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New production 12AX7 for guitar amps...like to hear what everyone likes!
Old 21st March 2010
  #1
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Ron Vogel's Avatar
 

New production 12AX7 for guitar amps...like to hear what everyone likes!

I'm getting tired of the hoops I'm jumping through for NOS tubes. So, I'm going back to new production. Anyway, I'd like to hear what everyone's favorites are and what amp they are in, and the style of playing is for intended use.

I have stayed away from certain brands myself, and wondering if they are worth another look. However, right now my favorite are the new Tung-Sol's for 12AX7's.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #2
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I would suggest 6N2P and 6N1P, it seems to me a lot of them were just released from some military warehouses, so prices on ePay dramatically dropped down. And they are still in current production. However, they are not exact replacement of 12AT7, but you have both high mu and low mu double triodes for your needs, good and cheap. However, for support and replacement it is better to have some 12AX7, but for a new production why to bother?
Old 22nd March 2010
  #3
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take a look in CEdist.com.. they usually have a good selection of new.. if you find something you like ..buy a lot.. they come and go
Old 22nd March 2010
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wavebourn View Post
I would suggest 6N2P and 6N1P, it seems to me a lot of them were just released from some military warehouses, so prices on ePay dramatically dropped down. And they are still in current production. However, they are not exact replacement of 12AT7, but you have both high mu and low mu double triodes for your needs, good and cheap. However, for support and replacement it is better to have some 12AX7, but for a new production why to bother?
I have heard to stay away from those tubes, supposedly they are pretty dull and lifeless. Never tried them though.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerbrain View Post
take a look in CEdist.com.. they usually have a good selection of new.. if you find something you like ..buy a lot.. they come and go
Just registered...

Thanks for the link, I just opened up an eBay store and one of the things I plan on offering are mod kits for the new Marshall class 5. Having a few more suppliers is always a good thing. Only problem I have with certain suppliers is tube testing. Consistancy on the new tubes is pretty bad, they really need to be tested first before they get put in an amp. I may have to pony up the dough for my own tester.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #6
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All I can say about new production tubes is that JJs are way too harsh for my taste...
I didn't try a lot of new production tubes though, I hope they're not all like that.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matskull View Post
All I can say about new production tubes is that JJs are way too harsh for my taste...
I didn't try a lot of new production tubes though, I hope they're not all like that.
Yeah, I hate the JJ's...my new Marshall came with all JJ's..

I put in an NOS Mullard in the 1st position, and a Jan 5751 in the second. I am waiting on a mullard el34. Just the two tubes I swapped in gave me great tone...although the Mullard 12ax7 went microphonic on me, so I had to put back in one of the JJ's. I don't get the buzz on the JJ's at all. Too much grainy gain, and it's all upper mids. I just ordered some matched triode Tung-sol's to try out. This particlar amp has a low-mid bump to it. I'm thinking RCA's wold make it even thicker (and it doesn't need that). From what I recall the Tung-sol's are pretty neutral. The 5751 in the second position really helped, so I may be swapping cap values on that tube to limit bass then go back to a 12ax7.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Vogel View Post
Yeah, I hate the JJ's...my new Marshall came with all JJ's..

I put in an NOS Mullard in the 1st position, and a Jan 5751 in the second. I am waiting on a mullard el34. Just the two tubes I swapped in gave me great tone...although the Mullard 12ax7 went microphonic on me, so I had to put back in one of the JJ's. I don't get the buzz on the JJ's at all. Too much grainy gain, and it's all upper mids. I just ordered some matched triode Tung-sol's to try out. This particlar amp has a low-mid bump to it. I'm thinking RCA's wold make it even thicker (and it doesn't need that). From what I recall the Tung-sol's are pretty neutral. The 5751 in the second position really helped, so I may be swapping cap values on that tube to limit bass then go back to a 12ax7.
I've got a marshall MKII bass with some sovtek 12ax7 in it (which I'm pretty sure are vintage) and it sounds really nice, they control the bottom and do not get too much gain which is nice for that amp.

I had a mesa and in that amp I the eh 12ax7 was the best new production tube I tried for high gain but the NOS RCA shortplate sounded way better.
The RCA longplate sound pretty good too with a little bit less gain if I remember correctly.

Tung sol seems to be pretty nice but I've never tried them myself.
Tubes are pretty fun to mess with but it can get expansive, if you wanna talk NOS tubes with a pro I suggest you contact bowie, here's his adress: [email protected] that guy really knows his stuff and he's a pretty nice guy too.
I bought some tubes from him and have been extremely satisfied.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Vogel View Post
... they are pretty dull and lifeless. Never tried them though.
heh heh heh

Quote:
Originally Posted by matskull View Post
... sovtek 12ax7 in it (which I'm pretty sure are vintage) ...
heh heh heh

Sorry guys, I thought the question was about new production of amps. However, for old production of amps you should use the same tubes the gear was developed for, otherwise it may sound either too harsh, or dull and lifeless.

Sovtek can't be vintage: it is a post - Soviet company, relatively new.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #10
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I'm using Penta Labs in the preamp of my Bogner Ecstasy and Ruby HG in my Diezel Herbert. Very Happy. Check out Doug's Tubes on the web.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #11
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+1 on Wavebourn's observation. If you read all the opinions about various tubes you will find almost no useful consitent trends about what sounds good. Almost any sonic change in tube swapping, even amongst tubes of the same designation, and absolutley amongst tubes of different design, is due to different operating conditions of the particular circuit involved. Tubes have a reasonably complex and messy transfer function, and one that is highly dependant upon the operating conditions. Even small changes in bias, anode voltage, output impedance etc etc can cause large changes to the transfer function. If you were to swap tubes, and then tweak the operating parameters to the point where the two tubes being compared were operating with similar transfer functions the sonic differences would mostly vanish. A good amp designer voices the amp to the tubes he uses, and voices the tubes. The parameters are subtle, and at first glance, two circuits may look essentially identical, but only a couple of component value changes can radically change the sonic character.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Francis Vaughan View Post
+1 on Wavebourn's observation. If you read all the opinions about various tubes you will find almost no useful consitent trends about what sounds good. Almost any sonic change in tube swapping, even amongst tubes of the same designation, and absolutley amongst tubes of different design, is due to different operating conditions of the particular circuit involved. Tubes have a reasonably complex and messy transfer function, and one that is highly dependant upon the operating conditions. Even small changes in bias, anode voltage, output impedance etc etc can cause large changes to the transfer function. If you were to swap tubes, and then tweak the operating parameters to the point where the two tubes being compared were operating with similar transfer functions the sonic differences would mostly vanish. A good amp designer voices the amp to the tubes he uses, and voices the tubes. The parameters are subtle, and at first glance, two circuits may look essentially identical, but only a couple of component value changes can radically change the sonic character.

I agree, and that's why tube rolling can have such a dramatic difference in sound. Also to add that new production tubes are very inconsistant, so simply changing tube for tube (same brand/style) can make a dramatic difference in tone. I stay away from discount suppliers that don't check each tube because of this. If I have to pay a few more bucks for testing so be it.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #13
Basson Sound is using Tungsol 12AX7A's for the high gain front end and the rest are 12AX7AEH's. The Power tubes are EH 6CA7.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 23rd March 2010
  #14
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I recently did a rectifier tube test on my Priceton reverb, I was surprised to find the EHX 5u4gb to had the lowest voltage output. That was only reason I have stayed away from them, even though they are made at the same factory as the tung-sol's.

My slightly scientific test (copy/paste from different forum):

So I got in all my tube rectifiers, and finally have a decent matching pair of power tubes to test them with (In a Princeton Blacface clone).
I have an Amprex (made in Holland) GZ34/5AR4, a WU4GB Weber copper rectifier, 5V4GA Airline, Phillips-miniwatt 5U4GB, and a new EH 5U4GB. All tubes test NOS. Running them through VT107 JAN 6V6-GT's (RCA).

By the list above, you can see how overly-anal I am in the tube selection!

I baselined the 6V6 tube match with the Copper weber since it is solid state. I got 408volts with .024 on tube 1, and .0237 on tube 2 (like I said, close match!)

Here are the results:
Tube / Voltage / Bias at 9.8 watts
GZ34 - 412 - .0237
Weber WU4GB - 408 - .024
5V4GB - 403 - .0243
PW 5U4GB - 399 - .0245
EH 5u4GB - 396 - .0247

I have looked up references on the web, showing much more drastic voltage losses for some of these tubes. I do see that the 5U4GB's are current hungry and really have earlier breakup and loss of bass at higher volumes.

As for the winner in my combo? No contest; the Amprex GZ34...it was the cleanest, most bass, best sounding distortion.
Second place...5V4GB
Third....Weber
Fourth...the Phillips 5U4GB (this was a close to a tie with the Weber)
Fifth was the new EH 5U4GB, wow did this thing make the amp sound like crap!

This wasn't the most scientific test, but at least I was able to hear quite a difference with such a subtle difference in voltage.
Old 23rd March 2010
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wavebourn View Post
heh heh heh



heh heh heh

Sorry guys, I thought the question was about new production of amps. However, for old production of amps you should use the same tubes the gear was developed for, otherwise it may sound either too harsh, or dull and lifeless.

Sovtek can't be vintage: it is a post - Soviet company, relatively new.
Makes sence lol, I didn't know that but I heard that they are no longer made by the same company that used to make them, that's what I was refering to.
Old 23rd March 2010
  #16
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kafka's Avatar
Honestly, when it comes to preamp tubes, it's the one subject on which I say there are really no rules. There are plenty of tubes that I've absolutely hated for one application, and then found it was perfect for another. The Groove Tubes GT-12AX7-R is a good example. That thing was just a spitty mess in any of my amps. I put it in my Zendrive2, and it brought the pedal to life.

I keep a shoebox of 12ax7/12at7 tubes, and when I want something different, I just dig in and grab whatever looks interesting. Sometimes it works out, and other times it doesn't.

That said, up to this point I haven't hated any new production Tung-Sol's.
Old 23rd March 2010
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matskull View Post
Makes sence lol, I didn't know that but I heard that they are no longer made by the same company that used to make them, that's what I was refering to.
The result of a trademark war.
Old 24th March 2010
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wavebourn View Post
The result of a trademark war.
That's quite possible.
Wherever they come from, in the amp I use them in they work pretty well, smooth and dirty at the same time.
Old 12th July 2010
  #19
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I use Jan Phillips 5751s in my clean channel and amp loop sockets and I have used them in the my high gains as well. They cut some of the fizzy gain from a fizzy amp, my amp never had that problem but they still sounded really good. I had heard SRV and others were using these 5751s to lower the channel dist and push more to the power amp tube dist. JAN means military grade. Seems to do just that on my rig. And they still cranked out some high gained dist w no problems in fact I could not really tell the difference in dist quality just seems to be a better tube with no microphonics that 12AX7s always get pretty quick.

The new tubes from Tung Sol are rated very well in tone and quality, I read all the info I could and I am very happy with the results.

I also have Tung Sol 12XA7s in my gain channels and they seem to be really good, no microphonics and just great tone. Better than the "groove tubes" my amp came with.

I also am fond of the Tung Sol EL34Bs in my power tubes they are larger structure EL34s more like 5881/6L6s sort of gives you the best of both. Pretty cool for you guys like me who dig the Marshall gain crunch but also like the Mesa 6L6 low end tight.

Just FYI
Old 12th July 2010
  #20
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I tried 5751's in my Marshall class 5. Didn't work out so well for that amp. I could only use 1 5751, since one of the gain stages is a tone stack, and it didn't behave well with the 5751. Amp still fizzed like crazy anyway, so it was a wash. I ended up sweet talking a schematic out of Marshall, modded the circuit for lower gain, put good parts in it, and made custom baffle for an old vintage 12" Jensen. No matter what I threw at it it fizzed and recorded poorly.

Sold it and bought a vintage champ...yeah, off topic...but I like stories with happy endings!

(all vintage RCA tubes in the Champ)
Old 12th July 2010
  #21
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jj ecc803/12ax7 in a jcm800
Old 12th July 2010
  #22
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So far, I've played around with jj83, mullard, Tung-sol and Jan-71's in Randall rm100.. All my tests are for a blackface module trying to get warm and clean sound.

JJ83 - sound good and round in general, but for detailed work often get to mushy quickly. Having 1 in a v1 wasn't too bad

Jan5171's - PI position sounded good just like everyone recommended. Didn't sound bad in the v1.

Tung-Sol - tried for clean sound I like using one in the preamp and one in the input. Sounded great in the input - made everything loud and present - clear and detail and good bass, but didn't like using two tung-sol's sound's too 'hard'. Summary - for clean sound needs to be supplemented with another softer sounding tube.

mullard - I liked this in the input - it gives a soft tone to everything but alot quieter than tung-sol. Didn't like it for hi-gain though.

summary - I have found two setups I like, they're both decent but I'm still not entirely satisfied.

setup 1 - input - mullard - blackface v1 tung-sol, v2 jj83

setup 2- input tung-sol - blackface v1 5171 2 jj83

don't quote me
Old 12th July 2010
  #23
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I've always wondered why can't the current manufacturers make new production tubes of the same quality as the old? Is the technology lost or is it because there's just not enough demand to make it profitable?
Old 12th July 2010
  #24
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I personally found the Tung Sol's way too bright and hard sounding. Not quite fizzy, but they sounded 'strained' up top. If you like bright and loud above all else (ie. more than you like smooth), this might be good for you though.

The Mullard reissues are nice and mellow but almost too much to the point of being dull.

My favorite so far is the Sovtek LPS. It's not really that remarkable - just sounds good and balanced. Not sure if there's anything better out there.

Ironically I haven't actually yet tried Electro Harmonix. Maybe I'll grab one next time. Just because it's cheap/plentiful doesn't mean it's necessarily bad... we'll see.
Old 12th July 2010
  #25
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Did you gentlemen try trimpots instead of cathode bias resistors? Such a way you may tune any brand of 12AX7 tubes to any sound you wish (hard, smooth, rough, bright, dim, sweet, sour, ____), much cheaper than buying exotic tubes. No magic at all. The same glass, metal, vacuum, and slightly different geometry causes slightly different characteristics.
Old 12th July 2010
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wavebourn View Post
Did you gentlemen try trimpots instead of cathode bias resistors? Such a way you may tune any brand of 12AX7 tubes to any sound you wish (hard, smooth, rough, bright, dim, sweet, sour, ____), much cheaper than buying exotic tubes. No magic at all. The same glass, metal, vacuum, and slightly different geometry causes slightly different characteristics.
Hey Wavebourn,

I must confess I don't really know what you are talking about. My 12ax7 amps are a Marshall 6100 and a Peavey 5150. Can you explain more or provide links?

Do you mean I can mod my amp so the 'cathode bias resistor' is replaced by a trimpot? Do I do this for each 12ax7 or all at once? How do I figure out the right trimpot value?

Thanks.
Old 12th July 2010
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobius.media View Post
Hey Wavebourn,

I must confess I have no idea what you are talking about. My 12ax7 amps are a Marshall 6100 and a Peavey 5150. Can you explain more or provide links? Sounds interesting...
Measure voltages on anodes of the tube when you use the bet sounding ECC83, write it down.

R229 in your Marshall is 1K. Replace it by 1K trimpot with 470 or 510 Ohm resistor in series instead.

Insert some cheapest 12AX7 and adjust the trimpot to get the same voltages on anodes. Try and report.

For Peavey 5150 it is R52, with twice lower value. Use 470 or 510 Ohm trimpot with 220 or 240 Ohm resistor in series.

However, Peavey has more tubes, but you already know the trick. V2B and V5B are more critical in preamp, they define distortion profile, right?
Old 9th August 2010
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Vogel View Post
I'm getting tired of the hoops I'm jumping through for NOS tubes. So, I'm going back to new production. Anyway, I'd like to hear what everyone's favorites are and what amp they are in, and the style of playing is for intended use.

I have stayed away from certain brands myself, and wondering if they are worth another look. However, right now my favorite are the new Tung-Sol's for 12AX7's.
I think you're right on track with tung-sol's. Russian-made all the way. There are many options but instead of spending a ton of time finding a better tube, I think it's a better use of time to be using the amp!

Unless you have a bunch of good amps, then taking your time finding the right set of tubes for one is probably a good thing
Old 9th August 2010
  #29
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My only comment is: please make tubes that last. The JJ's, Teslas, etc. work ok at first but after a few years the failure rate is insanely high. What a contrast to the old RCA's, GE's, and Telefunkens, that seem to last forever.
Old 12th August 2010
  #30
Ron,

the JJ tubes are not getting much love here, but I think they are worth checking out. There are a lot of variations of the 12AX7 from JJ: long plate, short plate and gold pin or standard versions of both. Of course they have 12AT7, 12AU7, 12DW7 and so on for changes in and ways to control gain. As for NEW PRODUCTION tubes, JJ are my faves. I have tried plenty of Russian and Chinese tubes and the JJs just sound better to me.

The best place I have found for reliable results and the best grading of JJ tubes for a US re-seller is Eurotubes. They only re-sell JJ tubes. Check them out: Eurotubes

Svetlana tubes are pretty good as well. But I have had the best luck with the JJs.

---P-Fish
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