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  1. #1
    Romeo Delight
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    12.31.69 @ 04:00 PM
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    Hey guys, I'm just looking for your opinions on replacement tubes for my "5150." I've had the amp for 8 years now and i'm gettin kind of tired of the sound. The only problem is, I don't have the money to buy a new amp. I heard that new tubes would make the amp smoke. I was just wondering which tubes were the best. thanks

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    Good Enough
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    03.30.13 @ 09:28 AM
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    New tubes will change some of the characteristics of an amps sound but in no way will they make it smoke.
    What tubes are in there now, and what are you looking for in the way of tone, distortion, gain, etc...?

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    Hot For Teacher Trennasol's Avatar
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    01.15.07 @ 05:34 AM
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    Am I understanding correctly that you haven't changed the tubes in the amp for 8 years??? If that's the case, then a fresh set of tubes of any kind will wake it up a bit.

    A lot of people highly recommend JJ tubes from Bob at Eurotubes. Some don't care for 'em, but many folks swear by JJ's.

    T

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    On Fire
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    12.31.69 @ 04:00 PM
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    Some things that I think greatly improve the 5150 and are pretty cheap:

    1. Find a tech, have a variable bias pot installed so the power tubes can run at the proper voltage. The amp is fixed biased cold stock which is one of the main reasons for the 5150 buzz and lack of warmth. Bob at www.eurotubes.com will tell you everything you need to know about this mod so you'll know what to tell the tech. It should cost around $50-80 depending on the tech and it warms the amp up considerably.

    2. Experiment with preamp tubes. The 5150 preamp is massive. To me 5 12ax7's is overkill. I currently only have 2 12ax7's in my 5150. One in the 2nd and 4th position. Position 1 and 3 I have a NOS JAN Phillips 5814(12au7) and in position 5 I have a NOS JAN GE 5751, which is like a 12ax7 but with less gain. The 5814 and 5751 preamp tubes make such a huge difference because they are lower gain and you really don't lose the massive distortion ability of the 5150 because it has SO much gain available in that massive preamp.

  5. #5
    Romeo Delight
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    12.22.09 @ 08:02 AM
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    Anyone know of a good tech in the Boston area that can do this mod?

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    03.30.13 @ 09:28 AM
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    Phone some music stores in your area. Most have service techs who will bias amps with no problem.
    Tell them what you want up front, and get a quote ahead of time. Don't just drop it off and hope for the best.

    The power amp section of your 5150 doesn't really cut in till the volume goes above three to four.
    They're still working at lower volumes but there's very little saturation and they're not pushing much air out of the speakers so they don't
    play nearly as much of a factor in your sound as the preamp does at lower volumes.
    It wouldn't hurt to have new power tubes installed and biased, but since you'll most likely never rebias them yourself a variable bias probably isn't necessary unless you change your brand of power tubes a lot.

    Preamp tubes will play a much more distinct part of your sound. Although the 5150 has 5 preamp tubes they're not all used for gain, and are shared with the clean channel.
    My tech has experimented with 5150's and tubes of different types for others that own them, and as Larry J says certain tubes will lower your gain and help you to some extent, but unfortunately that buzziness will probably stay once you saturate the tubes to a certain gain level. It's just an inherant part of the amp and the way it was designed for gain.
    He did some internal wiring changes to one, and it helped quite a bit but it was costly and not many techs will want to fool with the internal components.
    Your probably best off experimenting with preamp tubes as Larry J stated, since the preamp section is self biasing, but I honestly don't think that installing a variable bias pot in the power section will help in your situation. Save your money for good preamp tubes.
    Just one note. Russian tubes will tend to distort faster, and sound much more grainy so I'd stay away from them in a 5150.
    Good luck.

  7. #7
    Romeo Delight
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    12.31.69 @ 04:00 PM
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    thanks guys for the advice! i'll consider doing the mods. peace

  8. #8
    Atomic Punk Wolfman's Avatar
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    07.20.17 @ 03:43 PM
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    Originally posted by tribb:

    The power amp section of your 5150 doesn't really cut in till the volume goes above three to four.
    tribb, just out of curiosity - is this true with most amps as well? I'm not usually in a situation where I can turn up too much to practice, myself - and I'm not crazy about the idea of an attenuator like the Powerbrake, etc., but I'd like to be able to hear my amps's ('74 MK II) natural sound a little better every now and then when I'm farting around, since I'm not currently gigging.

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    03.30.13 @ 09:28 AM
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    Yea, Wolfman. Although it only applies to tube amps it applies to most amps like Marshalls, and lots of others where the power section, although always working to deliver volume to the speakers, doesn't really start to punch in until you get above 3 or so.
    Once you get to about 5 the power section kicks in more heavily and pushes the speakers harder, and your tone becomes a combination of the output transformer, speakers, and your preamp. That's why you might notice your sustain increasing as the amp gets louder.

    I've been having good luck with the THD Hotplate lately. If you turn it on full attenuation, -16 db, the it distorts a bit too easily and sound kind of compressed, but the dial to the right that allows you to turn the attenuation down cleans it up to a point.
    At -12 it's still fairly quiet if you keep your volume at about 7 or 8, but you can hear the amp sing a lot more.
    The best setting seems to be about -8, with the volume dimed, but that's more for club and rehearsal situations.
    The good thing about the hotplate, as opposed to the powerbreak is that the sound is better and not compressed like the powerbreak.
    If you want it really quiet without much compression, then you can put the hotplate on "load" and use the line signal out into a separate poweramp that lets you keep the volume right down.
    The hotplate also won't harm your OT at all, although power tubes will wear faster, just the same as if you had it going full volume at a gig.

  10. #10
    Atomic Punk Wolfman's Avatar
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    07.20.17 @ 03:43 PM
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    Word, tribb - thanks for the info , man.

    Looks like I have another piece of gear to add to my wish list. [img]graemlins/sssh.gif[/img]

  11. #11
    Hot For Teacher
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    12.31.69 @ 04:00 PM
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    Originally posted by tribb:
    Yea, Wolfman. Although it only applies to tube amps it applies to most amps like Marshalls, and lots of others where the power section, although always working to deliver volume to the speakers, doesn't really start to punch in until you get above 3 or so.
    Once you get to about 5 the power section kicks in more heavily and pushes the speakers harder, and your tone becomes a combination of the output transformer, speakers, and your preamp. That's why you might notice your sustain increasing as the amp gets louder.

    I've been having good luck with the THD Hotplate lately. If you turn it on full attenuation, -16 db, the it distorts a bit too easily and sound kind of compressed, but the dial to the right that allows you to turn the attenuation down cleans it up to a point.
    At -12 it's still fairly quiet if you keep your volume at about 7 or 8, but you can hear the amp sing a lot more.
    The best setting seems to be about -8, with the volume dimed, but that's more for club and rehearsal situations.
    The good thing about the hotplate, as opposed to the powerbreak is that the sound is better and not compressed like the powerbreak.
    If you want it really quiet without much compression, then you can put the hotplate on "load" and use the line signal out into a separate poweramp that lets you keep the volume right down.
    The hotplate also won't harm your OT at all, although power tubes will wear faster, just the same as if you had it going full volume at a gig.
    How is this different to the light dimmer Ed used?
    The rumor: W.D.F.A-We Don't Fuck Around.<br />The truth: W.D.F.A-We Disregard Fans Abundently

  12. #12
    Little Dreamer
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    12.31.69 @ 04:00 PM
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    Originally posted by tribb:
    Russian tubes will tend to distort faster, and sound much more grainy so I'd stay away from them in a 5150.
    Good luck.
    Hmmm... that's interesting. I had my Tone-Master head re-tubed by Roy Blankenship at Abell Amp Repair who used to be an engineer/rep for Groove Tubes and he was the guy who really sold me on Svetlanas. Maybe it's just a Fender thing, but those tubes, which run a higher plate voltage really brought the mids to life in my head and seemed to give it better low-end definition as well. He pretty much swears by 'em, and while I was totally in love with my amp before he re-tubed and re-biased it, it really did make a difference for the better with the Tone Master, which isn't quite as high-gain as a 5150, but is hardly lacking for balls right out of the box, either!

    Definitely try to find a competent tech in your area though, one that hopefully you can get a few good references for, and get his input. He'll probably have several different sets of tubes lying around if he's anything like Roy, and will be more than happy to let you hear the difference between them for yourself.

    SBS

    [ November 18, 2002, 06:26 PM: Message edited by: SirBrownSound ]
    What, me, worry?

  13. #13
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    03.30.13 @ 09:28 AM
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    Definitely try to find a competent tech in your area though, one that hopefully you can get a few good references for, and get his input. He'll probably have several different sets of tubes lying around if he's anything like Roy, and will be more than happy to let you hear the difference between them for yourself
    True, that's always a good idea.
    I've been experimenting with tubes for a long time as a lot of guys have, and I found that russian tubes really suck in a high gain marshall or 5150.
    On the other hand, they're not as bad in a fender, where you want to add a little overdrive and grit at higher volumes. I used russian tubes in my blackface bassman output section and they were ok.
    Like I said though, for high gain amps they tend to sound more distorted when pushed and it really isn't a great sound compared to some others.
    Believe it or not, I really like chinese preamp tubes for my high gain marshall head. They're smooth and well defined.

 

 

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