Tube AMps: Tone and Care

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Girl Toes
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Tube AMps: Tone and Care

Post by Girl Toes » Fri Sep 10, 2004 1:49 pm

Can some one explain more about getting the most life out of my tube guitar amp?

I just picked up a old fender showman guitar amp. I guess its from the early 70's, and still contains the origional RCA tubes. The guy at the store explained that once these tubes are used, which will take about 6 to 12 months, I will never get that same tone again. Why is this exactly??? Would it be wise to take out these tubes then, and save them for a special occasion? This is a wonderful little amp, and I do not know what to expect with replaced tubes, how would the tone change?? Would it be that hard to track down old RCA tubes to replace them, or would it not be worth it?

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Playing 11pm Sunday at The Sidewalk, Ave A and e 6 in NYC. But not yet with this amp.

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Re: Tube AMps: Tone and Care

Post by 0xeneye » Fri Sep 10, 2004 2:03 pm

Nonesense, tubes can last years, even decades. I have Mullards from '74 that are still great. The manic compulsion to replace tubes is caused by the marketeers misunderstanding of what tubes do. Some tubes, for example, simply waver voltages to create a vibrato effect.

Before switching tubes, have them tested. If they are Very good, good, or even OK, then leave them alone if you like them. Unless the Power tubes are unmatched, then consider finding matches.

Usually a matched pair of Power tubes (6v6, 6L6, el 34, etc.) is recommended as a backup, and the first preamp tube (a 12AX7) is the one that mostly changes the "tone" of the amp.

Hope this helps.
0x

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Re: Tube AMps: Tone and Care

Post by antilog » Fri Sep 10, 2004 2:04 pm

First of all, I would take what he says with a grain of salt.
- nothing sounds exactly the same as anything
- i am skeptical of his 6-12 mo. estimate: how does he know?
- you could probably buy the same RCA tubes as NOS, which means "new-old-stock", tubes that are orginal, but never been used

Do a Google search on tubes or tube swapping. I fell in love with my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe after trying different brands and gains of preamp tubes.

check out:
http://shop.store.yahoo.com/thetubestore/index.html

great info here:
http://shop.store.yahoo.com/thetubestor ... views.html

Good luck!
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Re: Tube AMps: Tone and Care

Post by 0xeneye » Fri Sep 10, 2004 2:07 pm

Also, to extend tube life, use the standby switch like this:

Turn power ON, wait 2 - 10 minutes
Turn standby ON, and play
During breaks under an hour, LEAVE BOTH ON, play second set
Turn standby OFF, wait 2 - 10 minutes
Turn Power OFF

Try not to move the amp when tubes are warm.

Also, check for good AC power in clubs with a tester, and be careful.

Finally, NEVER turn on an amp without a 'load", ie, speakers attached to it.
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Re: Tube AMps: Tone and Care

Post by antilog » Fri Sep 10, 2004 2:14 pm

Oops, somebody else replied before I hit submit, so by "he" I was refering to the salesman...
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Re: Tube AMps: Tone and Care

Post by antilog » Fri Sep 10, 2004 2:18 pm

Oxeneye wrote:Finally, NEVER turn on an amp without a 'load", ie, speakers attached to it.
Also, make sure it is the correct load (8 ohm speaker in the 8 ohm jack for example). If it is far off (like 16 & 4) you can burn through output transformers. I believe this is more of a problem in tube amps than solid state amps.

1 more thing: the voltages in a tube amp are LETHAL. Be wary of electronics maintenance when the power is on (like biasing). If you are the least bit hesitant or unsure, have a qualified tech do it.
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Re: Tube AMps: Tone and Care

Post by Meriphew » Fri Sep 10, 2004 3:24 pm

One of my amps (a Mesa Blue Angel head) is still running on it's original tubes and it still sounds totally kung fu. I bought it new about 8 years ago.

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Re: Tube AMps: Tone and Care

Post by Everybody's X » Fri Sep 10, 2004 3:41 pm

I have a '68 deluxe reverb
'72 ampeg v2
87 marshall 25/50
91 mesa boogie 50 caliber

all with the original tubes, (well mostly on the fender)
all sound great


I change them around once in a while, if Im bored, but all the original tubes still work fine

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Re: Tube AMps: Tone and Care

Post by HuskerDude » Fri Sep 10, 2004 4:05 pm

My Hammond M-101 from 1963 has the original tubes in it, sounds absolutely brilliant.

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Re: Tube AMps: Tone and Care

Post by spankenstein » Fri Sep 10, 2004 5:11 pm

Funny thread, my Hot Rod Deluxe started sounding like complete butt last night. I had some other 6L6s sitting around and swapped them in and bam, back in all it's glory. This amp is only around a year old.

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Re: Tube AMps: Tone and Care

Post by Meriphew » Fri Sep 10, 2004 5:36 pm

spankenstein wrote:Funny thread, my Hot Rod Deluxe started sounding like complete butt last night. I had some other 6L6s sitting around and swapped them in and bam, back in all it's glory. This amp is only around a year old.
Alot of people who buy the newer entry level Fender amps swap the tubes asap. I think Fender uses fairly crappy ones to save $.

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Re: Tube AMps: Tone and Care

Post by AGCurry » Fri Sep 10, 2004 7:46 pm

Also, check for good AC power in clubs with a tester, and be careful.

Actually, tube amps are less sensitive to power problems than are solid state. Now Hammond organs, that's another thing...

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Re: Tube AMps: Tone and Care

Post by spankenstein » Fri Sep 10, 2004 9:42 pm

Meriphew wrote:
spankenstein wrote:Funny thread, my Hot Rod Deluxe started sounding like complete butt last night. I had some other 6L6s sitting around and swapped them in and bam, back in all it's glory. This amp is only around a year old.
Alot of people who buy the newer entry level Fender amps swap the tubes asap. I think Fender uses fairly crappy ones to save $.
I really didn't expect a failure so soon but oh well. A friend bought a matched quartet to fix and old Peavey Heritage VTX. He never used them and bougth adifferent amp so there they were. I didn't realise how much the sound was altered. I turned it on and it was like "wow, that's what it used to sound like."

I had always hear to not use standby when shutting off. I'm not an expert just saying what I had hear and hoping to start some discussion.

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Re: Tube AMps: Tone and Care

Post by antilog » Fri Sep 10, 2004 10:16 pm

Meriphew wrote:
spankenstein wrote:Funny thread, my Hot Rod Deluxe started sounding like complete butt last night. I had some other 6L6s sitting around and swapped them in and bam, back in all it's glory. This amp is only around a year old.
Alot of people who buy the newer entry level Fender amps swap the tubes asap. I think Fender uses fairly crappy ones to save $.
they also use ridiculous high gain tubes in the pre, at least in the hot rod line. tap the volume to get a decent volume, 1 is loud, 2 and up is just silly crappy loud. think they do it for the retail showrooms. swap those pre tubes out with some lower gain tubes, ahhhhh. i enjoy 5751, 12au7, 12ay7 in the pre to lower the gain going into the power section, so you can crank up the master a bit, driving the 6l6's.

Also, i advise you to have the new power tubes biased properly for optimal life, or optimal tone, and you might not get as much life out of it. If you don't know what biasing means, you should have a tech do it, or read up and be SUPER careful if you do it yourself.

I took out the sovtek5881's and installed some svetlana 6L6GC, biased them, and I noticed an improvement in tone, especially when the distort. I didn't know the joys of power tube saturation until I got an apt in which I could be loud (silly loud), and experimented with different tubes.

I don't have as much luck with my Sovtek Mig60, it seems to be a one trick pony. I can't seem to get the good high gain tone that most people speak of about this amp. The cranked pre sounds like shite. The pre dial under like 11 o clockand the master cranked sounds pretty good. I also have to turn the bass dial the whole way down, and it still sounds bassy. Odd cranky amp that has some charm. I'd love to get it to be more versatile.

allow me to digress...
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Re: Tube AMps: Tone and Care

Post by RefD » Sat Sep 11, 2004 2:09 am

last time i completely retubed any of my amps was '89:
i got a matched quartet of NOS Sylvania 6L6s for my old Twin.
i also got a matched pair of 6V6s for by blackface Princeton (now departed from this veil of tears, sadly) and replaced the rectifier tube while i was at it.

preamp tubes i only replace when dead or microphonic.
i like 7025s, myself. but then, i like loud and bright!

anyone remember the original Boogie Caliber .50 that used 4 EL84s instead of a pair of 6L6s? that amp is my "grailtone"! i NEED one!
...or another blackface Princeton. :)

FYI: solid state amps don't care too much about operating into a short. tube amps will burn up the speaker transformer, tho.
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