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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

EL84's advice

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by SacDAve, Sep 25, 2017.

  1. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Dec 23, 2009
    Rocklin Ca.
    Getting ready to start an 18W build in a couple weeks, I've built a couple 5E3's and 6G15's. So the amp is a VHT 18watt looking forward to building a more challenging build than my 5E3's. The amp has two EL84's never having an amp with with EL84's looking for advice on what a decent Tube brand is. I'm not looking for vintage mojo just a decent new production tube. So what a good new production EL84 ?

  2. Jules78

    Jules78 Tele-Holic

    Dec 12, 2016
    Northern VA

    Attached Files:

  3. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    EL84M from Sovtek are a tough tube that might suit that build. JJ Tesla's are highly regarded. That's what Mesa sells rebranded Mesa with a 'Y' for Yugoslavia in the part no. Good old Ruby EL84s from China are honest tubes that take a bearing.

  4. Henry Mars

    Henry Mars Tele-Holic

    Jan 17, 2014
    Bucks Co. PA
    So far the most durable EL84's I have used that won't break the bank are JJ's. You might just want to find some NOS 6BQ5's. Frankly, these days tubes are a crap shoot. JJ's don't sound bad .... there are better sounding tubes. They just seem to be more reliable in my own experience> YMMV.
    Dennyf likes this.

  5. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Dec 23, 2009
    Rocklin Ca.
    Thanks. I like JJ's in my 5E3's they are reliable tube. I might want to try else in this build. Ruby might be something to consider. I ruby in my twin so far no problems with 15 year old tubes.

  6. brokenbones

    brokenbones Tele-Meister

    Mar 15, 2012
    I prefer eastern European power tubes. In a noisy circuit like a VHT i'd go with Chinese preamp tubes.

  7. clintj

    clintj Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2015
    JJ, and I recommend upping the screen resistors to 1.5k to protect the screens from overdissipation under extreme conditions. I had a tech that works on a lot of Vox amps recommend that to me. I'm running a set at stupid high plate voltages, and they're still going strong after 8 months now.
    oldfish and jtcnj like this.

  8. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Dec 23, 2009
    Rocklin Ca.
    Thanks Clint look into that

  9. noname_dragon

    noname_dragon Tele-Meister

    Jan 13, 2010
    North east coast
    I think EI EL84's sound marginally better than others I've tried but they cost more being out of production. JJ's get the job done and are tough... decent price and plentiful.
    Richie-string likes this.

  10. crossroader

    crossroader Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

    Sep 24, 2004
    Endicott, NY
    I've got a pair of new Tung Sol EL84's in my Vox AC15-HW1.
    And a pair of JJ's in my Gibson Goldtone GA15-RV.

    I like both, though I give a slight edge to the Tung Sol's.

  11. slider313

    slider313 Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 6, 2011
    Another vote for the Tung Sols.

  12. jtcnj

    jtcnj Tele-Meister

    Feb 2, 2015
    Brick, N.J. USA
    I ran the china ones from Dave / Ubuy when I built my VHT for start up.
    They sounded ok with a decent tube at v1.
    I got a pair of new JJ's that sound good and a pair of "NOS tested good" (lol for what that is worth) ebay Sylvanias for $31. that sound great.

    I dont recall exactly the plate voltages, 365ish? and dissipation is right around %100. with the cathode resistor on the VHT board I got (200Ω maybe?) which I have read is pretty typical for cathode biased pair of push / pull el84.

    May have been Tubeswell with that info.

    I usually run the master at just under 9:00 and gain to taste somewhere near the edge of break up depending on guitar vol. and attack, which is usually 1-2:00.
    I mainly play on the tone channel because I would rather play than twiddle knobs.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2017

  13. MilwMark

    MilwMark Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Apr 29, 2013
    near Arnold's
    I like the TADs. JJs seem to rattle and ring for me.

    The VHT 18 watt I tried at a shop bore no relation to any Marshall 18 watter I ever played.

    Painfully bright, overly noisy, kinda boring.

    Nothing like the 1974x, though I have no idea what they were actually basing theirs on.

  14. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 2, 2010
    In the US we have some great old stock el84 tubes to choose from for great prices, because the Holy Grail designation goes to Euro made vintage tubes that came in classic Euro el84 amps.
    Also worth noting is that many of the brands suggested are just tube retailers, not tube makers.
    The main reason retailers become known as "brand names" is that new production tubes are poorly made and need screening to weed out the garbage.
    JJ does seem to be a pretty reliable brand, though for the money vs rated hours they are probably expensive compared to the usable lifespan of old GE and Sylvanias.

  15. Andy B

    Andy B Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Mar 16, 2003
    I've had good luck with Sovtek, EH and Tung Sol. JJ's have been hit or miss.

  16. Ed Storer

    Ed Storer Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

    May 27, 2010
    Seattle WA
    I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned Russian military 6p14p tubes. Sound great and the durability is exceptional compared to current production EL84's
    InAbsentia likes this.

  17. cabra velha

    cabra velha Tele-Afflicted Platinum Supporter

    Jan 21, 2016
    estados unidos
    new JJ power tubes, and I tube-roll nos for pre tubes (the usual suspects)

  18. jtcnj

    jtcnj Tele-Meister

    Feb 2, 2015
    Brick, N.J. USA

    I was wondering about them as well.

  19. juxtapolice

    juxtapolice Tele-Holic

    Mar 31, 2011
    Jersey City
    I think JJs are the most consistent, safest bet that sounds good, particularly after break in. I like TADs too but have found them a little warm and lacking edge for a live setup. My favorite, that I came across somewhat randomly, are these early 90s Russian military spec long life (6p14p) el84s - after break in they sound remarkable

  20. VintageSG

    VintageSG Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Mar 31, 2016
    I was just about to. Ahem...

    JJ. OK, nothing special. Not bad. Much better than...
    Ruby, otherwise unbranded. These have been OEM in a number of amps, and I personally do not like them when driven. They're OK for clean stuff, but I found them harsh when pushed. Not as good as...
    Sovtek. Fine. No issues, but...

    6p14p. Oh yeah. Smooth compression. Harshness noticeable by its absence. Lovely, warm, rounded sound. Sweet.
    Although price should not be the ultimate deciding point, I ought to drop that I paid about £12 for a pair ( $14 US-ish ). Later on, I bought enough to last me for many years. Four for £18. Ebay is your friend. Don't be alarmed by Russian/Ukrainian vendors.
    Don't count on them being matched pairs though. Buy a few and try them out.

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