No announcement yet.

Lets talk tubes!


  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Lets talk tubes!

    I am interested in getting a set of tubes pretty soon for my DC-5 and in my research I have found people really in-love with JJ tubes. I have also found a few other sets online like Tung Sol. The tubes I have now are the mesa tubes the amp came with, I have no idea how old this amp is but based on some of the components I am guessing it may be a little on the older side. The power tubes are the Mesa 6L6 420 STR's. From what I understand they now load their amps with a later version called the 440 STR's. I find the sound of the tubes I have to be a little on the dark side. Just curious who is using what and why. Is there some tubes out there that might brighten the sound a little?

    My band plays hard rock and metal covers the gain on my dc-5 sounds amazing. The graphic eq controlled by footswitch is also a big plus for boosting in solo sections.

  • #2
    In my humble opinion, JJ power tubes are the very best, most versatile, dynamic and reliable power tubes on the market. If you're replacing 6L6, I would stay away from the STRs. They can get sloppy and become unarticulated at high volume running plate voltages of 500V+.

    Check out this site for the JJ Electronic 6L6GC. They're beautiful for all styles of music.

    On the other hand I do not like any of the JJ preamp tubes as they tend to dull your tone ever so slightly. I exclusively use Ruby 12AX7AC5 HG+ for all preamp vectors, and bear in mind that your phase inverter slot (usually the end slot) is the most important preamp slot in any guitar tube amp.

    Good luck.


    • jimijames31
      jimijames31 commented
      Editing a comment
      thank you I have heard similar things about the pre-amp tubes as well. When I get the tubes I am going to replace everything. Ill look into those rubys. Cheers

  • #3
    In terns of tone, none of todays offerings come close to those of the early days. There are some decent EL84's out there, so my AC15 won't be going anywhere. The most tube-hearty amp I own is an '87 Silver Jubilee 50 watt. 3 x 12AX7 and 2 x EL34 NOS vintage can still be had at a semi-reasonable price.
    Last edited by MacFangus; 05-06-2017, 06:42 PM.


    • #4
      Jimi, one thing I forgot to mention. Any time you replace power amp tubes (old or new), whether they are a direct R&R or of a different type, it is recommended that you clean the power tube pins and the power tube amp socket first. Typically you would use a little Deoxit (deoxidizing solution) and work the tube in 'n' out of the socket a few times. Then you "must" re-bias the amplifier, but only the for power tubes. Preamp tubes run 100% and therefore need no adjustment.

      Good luck.


      • jimijames31
        jimijames31 commented
        Editing a comment
        This paticular mesa amp says it never needs to be biased but thanks for the tip about cleaning the socket with some Deoxit. I have also heard a bit about burning in the tubes. Cyborg Have you ever done the whole leave the amp on for 24 hours to burn the tube in thing? I think the last time I was buying tubes, back when I had a Fender DRRI, offered to burn em in for a little extra.

    • #5
      I recently bought tubes for my Blackface Bassman. It had a set of 6L6 Groove tubes in there which were still good but my preamp tubes were giving me trouble.

      I had tried all the common 12AX7. I had at bunch of different brands on hand I had collected. 3 different Sovtec, JJ's, Mesa, Marshall, Groove Tubes EH, Tung Sol and several Chinese. I had done a comparison in a mic preamp awhile back and the Electro Harmonix beat them all for both loudness and clarity so I went with those for the preamp tubes and used a new old stock JAN 12AT7 for the inverter. The EH rated highest on the charts when I compared the tone, gain and lowest noise levels.

      You can compare them here

      Click image for larger version

Name:	2017_05_07_11_41_556.jpg
Views:	2
Size:	37.9 KB
ID:	31972365

      Click image for larger version

Name:	2017_05_07_11_48_1210.jpg
Views:	1
Size:	35.5 KB
ID:	31972366

      There are a few like the Black Sable that have the same low noise, sensitivity and headroom but they cost 5X more. The JJ
      s didn't come close to the EH tone by the way. They sounded small and compressed, not nearly as good in frequency response or string touch.

      After replacing the preamp tubes I figured I'd do the power tubes too.
      The Groove tubes had been in there many years and worked flawlessly. Very good tubes for a Fender amp. I thought I'd try out something different for a change.

      The first set I tried were Ruby Tubes. Man what a mistake that was. The first set started popping and crackling within a few minutes so I pulled them out and sent them back for another set and that set was even worse. Ruby are branded Chinese tubes and all the company does is match sets and sticks they're labels on them. Apparently they don't check them for audio quality.

      I sent those back and tried a set of JJ's next. Compared to the pre Fender Groove tubes they were highly anemic. They weren't awful but didn't come close to what I had been using. I then tried a set of EH. I was using the EH preamp tubes so I figured I may as well go all the way with them. The difference was like Night and day. It was like taking a blanket off the amp compared to the anemic and highly compressed sounding JJ's. The EH had the power and the tone I was expecting and sounded very much like the old large bottle RCA tubes I used for years. They had very low noise and simply provided clean power.

      I had replaced the JJ EL84's in my Music Man head too. JJ's are one of the only tubes that can handle the high plate voltages in those heads. When EH came out with the 6CA7 reissues, I bought a pair and the difference was noticeable, just not as much as the 6L6's.

      My conclusions on the JJ's are they work but you can do better for tone and volume. The EL34's are better then the 6L6's when compared to EH. The EH Preamp tubes blew the JJ's, Sovtek and all others I had away big time. I wasn't about to spend $100 each on the premium tubes and there is no such thing as unused vintage 12AX7 tubes any more. That supply as been used up decades ago and any you buy have unknown hours of use on them. The NOS military grade 12AT7 tube is army surplus stuff. You can still find those because they aren't used nearly as much.
      Attached Files