NOS versus new production tubes

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by zhivago » Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:41 am

many thanks for all the info :)

I definitely want to be as tweedy as I can get, as I love the organic sound! :-*

I think I'll go for 6V6, as I need lower volume at home at the moment...I see quite a few sellers on ebay uk from the Balkan countries, so I should be able to pick some stuff up in the next few weeks

I must say that the long lasting life span is what has pushed me over the edge...I re-tubed with JJs 6 months ago and they actually went crappy a couple of weeks back :(

I'll report back in a few weeks...I have a tax payment to make in the end of this month, so I can't really spend anything for the next 3 weeks or so, but February should be ok to buy some stuff

I'm actually re-tolexing and re-grillclothing my Tweed Deluxe at the moment, so I might just tie it all in one thread 8)
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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by zhivago » Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:44 am

...as a final question, for a Tweed Deluxe, how many of each tube would be a "lifetime supply"?

8 6V6s
8 12AX7s
and
4 rectifiers of some sort?
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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by øøøøøøø » Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:41 am

zhivago wrote:...as a final question, for a Tweed Deluxe, how many of each tube would be a "lifetime supply"?

8 6V6s
8 12AX7s
and
4 rectifiers of some sort?
Of course it depends on your usage patterns and how you use them.

I'd say one good NOS rectifier and a backup is a lifetime supply. Hell, I might even consider ONE good NOS rectifier a "lifetime supply." They just don't fail that much, and they don't "wear out." My 1965 Fender Deluxe is still on its (from what I can tell) original Mullard GZ34. It's had a power transformer fail, and everything, and that old Mullard keeps right on ticking. My 1959 Magnatone 260 still has what could very well be the original 5U4. I had a '59 Silvertone with the original 6X4 rectifier. They just last and last. That's why they're so cheap to get NOS/UOS. I'd get one to use and a used one for a backup. Probably I'd get both of them used. No reason not to, except that NOS are almost as cheap (except for the 5AR4/GZ34 of course).

Preamp tubes can run for a long time, too. If you're hitting the front really hard with a booster, you could theoretically "wear out" a 12AX7 after a long time. However, I've got Mullard, Amperex, or RCA 12AX7s in most of my amps and I can't say I've come even close to one "wearing out," ever. I've had one or two that were "used" to begin with go noisy. Most of mine still sound great to me. I'd say if your amp has two spots for 12AX7, 8 would be a GENEROUS supply. 6 or even 4--two slots plus a backup for each--might be considered a "near-lifetime supply" by me, and I use my amps a lot. However, shit happens, so having a few extra GOOD, NOS 12AX7s around is never a bad thing. They're probably not gonna get any cheaper, so if nothing else, it's money in the bank.

8 6V6s seems reasonable, even generous. 6 might be more on target. A really good set of NOS 6V6 will run for a long time in a tweed Deluxe. Just as a point of reference, about half of the vintage amps I run across from the 1960s still have their ORIGINAL power tubes, and most sound fine. Power tubes can wear out and start to lose performance/sound, but I'd consider myself "set" if I had even 3 pairs to dedicate to a single amp. Your descendants might end up selling one of those pairs after you die. :)

This is just my experience. Although I use my amps a lot and use distortions, boosters, etc. I don't seem to be too hard on tubes. For others it might be different, who knows.
Last edited by øøøøøøø on Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by øøøøøøø » Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:43 am

zhivago wrote:many thanks for all the info :)
I definitely want to be as tweedy as I can get, as I love the organic sound! :-*
Keep an eye out for blackplate RCA 6V6s (or obviously Tung Sol 5881s if you want to go that route), then. Marconi 6V6s sound very similar to the blackplate RCAs and (used to be?) quite a bit cheaper. Brimars are gorgeous... maybe my second-favorite... and those might be more available in Europe.

Also, I highly recommend sourcing an RCA 6072/12AY7 for V1. The 12AY7 is a microphone tube, and was used in a lot of hi fi gear, so they're just as expensive as 12AX7s. Real sought-after. But to me, that IS the "tweed sound."

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by jetset » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:30 pm

Great info here. Any advice for V1 choices for brown/blonde Fenders?
-J

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by øøøøøøø » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:48 pm

The alpha and omega for me for 12AX7s in tweed, brown, and blonde Fenders are long plate RCAs. They were (to my knowledge) the original tubes that shipped in these amps, and to me they just sound "right."

That said, I have a "silvertone" labeled long-plate Amperex in my '61 brown Super-amp. It's the best sounding tube I've ever heard in that position.

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by zhivago » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:03 pm

øøøøøøø wrote:
zhivago wrote:...as a final question, for a Tweed Deluxe, how many of each tube would be a "lifetime supply"?

8 6V6s
8 12AX7s
and
4 rectifiers of some sort?
Of course it depends on your usage patterns and how you use them.

I'd say one good NOS rectifier and a backup is a lifetime supply. Hell, I might even consider ONE good NOS rectifier a "lifetime supply." They just don't fail that much, and they don't "wear out." My 1965 Fender Deluxe is still on its (from what I can tell) original Mullard GZ34. It's had a power transformer fail, and everything, and that old Mullard keeps right on ticking. My 1959 Magnatone 260 still has what could very well be the original 5U4. I had a '59 Silvertone with the original 6X4 rectifier. They just last and last. That's why they're so cheap to get NOS/UOS. I'd get one to use and a used one for a backup. Probably I'd get both of them used. No reason not to, except that NOS are almost as cheap (except for the 5AR4/GZ34 of course).

Preamp tubes can run for a long time, too. If you're hitting the front really hard with a booster, you could theoretically "wear out" a 12AX7 after a long time. However, I've got Mullard, Amperex, or RCA 12AX7s in most of my amps and I can't say I've come even close to one "wearing out," ever. I've had one or two that were "used" to begin with go noisy. Most of mine still sound great to me. I'd say if your amp has two spots for 12AX7, 8 would be a GENEROUS supply. 6 or even 4--two slots plus a backup for each--might be considered a "near-lifetime supply" by me, and I use my amps a lot. However, shit happens, so having a few extra GOOD, NOS 12AX7s around is never a bad thing. They're probably not gonna get any cheaper, so if nothing else, it's money in the bank.

8 6V6s seems reasonable, even generous. 6 might be more on target. A really good set of NOS 6V6 will run for a long time in a tweed Deluxe. Just as a point of reference, about half of the vintage amps I run across from the 1960s still have their ORIGINAL power tubes, and most sound fine. Power tubes can wear out and start to lose performance/sound, but I'd consider myself "set" if I had even 3 pairs to dedicate to a single amp. Your descendants might end up selling one of those pairs after you die. :)

This is just my experience. Although I use my amps a lot and use distortions, boosters, etc. I don't seem to be too hard on tubes. For others it might be different, who knows.

good to know 8)

thanks for all your help, Brad!! :-*

I only use the Klon (as you all know), to get some nice gain going...I think I should be a-ok...I do have my early ZZ Top/Cream/Led Zep moments, but actually lately I'm more alt country and early blues and R n' B, than anything else heavy on the amps front end.

I must admit, I'm kinda looking forward to trying some NOS tubes out... :)

just one more last question: :)

what do you mean by V1?

(seriously, I've no idea which tube position that is) :-[ :-[ :-[
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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by øøøøøøø » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:22 pm

"V1" or "valve 1" is the very first tube/valve in the amp that signal hits. In your case, it is furthest from the rectifier tube-- on the opposite side of the chassis. It might be a 12AX7 in your particular amp-- in the original 5E3 Tweed Deluxe it was a 12AY7.

This tube has special importance because, since it's so early in the chain, its character has major influence-- every subsequent stage of the amp is amplifying that tube's character, in addition to your guitar signal. I hope that makes sense.

Can't wait to hear what your reaction is to trying out some nice tubes in your amp.

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by zhivago » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:23 am

øøøøøøø wrote:"V1" or "valve 1" is the very first tube/valve in the amp that signal hits. In your case, it is furthest from the rectifier tube-- on the opposite side of the chassis. It might be a 12AX7 in your particular amp-- in the original 5E3 Tweed Deluxe it was a 12AY7.

This tube has special importance because, since it's so early in the chain, its character has major influence-- every subsequent stage of the amp is amplifying that tube's character, in addition to your guitar signal. I hope that makes sense.

Can't wait to hear what your reaction is to trying out some nice tubes in your amp.

ahhh, I see :)

I'm looking forward to this too...I'll update this thread sometime in February, realistically :)
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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by zhivago » Fri Jan 14, 2011 5:34 am

hey guys, one thing I forgot to ask is...

where to buy from?

there are a couple of online seller I see:

https://www.kcanostubes.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

and

http://www.thetubeshop.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

the tube shop seems to be cheaper than KCA...any opinions on either of the sellers?

then there's ebay I guess...but is that advisable?

:)
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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by øøøøøøø » Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:16 am

I have purchased from KCA and can vouch for them. Never bought from the tube shop but I'm sure they're fine. There are others as well.

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by zhivago » Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:29 am

have you ever bought on ebay, Brad?

is it worth the risk?
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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by Mr. Peabody » Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:23 am

Depending on your speaker, you should measure how much room you have for the Marconi 6v6s. I believe I had to pass on some because I put a 50 watt speaker in my 5E3. The magnet protruded too far for the Marconis.
Although do you have an oversized cab? That might help.

Anyways...measure twice, buy once. Couldn't hurt.

I've bought from KCA as well and was happy.

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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by zhivago » Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:26 am

thanks for the tip :)

I do have an oversized cab...in fact, I have the Bassman-size one, so it can't get any bigger! Plus only the one 12" Celestion Gold, so I should be ok 8)
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Re: NOS versus new production tubes

Post by øøøøøøø » Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:18 am

I've bought from eBay. For things like preamp tubes, I don't worry too much. If it says NOS, I'd like a compelling reason to believe it's so. If it's used/tested, the risk is generally small enough, and failures of those small tubes are seldom.

For output tubes, I won't buy on eBay unless the following is listed in the auction:

At minimum, plate current specifications on a calibrated tube tester, and also the make and model (and a note like "recently calibrated") of tube tester. Anything less than that isn't enough for me to go on.

Preferably, transconductance figures will be included, as well.

It's kind of a "gut feeling" thing. It tends to be pretty obvious whether the tubes have been tested adequately or not, and whether the seller knows what he is talking about. The ones who publish good data, in my experience, tend to be straight-shooters. I've yet to get a tube from a complete, comprehensive listing that wasn't what it was supposed to be (knock on wood). But on eBay there's always some element of "caveat emptor."

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