Okay, so I am new to the tube amp world. I know over time the tubes get worn and need to be replaced, but what I am curious about is if I put my amp on standby and go smoke/eat/whatever, is it burning the time period the tubes will last, or does that only happen when you are playing it cranked? Any input on this would be awesome. Thanks in advance!
Standby cuts off the power supply to your entire circuit. The only thing still running when standby is on is your tube heaters. Its not good to leave it just sitting there on standby for a long time. If your only going to be gone for 5 min or so, then use standby, but if its gonna be 15 min or more, then just cut it off. Unless your in a gig and you need it to stay warmed up.
That's really the whole purpose of the standby..

Alot of Tube "Life" is drained when you turn the amp on, getting the tubes warmed up.

You might compare it to this age old thought..

If you are stuck in traffic, are you better off turning your engine off to save gas?
Because alot of gas is wasted in starting the engine.
So they find a middle ground in time.
If you're going to be sitting for more than 5 minutes, you may as well turn off the engine.
5 minutes of idle wastes the same amount of gas as starting up the engine...

so relating that to amps...

15 minutes of Idle Standby Time is uses up about the same amount of "Life" in your tubes as if you had turned it off and back on.
so that's about the limit.
If idle more than 15 minutes, might as well turn it off, you're not saving any tube life by leaving it in standby that long..

Something like that anyway...

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Last edited by jonmo1 at Sep 9, 2009,
standby will run down the tubes life but over a much much longer span of time, honestly it doesn't take that long to turn a tube amp on from off
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Awesome, thanks for clarifying guys. Another question, what is the average lifetime on the tubes? Probably different on everything, but I am just curious if there is a rough average.
Depends on how much you play...

If you're just a hobbiest playing maybe an hour a day 3 or 4 days a week,
They'll proably last 2 years or more

If you're in a band and play 3 or 4 hours, 3 or 4 times a week, Probably 1 year or less.

if you're going 4 or more hours 5 or more times a week, probably 6 months.

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As an old tube amp design engineer, here is why there even is a standby switch.
It was believed by some back in the day that turning on all the power to a tube based device was harmful. So, the standby mode just turned on the heater power as many have said.

However almost every other device made with tubes, at least in the old days, just had a single power switch. And the tubes in those radios or whatever did not "get launched out of their sockets" of any other rumor-more-than-fact claim.

So why keep the standby switch? It is a selling gimmick in some senses, but it also does effectively "mute" the amplifier since there is no sound possible in standby.

Whether leaving the amp in standby will wear the tubes out differently than turning the amp on and off does indeed depend on how long the amp is in standby.

But there is one other consideration. When the tubes are cold (because the amp has been off for at least several minutes) and you turn the amp to standby, there could be a larger than normal "inrush" current into the filaments of the tubes. The filament resistance is lower when it is cold. Think of it like turning on an incandescent light bulb. They often "burn out" when you turn them on - because the high inrush current can cause the filament to break or burn out. Tube filaments are usually driven by a transformer, and if that is designed properly it will not allow more than about 3 times the normal filament current. But some very expensive amps claim a very high current filament transformer - and that can damage the tubes.
Sorry I had to run off and do some work to pay for all the toys.

Some amps have a built-in current limiting circuit during turn on (to standby). This can be done a number of ways: NTC insrush limiters in the primary winding of the filament transformer, or a time-delay relay that allow the filaments to start at reduced volts and amps. The relay approach is not used much anymore.
People make too big of a deal out of this. Besides the fire hazard and electric bill, don't worry about leaving it in standby, you'll probably end up with less cracked solder joints in the long run.

Jonmo, you like to pull numbers out of your ass.

You probably don't even need to use standby to be quite honest. Billm has written about this a ton, let me try to find something.


actually ,the whole thread is a good read
Last edited by pak1351 at Sep 9, 2009,
i once read that tubes are "happiest" in standby. ive had my amp on standby for an hour. tubes are great after two years of moderate playing...USE STANDBY 2 min? turn the volume down.
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