Tubes

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by jimbo735, Sep 17, 2013.

  1. jimbo735

    jimbo735 Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,192
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2011
    Location:
    Michigan
    Has tube quality ever gone up to a better quality or is it mass production and hope for the best.Im not complaining its a technical question.
     
  2. AussieAndrew

    AussieAndrew Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,236
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Location:
    Vic AU
    I think tube quality was at it's pinnacle in the 60's and has only declined since.
    I only buy high quality NOS, it costs more but I can live with that. The older tubes also handle higher voltages and last longer. They were also mass produced. But, you need some foreknowledge on which ones/brands, eg: RCA, Mullard, Phillips (Bugle Boys), to name just a few.
     
  3. alnicopu

    alnicopu Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,810
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    The city
    Also learn which ones aren't what they seem. I read an article (can't remember where and I usually don't repeat them unless I can name a source) that Bugle Boy was just a logo stamped on Amperex tubes to differentiate them for another equipment maker. Kind of like whirlpool stamping Kenmore on a washing machine for Sears.

    They were better back then because that was the technology of the day. Every thing ran on tubes so that's where the market drove them to be better than someone else's. Transistors came along, they were the next big thing, so tubes got relegated to the back burner.
     
  4. zag1

    zag1 Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    378
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Wasn't there a resurgence in popularity when it came to tubes? Current production tubes are more economical, and in certain situations just as good as NOS. Aren't today's tubes geared toward current production amps? In some cases, not all NOS are still available, so one is literally forced to use modern production tubes. I kinda found that out with an old Univox (U-155R) amp I got. I did manage to find the 6AQ5 (7 pin) output tubes that took me some time to find. Out of the eight in this amp, the two 12AX7s of course, are the most familiar. I know folks dug them Telefunken and Mullard types back in the day.
     
  5. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,502
    Joined:
    May 24, 2010
    Location:
    Canada
    Took some time finding the 6AQ5's? Used to be in half the TV's of the time. Couldn't find any vids on the amp. How does it sound?
     
  6. zag1

    zag1 Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    378
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Yeah, most vids I found were on the Univox U-45 or something like that. The 6AQ5/EL90/6005 is a beam tetrode tube, ratings virtually identical to the 6V6. When I got this amp, it was DOA. A freebie. Got 'em up and working, but still got a few things to do to it. Not very loud. There's like a little unwanted distortion when you turn it up and trem no workie. Reverb sounds funny, but they sounded like that back then. Supposed to be a 20 watter.
     
  7. AussieAndrew

    AussieAndrew Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,236
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Location:
    Vic AU
    If you are really interested to find out, there is a lot of information on tubes/valves. Be prepared to do a "lot" of reading.
    Manufacturers codes (if readable) are usually the best way to differentiate what a particular tube(12ax7, El34, 6v6, etc) really is (where it was made, by who, when, what plant)) etc... Many where/are rebranded, but it's in the codes.
    Many of those plants no longer exist. Thanks to the transistors.
     
  8. CyanideJunkie

    CyanideJunkie Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    620
    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Location:
    Singapore
    I think it was their consistency that took the biggest hit. There are some modern tubes out there that can match their NOS counterparts in terms of audio, but they fluctuate in between batches.
     
  9. Revv23

    Revv23 Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,047
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2009
    Location:
    Michigan
    Sadly, this is somewhat like asking which tonewoods work best. One question will get many different and differing opinions.
     
  10. Gnobuddy

    Gnobuddy Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,776
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2010
    Location:
    British Columbia
    If it's any consolation, discrete transistors have just about had their day as well, hanging on only in a tiny few oddball applications. The almighty microchip (which really should be called a nanochip these days) has taken over the world, and dominated electronics for decades now.

    (Yeah, I know that there are still billions of transistors - MOSFET's, mostly - inside those microchips, but nobody really treats a microchip as a pile of individual transistors. Rather, we treat them as one functional block.)

    -Gnobuddy
     
  11. BiggerJohn

    BiggerJohn Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,311
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2009
    Location:
    California
    Discrete transistors are still commonly used in high power and microwave applications.
     
  12. AussieAndrew

    AussieAndrew Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,236
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Location:
    Vic AU
    I should have been broader and stated Solid State. I was generalising.
    Yes, transistors and chips including diodes and whatever else along those lines really do have excellent applications right across the board. Things get smaller and smaller (no good for big hands :lol:), what with SMD's. Now there's watches being made that you can make and receive phone calls, have media coverage of some sort :eek:. How long before "Robocop" is a reality, enforcing the law, etc..
    But where music reproduction (stereo's) and guitar amps are concerned, once you've been bitten by the bug, old technology is so smooth and easy on the ears (ear candy) IMHO :cool:

    Long live the vacuum tube.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2013
  13. tedro

    tedro Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,467
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2010
    Location:
    7th Galaxy
    lovin' an ancient smooth tele in my drri. (and a mullard in the rev.) i need nos tubes in my blackfaces' preamps...or better pedals...NOT. :cry:
    :D likes single coils!
     
  14. AussieAndrew

    AussieAndrew Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,236
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Location:
    Vic AU
    G'day Tedro,
    I run an old RCA black plate 6v6 and Sylvania 12at7 in my little hot modded Champion 600 (ATM). Yeah, got an ancient Mullard 6v6 and 12ax7 from an old radio but I'm saving them (so sweet). I got a NOS Mullard 12ax7 (Blackburn code) and man that thing is so wild it's hard to describe (saving that too).

    I believe that new prod' tubes are just no match for the old stuff. Game over :lol:
    I have a nice little stash of NOS tubes, mostly RCA.
    Any amp I get gets introduced to NOS tubes, "period".:twisted:

    PS: The Fender Blender is really bizarre.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2013
  15. telex76

    telex76 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Age:
    68
    Posts:
    16,108
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2006
    Location:
    Fort Worth,Tx.
    New production tubes are just alot better than they were 10 or 15 years ago.

    They will never be as good as the old producrtion tubes. Mainly because they don't have to be. The same tubes used in amps and stereos were once also used in military applications, and they had to be very high quality and built to last.
     
  16. Hiker

    Hiker Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    5,448
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2008
    Location:
    Alabama
    AussieAndrew was right about the pinnacle in the 60's, and NOS tubes that many of us have in our arsenal (and resell on occasion). I've got a herd of very good, used (ancient) tubes from Sylvania-singles and pairs, and other cos. waiting for a tube in one of my amps to go bad.
     
  17. Gnobuddy

    Gnobuddy Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,776
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2010
    Location:
    British Columbia
    I once read a letter to the editor in an old issue of Wireless World magazine. The letter was from a blind reader who used to build electronics circuits by touch. He was fine with tubes, and he adapted to discrete transistors. But when the first integrated circuits came out with their 0.1" lead spacing, he was shut out - he could no longer identify pins by touch. :(

    With SMDs taking over the same thing is now happening to those of us with normal vision.
    I love tube guitar amps, particularly for solid-body electric guitars. Once I'd played through one good tube amp, that was the end of solid-state guitar amps for me.

    -Gnobuddy
     
  18. Ed Storer

    Ed Storer Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    893
    Joined:
    May 27, 2010
    Location:
    Seattle WA
    Back to OP's original question:
    IMO, overall tube quality of current production tubes has improved over the past 15 years, but it seems that there are still batches produced that are duds. Those duds seem to be less frequent, but it could just be better QC by the merchants I buy my tubes from.
     
  19. 6942

    6942 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    66
    Posts:
    6,333
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2006
    Location:
    Santa Fe, NM
    I've been told, that for the most part, the older the tube.....the better.

    As far as 6aq5/6005 tubes; I built two stereo SE amps that uses them. :D
    I've been lucky enough to find NOS GE, Sylvania, and RCA varieties (black and gray plate) on flea-bay for around $5 a tube.
    FWIW.....NOS 5aq5 and 12aq5 tubes are half that.
     
  20. jimbo735

    jimbo735 Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,192
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2011
    Location:
    Michigan
    I thank you all even if the subject wondered a bit.
    Thats great information you share with us all.:)
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.