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5AR4/ GZ34 Substitutes

die Bullen
April 24th, 2012, 08:28 AM
I try to keep subs in stock for every amp I have but I am going to be coming into another amp with a 5AR4- a tube for which I have no spare stock because of price. I generally avoid Russian and Chinese tubes- is there any older American tube type that could sub the 5AR4? I really can't go spending $200 on a rectifier tube. Surely something else could sub this tube?

BobbyZ
April 24th, 2012, 08:37 AM
What's the amp ?
If it's say a vintage AC30 then don't be cheap buy a Mullard !
Some amps need a big rectifier like a GZ34 but most will work fine with 5R4s or 5v4s.
A few can use a 5u4 if the OT will handle the heater current.

uriah1
April 24th, 2012, 08:37 AM
I tested a sovtek against a nos mullard I had..Could not tell difference..
but, if need be, you can find nos 5AR4 at some ham fest for 5bucks..
online for more.

muchxs
April 24th, 2012, 09:42 AM
I tested a sovtek against a nos mullard I had..Could not tell difference..

Here's the difference. Yank a Mullard out of an old hi-fi from the '60s. Stick it in your '60s Fender or Marshall. It's almost 50 years old and will probably last another 50 years.

New Sovtek... carry a spare.

No foolin'!

but, if need be, you can find nos 5AR4 at some ham fest for 5bucks.. online for more.

It's gonna cost you a couple billion in parts and R&D to build a time machine and go back 20 years. Everyone knows what NOS 5AR4s are worth at hamfests.

A dude showed up with a dozen Siemens 5AR4s a couple years ago. Didn't even unpack his stuff and they were all sold. Five bucks won't buy the empty box.



Alternatives:

M a t s u s h i t a. Most sites profanity filters block " M a t s u s h i t a ". It's a Japanese 5AR4 that seems to be made on the same tooling as Mullard. Found in '60s Realistic (Radio Shack!) hi-fi receivers. You'll find 12AX7s and EL84s in the same receiver but those are junk. The 5AR4s are solid.

Hi-Test has 'em NOS for $55. That's halfway between new production and the high priced spread.



U.S. made GE. Fender used 'em. The hi-fi weenies prefer Mullards so the GEs are a lot less expensive.

Good pulls. There's a certain Eico transmitter that uses one. Don't buy every old Eico you see, you'll miss a lot more than you'll hit.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-GE-5AR4-TUBE-TESTS-VERY-STRONG-/170829757780?pt=Vintage_Electronics_R2&hash=item27c63f3d54



Serendipity: I was out chasin' down an old phonograph to hack some parts out of. Turns out the dude had a tube tester and had been yankin' and testin' tubes for years. He point me towards a big cardboard box, said "Those are all tested. Take what you want for another ten bucks." Lotta goofy stuff in there but I got some 6V6s, some 6K6s for old Fender reverb units. One tube had all the lettering buffed off it (Mullards wipe clean just handlin' 'em) but looked familiar. The British codes don't wipe off. Got it home, turns out it's a real old Blackburn Mullard GZ34!

Mullards come to those who wait. :grin:



.

SoK66
April 24th, 2012, 09:59 AM
From time to time you can find NOS RCA 5AR4s on Ebay, relatively inexpensive compared to the Mullards. Pretty sure they are Sylvania made and I suspect they are actually 5V4s because they'll consistently generate about 10vdc less than a comparable NOS GZ34. They have a large base, so you may have to swap out the spring retainer. Very durable tubes.

die Bullen
April 24th, 2012, 09:59 AM
The amps are a 1967 Ampeg B12XT and a 1962 Ampeg B12XY. They are both all original so I don't want to take any risks with a bad sub that could blow trannies.

Sadly Muchxs I don't have the kind of luck you do with tubes- good ones don't seem to come cheaply to me! I suppose I could go with Russian or Chinese as a last resort- frankly I have no spares of this type as it is so I think I am going to have to do something.

Would a 5v4 work safely? I do have a couple of them lying around...

Rod Parsons
April 24th, 2012, 10:15 AM
There is an easy inexpensive solution to you problem, in my opinion.... Go to a nos tube web sight...[Brent Jesse Studio is one good one],and buy yourself a couple 5R4 rectifier tubes, [12-15 dollars]. I didn't know what to put in my Bandmaster Reverb, which had the 5AR4/GZ34 on the tube chart, [1968 or 69 ].... An amp tech advised me to use the 5R4 and I did and it works great. It draws only 2 amps as does the 5AR4. It drops the voltage on the plates just a little, but I like that.. Makes the amps more soulful to me... I put one in both the Bandmaster and my 1980 Princeton Reverb... Works great in both....The 5R4s that I bought were made by RCA and labeled #1} Rogers Co....#2] General Electric,[GE],... and they were both made in yr. 1950... They will probably last the rest of my life. Try it and see. NOS=good.... new= not so good. In my opinion... Good luck.... Rod

Custom Deluxe
April 24th, 2012, 10:38 AM
Here's the difference. Yank a Mullard out of an old hi-fi from the '60s. Stick it in your '60s Fender or Marshall. It's almost 50 years old and will probably last another 50 years.

New Sovtek... carry a spare.

No foolin'!



It's gonna cost you a couple billion in parts and R&D to build a time machine and go back 20 years. Everyone knows what NOS 5AR4s are worth at hamfests.

A dude showed up with a dozen Siemens 5AR4s a couple years ago. Didn't even unpack his stuff and they were all sold. Five bucks won't buy the empty box.



Alternatives:

M a t s u s h i t a. Most sites profanity filters block " M a t s u s h i t a ". It's a Japanese 5AR4 that seems to be made on the same tooling as Mullard. Found in '60s Realistic (Radio Shack!) hi-fi receivers. You'll find 12AX7s and EL84s in the same receiver but those are junk. The 5AR4s are solid.

Hi-Test has 'em NOS for $55. That's halfway between new production and the high priced spread.



U.S. made GE. Fender used 'em. The hi-fi weenies prefer Mullards so the GEs are a lot less expensive.

Good pulls. There's a certain Eico transmitter that uses one. Don't buy every old Eico you see, you'll miss a lot more than you'll hit.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-GE-5AR4-TUBE-TESTS-VERY-STRONG-/170829757780?pt=Vintage_Electronics_R2&hash=item27c63f3d54



Serendipity: I was out chasin' down an old phonograph to hack some parts out of. Turns out the dude had a tube tester and had been yankin' and testin' tubes for years. He point me towards a big cardboard box, said "Those are all tested. Take what you want for another ten bucks." Lotta goofy stuff in there but I got some 6V6s, some 6K6s for old Fender reverb units. One tube had all the lettering buffed off it (Mullards wipe clean just handlin' 'em) but looked familiar. The British codes don't wipe off. Got it home, turns out it's a real old Blackburn Mullard GZ34!

Mullards come to those who wait. :grin:



.

Well, there is exceptions to every rule. I spent some good money on a true, Amprex Bugle Boy GZ-34. Tested and the whole deal.

After a year it shorted out and went dead. Other amps have ying yang Chinese GZ34 and a Sovtek, still running strong.

I may get blasted here, but of all the rectifiers, the GZ-34 has the least impact to tone. If we were talking 5Y3's, an entirely differnt story.

I don't hear or have heard sag, etc. in any of the different GZ-34's that I have. From what I understand, they aren't designed to sag.

It's your money and do what you want, but after this Bugle Boy deal, I'm not too willing to spend money in a GZ-34 since I've found little to no impact on the the tone of my BF Fender amps.

vibrasonic
April 24th, 2012, 11:15 AM
"Hi test tubes" has the matsu****a GZ34 NOS for $55

Custom Deluxe
April 24th, 2012, 11:23 AM
"Hi test tubes" has the matsu****a GZ34 NOS for $55

Thanks. I'll check that out.

celeste
April 24th, 2012, 11:23 AM
UOS from a vender you trust is a very viable option as muchxs says. I don't see Ebay as a source of trustworthy vendors, not that are not many, just not the best way to do business when you are looking for reliable.

For a long time, the sovtek 5AR4 was the most consistent reliable 5AR4 on the new production marker, only because the bar was not set very high. Lately (last 2years) the vendors I trust the most have been saying the current production Chinese 5AR4 is better, more consistent and reliable. Just like most of the newest production Chinese tubes, they are setting current production standards. It seems New Sensor is not going to let the Chinese have to top end of the market without a fight, and the old Reflektor factory is producing some the best tubes it ever has. Problem is, there are still a lot of substandard old production floating around, so if you don't know how to tell, you depend on the knowledge and ethics of your vendor.

It pains me that JJ has fallen so far behind, but consistency is just not coming out of their factory. I have stopped using most of their tubes except for the EL84, ECC99, ECC83 and 6V6S.

uriah1
April 24th, 2012, 11:24 AM
Here's the difference. Yank a Mullard out of an old hi-fi from the '60s. Stick it in your '60s Fender or Marshall. It's almost 50 years old and will probably last another 50 years.

New Sovtek... carry a spare.
.

I could send you mine, but, maybe I should try again....

I do remember old electronic ads that said 100,000 hrs. which is pretty good.
I think they used in Halifax bombers i WW2??

But really, I did not notice much. Maybe different amps, it is more apparent.
and Yes, I do have backups for all tubes.

muchxs
April 24th, 2012, 11:24 AM
Well, there is exceptions to every rule. I spent some good money on a true, Amprex Bugle Boy GZ-34. Tested and the whole deal.

After a year it shorted out and went dead. Other amps have ying yang Chinese GZ34 and a Sovtek, still running strong.

There's no such thing as 100% reliability.

I must have 20 old Mullard GZ34s in various amps right now. I don't anticipate havin' problems with 'em.

I may get blasted here, but of all the rectifiers, the GZ-34 has the least impact to tone. If we were talking 5Y3's, an entirely differnt story.

I don't hear or have heard sag, etc. in any of the different GZ-34's that I have. From what I understand, they aren't designed to sag.

A 5AR4 won't sag in a Princeton. I like to use 5AR4s to tighten smaller amps. I'm nowhere near the tube's limits with a pair of 6V6s.

It's a good match with a pair of EL34s.

It's your money and do what you want, but after this Bugle Boy deal, I'm not too willing to spend money in a GZ-34 since I've found little to no impact on the the tone of my BF Fender amps.

Regardless, one tube isn't a large enough sample to demonstrate a trend. I'd say your experience was atypical.

If I look in the back of a "pristine" '60s Fender and see Chinese or Russian I'll knock $100 off the value of the amp right there. If it's all Czech, Sino or Russian the value of the amp gets nudged towards the middle of the range. Pet Peeve: "We just sent it to a tech. It's re-tubed and has a clean bill of health." Then they hand me the receipt for a couple hundred bucks... That's not value added for me. I'm just payin' for stuff I'll replace as soon as I get home.


We used to have a guy known as Marty Green Teeth around here when I was a kid. Marty had a whole bookshelf full of tubes. I used to go over to Marty's and gaze at his stash. Marty was generous with 6L6s, 12AX7s and most rectifiers. Not with his 5AR4s! He had maybe three of 'em. He'd be happy to take 'em out and show 'em off but they remained part of his permanent collection.

Marty is long gone and his house has changed hands a couple times since then. I wonder what happened to his stash?

Anyway, I got hip to the relative scarcity of GZ34s a long time ago. Now I have my own stash. I'll take 'em out of the boxes if anyone wants to see but I'm hangin' on to 'em.

I'm wonderin' how many loose Mullard GZ34s are in my back room right now. Maybe half a dozen?

die Bullen
April 24th, 2012, 11:26 AM
I will look into the Matsu******s- not a "cheap" option to be sure but I do want to treat my stuff right.

On the other rectifier subs (other than GZ34) what would be a better/ safer choice? 5R4 or 5V4? Or something else?

Just a little more information. I typically play rhythm guitar for swing jazz- this stuff is not fast enough to worry about sag. Distortion in my world is a very bad thing- hence vintage Ampegs...

muchxs
April 24th, 2012, 11:36 AM
I will look into the Matsu******s- not a "cheap" option to be sure but I do want to treat my stuff right.

They're right there in New Jersey. You never know what cool old stuff they'll have. They trade vintage guitars, too.

On the other rectifier subs (other than GZ34) what would be a better/ safer choice? 5R4 or 5V4? Or something else?

I'd go for the 5V4 for a sub. It's cheap, available and compact.

I've got a couple sleeves full of those, too. :grin:

DavidP
April 24th, 2012, 11:40 AM
is the JAN Philips marked 5V4GA. It's really a Philips/Sylvania large plate 5AR4/GZ34 (just Google it and you'll find the whole story about the mislabelling). Great bang for the buck if you can still find them!

vibrasonic
April 24th, 2012, 11:54 AM
is the JAN Philips marked 5V4GA. It's really a Philips/Sylvania large plate 5AR4/GZ34 (just Google it and you'll find the whole story about the mislabelling). Great bang for the buck if you can still find them!

I put one of those in my 62 deluxe and it works and sounds great. I got mine at KCANOS for $85.

die Bullen
April 24th, 2012, 11:57 AM
Thanks guys- this is good news to me if I can use 5v4's. I can get them easily and reasonably- and as I recall the 5v4/ 5v4ga can sub a 5u4gb too- double bonus.. Tell me if you ever want to sell some of those Muchxs!

DavidP
April 24th, 2012, 12:14 PM
Remember, its only the JAN Philips marked 5V4GAs that are the mislabelled 5AR4s...

die Bullen
April 24th, 2012, 02:06 PM
got it! Thanks again

BobbyZ
April 24th, 2012, 03:46 PM
Last used Mullard GZ34 I found cost me 1,100 bucks. A lot to pay for a tube but it came with a 67 BFDR.

I just picked up a base CB radio for 12 bucks cause it had tubes. One RCA 12ax7, a MIJ 12at7 and a MIJ el84. Has other tubes I don't have a use for but what the heck if the 12ax7 is any good I'm happy.
Anybody into CBs? Teaberry model T with a mike.

Mike H.
April 24th, 2012, 04:09 PM
If you just need something for an emergency spare, why not get a Weber WZ34 Copper Cap rectifier? Only $22 and it will keep your amp running until you find a replacement tube.

BobbyZ
April 24th, 2012, 04:15 PM
I've been using a JJ GZ34 in the DR works fine so far. Put the Mullard away for safe keeping.
I don't use the DR all that much though.