Vintage Tube Rebranding

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mechanicalmastering
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Vintage Tube Rebranding

Post by mechanicalmastering » Wed Dec 21, 2011 8:53 pm

So, while looking for Telefunken, Amperex and Mullard tubes, I keep stumbling upon various rebranded versions, (i.e. Telefunken = Fisher or Dynaco). So, are ALL Fishers/Dynaco tubes Telefunkens? I saw some Mullards that were rebranded GE, but GE obviously made their own tubes, so how would one know which is which? Is there some sort of chart or something we could reference? Thanks!
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Nick Sevilla
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Thu Dec 22, 2011 7:21 am

Just know that all New tubes, are made by Electroharmonix.

They rebrand for different companies.

They mfr. about 70-80% of the worlds tubes.

JJ, Tesla, GT tubes, Fender OEM, Marshall OEM, and EHX, plus some others.

A to older "rebranded" ones, I might suspect someone relabelling them to kake them worth more... Or some weird tube mfr. merger.

Cheers
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Post by bluesman » Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:18 am

Older re-branded tubes did exist. Tung Sol made some power tube re-brands for RCA. RCA made tubes branded Silvertone for Sears, Magnavox for their brand, McIntosh for their brand & others. GE & Mullard....in fact, most tube manufacturers re-branded tubes for specific manufacturers. Radio Shack bought & re-branded tubes with their Realistic house brand for decades. Bargains can indeed be had. A good mutual transconductance tester is your friend. I often buy old radios & stereos for their tubes.
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Post by casey campbell » Thu Dec 22, 2011 2:06 pm

Nick Sevilla wrote:Just know that all New tubes, are made by Electroharmonix.

They rebrand for different companies.

They mfr. about 70-80% of the worlds tubes.

JJ, Tesla, GT tubes, Fender OEM, Marshall OEM, and EHX, plus some others.

A to older "rebranded" ones, I might suspect someone relabelling them to kake them worth more... Or some weird tube mfr. merger.

Cheers
its my understanding that SOVTEK makes the tubes, but EH owns SOVTEK.

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Post by Scodiddly » Thu Dec 22, 2011 3:38 pm

The vacuum tube business has always been very incestuous - all the radio companies wanted their own branded tubes, etc.

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Post by Nick Sevilla » Thu Dec 22, 2011 4:12 pm

casey campbell wrote:
Nick Sevilla wrote:Just know that all New tubes, are made by Electroharmonix.

They rebrand for different companies.

They mfr. about 70-80% of the worlds tubes.

JJ, Tesla, GT tubes, Fender OEM, Marshall OEM, and EHX, plus some others.

A to older "rebranded" ones, I might suspect someone relabelling them to kake them worth more... Or some weird tube mfr. merger.

Cheers
its my understanding that SOVTEK makes the tubes, but EH owns SOVTEK.
Something like that... sort of. EHX bought the Sovtek facilities in Russia about 8 years ago or so.

I think Sovtek is gone now...
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Post by Rob Coates » Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:13 pm

In the old days of tubes, yes there were many rebranded tubes. I have an NOS "Zenith" Mullard. I also have Mullards branded "Eico" and "Heath"
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mechanicalmastering
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Post by mechanicalmastering » Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:22 am

I have an NOS "Zenith" Mullard. I also have Mullards branded "Eico" and "Heath"
I guess that what I'd like to know is HOW do you know they are actually Mullards? Were ALL Eico's and Heath's Mullards? If so, what companies were rebranding Telefunken and Amperex?

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Post by GooberNumber9 » Fri Dec 23, 2011 1:21 pm

Just want to correct some misinformation here: JJ tubes are made at the old Tesla factory in the Slovak Republic. That is a totally different company from New Sensor corp, which runs a factory in Saratov, Russia, and makes Electro Harmonix, Sovtek, Tung Sol, Genalex, and "Svetlana" brands of tubes. The New Sensor "Svetlana" line is just a purchased brand name and are not made at the old Svetlana factory. That factory is still making tubes under the name "SED Winged C" and are more like the old Svetlana tubes.

Other distinct existing manufacturers today include Shugang in China and Western Electric in the United States. There are also a few esoteric tube manufacturers still making specialized tubes for AM radio broadcast and a few other areas where solid state electronics cannot be used.

Any other current brand of tube, like Mesa, Groove Tubes, Fender, any tube that shares a brand name with an amp manufacturer are just relabelled tubes made by one of those four major factories: New Sensor (Russia), SED Winged C (Russia), Shugang (China), and JJ (Slovak Republic).

There are also many non-current brands that make things very confusing. Mullard, RCA, JAN, GE, etc. Buying those tubes is kinda like buying an antique. It will be sold at a premium price because of the limited supply, and the buyer should beware and check that they are actually buying the tube they think they are buying.

If you want to buy premium NOS tubes, you'll want to do a lot of research on the exact tubes you're looking for, whether it is believed any are actually still available, and how to authenticate the tube. There are resources online to help you with that, but I can't point you to any because I gave up on the whole NOS tube hunt before I really got started. I'm so happy with a combination of JJ and SED Winged C tubes that I don't want to go through the effort and expense and risk of tracking down and buying an esoteric NOS tube.

Edit: Oh jesus, I just found out that New Sensor is now selling new manufactuered tubes with the "Mullard" brand name. Supposedly they are "reissuing" Mullard tubes from their Reflektor factory, which I suppose means they are using the old designs. Still, the waters are only getting muddier.

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Post by mechanicalmastering » Sat Dec 24, 2011 11:32 pm

http://www.bountyhunterfive.com/shows.html

Check out this link for some pretty awesome background info and descriptions of the sounds from various manufacturers, pretty cool.
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Post by KennyLusk » Sun Dec 25, 2011 8:57 am

JJ's are really the only new tube I like a lot, although the Yugoslav "Mullards" are fantastic in the preamp section of a guitar amp. Nice and wooly IMO. Good tone.
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Post by J-ROB » Sun Dec 25, 2011 4:33 pm

To actually answer the op's question...No, there is no way to tell save learning how to identify tubes without resort to the paint/silkscreening.

There are a lot of hints...glass molding quirks and, especially, the manner in which numbers are etched into the glass--e.g. RCA, GE, and Sylvania had distinctive designs for etching tube numbers. These are permanent markings and they don't lie.

Plenty of good Euro rebrands from 50 years ago because they were less expensive here than premium USA tubes.

I agree that among modern tubes, JJs ain't too bad. I'd go for good used vintage tubes though. A high grade vintage US or Euro low dissipation tube like a 12AX7 can easily last 25 years in regular service.

Dynaco PAS preamps ran those Telefunken 12AX7s at slightly low heater voltage which means that most of them will be good. The fool is the guy who pulled them in the first place!
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Post by themagicmanmdt » Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:05 am

when you see a bunch of tubes and look closely, you can start picking them out...

as previously mentioned, outside of the 'branding', GE tubes have a certain way the tube type is 'frosted' into the glass. RCA as well. Some/most Mullard preamp tubes I've seen have what feels like a 'seam' on the top of the tube. Some don't have much to identify other than the internal plate structure. I can't say I get that far... but I've got a few known GE/RCA/Mullard/TFunken tubes that I compare the 'mystery' tubes with to get a manufacturer.


oh, and my .02? TF tubes, to my ear, are overrated... I wouldn't buy them even if they were the same price as GE/RCA's...

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Post by J-ROB » Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:37 am

oh, and my .02? TF tubes, to my ear, are overrated...
The tube tasting discourse takes place in an abstract space without any stable real world reference. Try to look this stuff up and you will be deluged with microfacts about copper grid rods, getter geometries, and other totally wacked out shiznit.

They are segmenting the continuum. It doesn't work like that.

Part of the problem is that so few tubes were used in, say guitar amps, that the 12AX7 has been subjected to unnatural inspection. It is over thought and overworked.

Just as the only way to judge if a tube is electrically good is to try it in circuit, the only way to know if a tube is sonically preferable is to try it in your gear with your ears and tastes.

Even trying different tubes in a A-B sort of way is misleading. The question of what stands out in these artificial situations yields different answers from long term exposure under normal conditions of use.

The correct answer is "it depends"

Telefunken tubes are good but try to find them cheap instead of trying to outbid audiophiles from Hong Kong with deep pockets and a serious 12AX7 fetish. They will pay multiples for nice silkscreened logos.

Good old RCAs are not a bad place to be usually. "Buy American" is pretty good advice but I say that the best advice is not to get all freaky with the inquiry and try what you can get without resorting extraordinary measures or extreme expense.

I have a shoebox of 12AX7s. Honestly, when I try to pick out a tube I am rarely unhappy if I stop before I get started and just use the damn thing.
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Wed Dec 28, 2011 8:11 am

And that is why I now mix albums, instead of build electronics.

Too much speculation....

And too many opinions.

I love Jim Williams though...
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