Best preamp tubes?

Discussion in 'The Workbench' started by usablefiber, Oct 21, 2021.

  1. usablefiber

    usablefiber Active Member

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    I know it’s slim pickens with new tube manufacturers today but i’m gonna try to retube the preamp on my yjm, cause even when it’s working it hasn’t sounded very good lol so gonna try that out.

    What’s the best set of preamp tubes out there today that aren’t crazy boutique nos prices? i’ve also heard that in the 2nd slot it helps to put a robust tube there.
     
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  2. StrummerJoe

    StrummerJoe Well-Known Member

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    I trust Mesa Boogie branded tubes. They are very strict about testing and what they put their badge on. They get them from all over. What they don't accept a lot of other companies brand with their own logos.

    With preamp tubes you can be a lot more flexible as they aren't as likely to blow. I like JJ's and EHX if not using Mesa Boogie. YMMV
     
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  3. anitoli

    anitoli Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    EHX.
     
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  4. Matthews Guitars

    Matthews Guitars Well-Known Member

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    Mesa has the strictest tube standards of any branded tube you can buy. I trust their tubes.

    That being said, I haven't really had any reason to believe that any of the current brand reissue tubes
    you can get today are a whole lot better or worse than any others INCLUDING the high priced vintage/NOS tubes.

    So I buy EH, I buy Sovtek, I buy Mullard, I buy JJ, and Ruby, too. Any of them might be better for a specific amp,
    and a different one might be better for a different amp.

    Yes, I do hear some differences in tube tonality. But more important, there are differences in gain (transconductance),
    noise, and susceptibility to microphonics. For the phase inverter I want a strong balanced tube. For a gain stage I
    want a low noise tube with plenty of gain. For the cathode follower I make sure that if I use a Russian tube, it can only be a
    Sovtek 12AX7WB which is designed for phase inverter usage. JJs are good in phase inverters, being NOT Russian,
    and thus NOT having the spiral wound filament that seems to be the key factor in the unacceptability of Russian ECC83/12AX7s
    for cathode follower applications.
     
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  5. nickfox

    nickfox Well-Known Member

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    If you've never done so, buy a single NOS Mullard ecc83. You can find decent ones around 100 dollars or so. Just try one and see what it does in the first or second slot of your amp. If you don't think it's worth it, turn around and sell it. But I think you will be impressed.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2021
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  6. WellBurnTheSky

    WellBurnTheSky Well-Known Member

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    Did you manage to grab any here in the EU ? i'm kinda wary of trying Ebay sellers, did you find any reputable seller that has some ?
     
  7. nickfox

    nickfox Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I have used this company before. They've been in business for over 40 years. Martin is the person I worked with. Pretty reasonable prices. Sounds great in my amps.

    http://www.tube-and-valve-electronics.co.uk/wholesale/home.asp
     
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  8. WellBurnTheSky

    WellBurnTheSky Well-Known Member

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  9. Ken Underwood

    Ken Underwood Well-Known Member VIP Member

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  10. StingRay85

    StingRay85 Well-Known Member

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    I have 200+ NOS ecc83. Blackburn, RFT, telefunken, Philips Heerlen, Siemens, tungsram, Brimar, long plates, Ei smooth plates etc... never paid more than 15€ a piece
     
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  11. pedecamp

    pedecamp Well-Known Member

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    I'm partial to anything thats Chinese if you can find them.
     
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  12. myersbw

    myersbw Well-Known Member

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    As of late, I really like the EH 12ax7's and REALLY like the JJ ECC803 (long plate) in that V1 position.
     
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  13. matttornado

    matttornado Well-Known Member

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    yeah me too. I have them in V1&V2.
     
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  14. Peter McAteer

    Peter McAteer Well-Known Member

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    I bought a used Mesa F50 that was filled with JJs and EHX, and replaced them all with new Mesa tubes. It made a big and positive difference. Plus one for Mesa tubes.
     
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  15. jgab

    jgab Well-Known Member

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    Yeah that's not happening these days bud.
     
  16. StrummerJoe

    StrummerJoe Well-Known Member

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    :lol::applause:
     
  17. StingRay85

    StingRay85 Well-Known Member

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    It is... Yesterday I picked up a I63 blackburn, 2 telefunkens, 1 Ei long plate, 1 Heerlen, and 4 7025 tubes for... 75€.
     
  18. Pete Farrington

    Pete Farrington Well-Known Member

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    Terminology; it matters!
    To my thinking, folk seem to use the acronym NOS (new old stock) somewhat inappropriately.
    If something has been used for more than a ‘test drive’, then surely it’s no longer ‘new’?
    What definition of NOS do you use? Tests and looks as new?
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2021
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  19. StingRay85

    StingRay85 Well-Known Member

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    For preamp tubes it's almost impossible to see if they are new or not. You can use a digital tester like Maxi Preamp 2, but it also won't tell you if it's new or not. On the other hand is does give a good indication of its performance. The best bet you have is to have the original box with it, only then you can really assume it is NOS/NIB (new in box). And they can still be found. But if you see something on ebay without original box, you already know it's a used tube. People used to buy and have spares with their 60s-70s HIFI sets, and sometimes these spares come up for sale when the person passed away
     
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  20. StingRay85

    StingRay85 Well-Known Member

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    And sometimes you get lucky. The 7025 are actually Brimar CV4004 box plates new in box (sorry, I'm a tube nerd)
     
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