Which tubes should I get? Does brand really matter?

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

  1. Lynxtrap

    Lynxtrap Tele-Holic

    Feb 29, 2016
    I like to build, repair and mod amps, and last time I counted there were about 15 of them, including a couple of solid state amps. I try to play most of them now and then, some more than others. Do you want to hear about them all? ;)
  2. Ziggy587

    Ziggy587 Tele-Meister

    Feb 10, 2019
    Long Island, NY
    I'm thinking I might have just gotten 3 pre amp tubes that are just too similar to make a pronounced difference. I think I'll get one of those Chinese 12AX7 tubes, which are supposed to be distinctly different.


    There might be minute differences in the 3 tubes that I have now, but I'm not doing a proper test. You really have to record each tube, then A/B them back to back. Swapping them out, any subtle change is lost after the time it takes to change them.
  3. bo

    bo Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2003
    Arlington, VA
    I replaced the EH tubes that were in my Carr Hammerhead Mk I (an oddball sorta Marshall-y 25w 1x12 Class A amp) with Tung Sol EL34Bs in the power tubes and JJ 12AX7s in the preamp spaces three years ago. Not only did the amp get a bit tighter and brighter (TBT I think the EHs in it were over a decade old...) but the tubes are hanging in there just fine. This amp gets used at least once a week for loud rehearsals along with every gig. I like both the Tung-Sols and JJs. They seem to make a good combination.
  4. Les H

    Les H Tele-Meister

    Jun 2, 2018
    Yes brand matters but don't expect everyone to agree on the same brand.

    I haven't liked a single Sovtek tube I've tried be it pre amp or power amp tubes. Harsh and lifeless is what I hear in every set I've tried. Including the much loved long plate 12AX7. They used to be standard equipment in just about every new off the shelf amp. However some people have really good luck with them.

    I've been buying Ruby Tubes since the late 90s. They don't make tubes but rebrand them with their name like Groove Tubes does. Not all of their tubes are Chinese. Their EL 84s and a couple of their 12ax7 offerings are JJs but their price has always been about $10 cheaper than a standard JJ quartet from everyone else. They have a Chinese 12ax7 with Mullard style plates that is my favorite 12ax7 to use in the V2 slot of a 2 channel non fender amp. It is a premium tube sold by other companies for about twice the price.

    I like JJ preamp tubes in just about any slot but I prefer a Tung Sol 12ax7 in V1 and also in the phase inverter slot of a dark amp I want to sound brighter. If an amp has a cathode follower position tube the Tung Sol 12ax7 life will be reduced to hours in the cathode follower position. It not robust enough. In a brighter amp I have found JJ 12ax7s in V1 will tame some highs end.

    As happy as I am with Tung Sol 12ax7 tubes I have been less than impressed with their power tubes. Sovtek, Tung Sol, Electro Harmonix and I think Svetlana are all made in the same factory.

    So much of it depends on the amp. I have an amp that came with Electro Harmonix tubes in both the pre and power amp and no matter what other combination I've tried the all EHX set sounds the best.
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