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Thread: Tube question

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    Forum Frontman fudd's Avatar
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    Default Tube question

    I mainly run a 5150II with sovtek tubes in it and it sounds good as hell but my question is I know that tubes sound better hot. Now I'm not real familiar with the power sequence and what not but if I turn the post up to 7 or 8 then back it off does it do any good?

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    If you are looking for power tube saturation, you will need to leave it cranked. An attenuator would allow you to play cranked with out blasting the neighbors.
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    I have a 5150 III 50w and, while it sounds great, the tubes have a ton of hours on them, so I'm looking into options. I feel like this amp has all the gain and high end I could ever need. So I'd like to focus on making the green channel a little cleaner, while adding more low end all around.

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    My advice would be to research NOS tubes. There's very few good tubes being made nowadays.
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    Oddly enough, on the subject of NOS tubes, some do great things to the amp, some do nothing at all good to the sound. It is best to try and talk to the guys who are selling the NOS tubes and see what they say about applications for the tubes they are selling.

    There is a new, non-Asian factory for tubes from what I had read; do a google search. I hope I didn't hallucinate that...

    When my buddy was an amp manufacturer, he tried the NOS tube route and ended up with some Sovtek he really, really liked. Keep in mind the only two non-U.S. made parts were the tubes and one transformer on that amp. Great amps, but Jimmy Johns makes him FAR more money than hawking amps and vintage guitars.
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    JJ Tubes are made in Slovakia. I've actually had good luck with them in my Class 5. They're probably the best new tubes out there. The best place for those is www.eurotubes.com
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Lee View Post
    Subscribing.

    I have a 5150 III 50w and, while it sounds great, the tubes have a ton of hours on them, so I'm looking into options. I feel like this amp has all the gain and high end I could ever need. So I'd like to focus on making the green channel a little cleaner, while adding more low end all around.
    the 5150 III's are all voiced with the JJ's. no need to look any further. and, the power tubes last a long time because unless you have the bias adjusted they run pretty cold. not as cold as the peaveys but cold enough that unless they are being really pushed hard for many hrs they last a very long time. you could mess around with the pre amps a little but a 5150 is a 5150 and is meant to do what it does well, period. i think you said you have a soldano. i have had a few. Mike Soldano told me when i asked about tubes to forget worrying about it and put sovtek 5881's and wxt pre's in it because thats what they were made with. as always FWIW

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    Quote Originally Posted by tommytom11 View Post
    the 5150 III's are all voiced with the JJ's. no need to look any further. and, the power tubes last a long time because unless you have the bias adjusted they run pretty cold. not as cold as the peaveys but cold enough that unless they are being really pushed hard for many hrs they last a very long time. you could mess around with the pre amps a little but a 5150 is a 5150 and is meant to do what it does well, period. i think you said you have a soldano. i have had a few. Mike Soldano told me when i asked about tubes to forget worrying about it and put sovtek 5881's and wxt pre's in it because thats what they were made with. as always FWIW
    Quote Originally Posted by fast98dodge View Post
    JJ Tubes are made in Slovakia. I've actually had good luck with them in my Class 5. They're probably the best new tubes out there. The best place for those is www.eurotubes.com
    ^ THIS, and THIS ^

    Eurotubes is a great place to buy quality JJ tubes.

    Amps are usually designed with specific tubes in mind by their original designers. This has FAR more bearing on how any tube will sound in any amp than the tube itself. Tubes operate within a broad range of voltages, signals, and currents (many, many variables), and so the circuitry surrounding the tube completely controls what the tube itself is able to accomplish. Yes, many cold-war era US and Russian NOS tubes are much "better" tubes, but they will NOT necessarily sound better in any given amp. They might sound better, they might sound the same, or they might sound worse than an "inferior" tube, if the amp's circuitry happens to be optimized for something else.

    The 5150 I (and, essentially, the II) were designed to use the very "bad" Shanguang Chinese preamp tubes of the early 90's, and NOS Sylvania 6L6GC's in the power section. Jim Brown over at Peavey designed the entire amp around using those "crappy" preamp tubes, because it's what they could get in bulk for production runs at the time, and he was able to overcome their limitations IMO quite well, and make an awesome sounding amp. Big surprise, that tube combo is what I've always found sounded "best" and the most like EVH's personal tone in those amps. I tried a $150 NOS RCA 12AX7 in the first tube slot of my 5150 once just to see how it sounded. That tube is regarded as a "premium sounding" and "highly sought after" tube by most... long story short, it made the 5150 sound horrible. I put my $7 chinese 12AX7 back in there and called it a day. It's all about the circuit design surrounding the tube.

    Think of it this way: you have racing fuel. You have regular gas. And you have diesel. Let's say racing fuel is the "best". How's it gonna run in your Honda Civic? Your diesel Ford F-350... ok ok, not so great example -- so usually swapping tubes of the same type (but any brand/era) isn't gonna blow anything up, but you get the idea. Use what the machine is supposed to have in it for optimum performance. Always try to find out what amps were shipped with, and then go from there. If you've got the $$$, try a few different kinds and see what you like. If you wanna change up the tone, or go for reliability, start with JJ's, and go from there. They are very "middle of the road" tubes, will run in most things, and sound at least decent in most things.
    Last edited by mrjstudios; 10.22.14 at 11:33 PM.

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    I have a little Marshall JMP1 combo for home use, and it's great - I can get full-on tube tone at neighbour-friendly levels. It came shipped with Marshall branded (I think) JJ tubes, in a somewhat odd configuration. Because of their low wattage, these amps basically use preamp tubes for the output stage. Anyway, I swapped out the first preamp tube for a late 50's Mullard 12ax7, and its power stage runs on a single early 60's Mullard 12at7.

    While the amp sounded very good before, it sounds incredible now. There's more gain, for one thing, and there's a lovely grind in the midrange, an almost three-dimensional sound. I think the vintage tubes work for this amp simply because its design apes a vintage Marshall. I don't know that the 55-year-old tube would make such an impact on a more contemporary sounding amp.
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    MRJ makes great points. Amps nowadays are designed around the tubes that are available, even our 1 watt 50th anniversary Marshall's. I know this for a fact. I asked James Merchant (JCM) and Santiago Alvarez (JMP) in one of the Marshall forums and both of them specifically said the amps were designed and voiced around newer stock tubes. Having said that, for some crazy reason they take NOS tubes very well too. I tried a 50's Mullard in the power section but the stock sounded best (maybe it was a bum tube, I don't have a tester), but the preamp tubes I ended up with an 1961 military spec Sylvania long black plate in V1 and a 1974 Mullard I63 short gray plate in V2. My JCM-1 went from a typical sounding JCM to one that sounded like it had been playing smoke filled clubs on Sunset Strip during the 80's with a little more grit and grime and a touch more character. I bet throwing in some newer JJ's from a quality vendor like eurotubes would not have a negative impact on tone since they get the "best of the best" from JJ.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fast98dodge View Post
    MRJ makes great points. Amps nowadays are designed around the tubes that are available, even our 1 watt 50th anniversary Marshall's. I know this for a fact. I asked James Merchant (JCM) and Santiago Alvarez (JMP) in one of the Marshall forums and both of them specifically said the amps were designed and voiced around newer stock tubes. Having said that, for some crazy reason they take NOS tubes very well too. I tried a 50's Mullard in the power section but the stock sounded best (maybe it was a bum tube, I don't have a tester), but the preamp tubes I ended up with an 1961 military spec Sylvania long black plate in V1 and a 1974 Mullard I63 short gray plate in V2. My JCM-1 went from a typical sounding JCM to one that sounded like it had been playing smoke filled clubs on Sunset Strip during the 80's with a little more grit and grime and a touch more character. I bet throwing in some newer JJ's from a quality vendor like eurotubes would not have a negative impact on tone since they get the "best of the best" from JJ.
    Yep, I'd read that about Alvarez's design, too. I think he also said the JMP was designed with tube rolling in mind, making it easy to swap and switch between the positions, with self-biasing and so on. But again, with those amps going after a vintage vibe, it makes sense that NOS tubes would work well with them. It's noticeably hotter with the gain, and maxed out, it gets me into EVH territory without using the boost. I can goose the front end with my original Marshall Guv'nor pedal when needed.

    How do you like your JCM? I don't gig any more, but I've kept an Orange Tiny Terror head and cab around in case something ever comes up (which it hasn't). Anyway, since I got the Marshall, the Orange hasn't been switched on.
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    I'm like you, I don't really gig these days, I just want a killer tone at acceptable volumes. If I did decide to gig, I could use either my C5 or JCM and get a Badcat Unleash. I've heard those things work pretty well to get a low wattage amp into gig worthy territory.

    I love my JCM even though it's a "one trick pony". It does the early/mid 80's Marshall tone to a "T". I can get the Priest, Maiden, etc.. tones which I love. I don't use the Jubilee boost button very much which is more late 80's GnR type of tone and gain.

    I would've likely bought the JMP if I didn't already have a Class 5 combo and a Catalinbread prototype DLS Super Lead OD pedal to get me into Plexi-ish territory.

    I think the biggest thing that's made the tone on both amps killer is my ASW speaker/cab. It's a spendy speaker/cab but it makes Marshall's just sing!
    Last edited by fast98dodge; 10.23.14 at 11:00 AM.
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    Yeah, that's the one thing I'd improve about my JMP. It's a combo with the 10" speaker, and it's incredibly directional. Listening right in front of it sounds a little harsh, but keeping to the side of it sweetens things a lot. A have a Vox Night Train 1x12 cab with a Celestion G12M Greenback that I thought would sound the business with the JMP, but it doesn't sound good with it at all. I must look at replacing the speaker with something more authentically vintage sounding, then I'd have the option of the combo's 10" and something a bit beefier.

    You know, I do wonder how many people on this forum who discuss their 100w stacks and 4x12's actually gig with those monsters, and how many just run them at home? And if they are gigging, what kinds of venues are they playing where they can let rip with one of those things? On a typical club stage, by the time you wind a full 5150 stack up, surely your eardrums are getting so hammered you'd struggle to appreciate your singing tube tone?

    If I was in a gigging band now, doing the kind of classic rock stuff I like, I think I'd get something like a Marshall 1974x. 18 watts of tube power is more than enough volume unless you're playing theatres or have an absolute animal of a drummer.
    HERE AND GONE by Haylen Beck (Stuart Neville writing as...) - "It doesn't get better than this." - Lee Child, "Highly recommended." - Harlan Coben, "Cancel all your plans and settle in for the ride." - Ruth Ware, "This is a book that lives up to the buzz." - Alafair Burke

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    The ASW KTS-60 is spendy but worth the money. Also, here's the badcat...

    http://www.musiciansfriend.com/ampli...er--attenuator
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