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Tube wear from multiple on/off cycles per day?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Ignatius, Jan 23, 2019.

  1. Ignatius

    Ignatius Tele-Afflicted

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    I sometimes go through phases where I will have time to play for short periods and I find myself turning my amp on and off maybe three or four times in a given day.

    How hard is this on tube life? Is it harder on preamp tubes or power tubes?

    Obviously I realize this is going to contribute to tube wear to some degree. I’m just wondering how much - is it negligible, more or less, or is it a really bad thing to do? Or would it be better to leave my amp on or on standby all day instead of turning it off/on many times?
     
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  2. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Poster Extraordinaire

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    It obviously contributes to wear to some degree.
    What tubes are you using? If it’s just new production tubes like JJ’s then it doesn’t matter. Just buy new ones when these go bad.
    If you have expensive vintage tubes then I can see your concern. But, most vintage tubes are far more durable, turning them on and off four times a day in nothing to be concerned with.
    Many vintage tubes advertised 10,000 hours of service, especially ones made for the military.
    Personally, I don’t think turning it on and off four times a day would even stress a new production tube.
    But that’s just me, Good luck.
     
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  3. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I'd worry more about the switch wearing out from too many cycles than the tubes.

    Preamp tubes are relatively inexpensive and good power tubes can last a very long time.

    If I'm going to be playing off and on all day I just turn the Master Volume down and leave the amp on.
     
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  4. Andy B

    Andy B Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I never worry about it. I’m in the habit of turning everything off whenever I walk away from it. I do leave my guitar on a stand when I know I’m coming back to it the same day. Otherwise it goes back in it’s case.
     
  5. Ignatius

    Ignatius Tele-Afflicted

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    I do have a ANOS RCA 12ax7 in v1, and that's pretty much what lead me to ask this question. I may end up with another vintage tube in v2.

    It sounds like there's no reason to be concerned about significant additional wear. I do get that power cycling, say, four times a day is going to be a little harder on the tubes than once a day or every other day. But heck, if I enjoy playing and can sneak in a few extra minutes here and there unexpectedly maybe it's all worth it :cool:.
     
  6. heltershelton

    heltershelton Tele-Afflicted

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    ive read where its better to leave your amp on and either use the standby or turn the volume down.
     
  7. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Tele-Afflicted

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    We are the music makers,
    And we are the dreamers of dreams

    -Arthur O'Shaughnassey via Willy Wonka​

    Who is the boss here? You or the amp?

    Bob
     
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  8. Blrfl

    Blrfl Tele-Afflicted

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    Wait, didn't Boss kill tube amps? <Grin&Duck> :D

    The only thing that might be of concern is a lot of heat/cool cycles causing a failure from physical stress. I suppose if it's a worry, you could put your rig on a timer that shuts off at, say, midnight and doesn't turn back on until you turn it on manually.
     
  9. Blrfl

    Blrfl Tele-Afflicted

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    (Whoops. Duplicate post.)
     
  10. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    so this was a lot of fun... nobody knows anything about it, really - but everybody is quite happy to express an opinion!
     
  11. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    I've left my Quinn SDQ on for over a year. I don't leave the house much, but when I do, I might turn it off. Haven't had to replace any tubes yet.

    I actually did wear the switch out, and had it replaced.
     
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  12. Euphonica

    Euphonica Tele-Meister

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    A YEAR?!!! That’s impressive!

    Hey Larry, are your the president of Lectrosonics?
     
  13. LOSTVENTURE

    LOSTVENTURE Tele-Afflicted

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    Does anybody have an idea of exactly how much current is involved here.
    I'll give you a hint: It's expressed in milliamps (1/1000 a).
     
  14. luckett

    luckett Banned

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    Leaving it on is also going to contribute to tube wear to some degree.
     
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  15. King Fan

    King Fan Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Too true, lol. Hey this is TDPRI, after all. :D

    But I actually claim a few factoids.

    1. On-off cycles can slightly stress filaments. Source: Most of a lifetime with incandescent light bulbs, which could tend to 'burn out' at the moment when turned on.

    2. 'Standby' as a cure, though, is likely worse than the disease. Source: Merlin http://www.valvewizard.co.uk/standby.html

    3. And leaving a hot tube “on”, with or without standby (especially with) for extended periods of time *also* causes wear. Merlin says:

    “The two main causes of valve ageing are natural barium evaporation from the cathode, and interface resistance growth. Barium evaporation continues as long as the cathode is heated, so an ordinary standby switch has no effect on this. But a standby switch does encourage interface resistance growth. In other words, the standby switch is more likely to shorten the life of the valves!”


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  16. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    If you have a solid state recto, then you're cathode stripping every time the amp is turned on, unless you use a standby to let the heaters warm up before sending B+ to the plates. So what, not a big deal, but doing 4x daily is more wear than not doing it at all. Moral: if SS (Twin Reverb, for instance), use the standby for starts.

    Leaving it on for long periods isn't a problem as long as the heat can dissipate. Leaving it on, but in standby, for long periods, isn't so good. I think Merlin has something to say about this on his site.
     
  17. stratclub

    stratclub Tele-Meister

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    Bull ****. Just like light bulbs, power cycling is what causes tubes to wear out. If you want your light bulbs or vacuum tubes to last, do not ever turn them off.
     
  18. peteb

    peteb Friend of Leo's

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    I like to leave the amp on to limit on/off cycles, up to a point, but once the PT gets hot, and I'm going to take a break, I shut the amp off.



    I worry more about the longitivity of the transformers than the tubes.
     
  19. Ignatius

    Ignatius Tele-Afflicted

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    So from the responses it appears that I should never, ever, under any circumstances turn my amp on. :D

    Seriously though - I appreciate the responses. It's actually a pretty interesting discussion. I do have a SS rec (68 Custom Vibrolux, which by the way is a really darn nice amp in my opinion - and I've owned a fair number of more expensive and arguably "better built" amps) and I do use the standby.
     
  20. warrent

    warrent Friend of Leo's

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