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Newbie question on selecting brand of vacuum tubes

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  • Newbie question on selecting brand of vacuum tubes

    hi guys, I now own two Bogner Alchemist 112 for my studio. (awesome value of $700 each).

    Those are my first tube amps. I'm told that I need to keep spare tubes in my studio, in case the stock tubes blow (chinese tubes).

    I googled Alchemist and I hear people saying "TungSol" will make it sound better. So I thought I browse ebay today for set of give tungsol tubes. Price? $76 including shipping to malaysia. But I notice there are other brands too, some cheaper, and slightly more expensive. JJ, EH, Svetlana, Sovtek, Sino etc... etc...

    which should I choose? they all look so "cute" 

  • #2

    It depends what people mean by "better".  Different tubes have different effects on your tone, however these effects may be too small to notice.  Whether the difference a brand of tube makes is better to you is up to your own ears.


    You will have to replace the output tubes eventually, as these wear out and give you bad tone.  preamp tubes (the smaller 12ax7's) may not need to be changed for years, if at all, although changing these can affect your tone. It is good practice to keep spares of all valves just in case, but I've only once had a tube go bad in 10 years of using tube amps.


    Buying a different brand or model of tube depends on how much you think you will hear a difference.  If you have a tone in mind which your amp isn't giving you then look for tubes which are designed to give you what you want.  for example, if your power tubes distort too early or too late or don't have enough high end then look for tubes which are designed to combat these problems.  If you are happy with the tone of the amp then just get tubes which get good reviews for reliability and tone and which are affordable to you.  That's all you need.


    • #3

      Selected tubes from tube amp doctor TAD or watfords Harma Cryo or Tung Sol or selected tubes from your most local music shop where they have pride in  reputation.I have had horrid valves from a chinese manufacturer and lackluster second hand valves from ebay. and good valves from ebay. go local if you can.


      • #4

        1.) Don't buy tubes on eBay. Buy from a dealer or local store that can give a little warranty.

        2.) Chasing nuance changes by "tube rolling" is a slippery slope, as you gain expereiences make a note of what tubes you like and why and don't spend time endlessly A-B testing them. Only big, overt changes matter, don't sweat the small stuff.

        3.) Tube brands and types get more confusing every year.  here is actually only 4 or 5 companies that actually make tubes...Reflekotr in Russia makes all the New Sensor tubes (Sovtek, EH, Tung Sol RI, Mullard RI, GEC RI, and a few others); Svetlana in Russia (in North America these are sold as SED because of a trademark issues, Svetlana-branded tubes sold in North America are made nby Reflektor/New Sensor); JJ (formerly Tesla) in Slovakia; and Shuguang in China (Shuguang, Sino, Golden Dragon, and a few other brands).

        Most of these companies make several products, some even cross bradn the same product. And then companies like Groove Tubes, Ruby, Tube Amp Doctor (TAD) also all buy these tubes and rebrand them with their own logo. In general, preamp tubes keep getting better with each new generation. So, people like the Tung Sol RI (latest from Reflektor/New Sensor), but their design means they can't be used reliabliy in certain positions (cahtode-followers) on some amps (Marshalls, Vox, early Bassman, and all amps derived from these usually have a cahtode-follower position); people love the current generation of Chinese preamp tubes for hi-gain applications (these will pretty much be most Chinese tubes on the market); and people find the JJ's a bit dark, which can have it's applications.

        Better is subjective. You need to do the tubes change the sound?...what other people love about tubes may be something you hate.

        My advice? You are in Maylasia, contact Ceriatone and see if they can steer you to an affordable tube seller closer to home.