Current Production 12AY7 Tubes?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by The Ballzz, Apr 17, 2020.

  1. The Ballzz

    The Ballzz Tele-Afflicted

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    Hey All,

    Wondering about finding good production 12AY7 tubes. The discussion of preamp tubes is often dominated by the much more popular 12AX7/ECC83 variants, but the disparity between various 12AY7s seems even more drastic. I have a pile of various brands and most sound like ASS! I have TAD, SINO, Chinese, TungSol, JJ and Sovtek and they all sound either wimpy, lackluster or sterile!The best sounding 12AY7 I have is an old Wurlitzer or Baldwin (I think) branded GE. Although it can be intermittently noisy, the tone is glorious. Given that I have a 5E3, needing 1 12AY7 and my new build requires 3 of them, I need to find some good ones. And I'd prefer to avoid having a drawer full of overpriced, generally useless junk!

    Any Suggestions?
    Gene
     
  2. Mexitele Blues

    Mexitele Blues Tele-Afflicted

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    I currently have EHX 12AY7s in V1 of my Delta Blues and my Pro Reverb. I like what it does to the Peavey. Not totally sold on the Fender.

    I have not compared them to other brands.

    To my ear, the magic of the AY7 is not in its lower gain or the improved volume pot sweep. If you turn it up to the same volume you play your AX7s, it sounds warmer and richer. The richness may be due to the curve of the load lines, the warmth may be partially due to the bright cap being dialed farther out of the signal path with the volume knob up.
     
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  3. Fretting out

    Fretting out Poster Extraordinaire

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    If you’re going for new, there’s only about 3 manufacturers making tubes these days so try not to get confused with all the brands, figure out where they are made and what position in that companies line they are for quality

    I’ve used JJ and even groove tubes with good results but everyone has their favorite and reasons
     
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  4. Milspec

    Milspec Poster Extraordinaire

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    New Sensor or JJ is about all you have to pick from these days. I feel that the JJ tubes are the best built tubes out there, but not always the best sounding tubes. In your situation, I would look to NOS tubes for that build.
     
  5. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Vintage aren't hard to find or expensive are they?
     
  6. VintageSG

    VintageSG Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    JJ = Didn't do it for me. Not bad per se and did respond quite nicely to a light boost. If that's all that's available, it'll do. Damning with faint praise.
    Ruby ( Shuguang ) = Had more sparkle than the JJ. Seemed somehow 'richer', until annoyed by a boost. Turn the amp up, fine. Use a boost/overdrive with the level up and I didn't like the sound. Note that this was a Shuguang manufactured valve. Identifiable by the weird plate clip. Other manufacturers may be represented by Ruby.
    EHX = Best of the bunch. Rich, warm, enveloping sound. Responds well to being boosted.

    The above represent my take based on my preferences in my Champ-a-like and my Cub 10. Your mileage will vary.

    I'd explore NOS or even, as I sometimes do, buying old radio equipment that houses the valve type I'm after. Radio circuits don't stress the valves like guitar amplifiers do and a fifty+ year old radio or tape machine may well yield a hoard of goodies. Old organs seem to be popular as donors too.
     
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  7. Minivan Megafun

    Minivan Megafun Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    I have tried the EHX AY7 and I don't like it. Sterile, brittle.

    I have also tried the JJ AY7 and I like it fine.

    Also have used the TAD AY7 and they're good as well. A bit brighter than the JJ but both sound good in Fender tweeds.
     
  8. Mr Ridesglide

    Mr Ridesglide Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    i just get old ones.. i agree with you on the new ones
     
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  9. Rick330man

    Rick330man Tele-Afflicted

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    I've experimented with the new ones and compared them to my NOS (GE and Sylvania) ones. A buddy of mine bought one of my Hot Rod Deluxes from me a few years back. To get the amp ideally suited to his likes and so that we could stay within certain budget limitations, we wound up sticking an EH 12AY7 in V1, a JJ ECC83S in V2 and a JAN Philips 12AT7 in V3. The EH did not sound as detailed as the GE, but it nevertheless sounded very respectable in V1.

    Good luck.
     
  10. SoK66

    SoK66 Tele-Afflicted

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    I'd go vintage. Not very expensive and still rather plentifl. 12AY7's tend toward microponics, even new production, so don't be surprised. Even in the old days when we'd get them from the drug store (for about $2.00) microphonics were an issue. Something you can try that works well is to substitiue a 5751. More gain than a 12AY7, but not as much as a 12AX7. Worth a try.
     
  11. muscmp

    muscmp Tele-Afflicted

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    some of my amps like the jj and some the eh. just the amp's preference and my ears.k

    play music!
     
  12. t-luxe

    t-luxe Tele-Afflicted

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    I've had 3 different NOS 12AY7s go microphonic or fail within a few weeks of use in my 5E3. All were bought from a reputable dealer on this site(who stood behind his product and refunded or exchanged with no hassles). Each time I swapped in an EH for a while while waiting on another NOS tube. After the 3RD time I've just left it there. Doesn't sound quite as good as an RCA or GE but certainly acceptable and works every time.
    Haven't tried the JJ.
     
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  13. richey88

    richey88 Friend of Leo's

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    AU, AT, OR AY for the Pro Jr. IV preamp? Anyone have a preference, and why??
     
  14. t-luxe

    t-luxe Tele-Afflicted

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    An AY or 5751(gain of 70)would be more musical. The AT and AU are usually used as current/driver tubes and sound a bit thin and sterile to me, IMHO.
     
  15. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    The Tung Sol you hate may also have been made by GE. In any case, they were not made in Russia, only USA.
    https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/tube-question-tung-sol-12ay7.2076067/
     
  16. marshman

    marshman Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I have an old, US-made 12AY7 (GE, I recall) in my collection that sounds ridiculously good in any application, BUUUUT the getter ring at the top has broken loose and is just flopping around in the tube. I put a ring magnet on top and it holds the piece firmly in place for testing and experimenting, but not practical otherwise. I hung it in a ‘hanging tube chassis’ and played it for a while, but could never quite trust it out in the real world.

    Check out eBay-level hifi-tube dealers for lightly used 12AY7s. Hifi guys want perfectly matched triodes, so they frequently liquidate perfectly good tubes that don’t meet their exacting standards but work just great in guitar amps.
     
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  17. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    The UOS 12AY7 that came in my 5E3 clone was microphonic and horrible sounding.

    Probably every other 12AY7 that I've experienced in the past decade or so was non-NOS, probably mostly the Sovtek/New Sensor ones. All of those were microphonic, too.

    I've got an EHX 12AY7 in the 5E3 clone now, and it's a fair compromise. Not sure how it differs from the old Sovtek/New Sensor ones, but it has no microphonics, at least not yet (been in the amp about a year).
     
  18. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Also impossible for me to find pics of a Sovtek 12AY7 online. Not saying that definitely means they never existed, but many people use "Sovtek" to mean Electro Harmonix because it's the same factory, or could be talking about 5751s.

    I've seen lots of mentions of them on forums...
     
  19. darkwaters

    darkwaters Friend of Leo's

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    Love 12ay7s. Three of my four amps have a y7 substituted for an x7 in V1.

    I have an old USA made GE y7 in my PRRI that works great. I've also had great success with new EH y7s.
     
  20. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    Has anybody tried 6N4P? - supposed to be the Russian "near equivalent."
     
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