Which tubes should I get? Does brand really matter?

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by Ziggy587, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. 65 Champ Amp

    65 Champ Amp Tele-Afflicted

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    I buy my tubes from KCA NOS, and The Tube Store.

    Both sites are full of resources- especially useful are their descriptions and customer reviews.

    It’s not just sales talk. Detailed descriptions of the sonic characteristics lets you compare and get what will work in your amp and for your ears.

    If price is no object, treat yourself to some NOS tubes. You WILL hear the difference. BTW, ANOS, or “almost old stock” means lightly used/test as new. I’ve had great luck going that route.

    Both of these sellers ship their tubes in proper tube boxes with bubble wrap secured around each tube.

    No affiliation, just passing it on...
     
  2. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I just play the amp with the tubes it came with unless it is microphonic/noisy or dies.

    Unless you have a poorly made or out-of-spec or failing/failed tube, the rest is just marketing, navel-gazing and confirmation bias, IMO.

    YMMV
     
  3. MuddyWolf

    MuddyWolf Tele-Meister

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    Totally disagree. Changing tubes can and usually does change the amp. Wiill it go from a fender to a marshall? No. But it will go from a fender to a much better fender. Or much worse. You have to use your ears. If you change tubes and dont hear a difference then your hearing is not trained to hear these things or your amp is designed so that it is barely really a tube amp and has so much solid state circuitry that its a SS amp with tubes for show. Either way ignorance is bliss. If you cant hear the difference then just play the amp and maybe someday youll hear what others are talking about.
     
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  4. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Yes “my ears are inferior”.

    Somewhat accurate echoic memory lasts 2-4 seconds, max. Some folks must be able to play, put down the guitar, power down, pull the old tubes, swap in the new ones, power up, pick up the guitar, play the exact same thing the exact same way, really quickly.

    Or possibly confirmation bias is at work. But probably not of course.

    If it makes people happy to roll tubes, no skin off my nose. But I don’t know why the alternate view always prompts ad hominem responses.

    I just thought the OP might benefit from another viewpoint. From someone who plays in three bands, does recording sessions on acoustic, lap steel, electric and vocals. Who bought into the tube rolling thing and came back out the other side. Happier. And with better tone. Because I stopped looking to the minutia of the gear to supply it.

    But my ears probably suck and I’m probably not very experienced.

    Rock on and play music. Whatever makes you happy.
     
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  5. MuddyWolf

    MuddyWolf Tele-Meister

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    I never said anyones ears are inferior. Its like wine. I wouldnt know the difference between a $12 bottle or a $1000 bottle. An wine expert wouldnt use the cheap stuff to clean toilets. My taste isnt inferior just untrained. But i recognize there is a big difference and some people take it seiously. Lucky for me
    I dont need to spend a grand to drink some wine.
     
  6. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Me neither. But it turns out "experts" can't even distinguish white wine from red reliably, tested blind. Let alone rate the same wine the same way, minutes apart! Fascinating reads, if you are so inclined.

    https://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2014/08/08/338839598/is-wine-tasting-junk-science
    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jun/23/wine-tasting-junk-science-analysis

    Really opened my eyes.

    . . . and my ears.

    :):lol::twisted:;)
     
  7. aerhed

    aerhed Friend of Leo's

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    I dunno about that. I had a customer give me a bottle of the driest California burgundy on earth and it made my lips swell up and break out with sores (one glass). I bet I could tell that from white wine. Maybe battery acid would fool me though.
     
  8. MuddyWolf

    MuddyWolf Tele-Meister

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    Ok i should have said BEER. Can a beer lover tell between plain label supermarket generic beer and say a fine micro brew? If not then i give up. You win . All tubes are the same.
     
  9. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Funny you should mention. http://money.com/money/3089229/beer-brands-label-marketing/

    There is a lot of science behind the differences between what we believe we perceive and can discern, and what we can actually perceive and discern. https://www.britannica.com/science/confirmation-bias

    I find it helpful to know this. You may not. No problem.

    Carry on.
     
  10. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Reductio ad absurdem?

    Your example would be akin to a broken or bad tube. Of course those are readily apparent.

    Just like a bottle of turned or bad wine that blisters lips.
     
  11. aerhed

    aerhed Friend of Leo's

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    If you say so.
     
  12. Brian J.

    Brian J. Tele-Afflicted

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    i stockpiled the Mesa Boogie tubes before they stopped branding as such, not sure who made them but they sound good and last for a long time, I also like the old yugoslavian made tubes but they are drying up
     
  13. Ziggy587

    Ziggy587 Tele-Meister

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    I decided to install threaded inserts for the back grate.

    IMG_20190323_1405039.jpg

    The threads for the wood screws already felt a little loose, and I didn't want to have to deal with taking care to catch the threads every time. This was such a cheap and easy mod to do, so I figured why not.
     
  14. slickoneuk

    slickoneuk TDPRI Member

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    Buy the best ones you can afford. The highest quality matched whatever's. That way the doubt will be removed from your mind that there is something missing from your tone. Chasing the unobtainable can make you better but can also cause doubts and stunt your playing.
     
  15. 65 Champ Amp

    65 Champ Amp Tele-Afflicted

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    No need to denigrate those who say they can hear a difference between tubes, or even just think they can.

    And don’t forget a couple of objective facts:
    .~ Not all tubes sound the same right up until they go microphonic, or simply fail. Tubes suffer wear from on/off cycles, improper warm up/shut down, how hard they are pushed, how hot they are biased, and hours of use. And all of these factors are mitigated or exascerbated by tube construction. A NOS or ANOS tube, especially one made for the military, can usually withstand those wear factors and stay in spec longer.

    ~ The human ear changes with age.
    Exposure to high spl, and certain frequencies have an inescapable effect.

    Some have said chasing tone by swapping tubes is a waste of money, or “confirmation bias”. Sorry, but applying your own experience to others is a logical fallacy. Just as it is if I say my amp sounds better with new tubes every year or two, therefore your amp will too.

    The only thing that counts is your own ears.

    How many of us have thousands tied up in our pedal boards, and continuously chase tone buying the boutique pedal of the day, but never retube their amps?
     
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  16. Lynxtrap

    Lynxtrap Tele-Holic

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    A tube is a device that passes electrons from cathode to anode (in most cases). I would like to see a convincing explanation of how one tube could have an inherent sound different from another tube of the same type, besides gain/transconductance.

    The differences in sound are probably mostly due to how individual tubes interact with the amp circuit. The circuit determines how the tube does its job, by bias, Miller effect, impedance or whatever. A tube might behave differently in different circuits.

    I think tubes are often attributed sound characteristics just because of the amps they are associated with or recommended for, when in fact the real difference lies in the different circuits.

    At least that's my theory. I'd be happy to be proven wrong.
     
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  17. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've done a lot of tube rolling, but only if I expect a better sound can be achieved.

    I never bothered with my Greta, I've never even opened it up. It sounds fine.
     
  18. Euphonica

    Euphonica Tele-Meister

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    Speakers are just magnets, voice coils, caps and cones, so why don’t they all sound the same?

    Of course they make a difference. I’m no expert but my ears hear it. Then again I am a production sound guy so you could say that I have trained my ears to hear tiny variances.
     
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  19. 65 Champ Amp

    65 Champ Amp Tele-Afflicted

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    Sincere question: what kind of amp do you play?
     
  20. Lynxtrap

    Lynxtrap Tele-Holic

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    You can't really compare speakers to tubes.
    Speakers make sound, and were designed to make a specific sound with certain characteristics.

    Have you ever seen a tube spec sheet with charts for frequency response, or with descriptions like "bright top", "warm mid" or "full bass"?
    Those would probably be good selling points for the manufacturers if they could make tubes with those kind of characteristics.

    I do hear differences between tubes and like to do some tube rolling once in a while. I even have a favourite brand when I buy new tubes, for several reasons.
    But what do we hear? Is it a sound inherent to the tube, or the way it reacts to a certain circuit?

    If you find that tube X sounds bright in first position in a Deluxe Reverb, would it sound the same if used as cathode follower in a Marshall? Or as phase inverter in a Vox AC30?
    If the tube is inherently bright, it should sound bright in all those positions.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
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