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Updated Solid State V Unreliable Tubes

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by casterpicker, Jan 26, 2021.

  1. casterpicker

    casterpicker TDPRI Member

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    I can't seem to find decent tubes for my twin reverb. On a whim I bought a blonde finished twin reverb and I have had it repaired three times in the first six months of purchase. The problems were two tubes 6l6's twice and 12AX7 once. Whereas, the Mustang GT 200 that I play in the studio is never switched off and seems to get better with each software update. The latest software update is the best yet. I wonder whether the quality of tubes that are being manufactured nowadays are going to sound the death knell for tube amps, especially with the strides being made in SS manufacture.
     
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  2. ce24

    ce24 Poster Extraordinaire

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    It sounds like you are not comfortable installing tubes. If tubes is the only issue learn how to install tubes then do some research on brand name tubes.....JJs come to mind......ive only had two bad tubes in 25 years of owning many tube amps....i just sold a 1973 Traynor that was still running original tubes....
     
  3. Jakedog

    Jakedog Telefied Ad Free Member

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    It’s not always a matter of whether or not someone is “comfortable” installing tubes. It’s often a matter of the amp stops working, or is doing something whacky, and the user doesn’t know it’s a tube issue until they have a tech look at it.

    I’d say your track record is not the norm. If everybody who played tube amps only encountered a couple bad tubes every 25 years or so, the tube manufacturers would definitely be out of business. When I’m working with tube amps, I generally buy at least one set of power tubes and several preamp tubes per year. Just recently I bought a 6L6 and a 12AX7 because the ones that came in a brand new amp, still factory sealed, were microphonic and rattly as hell. Just yesterday I replaced a 12AX7 in my Marshall that had gone totally microphonic. In my experience, tubes are an almost constant upkeep issue.

    I used only SS amps live for the last three and half years. Now during the shutdown I’ve gone back to tube amps. Half of me is a little afraid I’ve done something dumb, as much as I gig when things are open. We’ll see. If it gets to be too much of a pain in my arse I’ll go back to SS.

    OP- if you really like your Mustang, stick with it. Nothing wrong with it if it does the job you bought it to do.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2021
  4. ronzhd

    ronzhd Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    LOL, nope! There will always be a place for tube amps. Nothing wrong with yer Mustang either, tube amps can be finicky as hell, but I have never had any issues with my tube amps other than tubes needing to be replaced, and certainly not as often as you. Maybe the Twin Tonemaster should be your next choice.
     
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  5. codamedia

    codamedia Poster Extraordinaire

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    Is that "2 bad tubes out of the box" or "2 tubes gone bad prematurely" over 25 years?
    IME: I don't know that I have ever had a bad tube out of the box, but I've certain replaced a lot more than 2 tubes that have gone bad prematurely over the years!

    To be honest... I don't put 100% trust in ANY AMP in a live situation! Tube, SS or Modeler, I always have a spare rig on hand. Depending on the importance of the gig, it may be setup and ready to go in moments, or sitting in my trunk waiting to be called upon.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2021
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  6. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    You don't have a problem with bad tubes.. you have a bad amp that is destroying tubes that are probably fine.

    Take it to someone who can actually figure out why the amp is killing tubes.

    The common variable in these threads often seems to be that the amps are from Fender.. is there something about the Fender designs that runs tubes outside of their specified operating range/bias levels, etc.. ?
     
  7. kLyon

    kLyon Tele-Holic

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    Exactly. Tubes can be amazingly durable. My 1961 Ampeg Super Echo Twin still has the original glass. And sounds great.
     
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  8. Engine Swap

    Engine Swap Tele-Afflicted

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    If anything, it's becoming more difficult to find good techs who know how to work on tube amps.
     
  9. Masmus

    Masmus Tele-Holic

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    In the past I've always used Svetlanas from Russia which are somewhat similar to the old GE ones and never had a problem. In the old days when my amp started to sound different I'd pull all my tubes and test them myself at an electronics store. These days it's cheaper to buy a tube tester than one service from the amp tech. I only take an amp to the tech once I've ruled out a bad tube myself.
     
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  10. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    Current production tubes, especially those made in China, are far less reliable than old stock tubes. I had some significant damage from a Chinese rectifier failing in a Princeton. The tube was installed by a tech who was too impatient and/or contentious to order a NOS rectifier.
    That said, I use a lot of JJ tubes, and have only had one or two bad ones out of literally several dozen. That's not a bad failure rate. And the defective ones were simply microphonic preamp tubes. I could still use them in non-critical positions in circuits.
    A good re-seller, like Eurotubes, tests the tubes at a high enough sample rate to weed out most of the bad ones.
     
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  11. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    THIS!!!!!
     
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  12. ce24

    ce24 Poster Extraordinaire

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  13. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    Or is it that old tubes were underrated in some capacity in terms of tolerance because they were used in more critical applications than guitar amps?

    And maybe these vintage amp designs were designed by people who were not engineers and didn't realize they were relying on ultra bulletproof tubes of the day to keep the amp reliable?

    Most of us aren't looking at spec sheets of tubes..

    No one is doing a study but it'd be interesting to look at tube amps that are modern say after 2000 designs and whether they wreck tubes less than amps designed in the hey day of tubes.

    Back when lots of stuff ran tubes in the house or office it was going to be a major PITA for a bunch of devices to burn out tubes regularly due to bad design.

    Or does a Twin reissue stay more reliable on modern tubes than a vintage one???
     
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  14. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    TVs wore out tubes all the time ... we'd buy them at the tube tester display at the market. TV tubes didn't last decades because they were OLD reliable battleship/bomber/radar shack -worthy tubes. They wore out all the time.

    But old stock tubes are better built, and more reliable than new production in any amp.
     
  15. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    I hear you on your problem, it's the reason i use mainly new modern tubes now. Before I spent much of my time trying to solve pop, hiss or crackle.
    The added benefit is in the last 6 months I finally sold many of my old tubes and I'm at least a $1000+ richer! Phillips, Bugle Boy, RCA BP, 7025 RCA, Amperex etc are gone.

    For a few years now I've used:
    Mullard RI 12AX7's. Not one fail, none microphonic or noisy out of at least 20 used.
    JJ 6V6's. Consistent and reliable.
    TAD or JJ 6L6GC
    NOS 12AT7's
    . Military.
    Various old stock rectifiers. 5V4, 5U4GB

    Old tubes leak, get noisy, may not match etc. There are some good ones out there, but it's a matter of having playing time or troubleshooting time.
     
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  16. E5RSY

    E5RSY Doctor of Teleocity

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    Currently using an old 5U4 I found in a yard sale marked "DeVry Technical Institute". :D
     
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  17. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    yeah, I use them because, generally they are pretty cheap and I find modern Rectifiers to be more prone to issues. Not sure why that is with rectifiers, I've had good luck with decent modern power tubes or small tubes. (except a couple brands)
    I've had one Chinese and one Russian rectifier fail immediately upon start up.
    The one issue in old rectifiers is the 5AR4 which is expensive. I usually use a 5V4, almost the same. (some actually are!)
    I bought five 5Y3's last year.... a lot sale of used ones on Ebay. 4 were very good. I paid $12 total!
     
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  18. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Doctor of Teleocity

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    Any experience with the new Mullard 6V6?
    just curious is I just got one for a small amp.
    Thanks
     
  19. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    Might be the 300 volts AC slamming into it. Bzzzzt!

    You know this site, right? Fun reading for crappy electricians like me:

    robrobinette.com/How_Tubes_Work.htm

    (Thanks Rob.)
     
  20. loopfinding

    loopfinding Friend of Leo's

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    i think in 15 years, playing 2-4 gigs a month, i've had (instead of just wanted for noise or tonal reasons) to replace tubes maybe 3 or 4 times. maybe i'm just lucky? but i really don't understand this idea of tube amps being unreliable (or rather, more unreliable than any other high wattage device). most of my big failures thus far have either been filter caps, speaker voice coils, or one occasion of bad OT...and none of those are necessarily specific to tube amps. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2021
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