Anybody think new tubes sound as good or better than NOS?

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Anybody think new tubes sound as good or better than NOS?

Postby aRRaNT PLeXi on Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:33 pm

I don't think so, just wondering if anybody has found any new stuff that they think does. If so, please include your info... amp speakers, guitar, ears and stuff. :jam:
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Re: Anybody think new tubes sound as good or better than NOS

Postby Happy Face on Tue Aug 06, 2013 2:26 am

Sure. In my most humble opinion, when playing live, your amp, speaker cab, guitar and technique overwhelms the subtle differences from the tubes. Out of nostalgia I'll throw in NOS tubes when I get them, but I don't notice a hell of a lot of difference. Nor do those in the audience who only hear some contorted/compressed POS version of my sound through the FOH anyway.

But as you asked us to mention our "ears" -- mine are blasted away from the pre-FOH days. :P
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Re: Anybody think new tubes sound as good or better than NOS

Postby dtw576 on Tue Aug 06, 2013 11:25 am

No way, no how. My experience is that the tubes are a major factor in the sound and touch sensitivity of a well designed tube amp, especially the Marshalls and Hiwatt's from the late 60's through 70's that I play. I actually experienced the aural value of vintage tubes when I got back into playing guitar around 2000 after getting out of music in '83. Having played Marshalls in a rock band from the mid '70's through '83, I certainly knew what the 1987 and 2204 Marshalls sounded like and played like. So when I purchased several early 70's 1987's and they just didn't sound or play anything like my memory, I found this place. It sure didn't take long to find that good ole Mullard EL34's and I61 or I63 ECC83's were what I was missing.

Bought me a Weber BiasRite, more than a few Mullards, and loaded up my amps. The first open A chords on my SG/V/LP's were all it took to know that the tubes were a MAJOR component in the sound I heard in my head. The singing sustain, full of shimmering, and blooming harmonics was there in spades too. And since that day I've never looked anywhere but to vintage tubes such as Mullard EL34's, GEC KT66's, Mullard ECC83's, Tungsram ECC83's,and Mullard GZ34's for my amps. Plus the adder that the things never seem to wear out. :thumbsup: I've never been disappointed either.
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Re: Anybody think new tubes sound as good or better than NOS

Postby pdf64 on Tue Aug 06, 2013 2:23 pm

My knackered hearing indicate that good examples of Mullard EL34, EL84 and GE 6L6GC just can't be beat - there's an edge and depth to the tone which comes out as mushy mids with modern tubes.
Tubes are a gamble though, my hunch is that crateloads of tubes rejected in the day are being sold today as NOS tone nirvana - poor tubes are especially galling when they're genuine GE and expensive.
However, a sweet tone can be had from modern power tubes, and current pre-amp tubes can be excellent.
EH and RI TS 12AX7 can sound just fine in comparison to the few Mullard ECC83 I keep stashed, eg used as 1st stage in AB763 and 5F6A type amps.
It seems that current manufacturers may have poor conformity to the type standard and QA seems to be ropey but from a consumer perspective, at least we can now buy tubes that are tested / checked / warrantied for gain, microphonics, matching.
In the 80s and 90s I had to buy twice as many as were needed in order to have reasonable chance of getting enough that were usable.
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Re: Anybody think new tubes sound as good or better than NOS

Postby OldSchoolDave on Tue Aug 06, 2013 2:37 pm

dtw576 wrote:No way, no how.


+1

That said, in every circuit there are tubes which are less critical to the resultant tone. In those cases, I may use something modern to economize.

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Re: Anybody think new tubes sound as good or better than NOS

Postby 57lpjr on Tue Aug 06, 2013 3:45 pm

OldSchoolDave wrote:
dtw576 wrote:No way, no how.


+1

That said, in every circuit there are tubes which are less critical to the resultant tone. In those cases, I may use something modern to economize.

Dave


+1
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Re: Anybody think new tubes sound as good or better than NOS

Postby master keeper on Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:24 pm

OldSchoolDave wrote:
dtw576 wrote:No way, no how.


+1

That said, in every circuit there are tubes which are less critical to the resultant tone. In those cases, I may use something modern to economize.

Dave


+1 on what dtw said.

Many guys think I'm overly anal about tubes and combining the right ones for each amp I have or sell tubes for, especially when they find out that the only position I will put a shortplate mullard is in V2. Old longplates are different and in some cases sound STELLAR in V1. The amps I play are mainly a smallbox 50w and 12267 100w SL. As for power tubes I dare say all of the contemporary sound dull in comparison to the tubes of the '50s-'80s....... The last decent ones produced were the winged C of the '90s and early '00s. JJ's have 90% of the tone but are flat sounding to my ears....
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Re: Anybody think new tubes sound as good or better than NOS

Postby pdf64 on Wed Aug 07, 2013 4:32 pm

No way, no how


To my thinking that mindset ignores the potential for marginal NOS tubes to be sold as tone nirvana.
Good tubes are great, good tubes fresh from the golden age are the best, but its fanciful to be blinkered to the marginal tubes that have always been part of the mix.
Today however they have significant market value and it's very expensive for a vendor to do the right thing with them.
As long as they're genuine and basically functional, tubes can be worth big money, the market doesn't differentiate between the lame and the good.
If someone has got their own stash, or a supplier they have a good relationship with then great; but without those, it's unfair not to draw attention to the potential for the NOS tube market to be an expensive gamble.
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Re: Anybody think new tubes sound as good or better than NOS

Postby dtw576 on Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:56 pm

pdf64 wrote:
No way, no how


To my thinking that mindset ignores the potential for marginal NOS tubes to be sold as tone nirvana.
Good tubes are great, good tubes fresh from the golden age are the best, but its fanciful to be blinkered to the marginal tubes that have always been part of the mix.
Today however they have significant market value and it's very expensive for a vendor to do the right thing with them.
As long as they're genuine and basically functional, tubes can be worth big money, the market doesn't differentiate between the lame and the good.
If someone has got their own stash, or a supplier they have a good relationship with then great; but without those, it's unfair not to draw attention to the potential for the NOS tube market to be an expensive gamble.
Pete

Pete,

I guess I wasn't considering that the OP was asking about used up, rejects, damaged, vintage glass in his question. I buy ALL of my vintage glass on ebay and haven't found anything I wanted to spring on since about 2004 except for a I63 or two to replace stash I've given to friends. It is always buyer beware on vintage glass, hey for that matter, on new stuff too. But vintage glass is ALWAYS a gamble. Expensive? Depends. A $250 pair of XF2's in a $2500 50 watt Plexi isn't that expensive of a gamble, especially for the full tone potential of the head. But if you buy junk vintage glass, sure it would bum anyone out. There is no easy way to purchase perfection each time, every time or get a 100% guarantee on 40 year old electronics, tubes or amps. Plenty of poor examples of JJ's running around out there, and think of all the rejects that Mesa, GT, etc pitch in the trash that others would/do sell as "first rate" new glass. But in the world of vintage glass vs new glass, even 50% used up "good" vintage glass far exceeds most new glass I've ever tried. Still got some of those attempts in my stash and not even sure why. Guess I like to look at blue glass and ruby glass JJ's every so often, Sure are pretty but didn't sound even close to even my XF4 Mullards. And BTW, I think XF4's sound pretty darn good in a band setting when you don't end up hearing every last smidgeon of your tone and harmonics.
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Re: Anybody think new tubes sound as good or better than NOS

Postby master keeper on Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:39 am

dtw576 wrote:
I buy ALL of my vintage glass on ebay and haven't found anything I wanted to spring on since about 2004 except for a I63 or two to replace stash I've given to friends. It is always buyer beware on vintage glass


exactly my experience - DO YOUR HOMEWORK and you'll be fine most of the time. I've learned from Plexi Palace and today have a hoard of the best of the best pre and power tubes. I've recieved only a handful tubes over the past 12 years that didn't meet my expectations.

All new prod tubes I've bought during the same time have sincerely dissapointed me in every way, both in durability and in tone :evil:

I'll take my dutch and english fx2, xf3, the east german '60s and '70s RFT. the TESLAs, and Matsu's anytime over any modenrn power tubes, and all the Mullard, tesla, S&H, Heerlen, RFT, Tungsram, TFK, etc etc over any modern pre's.... And most of them were bought at a considerably lesser cost than modern mfg tubes.
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Re: Anybody think new tubes sound as good or better than NOS

Postby The Pup on Fri Aug 09, 2013 7:22 am

I bought all of the vintage tube stock I could get my hands on in the '80s, because I thought tubes were destined for obsolescence. I was wrong; but I do have a most remarkable stash.

What is amusing about these threads is, they typically discount the great tone offered by great amp manufactures today.

Are any of you saying that Mohave Amps do not sound good--no they sound great!

...and they do so with modern tubes.

I have a Friedman Dirty Shirley with cheap Chinese tubes--yep, it sounds great too! My RedPlate AstroDustDuo--yep, incredible sounding amp with stock tubes. I could go on (I've got 29 amps in the stable as of today).

Tube snob typical reply: "Oh yea, well just think how much better they would sound with fresh Mullard 12AX7 and XF2 tubes!"
My reply: "Those Mohave amps (and so many others) sound incredible; even without those storied Mullard tubes."
Tube snob: "Well, those cheap new tubes will not last."
My reply: "I've got JJ tubes that still sound fine; which have been in constant service since '94."

There is no doubt that we would prefer the Mullards; but if you cannot get great tone from your gear, I very much doubt a fresh set of modern made tubes is your most significant culprit.

Folks, we are living in the age of great tone and fast cars!
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Re: Anybody think new tubes sound as good or better than NOS

Postby dtw576 on Fri Aug 09, 2013 1:24 pm

Pup,

No disagreement but as this is vintage amp forum, many/most of us are talking about our 60's and 70's vintage amps, not new ones, even Vic's. And I have no doubt many of the new amps sound killer, hear them every day on the radio. But I would also bet that none of them are operating at 500V or more (or at least 480V+) like my early 70's Marshalls are. And at that voltage, JJ's just won't cut it, or last near as long as any vintage tube from the 60's and 70's, or even 80's. That is my experience at least, but I am just me (and this was asking for my judgement), as it was yours. When/if I get a Mohave, Friedman, Divided by 13, Engl, etc then Chinese or Russian tubes will most likely reside in them. Although Mullards may sound good in them (wouldn't have a clue), I would have little reason to try them since the amps were not designed in the timeline of those tubes, nor were any of the other internal components of those amps pulled together from compnents made during the 60's and 70's. Not trying to be argumentative here, but we are talking a 40 year difference in technologies and components. Had I responded to the OP on a different forum, say, Gear Page or MyLesPaul where the majority of the amp posts are about new amps, then my answer would have been predicated on "vintage amps" in response to wondering about "vintage tubes". Peace. :cheers:
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Re: Anybody think new tubes sound as good or better than NOS

Postby OldSchoolDave on Fri Aug 09, 2013 2:15 pm

Excellent point, dtw576.

Not to pile on, but my new (at the time) AC30CC1 sounding sterile, harsh and one-dimensional until I swapped out the stock tubes for some vintage glass.

Just about anything can perform reasonably well at the all-out-gain, low SPL setting (even solid state :shock: !). In my experience, the differences become apparent at performing (or recording) levels and clean to moderate crunch settings.

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Re: Anybody think new tubes sound as good or better than NOS

Postby dtw576 on Fri Aug 09, 2013 2:46 pm

OldSchoolDave wrote:Excellent point, dtw576.

Not to pile on, but my new (at the time) AC30CC1 sounding sterile, harsh and one-dimensional until I swapped out the stock tubes for some vintage glass.

Just about anything can perform reasonably well at the all-out-gain, low SPL setting (even solid state :shock: !). In my experience, the differences become apparent at performing (or recording) levels and clean to moderate crunch settings.

Dave

You know, I find that GEC KT66's sound great in amps built with todays components. A few years ago I owned two block logo JTM45's. I had Paul Ruby gut a JTM45RI and put a PTP board in with Mallory 150's and modern resistors. He used Marstran OT and PT, which were very new to the market at that time, and even kept the Marshall choke as he thought it was OK, and JJ filter caps (no kidding). So basically everything in that amp was new manufacture except for GEC KT66's and Mullard ECC 83's and GZ34 (all yellow lable Mullards no less). Paul was blown away by the sound of the amp as was I, and I ended up selling the block logo's because his modern component PTP/Marstran/GEC/Mullard version JTM45 sounded every bit as good as those "real" block logo's and I didn't have to sweat blowing a RS transformer. I can swear I've heard owners of modern Vox and Marshall amps, that are vintage designs, say that vintage glass has totally changed the sound of their amps for the better, like you have. So I guess the bottom line is all amps are just a combination of parts, and new or old, vintage glass may or may not make them sound better. And some guys like their amps to sound all nasty and raspy. I like mine to sound beautiful at clean to slight crunch volumes and scream bloody murder when cranked, but scream with class not sound crass. XF2's and GEC just seem to always provide that for me and I've only worn out one XF2 when I was playing 4-5 times a week back in my 2002-2003 band days.
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Re: Anybody think new tubes sound as good or better than NOS

Postby The Pup on Sat Aug 10, 2013 5:25 am

You all speak the truth.

My Friedman DS sounds eerily close to my Park 75--how did they do that?

I have more than a dozen or so amps I have owned well over 40 years and I cannot remember the last time I had to change a Mullard rectifier (good thing I have 10,000 years worth of spares). :shock:

I have a power strip controlled by a variac to reduce my house EMF down to <110 (otherwise my line feed is >120 on most days); this saves the premium glass and invokes a certain special grind.

Over the decades, I have helped many guitarist figure out "their tone;" and most were accomplished, but lost from the start. They somehow forgot the basics:

a. Listening position
b. Speakers
c. OT, circuit design, state-of-repair (why doesn't my X sound like the famous guy's Y?)
d. Controls (especially getting the neck pickup to sing)
e. Setup (pickup and pole height [e.g. establishing the dominate coil in HBs])
f. Touch (yes...I said it)
g. Recorded media or PA influences (e.g. compression, mics, room, psychoacoustic/aura affects of the competing mix, etc.)
h. etc....

I'm not sure where I would place vintage glass on the hierarchy of concerns.

Although, I am guessing all of you well understand this; here's a prime example of the arguably significant difference speakers contribute to "tone:"



As you stated before, all is not lost if you cannot get your hands on some esoteric vintage holy grail equipment--here's a guitarist getting some decent use from a modern build:

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