I'm using a Laney Ironheart 120 watt head and I'm looking for new tubes, I'm currently using gt e34ls power tubes and gt ecc83s preamp tubes. Miles better than the original ruby tube but (as usual) I find myself wanting more.
I mostly play high gain metal, can't really specify a specific genre of metal as it always changes but its generally progressive, thrash and neoclassical metal.
I've already decided on getting tung sol el34b power tube its just the preamp tube I can't decide on.

Are mesa boogie tubes and gold lion tubes really worth the money?
Is the tung sol 12ax7 reissued really the best in v1?
What makes mullard tubes so popular and so expensive?
Are there any other great high gain tubes that ive missed or any suggestions?

JJ's man. JJ make a good tube. That's all I have experience with though.
"Air created the greenness. And once you've got something, that leads to otherness." - Karl Pilkington.
1. Mesa tubes are just rebranded JJs or Sovteks, no point in paying extra money for them to slap their logo on. Gold Lions are very expensive. I haven't tried one yet but I'd have a hard time paying $50 for a new production 12AX7 given that you can still score decent NOS tubes for that money.

2. "Best" isn't a real thing. If there were a best V1 tube we'd put it in a sticky and nobody would ever have to ask. Some tubes work really well in certain amps and setups, and will sound awful in another setting. Tung-Sols are recommended often because they tend to work for nearly everything and are a generally solid tube.

3. Mullard tubes were one of the most respected brands of tubes back when vacuum tubes were a big consumer product. New 'Mullard' tubes don't have any real connection to the old manufacturer. Reflektor just bought the name and uses it on their products. The old tubes remain expensive for obvious reasons.

4. The JJ ECC803 is usually cited as one of the better high-gain tubes. Typically in high-gain if you want a bright sound you'd use a Tung-Sol, and if you wanted a dark sound you'd use a JJ 803.
Keep in mind that tubes aren't going to give you tons more gain, and in a lot of circumstances not any more at all. If you're looking for tubes that "have more gain" chances are good that you just don't like your amp. If you just want tubes that work well with heavy distortion, those JJs or Tung-Sols are good.
Get a few Mullard 12ax7 (new ones not NOS)for the preamp.

Roc, if you think the new Gold Lion's are expensive look at some EAT tubes. $1800 for a quad of KT88 or $225 a ecc803 and they are new production
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Last edited by Robbgnarly at Aug 12, 2013,
Like these guys are saying - I don't think Gold Lion or Mesa tubes would be worth the money.

So did you swap out the Ruby's for the GT's you have now?

Are you using an OD pedal?

Go ahead and try to be specific on the type of metal you play (not that that will make a difference really).

Can you post some pics and clips of your amp

I would get a mix of tubes and see what you like best. I've had some good success with the GT preamp tubes as well as Shuguang 9th Gen (Penta Labs). I don't care for Tung Sols in the preamp (of my amps) because to me they are way too bright. Do not confuse bright with trebly but it can come across like that.

I'm super high on JJ's right now so that is what I recommend for the preamp. If you want to throw a Tung Sol 12AX7 in the V1 to experiment then try that. I've also had lots of luck with the JAN Phillips 5751 in both V1 and Phase Inverter slots.

Just my .311 cents.
Last edited by 311ZOSOVHJH at Aug 12, 2013,
The JJ ECC803 is part way between a JJ ECC83S and a Mullard reissue as far as tone goes (on the ECC83S side). Their main claim to fame is that they are low noise which is why they are so good in high gain amps, especially in V1. They are actually a clone of the legendary Tesla ECC803. They are made using old Tesla machinery but not with the same materials. They are my favourite modern 12AX7.
However, they are prone to microphonics so it's unwise to run them in a combo. In your amp that isn't an issue so I would stick a JJ ECC803 in V1 and JJ ECC83S valves everywhere else - unless you want to go the NOS route.
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I know I'm gonna sound like a total noob now but what are nos tubes lol
Its not that I want more gain as such I just want to experiment to see if I can a better tone, don't get me wrong I like gt ecc83s (what are apparently re-labeled jj ecc83s) there a bit bright in certain places making some high tones sound harsh (especially in A tuned 7 string) but apart from the stock ruby tubes what sounded dull there all I know.
I don't have any pedals apart from a boss ns2 what I've just ordered.
Perfect world if 1 wash warm/dark and 10 was bright I'd like v1 to be around 8-9 and v2 v3 and v4 to be around 6-7 ... Not that helps lol
NOS = New OLd Stock. Basically left over tubes from the golden era. There is is only a fixed supply so they are expensive. You can't beat the quality and typically they will last much longer than new production so they may be worth the extra money.
Quote by DeathByDestroyr
See, it's important that people clarify when they say "metal", because I pretty much always assume they are a Cannibal Corpse fanboi.
New Old Stock

These are older tubes that were never sold.
Older tubes are typically better because they were made better back then
Like lots of other things in this world (coughMarshallcough).
NOS tubes will also last longer.

Yes the GT preamp tubes are fairly bright.
Not as bright IMO as a Tung Sol. Maybe in the middle somewhere.
I'd try a GT in V1, the NOS JAN 5751 in your Phase Inverter (last slot) and then JJs everywhere else
Including JJs for power
Ahh I see, silky question really lol
Apparently having either jj or tung sol ecc803 in v1,2&3 and a nos (preferably mullard I'm told) in v1 gives a nice tone. I honestly didn't really how many different brands there are.
I'm getting most of my info from "www.thetubestore.com" they have a review page giving ratings on different makes.
What are electro harmonics like, my mate thinks there really good.
I don't care for EHX, never had a good experience

NOS Mullards are very good as mentioned. I've only used thier new stock power tubes though.

Like I said, get a Tung Sol, a JJ 803, JJ 83 and a NOS JAN Phillips or GE 5751 and swap them around until you get something you like. You almost can't go wrong with that and you've got some GTs too. To bright - take the Tung Sol out or move it. To dark - take a JJ out or move it.

also ping Doug at www.dougstubes.com - good guy to bounce ideas off of. He's the one that talked me into trying the 5751 and the Shuguang 9th Gen.

Also - I want to hear more about your amp. I don't know too many people that have an Ironheart. You should do a NAD thread for us (New Amp Day)

And get yourself an OD pedal if you play metal. I'm not saying the amp needs one but I think you'll really like the results. Any Tubescreamer variant will work will. I personally like the Digitech Bad Monkey because it is cheaper and more flexible.

EH tubes aren't very good, their 12AX7s sound muddy and dull to me. You can always buy one of each, though, and try them all in V1. After V1 the tubes tend to matter very little, so you can often get away with putting whatever in the rest of the preamp. So get a bunch and rotate them through, see what you like.

Might want to check with Laney or see if you can track down a schematic to make sure it doesn't have a cathode follower, since Tung-Sols can die early in those positions.