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NOS Tubes: your favorites and go-to sources

Discussion in 'Shock Brother's DIY Amps' started by JamesAM, Nov 4, 2020.

  1. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    It's all this worry and messing around that had me gradually switch to modern tubes nearly entirely. One example: I put a pair of NOS RCA Black Plate 6V6's in my Vintage 65 BFDR. That amp runs 460-465 plate volts commonly. They matched well but were very high reading ma when I installed them. (like 55 ma!) So I made the bias adjustments and the amp sounded fantastic. Forward a few days and we have a gig. About half way through the first set the amp pops/flashes and some smoke comes out of the back. Shorted power tube .....and it destroyed my original output transformer!
     
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  2. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    That massively sucks!
    I tend to be a worrier about durability etc, and am glad I don't prefer BF amps since the sort of ideal size has the issue of over stressed power tubes.
    I'm not sure about rated specs but RCA black plates are not the last development of the 6v6?
    Where Leo decided to over tax 6v6 tubes some years into the next gen tech advances of those tubes, originally designed for 12v car radios?

    Of course there's also the concern that new tubes juggled from one warehouse to basement to dumpster to flea market to dealer, got slammed around a bit on the way. That's the main reason I stick to risky sellers.

    Clearly you show that they can be NOS and test great, but then fail at great expense.
    Kind of puts the reputable sellers of NOS tubes in a different light?
    Not that they are bad, but that they cannot be certain of what they sell.
     
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  3. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    I'm not sure, but I thought the BP were earlier ones. The grey plates like in your picture above later. ?
    JJ's work fine in BF amps and that amp had Sylvania's in it for decades. I did discover after the RCA failure that Electro Harmonix 6V6's sounded great but only lasted 3 mo's in that amp. Then I went to JJ's. The amps sound fantastic at that voltage for some reason!
     
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  4. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Right, for the most part and with RCA, black plates are earlier followed by gray plates. Pretty much late '50s early '60s was that change AFAIK?

    I do have some '80s Philips 6v6 in an amp now that are black plate and came in military boxes that matched the tubes with dates. Those would be an exception.
     
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  5. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    One of the most respected is Kevin Deal at Upscale Audio in northern California. When VTV was still publishing, he was often their go to supplier for rare and expensive tubes that they were writing about.
     
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  6. J. Bonkosky

    J. Bonkosky Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Hi James, you keep bringing up your amp is red plating JJ power tubes. If I were you I would make sure your amp is working correctly before investing in any new tubes. I wish you the best.
     
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  7. tubelectron

    tubelectron Tele-Afflicted

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    Oh, I have the means in my possession... :rolleyes::oops:;)

    [​IMG]

    But only my little bench below is able to hear and qualify the preamp tube noise (indeed, meters and PSU are not shown !) :

    [​IMG]

    -tbln.
     
  8. El Marin

    El Marin Friend of Leo's

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    I am
     
  9. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I notice an interesting shift in generally diminishing satisfaction with modern consumer tube amp sound, where the internet is full of complaints about amps needing changes to sound better, get rid of ice pick or bass mud etc, while at the same time it's implied that power tubes MUST be closely matched.

    Conversely, go back to the '50s '60s & '70s and listen to all the classic recordings, those amps were not fitted with matched tubes, nobody was buying hemp cone speakers to tame ice pick, nobody was increasing power section filtering and buying over sized OTs to tighten bass.
    (Well OK, Leo and Jim were trying to tighten bass but many players kept looking for the earlier amps with looser bass related to lower voltages, less filtering, smaller OTs and low wattage speakers)

    How is it that those amps we now think need to be improved, that ran power tubes pulled off the shelf without matching or getting rated; how could all that classic Rock have sounded good when they (and we) did everything so wrong?
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2020
  10. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    Because those players were visionaries and innovators, not imitators and hacks. They got their amazing sounds from their talent, not from their wallet. How is it that Leonardo and Michelangelo painted their masterpieces with the limited pigments and other resources they had available to them? Because they had immense talent and were the creators, not the hack pretenders.
     
  11. Paul-T

    Paul-T Tele-Holic

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    Folks did mess around with gear on the classic recordings. If you look at a lot of the original blues pioneers they switched from Teles to Les Pauls to Strats as they came in looking for different sounds. In Chicago in particular there were folks like Earl Hooker who always had the newest gear (the first Strat, the first double-neck) and then others would follow. I think Buddy Guy's Strat/Les Paul/Bassman combination came from Earl - or Guitar Slim, who was always experimenting with different guitars. And cars. And suits.

    But there wasn't as much information around and not as many people angsting on the net about different-soundings tubes and capacitors so they focused on the more fundamental differences .
     
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  12. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    Hi, it’s actually redplating tung sols. JJs are fine and work great, I just don’t particularly like how they break up under high gain. The Marconis I have are worn out and make fluttering noises, but otherwise function fine with this amp.
     
  13. Kevin Wolfe

    Kevin Wolfe Tele-Meister

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    ^^^ This.

    I’m not saying I’m not a gear nerd, to the contrary, but getting back to “just playing” has gotten to be very satisfying lately.
     
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  14. darkwaters

    darkwaters Friend of Leo's

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    For durability, I've never found any difference between NOS, ANOS and new 6v6s. (My favorite power tube!) Normally I'll just use JJs and call it a day. My '59 Supro, however, gets the good NOS tubes. Call me sentimental.

    I have noticed a big difference in the durability of preamp tubes. The new ones sound about the same to me as the old, but don't have nearly the same durability. I tend to use NOS/ANOS for those applications. My PRRI, for instance, has all NOS/ANOS preamp tubes, but JJ 6v6s.

    I admit that I can't hear the difference in tubes, unless they're microphonic/noisy, of course. Some claim they can. Who am I to argue...
     
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  15. rjtwangs

    rjtwangs Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    About two years ago I found a young guy on TGP named Bryce Youngman from Las Vegas. I've found him to be extremely knowledgeable and he's been very patient with me and has answered many of my admittedly dumb questions. I thought I wanted to try " mullard " tubes. He asked me why, and I really didn't have a good/intelligent reply. I wanted to try NOS tubes in both my 1960 Champ and my 1962 6g2. Here are the tubes he sent me for my Champ. I heard a difference immediately!
    Resized_20190725_113358.jpeg
    I'm still learning, but I really don't have that many amps that need tubes. I still don't have any Mullards!! He also keeps telling me that a set of tubes for my Champ should last me a lifetime!! He's obviously helped me quite a bit. If anybody wants his contact information just send me a PM and I'll give it to you. Good luck on the hunt!!


    RJ
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2020
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  16. marshman

    marshman Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I have a large stash of. 6V6GTs, all brands & ages, all were tested, and a few closely matched pairs. The RCAs were perfectly matched and made my Excelsior sound like a Mesa-tight and hard, very modern. The KenRads were poorly, matched about 15% difference, and made my Exy sound like one of Neil Young’s Tweed Deluxes about e seconds from meltdown. What’s the difference? Is it the construction? The matching level? I dunno, too many variables for me to address.

    At any rate, these old tubes are a crap shoot. For many of these, the reason they’ve never been used is that they were sketchy from new, and just kept getting passed over.

    All that said, over the years I’ve scored enough good, new and used tubes to last me my lifetime, and every amp I own has good, US-made preamp tubes, and some have power tubes, too. I have given up on the quest for a good quad of English made KT88s, though.

    One final thought, from a wise old tech/contributor over at 18-watt.com from years ago: “Of course, none of this matters once the drummer sits down.”
     
  17. Commodore 64

    Commodore 64 Friend of Leo's

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    TS is a 12W tube. JJ is 14W. Check your plate dissipation.
     
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  18. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    I am aware. As I wrote earlier, plate dissipation on the tung sols was about 104% with 369v to the plates and about 33mv to each tube. A 12w tube should still be able to handle that without redplating in a cathode biased amp.

    This is why I asked the board about NOS tubes that are JAN rated and will hopefully hold up better than the delicate tung sols.
     
  19. teleman1

    teleman1 Tele-Afflicted

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    AS I figure and have experienced, Old Stock usually blows away new production in sound & longevity. A lot of folks here seem to stand with their hands on their hips or folded tapping their foot. "I don't hear a difference"! Probably cause your listening for Godzilla when you should be listening for a Calf or a Llama. My belief is that if you retube from new production tubes to chosen NOS/ANOS, you will get an 8 to 15% tone improvement, (however you want to lay it out). If you are replacing tired tubes, mod production will sound great, relatively as will NOS, so again I say the difference is that 8-15%. AND in order to be convinced, you might need someone switching tubes , on by one or compare recordings. Without immediate relativity 10% better might not be able to be proven by you, you might not notice that and treat it as subtle, others won't.
     
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  20. ThermionicScott

    ThermionicScott Poster Extraordinaire

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    Most of the "guitar tubes" in my stash are pulls that I bought cheap in batches from eBay years ago. Their provenance is completely unknown but they tested strong and sound fine in my amps. Since I don't build any hot-rod stuff with crazy voltages, they might just live forever, too!

    Potentially controversial statement: if you have an amp that eats tubes, simple mods to reduce voltage and protect the screens just make more and more sense as the supply of good American (and British) tubes is only getting smaller...
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2020
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