12AX7 question...

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Jakedog, May 17, 2020.

  1. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Looking for opinions on the best 12AX7 for what I want.

    1. Must be readily available and affordable. No expensive NOS unobtainium need apply. GT, EHX, JJ, etc. etc.

    Run of the mill stuff.

    2. Looking for late breakup. Not crazy gainy. Would even consider 12AT7 etc if it doesn’t make the amp lose any volume. I don’t have any volume to spare.

    3. Maybe one you think is a little dark sounding? Amp also has treble/presence to spare so something mellower would be plenty ok with me. Certainly don’t need anything particularly zingy and bright.

    Go! And Thank you.
     
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  2. theprofessor

    theprofessor Poster Extraordinaire

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    I suggest the new-production "Tung-Sol" 12AX7. It's the best sounding new-production tube I know of, and you can get them on Amazon.com or wherever.
     
  3. blues

    blues Tele-Holic

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    I like Tung Sol as well.
     
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  4. tah1962

    tah1962 Friend of Leo's

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    And yet another vote for Tung Sol.
     
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  5. LOSTVENTURE

    LOSTVENTURE Tele-Afflicted

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    There are a whole family of 12A*7 tubes. You need to get a look at the various specs to see what fits your needs.
     
  6. Andy B

    Andy B Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Ting Sol RI is a great sounding tube. My go replacement. Use them all the time in repairs. Another tube you might like is the long plate Mullard reissue. Very full and somewhat dark sounding.
     
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  7. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Poster Extraordinaire

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    I don't know why I'm chiming in ( get it? tube talk!)

    I think it's just my own experience with the 4-5 tube amps I've ever owned over 30 years...

    ( my current old BJ, and then formerly: a '68 DR, an HRD, Peavey Classic 30, and a '67 Pro Reverb )

    ...and I know this is blasphemy, but I swear, after reading endless tube amp books, magazine articles, and reviews , it did not seem to matter what tubes I had in my amps, so long as they functioned. Could never tell a big difference in tone with changing them up.
    As someone who has historically played a very long time, and tube amps, but relatively not really loud gigs - and always using OD pedals with amps clean.

    My point is maybe I've never played any of my own amps at the operating range/volume that really bring out the tonal differences of various tubes? They've run kind of 'cool.'

    A long way to say I always had good results with SOVTEK LPS, EHX ( a SOVTEK), JJs
    and TUNG-SOL 12AX7s

    All seem to impart good tone, quiet/non microphonic, last years.
     
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  8. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Preamp tubes are more subtle, but I can definitely tell a difference. Power tubes can make a massive difference, at any volume. My favorite power tubes will eventually also go in this amp. They’ve made an enormous and immediate difference in every amp I’ve ever put them in.

    They give the amp more authority and punch, more headroom, and slightly more power (overall volume) automatically.

    Likewise I’ve always found the GT’s rating system for power tubes works like it says. 1-3 for low headroom/early breakup, 4-7 for medium, and 8-10 for really tight and high headroom from the power amp. They are very apparent differences. I like mediums, and #7 if I can get them.

    In my old AC15C1, I tried everything and still didn’t like the preamble character. Finally was gifted a set of nos black plate RCA’s. That did the trick. Totally different amp.
     
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  9. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Totally satisfied with the Mullard RI 12AX7's. I've used probably 25-30 of them so far in various amps. not a bad or noisy one yet. They've come down closer to the others in price now too, they were $19-20 before. They are clean and not gainy.

    JJ were very gainy. Couldn't even use them. But that was years ago.
    Sovtek LPS i tried before these and they weren't bad, but less consistent.
     
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  10. joe_cpwe

    joe_cpwe Tele-Holic

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    Unfortunately I'm in the sort of in the unobtainium camp where I prefer old, used RCA (not NOS) for about $15 on eBay....although I only have a few. I also have two old Sylvania (made by RCA?) that are nearly as good.

    I would like to find new & reliably available 12AX7 and may buy a new TungSol to see how I like them. They seem to get good reviews as the best sounding for the $.

    The worst IMO are the few Chinese tubes I've come across and just as harsh sounding is the JJ ECC803S, which is long plate and they call 'high performance'. I've had the pleasure of hating it in three different amps ☺️. It's got about 15 minutes total play time. (I do use JJ power tubes)

    Last, I have to say my experience is different than @Chiogtr4x in that which 12AX7 I use in V1 and the phase inverter positions is audible to me. Many tubes sound the same and a few sound distinctly better. I'm literally rolling thru 12AX7s today in a PV C30 I picked up yesterday...it's real.
     
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  11. Kevin Wolfe

    Kevin Wolfe Tele-Meister

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    You may like a 5751 in V1, they’re pretty sweet. Also I’ve found that some Long Plate dual triodes can be more microphonic than may be desirable in V1. A matched triode LPS can be nice as a PI though.
     
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  12. jrblue

    jrblue Friend of Leo's

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    I've used all the 12AX7s listed here and more. IMO, they are all pretty sucky tubes. The best are inocuous; most are too shrill and hard. You can make do with most, but who plays music to "make do." I recommend 5751s or even less powerful tubes -- even 12AU7s, whihc I often use -- to tame the overly gainly, fizzy preamps of too many modern tube amps. Between these lower powered tubes (which have a significant impact on output only if you're running the amp flat out; mostly, in our lower-volume environment, they are a plus!) and the occasional NOS bargain or reliable used tubes, I never have to use the crap coming out of the factories today. The (fake) "Tung-Sols" may be the best of the lot; JJs are OK if you want a bland tube that won't sound bad.
     
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  13. VintageSG

    VintageSG Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Everyone's ears hear, or at least everyone's perception is different. Sovtek/EHX 12AX7 and their Long Plate Spiral sound very good to me, but the LPS variant may not find favour in a combo. Nothing wrong with the sound, but they can be a bit 'rattly' with regard to vibration noise. The JJ ECC803 is very good as a phase inverter.
    JJ also manufacture a 12AX7MG, or Mid-Gain, which still has the rated mu of 100, but has more mids. It's subtle. The plates are halfway between their standard 12AX7 and the ECC803 in terms of size. The mid gain gains can be nullified by judicious use of the mid section of a TMB tone stack. Make of that what you will. Nicer sounding ( to me ) than their standard 12AX7, but a Sovtek it isn't.
    The JJ 5751 may be worth a try.

    The Shugaung Ruby 12AX7AC5 HG+ ( what a mouthful! ) is a top end Sino valve that may surprise you. While the standard, 'cooking' Shuguang 12AX7 examples range from dire to Marathon Man dentistry, that one works quite well ( opinion! )

    As a singular recommendation for modern production, Sovtek.
     
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  14. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    A 5751 will help headroom and take some edge off. It really depends on amp and what you're playing. You said headroom so I'm presuming clean. I haven't tried modern 5751s, I have a GE old one in my Superchamp for precisely that reason. It's luverly.

    I've found good headroom and crystalline sweet tones with Sov LPS's in modern amps of the Fender variety and V1 of Marshalls.
     
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  15. Timmay

    Timmay TDPRI Member

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    My amps are all sporting JJ 5751's these days. Quiet, affordable, plenty of gain for my needs, and a nice balanced tone to my ear.
     
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  16. E5RSY

    E5RSY Doctor of Teleocity

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    Did you come across a hidden tube socket in your DV Mark? :D
     
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  17. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Well you asked for new production but then admitted how much you liked some RCA black plates!

    I’ll plus one for the 5751 suggestions. Real ones that are vintage though, made for low noise and long life in critical applications.
    Probably the most rugged reliable option, super quiet with a touch less gain and the same touch less treble.
    I mostly have non holy grail common gray plate GE that seem to be under twenty bucks used, and being mil or medical they are built for probably 100 times the life span of anything new.
     
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  18. kbold

    kbold Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    My experience is the same.
    Preamp and inverter tubes (in my amp) have a significant effect on sound. Some overlook the inverter tube which IMO effects the sound as much as the preamp.
    I see little sound difference swapping power tubes.
    My experience with 12AX7's is that the Russian tubes sound better than the Chinese ones (but as mentioned above, there are exceptions).

    But the elephant in the room has been overlooked: the amp. What works well in my amp may not work well in yours.
     
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  19. DavidP

    DavidP Friend of Leo's

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    TungSol 12AX7 out of the current production ones.
    However, for headroom search out a NOS 5751 -- I still have enough reserve (JAN GE's) that I don't have to use JJs (yet).
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2020
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  20. gionnio

    gionnio Tele-Meister

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    Do you re-bias after installing power tubes?
     
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