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NOS Power Tubes...Your Thoughts

Discussion in 'Ampage Area' started by Robbie, Sep 10, 2017.

  1. Robbie

    Robbie Country Gent

    Age:
    64
    Jun 17, 2013
    Sarnia Ontario Canada
    The 68 Custom Deluxe Reverb I purchased a while back remains my favourite amplifier. I've kept the original 6V6 Groove (JJ) tubes and have no issues with them. There are no rattles and the amplifier sounds really good. I've changed the pre-amp tubes but that's it.
    A fellow I know and trust has some NOS 6V6's I can get at a "real deal" and he's offered to bias the amplifier properly for them as well.
    I have to admit I'm intrigued based on things I've heard about good NOS tubes. I don't want to fix something that's not broke and I know I can always reverse things.
    My question, have you had any personal experience, good, bad or meh, using NOS tubes? Besides tone, I'm concerned about the reliability. From what I've read if they are good NOS tubes they are more rugged than new tubes...but I can't say I know that to be a fact and I use this amplifier a lot at varying volumes.

    Any comments would be appreciated.
     
  2. Bertotti

    Bertotti Electromatic

    81
    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    I have not had those NOS tubes but I have had some el84 NOS tubes and actually bought enough to last a lifetime. I think they sounded better and the price wasn't unreasonable, but and this is a big but, they were noisier. While playing it is no issue but once the guitar stops it is apparent. Playing it goes away. I can't say all NOS are that way might just be the nature of the NOS tubes I have and maybe only one or two in particular. Sad thing is if your are interested now that urge probably won't go away until you try them. Good Luck
     
  3. DaddyDog

    DaddyDog Country Gent

    Sep 18, 2011
    Mississauga, Canada
    IMHO not worth it. I went on a tear recently buying Brimar tubes, and I do not hear a significant difference (not at my volume or style of playing). I've gotten far better results taking my amps to a very knowledgable tech (discovered recently). He has tweaked things like pots, cap values, bias, and slope resistors. I'll be sad when he's serviced all of my amps. I'll have to buy some more then :D
     
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  4. Stefan

    Stefan Country Gent

    Jan 20, 2016
    Germany
    I'm playin' a NOS-SYLVANIA 6L6 from maybe 1968 in my Swart and it sounds really amazing and mucho better than a JJ.
     
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  5. Robbie

    Robbie Country Gent

    Age:
    64
    Jun 17, 2013
    Sarnia Ontario Canada
    You are likely quite right, thank you.
     
  6. Tony65x55

    Tony65x55 Friend of Fred

    Age:
    61
    Sep 23, 2011
    The 'Shwa, Ontario, Canada
    I can help you Blair! (I'm such an enabler...)

    Robb, I have both new and NOS an honestly, I don't find a ton of difference in them. You would probably notice far more difference in the pre-amp end rather than power tubes. And again, you would probably notice a large positive change swapping the Groove tubes out for JJ 6V6 on the back end and Tung-Sol 12ax7 on the front end.

    Others may like them but I'm not a Groove tube fan.
     
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  7. G DynaTron

    G DynaTron Synchromatic

    705
    Dec 7, 2015
    France
    I use 62' JAN RCA 6V6 GTY in my 5E3 Tweed Deluxe and there's a real difference if you compare with JJ tubes, which also sound good but not so good..

    [​IMG]

    And there's real mojo inside that ads muuuuuch more fun to your playing.. :D

    .
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017
  8. G DynaTron

    G DynaTron Synchromatic

    705
    Dec 7, 2015
    France
    Along with 60's GE 12AY7

    [​IMG]

    60's Siemens 12AX7
    [​IMG]and 63' CIFTE 5Y3
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017
  9. Mudshark

    Mudshark Gretschie

    447
    Jul 20, 2012
    Canada
    For my Tweed build I bought a complement of NOS 60’s tubes on Ebay 6V6, 5751, an RCA microphone tube for the 12AY and NOS rectifier which sounded great initially but sometimes I heard a rattle and some microphony. It wasn’t a reliable rig . It was just a pain to keep constantly swapping tubes in and out to troubleshoot. Finally I replaced the NOS with JJ’s which are relatively inexpensive compared to rarefied NOS.

    Truth is can barely tell the difference, JJ's little more powerful perhaps as modern tubes can handle higher plate voltages. NOS are very warm sounding but how much notable difference?

    I thought the modern tubes were more reliable but the JJ rectifier did blow so I am now running a NOS Rectifier which should last forever.

    For gigging I would stick with reliable modern tubes but home studio it can be fun to roll them as a hobby.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017
    Robbie likes this.
  10. Gretschmen65

    Gretschmen65 Gretschie

    367
    May 20, 2016
    Australia
    Robbie, I am in the camp which suggests you will gain little from NOS or in fact could end up achieving nothing.

    If you have had the originals for a while then I suggest you would get even more out of having the bias checked and set by a tech who knows Fender.

    The JJ's you have are good but recently I checked my DRRI and found the bias had slipped over a couple of years and the readjustment was well worth it. It's a simple task and their is plenty of guidance on the net. I do it myself and I guess you do too.
     
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  11. wildeman

    wildeman Friend of Fred

    May 10, 2015
    norcal
    I've got 60 year old amps with the original tubes still in them and working fine, for whatever that's worth. I have a little 1957 10 watt Masco head that i got freshened up a while back, new E.H. 6v6's barely lasted a couple years so i put the old black plates back in and its still going strong.
    I've got quite a few amps though so they don't individually see lots of hours use.
     
  12. wabash slim

    wabash slim Country Gent

    Age:
    67
    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    On one hand, you have old tubes that were very well built, but have aged. On the other hand, you have brand new tubes. They won't be making them forever; it's 100+ year old technology. With some esoteric tubes for vintage amps, NOS may be your only source. It shouldn't make any difference on a rectifier tube, but in the audio signal path you might notice a difference. As long as they're up to spec, new or old really shouldn't matter.
     
  13. Dead Roman

    Dead Roman Country Gent

    Dec 22, 2015
    Texas
    You gents should check out wathen tubes...
     
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  14. Robbie

    Robbie Country Gent

    Age:
    64
    Jun 17, 2013
    Sarnia Ontario Canada
    ********************
    As typical, you and I aren't too far apart my friend. I've already put Tung Sol 12AX7's in V1 and V2 and replaced the PI and Rectifier Tubes as well. Did that about 4 days after I got the amplifier and the guys in my Band noticed the difference without me saying anything. I bought a "matched" pair of JJ 6V6's that I haven't installed yet. The Tube Store told me the Groove Tubes in it were JJ's and the biggest problem with them would be rattles vs JJ labelled tubes. I'm NO fan of Groove Tubes either BTW, and Tube Store suggested if there were no rattles (which there are none) to leave them in for a while because there would not likely be a big difference in sound/tone.

    On other amplifiers I had I picked up some NOS GE 12AX7's and 5751's and they went micro-phonic fast. I stuffed some Tung Sol's I had back in and no more issues. That whole experience leaves me a bit doubtful on the NOS thing.

    As always, appreciate and value your opinion.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017
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  15. Robbie

    Robbie Country Gent

    Age:
    64
    Jun 17, 2013
    Sarnia Ontario Canada
    *******************************
    Thank you, that's pretty much how I feel. Other amplifiers I've had in recent years have bias test points so did all of that myself. This amplifier (only had for 6 months) does not and I will have to buy a pair of bias probes which I may do so I can carry on doing the biasing myself with this one, and others that will likely show up :)
    Thank you for your comments.
     
  16. Robbie

    Robbie Country Gent

    Age:
    64
    Jun 17, 2013
    Sarnia Ontario Canada
    ***************************
    That's a valid point. I do have a concern about their reliability and durability and this amplifier travels everywhere with me.

    I should probably re-state, I'm not having any issues with the amplifier...love it. As typical for a lot of us, just wondering if I can improve. "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"

    Thanks for responding
     
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  17. Robbie

    Robbie Country Gent

    Age:
    64
    Jun 17, 2013
    Sarnia Ontario Canada
    **************

    I will, thanks
     
  18. Aymara

    Aymara Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    As far as I know, power tubes don't do much to the sound characteristics of an amp, except that some are less noisy than others. Pre-amp tubes though can definitely change the sound characteristics.

    I chose a Genalex Gold Lion for my Blackstar HT5-R and it made a huge difference, especially in resolution. But it also warmed up the clean tones and reduced harshness of the overdrive. From reviews in the Blackstar forum regarding tube choices for this amp, that's similar to what some people achieved with a NOS RCA.
     
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  19. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Country Gent

    Age:
    51
    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    In my opinion new tubes are more uniform and constant in quality.
    But: The quality is a lot inferior to vintage ones when we are talking GE/Siemens/Gold Lion/Philipps/AEG 12ax7, EL34 or KT66 (thats the type of tubes I usually work with).
    Every time I have the opportunity to buy these type of NOS tubes for a fair price I pull the trigger.
     
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  20. markeebee

    markeebee Country Gent

    There's a significant spread of quality among new tubes manufactured in different factories using different machinery and materials.

    The same is equally true of old tubes.

    Just because it's old, doesn't mean it's good. Which is the opposite of what I tell my missus.
     
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