A question for the 6V6 aficionados…

eastendmartinguy

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First of all, if the tubes are in your amp, they aren't NOS. If they've ever been in an amp or, frankly, out of the original branded boxes, they aren't NOS. The term "NOS" has become so diluted these days when discussing vacuum tubes, and honestly that's one major reason I've shifted towards new power tubes in my primary gigging amps. At least with the popular power tube types, tube resellers are scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to stock, and for me, new Tung Sols or Electro-Harmonix 6V6 sound just as good and are more consistent. I have a pair of EH 6v6s that are 11 years old and still test and sound great. Am I saying they'll have the longevity of some RCA Blackplates? Certainly not, but I do feel there's a fair bit of mythology around the ideas that NOS tubes are indestructible and conversely, that new production tubes are crap that need to be thrown away every year "just to be safe" whether they sound good or not.

I just meant my pre amp tubes were NOS when I purchased them/installed them.. they are certainly no longer new :)

I’ve got nothing against the new tubes and have certainly used them in amps.. just wondered if I was missing anything in not trying NOS 6V6.

I’ve heard one local amp tech say that power tube brands make no difference in sound and another local tech say the complete opposite… haha
 

eastendmartinguy

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I think a few things I’ve gathered thus far:

1) I can probably survive just fine with the JJs
2) If I did try NOS, go with 6V6GTA to maintain headroom
 
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InstantCoffeeBlue

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I think a few things I’ve gathered thus far:

1) I can probably survive just fine with the JJs
2) If I did try NOS, go with 6V6GTA to maintain headroom

The JJ 6v6s sound a little cleaner to me than typical 6v6s. A little glassier on the top end, more clearly-defined bass in the lows. The EH and Tung-sols have a spongier, "browner" personality and compare very favorably to the vintage 6v6s I've used, which include JAN-Phillips, RCA black and grey plates, and GE black plates. If you don't want crunch, the JJs might be the best choice.
 

archetype

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First of all, if the tubes are in your amp, they aren't NOS. If they've ever been in an amp or, frankly, out of the original branded boxes, they aren't NOS. The term "NOS" has become so diluted these days when discussing vacuum tubes, and honestly that's one major reason I've shifted towards new power tubes in my primary gigging amps. At least with the popular power tube types, tube resellers are scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to stock, and for me, new Tung Sols or Electro-Harmonix 6V6 sound just as good and are more consistent. I have a pair of EH 6v6s that are 11 years old and still test and sound great. Am I saying they'll have the longevity of some RCA Blackplates? Certainly not, but I do feel there's a fair bit of mythology around the ideas that NOS tubes are indestructible and conversely, that new production tubes are crap that need to be thrown away every year "just to be safe" whether they sound good or not.

NOS tubes are often bought in a manufacturer's or government bulk pack. The vendor puts them in "white boxes" for retail sale.
 

TheCheapGuitarist

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I'm thinking that if you crank the amp up loud enough to hear the difference in power tube characteristics, you'll go deaf so it won't matter for long.
 

11 Gauge

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I'm thinking that if you crank the amp up loud enough to hear the difference in power tube characteristics, you'll go deaf so it won't matter for long.
I'm thinking that some of us are probably hearing with our eyes, and knowing that the old NOS stuff is in there, believe it sounds better w/o actually knowing if that's true, because there's no way to A/B them in real time.

IMO, the only 'inferior' sounding power tubes tend to be those that are either worn out or are simply defective.
 

eastendmartinguy

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I'm thinking that some of us are probably hearing with our eyes, and knowing that the old NOS stuff is in there, believe it sounds better w/o actually knowing if that's true, because there's no way to A/B them in real time.

IMO, the only 'inferior' sounding power tubes tend to be those that are either worn out or are simply defective.

True!

It could be a placebo effect but I’ve felt a pretty big difference with NOS/original pre amp tubes - more depth and feel than most modern tubes.

I think that’s what I’m curious about the power tubes.

I do like the modern Tung Sol 12AX7s for Fenders.

Again, will anyone ever hear this in a mix? Probably not.. but if the amp sounds better to you, you often play better.

Thanks for the help guys!
 

mad dog

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I'm thinking that some of us are probably hearing with our eyes, and knowing that the old NOS stuff is in there, believe it sounds better w/o actually knowing if that's true, because there's no way to A/B them in real time.

IMO, the only 'inferior' sounding power tubes tend to be those that are either worn out or are simply defective.

I've tried different 6v6 tube pairs in several - many - amps. NOS, ANOS, JJs and other new tubes. It's the rare amp that doesn't seem to sound best with one particular pair of tubes. Usually, the best sounding pair is NOS or ANOS. Not always. The older tubes that often sound best to me are Ken Rad, Brimar, RCA and Sylvania blackplates. Of the newer ones, I've had good luck with JJs and Tung Sol RI 6v6s.

True, not possible to A/B in real time. But in my experience, the differences are most often pretty obvious. Especially after repeat testing.

As to what an "inferior" tube sounds like: the fact that one particular pair of tubes sounds better in a given amp doesn't necessarily make the other pairs tried inferior. Just not as good in that particular amp. More than once I've found the 6v6s that sound best in one amp are exactly those which did not sound best in several others.
 
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Askwhy

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Love true NOS tubes. Having said that, if i were you OP, i would get a matched octet of the 6v6S double mica JJs from Eurotubes. Have your tech bias them and then you will have three more sets that you can pop in without going back to the tech. Probably literally last you a lifetime. The double mica are less prone to mechanical rattle, otherwise the same. Even true NOS tubes can develop rattle quickly while functioning fine otherwise, especially in a DR type combo amp. NOS tubes are great, but i doubt you would hear a meaningful difference with power tubes, especially with tone stack slight adjustment.

Spend 200 bucks and never worry about power tubes again and if you want to mess with NOS or more realistically OS tubes, grab a nice RCA 12AX7A for V2 assuming you use the reverb channel mostly.
 

eastendmartinguy

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In simplest terms.. what would you expect to be different from a JJ6V6S to a NOS RCA?

The JJ has a reputation of being more 6L6 like… so would a true 6V6 have less bass and smoother highs?
 

Bendyha

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The Sylvanias are great. The Bendix are ugly af (imo) but work well and should last forever…
I find the Bendix 5992, a thing of admirable beauty.

So well-made, and as an added bonus, they glow blue. I have a pair in my SC pro-series.
1674597695502.png
 

Bendyha

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In simplest terms.. what would you expect to be different from a JJ6V6S to a NOS RCA?

The JJ has a reputation of being more 6L6 like… so would a true 6V6 have less bass and smoother highs?
The JJ 6V6, is a true 6V6.
They are not more 6L6 like, than 6V6 like.
They are 6V6 like, because they are a 6V6 tube.
I won't repeat here what I've written about this vacuum filled myth before, just link to where I have here.
Do the JJ's have a good bass? Yes, very stable, but not accentuated, just as good as some other good 6V6's, and better than many.
Does the JJ have highs that are not smooth compared to some other 6V6's? I don't think so, but there are some that sound duller and less transparent in the highs... if you like that sort of thing. There are certainly many tubes that sound much more brittle at the higher end, but that is more of a EL84 problem than a 6V6 thing.
The magazine attached has a few opinions about NOS 6V6.
 

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northernguitar

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I'm thinking that some of us are probably hearing with our eyes, and knowing that the old NOS stuff is in there, believe it sounds better w/o actually knowing if that's true, because there's no way to A/B them in real time.

IMO, the only 'inferior' sounding power tubes tend to be those that are either worn out or are simply defective.
This is all true! However, my NOS power tubes (6P14P-EV, EL84 equivalent) last a heckuva lot longer.
 

11 Gauge

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This is all true! However, my NOS power tubes (6P14P-EV, EL84 equivalent) last a heckuva lot longer.
I'm not going to argue with the proven track record regarding longevity of some NOS power tubes, but did want to say that I've had JJ EL34s, 6V6s, and 6L6s last a long time.

I even had a pair of JJ EL34s that I got in early '07 that I didn't have to replace until last year.

Anyway, as far as modern production 6V6s go, the JJ 6V6S is a rugged sucker. If I still had a DR, I don't think I'd put any other (currently produced) 6V6 in it.
 

Askwhy

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This is all true! However, my NOS power tubes (6P14P-EV, EL84 equivalent) last a heckuva lot longer.
That's the one time (el 84) i strongly reccommend people go NOS and those in particular as they last much longer than current production 84s in some amps. 6l6 6v6 i haven't noticed as much of a difference in longevity if any, especially with JJ's.
 
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northernguitar

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That's the one time (el 84) i strongly reccommend people go NOS and those in particular as they last much longer than current production 84s in some amps. 6l6 6v6 i haven't noticed as much of a difference in longevity, especially with JJ's.
These Soviet tubes are (IMO) the most robust thing they ever made. I have four pairs right now. At my age, they could last me the rest of my life. I can't tell any difference in how my amps sound with them. I use a headphone rig with my tube heads, so I hear them pretty clearly. I did a direct swap for some JJ's (which I also find have pretty good life) and couldn't hear any change worth noting. However, I do believe the Russkies will last a heckuva lot longer than the JJ's and far longer than Sovteks and EH tubes, which I blew through relatively quickly.
 

VintageSG

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The JJ 6V6S is ( opinion ) as good as any 6V6 in a push/pull amp, when biased correctly. I'm not so fond of them in my SE builds, and I suspect ( opinion ) it's simply because I'm not running them 'hot' enough. The Soviet 6p6s is a joy ( to my ears ) in Champ-a-likes. I have some JAN VT-107A examples from the 1940s, bought as NOS.
They sound identical to the 6p6s!. There is a reason for this. The tooling and designs were supplied to the Soviets. This design was passed to what became Shuguang, and they produced a 6V6 near identical, minus the Aquadag, and a little longevity.

If you ever come across the 6p11s variant, buy them. They're to the 6V6 what the 6p14p-EV are to EL84.
 

slider313

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In simplest terms.. what would you expect to be different from a JJ6V6S to a NOS RCA?
Compared to the JJ, the grey plate RCA 6V6GTA & 7408 are a bit more compressed, smoother sounding, slightly scooped and not as strident on the top end. This translates to bass notes that are not as defined, mids that are clearer and highs that are "rounder."
 




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