Poll: What are your thoughts on NOS tubes
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View poll results: What are your thoughts on NOS tubes
I will never use anything but NOS tubes
6 13%
I think NOS tubes are better, but not worth the price difference
19 42%
I think NOS tubes are nothing but hype
4 9%
I don't know what NOS tubes are
10 22%
I have a solid state and I'm just here to gain knowledge
6 13%
Voters: 45.
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#1
I haven't seen a thread like this before and I am curious about NOS tubes so I thought I would make a thread to discuss. I thought I would add a poll too to see what the general knowledge and thoughts about NOS tubes are.

I would really like to know are NOS tubes that much better than what is being made today and why?

Exactly what difference can one expect between NOS tubes and modern tubes?

What are the best brands of NOS tubes and which are ones to stay away from?

Discuss.
#2
Quote by Grawgos

Exactly what difference can one expect between NOS tubes and modern tubes?


Price!!
Quote by fly135
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#7
Min nailed it.
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#8
There should be an option for "I use NOS often but not exclusively."
NOS tubes are generally just better. Some are better than others and sometimes the price doesn't coincide with the quality. Some tubes cost heaps more than their better quality would justify. For example, the best 12AX7 tube ever made was the Telefunken ECC803. Everybody knows this and they have an almost mythical reputation so they can sell for up to $1000. Are they worth $1000? maybe if you were a collector and wanted it for your museum but otherwise, hell no. Having said that though - if somebody wants to give me one ..................
Then at the other end, RFT valves often go for less than a modern valve because nobody has ever heard of them. Great little German valve, if you want something with bass that you can use for demolition work then they are about the best valve you will find for any price.
Russian NOS tubes aren't worth spit. It was a big industry back in the day with lots and lots of manufacturers around the world. Of course some are better than others.
I have some 20 year old Indian valves that are still in my main amp because they sound so godamn good. I've gigged heaps with that amp with those valves in it, they had them from new, over 20 years later and they are still going strong. Let's see a modern valve last like that! They were labelled BEL and where actually made by Mullard in India. Same deal as Tungsram which were made by Mullard in Hungary. They are a tad different to a normal Mullard but an awesome valve.
Mullard had factories all around the world and were owned by Phillips. So a lot of Phillips tubes are basically Mullards and some actually are, tubes used to get relabelled all the time. That's can be a good thing. I've seen valves labelled all sorts of wrong. It can work out well. I have a Tungsram labelled "made in the USA" under the United Electron brand (United Electron were a rebranding outfit like Ruby is today). So even the country of manufacturing can be all wrong.
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#9
i wound have chose a different option:

"knows they are better but doesn't feel the need to have them in every amp but would like to learn more about them"
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#10
I agree. Some of my amps I will run nothing but NOS tubes in and others I don't. Putting NOS in a JCM900 is pearls before swine. JJ preamp tubes sound marvelous in my 18W'ers. My Champ has all NOS as much for period correctness and an attempt to replicate what they sounded like originally as closely as possible. My Abbey, well, it just deserves NOS because it is such an awesome amp.
Plus, I bet there are multitudes of people that run NOS preamp tubes but not NOS power tubes.
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Last edited by Cathbard at Oct 27, 2011,
#11
i recently got some a tesla 1959 and tesla 1960 12ax7 and to be honest they did make a very noticeable difference. I got themas a present so i didn't pay for them but i think decently priced NOS tubes are worth it. I went from JJ's to these and they really are brilliant tubes.

I was definately s sceptic before but now that i have heard the difference i think i might just spend some extra money from now on.
#12
Those Tesla tubes were made on the same machines as the JJ's but in a different factory using superior materials.
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#14
The biggest differences will be el84s and el34s.

New el34s are closer to my reference pair.

New El84s aren't even close.
Prs se Holcomb is the answer
#15
Not about valves and nothing that's finished or published.

True Min. Old EL84's rock.
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Last edited by Cathbard at Oct 27, 2011,
#17
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#18
marriage the devil's bargain.

edit: 6v6s weren't much better for a while.

they were pretty much selling failed 6l6s as 6v6s for a while.
Prs se Holcomb is the answer
Last edited by AcousticMirror at Oct 27, 2011,
#20
The new JJ 6V6's are probably the best modern valve in production. They are amazing.

I'd put JJ EL84's in it. I don't think SED make an EL84 so JJ it is if you don't want to lash out on NOS ones.
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Last edited by Cathbard at Oct 27, 2011,
#21
i use NOS preamp tubes, and modern power tubes. i think modern power tubes are good enough (JJ/Tesla, TungSol, Svetlana, TAD/Shuguang all make great power tubes) and amps cook through power tubes rather quickly that doesnt justify the price, even if the tube is NOS. i've tried a few vintage GE and RCA power tubes, they are great but they are quite expensive for the price. compared to that, i like using TungSol 6L6WGC-STR for my 6L6 applications, since they can be bought for $15~$20 each and are widely available.

preamp tubes last for a long time so i use very nice ones from the start.


my tube experience are from amps i make myself, so using in other production amplifiers can be different.
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#22
mullards

those were the best.

i like the new 6v6s but they still aren't as good as the ones I have.


i'll go ahead and give the best new valves award to gold lion kt88s, kt66s, and kt77s....

only because except by the grace of god i'll never hear a nos quad of those...
Prs se Holcomb is the answer
#23
Min of course means real Mullards. Modern Mullards aren't Mullards. You need proper ones from ye olde days from Britain.

I've got a Brimar 6V6 in my Champ. The JJ 6V6 compares rather favourably as far as sound goes. I'd expect the Brimar to last much much longer but the JJ does sound good.
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Last edited by Cathbard at Oct 27, 2011,
#25
Quote by Cathbard
RFT valves often go for less than a modern valve because nobody has ever heard of them.

I have 2 RFT's installed in my ENGL, they sound great, darkens the gain channel.
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#26
Here's my experiences with tubes on my Handsome Devil head.

The head came stocked with Chinese tubes. They're just so-so but decent. I didn't like 'em though and I bought a set of Mullard RIs. They sounded better and lasted a while. My next set was Tung-Sol NPs for pre-amp and Sovteks for power. They were a better combination than the Mullards. They lasted a while too. That's over 2 years so far for all.

I decided I'm going to try NOS tubes but used as they're cheaper. I bought 2 Westinghouse 12AX7s that tested as good. One is a Raytheon black plate that went in V1 and the other one is an RCA black plate and now in V2. I also bought a matched set of Sylvania (Baldwin Organ stock) 6BQ5 tested as new for the power amp.

What I heard threw me back to the late 60s-early 70s when I had tube amps then. I didn't realize what I was missing.

The new tubes will never sound like the old stock. Big difference but YMMV because the new amps were made for new tubes and may not make a difference with the old stock. I'm glad mine did.
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#27
Quote by GS LEAD 5
Last much longer. IIRC non NOS power tubes last about 6-12 months, while NOS can go on for several years?

i have some stock groove tubes in my blues junior thats been running like a champ for almost 3 years.
#28
After purchasing a used 10-year old Bogner Shiva recently I decided to delve into the NOS realm. I went a slightly different direction and went with ANOS (Almost New Old Stock). I was able to purchase (2) Tungsram ECC83 and (4) Telefunken Smooth plate 12AX7 for a total of $178 plus shipping from various auctions on eBay. All tested well above the good range and made a noticeable difference in sound. I spent countless hours trying different combinations and putting them in different spots until I came upon the best sound by my ears.

Some amps really shine with different preamp tubes, some don't. So you really need to do your research before spending the extra money since you don't want to be wasting your money. Same thing applies to power tubes, some amps will sound very different depending on the brand - but my experience has shown you will hear a greater difference with swapping out preamp tubes.

Couple of side notes - Old stock preamp tubes can last for decades depending on how hard you push the amp and how often. New power tubes can easily last several years unless you are gigging out nightly with it cranked to 11.
Last edited by thehikingdude at Oct 27, 2011,
#29
Quote by 00_hns_00
i have some stock groove tubes in my blues junior thats been running like a champ for almost 3 years.


Ive seen blackface fenders with the original tubes still in it running strong for about 35 years now. The amp has been gigged regularly by the guy and in lots of studio work so countless hours on them. Lets see how close your groove tubes come to that.
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#30
Quote by AcousticMirror
yes they are better. last longer.

sound better.

+1

The poll doesn't have anything between 'thats all i use' and 'they're crap...' How is that accurate? My choice would be "I use NOS whenever I can."
Quote by Cathbard
Quote by Raijouta
Unless its electronic drums.

BURN THE WITCH!!!!!
#31
Quote by Cathbard
Plus, I bet there are multitudes of people that run NOS preamp tubes but not NOS power tubes.

That would be me.
Quote by Cathbard
Quote by Raijouta
Unless its electronic drums.

BURN THE WITCH!!!!!
#32
Quote by tubetime86
That would be me.

Me too. The majority of the sound shaping comes from the Pre-Amp tubes, hence the name Pre.
#33
Quote by thehikingdude
Me too. The majority of the sound shaping comes from the Pre-Amp tubes, hence the name Pre.

Also its easy to pick up a bunch of random 12AX7 variants and mess around for cheap, but buying matched sets of power tubes takes a bit more committment.
Quote by Cathbard
Quote by Raijouta
Unless its electronic drums.

BURN THE WITCH!!!!!
#34
ok, i apologize for the poll, it could have had more options.

i think there is some great info posted so far and I have learned a lot.

special thanks to oldrocker, since i own an HD too and read somewhere that some modrn amps are not compatible with NOS tubes because of the way they are wired. so i know my amp isnt one of them. i can post a link to that later if anyone wants to read it, im on my phone rigjt now and cant do it.

again, im sorry about the poll and will do better in the future.
#35
The name pre just means "before". I will use NOS preamp tubes before I will use power tubes but that's mainly just because of cost, NOS power tubes are getting quite expensive. However I scored a pair of British Brimar 6L6 tubes really cheap to use in my Abbey. The improvement in sound over the Sovteks that were in it was amazing, even when not driving them to distortion. It already had a nice selection of old preamp tubes in there, the NOS power tubes just added the finishing touches. If you can find cheap good NOS power tubes it's certainly worth sticking them in.

Grawgos. All valves of the same designation have the same pinouts and basic specs. The only time you can get into trouble is when they are something like 6L6GA instead of 6L6GC because the GA won't handle as high of a plate voltage. If they are 6L6GC it doesn't matter when it was made or what amp it's going into. A 6L6GC is a 6L6GC is a 6L6GC, electrically speaking.
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Last edited by Cathbard at Oct 27, 2011,
#36
Quote by bluestratplayer
Ive seen blackface fenders with the original tubes still in it running strong for about 35 years now. The amp has been gigged regularly by the guy and in lots of studio work so countless hours on them. Lets see how close your groove tubes come to that.

well nice dick wagging. great to know that you are trying to wave that thing around. so what? he said new tubes only last about 12 months max, i've been using that thing for more than double that.

despite many claims, new tubes aren't that bad. they are indeed made worse it seems than new ones (i don't know for sure becuase i haven't worked in dozens of tube factories), but to say they are horrible is one thing alltogether differently.
#37
Cath, this is the small article that I read about amps possibly being incompatible with NOS tubes. It may only pertain to EL84 tubes and seems to affect only a couple of amps, but since I don't know shit about amp electronincs, I'll let you read it and then you can let us know what you think.

http://www.kcanostubes.com/content/modern-el84-amps-and-nos-el84s
#38
its true, but if the manufacturer says it can take EL84's, it should be able to take EL84s. they probably won't take fault for it though.

some 6L6GC amps use pin 1 as a tie point for grid resistors. plugging in a EL34 there would make things go crazy. so it never hurts to ask people i guess. but the el84 being nos and not compatible is pile of shit. it should be made compatible.
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#39
Quote by 00_hns_00
well nice dick wagging. great to know that you are trying to wave that thing around. so what? he said new tubes only last about 12 months max, i've been using that thing for more than double that.

despite many claims, new tubes aren't that bad. they are indeed made worse it seems than new ones (i don't know for sure becuase i haven't worked in dozens of tube factories), but to say they are horrible is one thing alltogether differently.

Uhm... What he said is completely true and anyone here with experience will agree... I don't know why you're taking it as saying new tubes are bad... We aren't... Just that NOS are better. Don't really see what you're getting mad about other than someone telling you you don't have the 'best' of something.
Quote by Cathbard
Quote by Raijouta
Unless its electronic drums.

BURN THE WITCH!!!!!
#40
Hmmmm it does seem that some new EL84's don't have the internal connection but some do. To make an amp that relies on using only the modern ones like JJ that don't have the internal connection is dumbassery of the highest order. I've always said that the way Fender use pin 1 of the 6L6's as a tie off point was dumbassery too. What's wrong with adding a tag? Some amp manufacturers do some crazy shit.
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