wrote: you can get them used, "tests new". I usually do. Used, if they test strong, they can be had for cheaper than a new production tube, and will still very often have MORE life left in them (and better sound) than a brand new new production tube will.
This.

Since we're sharing secrets, here's mine. Everyone makes such a big fuss about NOS. OOS is 95% as good, and still miles ahead of new production tubes Most old audio equipment only have a few hundred hours on them, so the tubes are fine. I have a large stash of pulls from amps I've had and sold over the years, mostly Mullard EL84's and various old ECC83s (Brimar, Valvo, Telefunken, etc.) Pick up an old amp from eBay or Craigslist, play it for a few years, then sell it with "New JJ's!" Keep the good stuff for your keeper amps.

Great thread, btw.

And since there are more millionaires and billionares on the planet now than ever before, it would just take one who was interested in tube audio gear to throw some bucks towards doing tubes right. Does Zuckerman play guitar?

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by øøøøøøø » Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:35 am

Not to mention how many tubes sat in military gear "ready to go" for decades in peacetime. Eventually that gear was obsoleted, and the tubes were "pulled."

Some places put these in white boxes and advertise them as "NOS." However, even one little mar on the base suggesting it was once installed forces their hand (if they care), and they'll often sell as "used, tests new" for a little bit less. At least this used to be the case.

Sometimes you can get "used, tests new" tubes in white boxes for significantly less than premium NOS tubes in consumer boxes.

But as with everything else regarding NOS tubes, things are getting harder every day.

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