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Tube Shortage Looming?

Discussion in 'The Workbench' started by Neil Cawley, Aug 3, 2021.

  1. johan.b

    johan.b Well-Known Member

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    ... and if people stopped replacing tubes like they were underwear, any finit supply could last a long time...
    When Russia upended up to West and sovtek tubes became available, they came with darasheet stating 5000 hours lifeexpectancy on 5881 and el34.... given 10 hours a week, that's 10 years. I don't think today's tubes are THAT much worse..
    ... I often see people claiming need to replace the every year or more... how many hours a week do you play?...
    My CMI lead&bass (4input marshall in wrong chassis, built by marshall)still has its mullard's from -74, and there is NO need to replace them
     
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  2. Gutch220

    Gutch220 Well-Known Member

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    yea, there will always be demand, so somebody will supply. Even if all companies disappeared tomorrow, new ones would pop up to fill demand.
    It's not like it's cutting-edge technology,.....it's 100-year-old technology.
     
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  3. MarshallDog

    MarshallDog Well-Known Member

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    Exactly, like I have said demand will create Mfgs!
     
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  4. myersbw

    myersbw Well-Known Member

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    Lol, yep! But, I did own an AmpliFire with the little devil girl on it! :p
     
  5. groovenev

    groovenev Member

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    Interesting... well the tubes in my JMP have been in there over 30 years and still sound excellent... so given that most of our good old amps have that kind of longevity we have nothing to worry about, however the new gen of amp makers may have to worry some day... but not today... LOL In a way I kind of wish that the Solid State Amps sounded better.... because you do away with all that heavy transformer weight... making them way easier to transport... :)
     
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  6. ssolo8

    ssolo8 Member

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    True story! I've watched consumers panic over just about every category, in every market, when threatened with shortages. This is the same. If everyone would just settle down and keep on as you were, the "crisis" will wash out.
     
  7. Gman1420

    Gman1420 New Member

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    The Russian military still uses vacuum tubes in a lot of their equipment. Tubes aren’t going anywhere. At worst, we’ll be limited to the products coming out of the reflektor factory. But, there are a lot of really nice tubes coming out of Russia, so I wouldn’t consider that a bad thing. All that said, I don’t see JJ going anywhere either. I can’t stand their 12AX7’s, but they make one of the best sounding current production EL84’s out there. And at a good price. It will be interesting to see what happens with manufacturing in China. A lot of TAD’s best tubes are coming out of China.
     
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  8. Derrick111

    Derrick111 Well-Known Member

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    I don't replace preamp tubes unless they become noisy, microphonic, shorted, dead, weak or dull sounding. If you don't get cheap, unsorted preamp tubes off eBay or something like that, I find that all of these potential issues are rare enough in current production tubes except for the last one... current production preamp tubes can become dull after a year or three in my experience, so you may need to replace those sooner than 10 years. The problem is, it happens so gradually that you don't realize it has happened until they get really dull. So unless you have another amp as a baseline that has strong/fresh sounding tubes, then you don't realize that your amp is under performing if you wait 10 years to replace them just because of a datasheet claim. I will say that I mainly use vintage preamp tubes which don't have this issue, and current production power tubes, so perhaps this has changed since my experiences? Power tubes on the other hand are pretty strait forward, they either work and provide the volume you are used to, or not and it would be noticable.
     
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  9. Derrick111

    Derrick111 Well-Known Member

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    Right. If audiophiles are willing to spend tens of thousands, even north of $100,000 on an audio system which often relies on tubes, then there will be enough money and interest by people to keep this technology afloat. If Dave Grohl or some other top rock musician is opposed to playing computers, then would they bat an eye at investing in a tube company? How many of those guys spend $500,000 or more on a '59 Les Paul? It doesn't even phase them to spend that for one small piece of their arsenal. The difference between us and them is that often we both have the same sound passion, but they have the money that talks. I'm just not worried about it. Tubes are cheap, and they are not going anywhere.

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. Norfolk Martin

    Norfolk Martin Member

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    YES.

    Perhaps this will have a good effect, in that folks will only change tubes when their performance is degraded instead of constantly fiddling in search of "tone" or changing them several times a year for no real reason at all. My experience in the 70s was that no-one changed a tube unless it was causing trouble. The original EL84 output tube in my little Dallas Scala amp lasted fifty years, and was still sounding good the day before it died. My Marshall 2204 ran for 10 years with the same set of tubes before an EL34 finally went short.
     
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  11. Stephen H

    Stephen H Member

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    Mine too, even through the 80's. I think part of the tube swapping/endless search for tone comes from too much time spent playing at home levels and listening to miniscule tonal differences with the amp in isolation, without a thought that these wouldn't even be noticeable on stage in a full mix. Back in the day we just wanted to play and almost any decent tube amp does a fine job in a live band situation considering such sound reinforcement gear as we had access to back then.
     
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  12. Stephen H

    Stephen H Member

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    Heck I used to hire different amps all the time and as long as it was a 2204 halfstack I couldn't give a monkeys what the tubes were. They all sounded and felt great to me.
     
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  13. NSV-Andy

    NSV-Andy Member Silver Supporting Member

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    This at most will be a short-term panic situation for some people. Here in the U.S., we've had a lumber shortage which radically increased prices. Covid-19 was blamed for this. Today I saw a video on YouTube from a guy who's an amateur economist and is a lumber buyer. He says that there are indications that the shortage is ending, and consequently, prices will fall.

    I suspect that we may see temporary shortages and then things will ease. Right now, the market is robust for vacuum tube equipment and entrepreneurs will step up to fill the void. The only way that I can see the tube market go dead is if people suddenly forgot how to make them, or if some of the materials required suddenly became unavailable.

    As some wise person once said "This, too, shall pass."

    As far as EH's new venture is concerned, a lot of money has been sunk into ventures like perpetual motion machines. I suspect that this is more of a pipedream than a possible venture. Sure, sounds good theoretically, but so do a lot of things that have never come to fruition.
     
  14. Dogs of Doom

    Dogs of Doom >>> Moderator <<< Staff Member

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    but, you guys forget government interference, which bans tube production abroad...

    Word is, that the Chinese gov is not letting Shuguang operate.

    Tube production is pretty much banned in the US & many EU states...

    There's a difference between, a market simply dying out, vs mfgr'ing being banned by government, or regulated out of existence...
     
  15. Derrick111

    Derrick111 Well-Known Member

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    Banned? There are still tubes made in the USA (just not audio tubes) so I don't follow...
     
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  16. Dogs of Doom

    Dogs of Doom >>> Moderator <<< Staff Member

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    well, demand is high, start your own US tube mfgr'ing company & tell us all how well that goes...
     
  17. Derrick111

    Derrick111 Well-Known Member

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    Nah... JJ suits me just fine for my power tubes.
     
  18. StingRay85

    StingRay85 Well-Known Member

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    59 LP of 500k is an investment not a consumable, so not really good comparison
     
  19. Ivan H

    Ivan H Member

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    I started a thread on this Shuguang situation on another forum, so I'll post what I had heard that prompted me to start the discussion.
    The Shuguang factory was located in an increasingly residential area & so had been told that they had to relocate.
    A fire in an adjacent building cause smoke damage & the like to the Shuguang works & this is what forced the premature closure.
    The relocation to the new factory has been slowed by COVID-19.
    Shuguang is hoping to be producting again by late '21(not looking to good) or '22 (more realistic).
    As to the Chinese government not allowing them to produce valves (valve production being banned), are you aware that aside from PSVANE (& possibly Lania), there are at least 10 other smaller, lesser known valve manufacturers in China that had previously produced for the military & still produce for the Chinese market.
    As to valve production being banned in the US & EU etc, if this were the case, do you really think that the Brimar - Great British Valve Project (where the ideais to go into small scale production of valves in England on refurbished old tooling) would have been dreamed up & work started on back in 2015, while the UK was still very much part of the EU??? Of course not.
    So the Shuguang closure is not permanent,,, after all, there's money to be made.
    Ok, rant over. Cheers
     
  20. Derrick111

    Derrick111 Well-Known Member

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    Then I didn't do a good job making my point. There are people who have money that will put it where their interest lies. We do it, just on a much smaller scale to match our means. It's not about investment/return, it's about interests. If you think Mike McCready, Joe Perry, or Slash bought their 50s Les Pauls as investments, you would be assuming a lot.
     

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