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12AY7 in a Blues Deluxe?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by deadbeat son, Sep 14, 2018.

  1. deadbeat son

    deadbeat son Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 5, 2010
    Evergreen, CO
    I have read so much on here about the merits of swapping V1 in the BD or BDRI for a 12AY7. However, I never read any comments for the resulting effects on the gain channel. So how much less overdrive is available on the gain channel with this swap? I run the gain on mine on 8 with my LP and 10-12 with my Tele. If I swap to a 12AY7, am I going to be disappointed with the level of distortion now available on the gain channel?

    Thanks!
     

  2. PigBoy

    PigBoy Tele-Meister

    291
    Mar 17, 2003
    San Francisco, CA
    Try a 12AT7 first.
     
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  3. jrblue

    jrblue Tele-Meister

    490
    Nov 14, 2010
    Santa Barbara
    I do tube swaps all the time. The drop in power going to a 12AY7 is not huge, and how it plays out in your particular preamp stage really needs to be assessed "by ear." The rest of your signal chain, both before and after this tube, is integral to the outcome, so all I can say is that you can expect some cleanup (less breakup) and a slight drop in preamp "power" (that will be virtually meaningless since you can regain almost all of it by upping the volume a teeny bit). I use lower power preamp tubes in virtually every amp I own because IMO most amps are more gainy and fizzy than I want. I much prefer pedal OD and distortion to preamp tube distortion. Of course, if you swap in a crappy tube, it's not going to make much difference if it's a 5751, 12AY7, or my own fave, a 12AU7.
     
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  4. RCinMempho

    RCinMempho Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 8, 2003
    Maryville, TN
    It will cut the drive a little, but you can get it back with a boost pedal.
     
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  5. deadbeat son

    deadbeat son Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 5, 2010
    Evergreen, CO
    Okay, I just tried that. I had a NOS Mullard CV4024 (12AT7WA) laying around unused. I swapped that into V1 and hated it. It seemed to neuter the amp. It sounded more sterile and I had to peg the drive and the result was still less than the drive at 8 (of 12) with the stock GT 12AX7.

    No signal chain before the tube. I prefer guitar --> amp over using pedals. Based on my results with the 12AT7, I probably wouldn't like the 12AY7. I'm probably better off with the stock spec 12AX7.

    Eh, the whole reason I have this amp is to avoid pedals. I think I've decided a lower gain tube isn't for me.

    Thanks for the input everyone!
     
    alnicopu likes this.

  6. VintageSG

    VintageSG Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Mar 31, 2016
    Yorkshire
    The 12AT7 makes for a lousy valve for anything other than reverb or phase inverter in my opinion. It just sounds dead to me. Flaccid, closed in and lifeless.
    The 12AX7 to me has too much gain early on and makes setting gain tricksy at times The 12AY7 or 5751 are to be found in all my amps in the first stage because of this. You can still get the amp to go crazy with gain if that's your thing, but you'll find a greater sweep of the control before that. Less 'twitchy' if you will. The 12AY7 sounds a little warmer, less fizz to my ears. It may not to yours. The 5751 sort of sits between them
    Just my 2p/cents and worth less than that.

    Try a 12AY7. They're not expensive for an Electro-Harmonix ( the JJ isn't a good example to my ears ). Try a 5751 ( the JJ is quite good. Odd eh?, it'll be me... )
     

  7. deadbeat son

    deadbeat son Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 5, 2010
    Evergreen, CO
    Thanks. I guess my concerns are that this amp is a pretty low gain amp (for my tastes anyway), and I have to max out the drive with my Telecaster to get the sound I like. If I swap to a lower gain tube, I'm worried it will have enough gain for me. Hence the reason for this thread before wasting my time and money on some tubes that may be a bad idea for my particular use.
     

  8. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    51
    Mar 5, 2009
    Georgetown, TX
    As noted above, the 12AT7 should never really have been tried. To quote the Aspen Pittman book: "The 12AT7 is rarely used in a tone-generating stage, but rather in function stages..." And you found out firsthand the reason why.

    Try the 12AY7. I almost guarantee you'll like it.
     
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  9. DCW74

    DCW74 TDPRI Member

    Age:
    44
    29
    Sep 11, 2018
    Columbus, OH
    Put a 12DW7 in it. That would be a good compromise.
     
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  10. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Godzone
    If you're maxxing gain, where is your master? 12AT7 and 12AU7 are driver tubes, good for reverb and recovery, phase splitters but not great at preamp - it's not the gain, it's more the frequency response curve that's dull.

    Individual results vary by guitar, but most people find the BDx and Hotrod Dx/Dv to be unusable past about 4 on the clean volume because past that they get muddier and more compressed.

    On the drive channel my bandmates' original BDx sounded horrible - he had to run it at 2 on the clean, about 5-6 on the drive to avoid sounding thin and it was impossible to balance clean and overdrive for a balanced tone. It sounded pretty strangled.

    Putting a 12AY7 in resulted in more flexibility with the clean - 4-6 became the new gigging range instead of 1.8-2.1, and the dirt he was able to crank a bit more. It went from buzzsaw to nice dirt.

    Also, the reverb stopped being harsh and washy and his eqs became more responsive. I'd say a 5751 might be the go, it's slightly lower gain than a 12AX7 but nicer than a 12AT7 which tend to dullness.
     
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  11. deadbeat son

    deadbeat son Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 5, 2010
    Evergreen, CO
    I think I'm going to stick with stock. I believe I achieved my objective by another means, see below.

    Same response here as directly above.

    I'm playing this amp at home, it's not a gigging amp. MV is 2.5 - 3 with the gain at 7-8 with my LP and 10-12 with my Tele. Guitar volumes are at about 75-85%.

    It was your post in the other recent Blues Deluxe thread that got me to really consider swapping for the 12AY7.

    What I was looking for out of this amp wasn't necessarily less high end response, but rather a less piercing high end. However, I think I've achieved my objectives by a speaker swap this afternoon. I ended up swapping the stock Eminence for a 50-watt Weber Blue Dog alnico, and it made a huge difference for me. I was able to back off the treble and presence on the amp. The highs are a lot more chimey and sparkly now, and I love the way this combination sounds. The blend of the warm Fender sound, coupled with that magical British treble response of the alnico Blue Dog have me in lala land!
     
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  12. RCinMempho

    RCinMempho Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 8, 2003
    Maryville, TN
    That's great! The speaker change wins!

    This amp is not perfect, but it does serve as a nice platform. Change a tube, a speaker, a new pedal, and this amp can turn in a number of directions.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
    deadbeat son likes this.

  13. uriah1

    uriah1 Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Feb 12, 2011
    Around

  14. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Godzone
    OK - you found a tone to fit your guitar/playing. The stock speaker is an Emi, and similar to a Legend 12 actually. But yes bright is one adjective that fits this line, although I understand the newer Reissues were a bit less so . If you're on 7-8 on the guitar that would tame the input definitely.
     
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  15. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    51
    Mar 5, 2009
    Georgetown, TX
    I would still put a 12AY7 in there for a taste test. It's my default for tweed-ish Fender amps, and it's what Fender put in the actual tweeds way back when.
     

  16. deadbeat son

    deadbeat son Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 5, 2010
    Evergreen, CO
    Yessir! I agree the amp isn't perfect, but right now it works for what I'm looking for. If I find something that does it better, I'll move this one along. But for now, it does what I'm looking for.

    Exactly. Thanks for the info on the various tubes in the HR/BD series of amps though!

    Eh, I'm not going to bother finding one right now. I don't want to reduce the drive. I was looking to change the character of it without actually reducing the amount of it, if that makes sense. The speaker did that for me.
     

  17. alnicopu

    alnicopu Friend of Leo's

    Oct 3, 2009
    georgia
    I have a friend who is sort of my guitar mentor. He’s the “special guest” places in Atlanta adverised when he was living here. His signature line was, “ pedals are for bicycles, plug that thing in an amp and play like a man, boy.” Only pedal I ever saw him gig was a Zvex clean boost.
     
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  18. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    51
    Mar 5, 2009
    Georgetown, TX
    When I grow up I want to be cool like that.
     

  19. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Age:
    66
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    That has been my experience as well - and that's decades of RCA's. GE's , Mullards, Amperex, etc and newer Sovteks, JJ's, so-called reissues etc etc.

    In amps designed with an 12A*7 output stage - like a Fender Greta - 12AT's work fine as long as you find the right one.

    But I've found them to rarely be good *audio* tubes in guitar amps. Surprisingly, they work very well in many cases when used in audiophile gear - but that's where a more "neutral" absolutely clean sound is needed.

    IMO a Blues Deluxe has too much output for most home situations. I doubt it can be turned up to the point where the output stage "blooms" and it hits its full frequency response. Although power alone is a lousy indicator of output level I generally recommend 5-12 watt tube amps with medium-efficiency speakers for home use.

    But there are players that don't mind cranking a preamp for distortion and controlling overall level with a master volume. To me that's a thin, buzzy sound, to each his own. I do suggest that type of player try a "small" amp with a 12" or pair of 10" speakers and see if they prefer the difference.

    Either way - if the BD is going to be used at home I would try a couple of 12AY7's and 12AU7's (the 12DW7 is half 12AX7 and half 12AU7). The preamp stage won't generate as much distortion, but it will do it at a lower output level - and it's generally a smoother, warmer sound.

    I strongly suggest NOS AY and AU's if you're going to drive the preamp hard. I'm not real impressed with the grittier sound of current production tubes of those types; NOS will also last far longer - possibly the life of the amp.
     

  20. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Friend of Leo's

    Nov 15, 2010
    Texas
    I put a 12AY7 in the "NORMAL" channel on my '63-reissue Vibroverb several years ago, in order to tame the feedback monster with my Harp Mic...sounds good for guitar, too, but I still have the higher-gain 12AX7 tune in the "BRIGHT" channel, so I have the best of both worlds.

    Someone mentioned a 12AT7, but IME, those tubes are very brittle and sterile sounding--at least in my 63RIVV.
     

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