EL84 tubes

NWAttorney

Country Gent
Feb 27, 2010
1,255
Idaho
Hey all,

I want to get a set of back-up tubes for my amp, and am looking for the warmest (& cleanest) sounding EL84 tubes available. I know they are not as warm and clean as 6L6's, but that's not the point.

There are so many makers/types of EL84 tubes out there, any recommendations?

Thanks,
 

NWAttorney

Country Gent
Feb 27, 2010
1,255
Idaho
Also, I see in ordering information the choice of "hard quartet", "medium quartet" and "soft quartet". Obviously the quartet applies to 4 matched tubes. But what does the hard, medium and soft mean?

Pure speculations says "soft" is what I'd be looking for.
 

Gotone

Gretschie
Jan 2, 2012
216
Ontario
Consider JJ EL84's for durability and an improvement in tone. On the other hand, I wouldn't go for Groove Tubes as they don't seem to last very long, if at all. The Tubestore in Hamilton, Ontario doesn't sell them because...But whatever, EL84's are pretty cheap in comparison to 6L6's or EL34's.
 

Gotone

Gretschie
Jan 2, 2012
216
Ontario
Also, I see in ordering information the choice of "hard quartet", "medium quartet" and "soft quartet". Obviously the quartet applies to 4 matched tubes. But what does the hard, medium and soft mean?

Pure speculations says "soft" is what I'd be looking for.

"Soft” would be right. Tubes are not only matched, but also graded. So for instance if you got soft, it means you can get distortion at lower volume levels (depending on pickup output). If you get hard, you really need to crank the volume on your amp to get any kind of distortion...so it also depends on where you play...like in your basement or a pub kinda thing.
 

tartanphantom

Friend of Fred
Jul 30, 2008
6,143
Murfreesboro, TN
Billy Zoom of X (and also custom amp designer) gave me this advice:
The cleanest EL84's would be the military-spec version, designated EL84M. They have tighter tolerance values, and will drive cleaner for longer before saturating and introducing distortion. Sovtek makes a reasonable EL84M, as do some other manufacturers. But not all manufacturers make a mil-spec version, so your brand choices are limited.
 

LATS

Country Gent
Jan 3, 2010
2,845
Kanata, Ontario
Hey all,

I want to get a set of back-up tubes for my amp, and am looking for the warmest (& cleanest) sounding EL84 tubes available. I know they are not as warm and clean as 6L6's, but that's not the point.

There are so many makers/types of EL84 tubes out there, any recommendations?

Thanks,
I don't think you're really interested in spending a whole lot of time and money on 'Holy Grail' EL84 tubes, so I recommend going to >Eurotubes< and getting some JJ tubes.

Those of us who love the EL84 sound, but want them to break up earlier, can rejoice in the appearance of the new >JJ EL844<
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
27,022
Tucson
One nice thing with EL 84s is that they don't cost a mint so some experimentation is feasible. I would look for some EL84Ms if you want clean but another thing to try is using a 12AY7 in the first preamp stage to increase headroom.
 

BrickwallJackson

Country Gent
Aug 9, 2009
1,444
Richmond, VA
JJs. I run mine in a Dr Z Stangray. Retube every six months to keep "the tone". Dr Z runs them hotter than fire, so they tend to lose that quality that I like after about six months.
 


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