Best 12ax7 tubes

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Californiaman, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. Californiaman

    Californiaman Tele-Meister

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    What do you use?
    There are so many different brands. GE, Sylvania, Mullard, Telefunken, Amprex, Electro Harmonix.
    Does NOS or vintage really matter?
    It's for a 6V6 5E3 12-watt deluxe.
    What do you recommend?
     
  2. BiggerJohn

    BiggerJohn Friend of Leo's

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    You know, what sounds good to me might sound like poop to you. What I'd suggest is, since they're not that pricey (except for NOS), get one or two of each and try them yourself, see which ones you like best.
     
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  3. Californiaman

    Californiaman Tele-Meister

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    So there is a difference.
    Some people I've spoken with have said to use the Groove Tube 12ax7-R, but now there is an R-2 and an R-3.
     
  4. Custom Deluxe

    Custom Deluxe Tele-Afflicted

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    I would not use Groove Tubes if I were you. There are many better options for the same price.
     
  5. '56Teleman

    '56Teleman Tele-Afflicted

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    I have a NOS RCA 12AX7 in my 5E3. It replaced a new issue Tung Sol and some might think I'm crazy but in that amp I couldn't hear the difference.

    I have the Tung Sol's in my Gries 35 and they sound great in that amp, too. However, I have to agree with BiggerJohn, when we talk about tone there is no best that we'll all agree on. The nice thing is for $15-$20 per new issue tube, trying a couple different models isn't a big deal.


    Have fun with it.
     
  6. ATubes

    ATubes Tele-Meister

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    As they say there is no best, just what's right for you. From my experience many of the NOS tubes aren't as good as current production models. Don't get me wrong, there are some great NOS tubes but I've found it better to define your sound first then refine your sound second. Get your amp as close as you can to the sound you want with current production tubes then over time try some NOS to refine your sound. Also be aware there is no shortage of counterfeit NOS on the market. It's a major problem. Of the current 12AX7s the Genalex Gold Lion seem to test and sound better than most IMO.
     
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  7. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Step away from the Groove Tubes....

    I did some 'sperimenting on a couple of amps with 12ax7's. I found there were a couple I didn't like... the GT's and the Electroharmonix (sp?) I found them to be a little less lively and open.

    I have some JJ's that I liked and some older GE's and Amperex that I like a lot. I hear good things about a lot of older tubes and the reissue Tung Sols.

    I found older tubes made a bigger difference with the lower gain preamp and reverb tubes like 12at7s. But they did make a difference in the V1 or V2 positions of my Blackface (reissue) and Brownface (reissue) amps.

    I haven't tried a huge pile of different 12ax7's, cause I'm not made of money... I found I liked the JJ's and the few Older tubes I could afford. But, I haven't heard a GT tube that got me excited much at all yet... maybe some day?

    The other thing is, preamp tubes don't necessarily have to be NOS. If they test good, then they can hang for years. Buying good old used tubes has worked for me and kept some of my cost down. Especially for taste-testing purposes. If you find a pile of old RCA's or Mullards that are used but test good, give 'em a shot. If one brand sounds spectacular, then maybe you cna go looking for an NOS tube for high dollars... but in the meantime, you probably can make your money back if you don't like them.
     
  8. krisls

    krisls Tele-Holic

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    I have a 55 Rivera and last year had all the tubes replaced from the originals. EH all through. I had a couple of choices but the Amp guy suggested them for reliability and life. They are a pinch 'softer' and 'smoother' than the originals but I prefer that. I'm not a big twang or bite type player. I've had Groove tubes in an older Amp and found them a bit grating but maybe punchier. Sovteks would be another choice maybe if they're still about.

    Kris
     
  9. mgwhit

    mgwhit Tele-Holic

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    Best 12ax7 for a 5E3 Deluxe is a 12ay7. At least in V1....
     
  10. BiggerJohn

    BiggerJohn Friend of Leo's

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    Fooey on Groove Tubes. They'r the SAME tubes you can buy from anyone else, just with jacked up prices.

    Get some 12AX7s from Tungsol, EH, JJ, the Sovtek LPS and China. See which ones you personally like. Use your own ears.
     
  11. BiggerJohn

    BiggerJohn Friend of Leo's

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    +1 on the 12AY7 suggestion for a Tweed. I have a kewl old GE 6072A (heavy duty 12AY7) in my old tweed Fender.
     
  12. Hiker

    Hiker Poster Extraordinaire

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    Original 1980's Sylvania, and 'Fender' 12AX7 are installed.

    Various spares are on-hand (GE, Tung Sol RI, Penta 7025, Sovtek LP) depending on which V1, V2, etc. needs replacing.

    My recommendation is to contact Doug (by phone) at Doug's Tubes.
     
  13. Bones

    Bones Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Can anyone offer some opinions on which ones tend to break up sooner and which offer more clean headroom?
     
  14. ZZB3

    ZZB3 Tele-Holic

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    For new tubes Tung Sol RI or Electro-Harmonix. For NOS you will have to try different ones to get the sound that you like. I have had good success with RCA and Mullards for V1 spot. Have fun, Wayne
     
  15. FenderGuy53

    FenderGuy53 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I use EH's for my EL84 amps and JJ's for my 6L6 amp.
     
  16. happy2

    happy2 Tele-Meister

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    I too replaced a Tung sol 12ax7 with a NOS RCA 12ax7 and the tone was slightly cleaner but not the $70 worth cleaner. Anyway the Rca failed after two weeks so I put the tung sol back in again. I have high regards for Tung Sol tubes.It was in the V1 spot.
     
  17. Beachbum

    Beachbum Friend of Leo's

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    The only Groove Tube I like a lot is their GE 6L6 reproduction. I would look elsewhere for any other purpose.
     
  18. BobH

    BobH TDPRI Member

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    The saddest part of the answer to this question is that I've not found any new market tubes that are recommended, suggested or held in any esteem compared to NOS tubes. It's a doggone shame but I guess that's part of the process. If I take my SF Twin back to my tech to tweek it to the tone/sound/dynamics that I'm looking for (and he can do it) have I altered the amp beyond its signature sound? Does it matter? I don't know but at this stage of the game so many amps are customodified it's hard to tell what amp is being used.........
    New market tube and speaker choices haven't gotten better just more diverse.
    I don't like the tone, feel or sound of any of them.
    You young guys best hang on to the gear you're using that you like!
     
  19. Ed Storer

    Ed Storer Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    I have a DRRI with JJ 6V6's and (factory) GT / sovtek 12AX7 LPS. It sounds like a Deluxe.
    I have an Allen Amps Sweet Spot (circuit similar to Princeton Reverb) with JJ 6V6 power tubes and Tung-Sol preamp tubes and it's a bit on the aggressive side - great twang and spank.
    Lastly, I have an Anderson Amps 20R (similar to PR) with Tung Sol 6V6's and Ruby Tubes 12AX7's. It is sweeter and mellower than the others - great for jazz and vintage blues.

    All of the amps have neodymium 12-inch speakers; Jensen NEO 100 in the Anderson and Emminence Li'l Texas in the others.

    I haven't done extensive tube rolling with any of them, as I'm pretty happy with the way they sound. It's sort of like having Vanilla, French Vanilla, and Vanilla Bean ice cream in the fridge.

    Sorry to go on like that - but I'd say that the Sovtek 12AX7 LPS would be a good all-round choice, the Tung-Sols a little more aggressive, and the Rubies a little sweeter.

    Have fun - good luck.
     
  20. AngryEL34s

    AngryEL34s Tele-Meister

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    Tung-Sols are my go-to 12AX7. By far the best sounding current production preamp tube to my ears and they sound great in Fender-ish amp AND Marshall-ish ones too!
     
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