#1
Hey guys.

I've had a Fender Hotrod Deluxe for about seven years, and it's never been re-valved. I would probably be an understatement to say that it could do with some updating. I'm pretty sure at least one of the tubes has gone microphonic; whenever I turn up I get the usual pops and hums and weirdness that you get with knackered tubes. The OD channel, while originally shite, is now utterly unusable. When I use a fuzz pedal at high volumes, the sound often sort of 'dies' slightly.

So I was wondering, what tubes would you chaps recommend as a replacement? Ideally I'd like to get a slightly different tone out of the amp. I know tubes only have a marginal effect on tone, and that you can't really altar the natural sound determined by the circuitry etc. However, I'd like to try to get a warmer sound, which might overdrive a little more nicely. I have a separate amp for metal, so crazy distortion is not an issue. I'll mostly be using it for psychedelic rock/blues. I'm prepared to change out all the tubes in the amp potentially, so any suggestions are welcome. Budget unlimited, within reason
#2
Actually, you'd be surprised how big an impact different tubes can make on an amp. A good tube combination can alter the amp's personality in a very noticeable way.

I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to choosing tubes so I can't offer any suggestions, but I'm interested in the advices you'll get; my Ampeg GVT is kinda similar to the Fender HRD, so I may end up trying the same tubes when I need to replace them.
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#3
The warmest pre tubes I've come across are the JAN Philipps', and a buddy of mine said JAN GE's are better, but I don't really know how so I can't vouch for them :P

I have also heard some fender amps like 12au7's as phase inverters so check that too.
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#4
No way is a GE better than a Phillips.


Retube it with JJ's. That will warm it up nicely.
Unless you want to spend NOS money, then we get into a whole new shitfight.
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#5
Roughly what type of money are we talking for JJ's or NOS tubes? Also any idea what specific models I should go for? I'm afraid my knowledge of amp upgrades is a bit lacking.
#6
i would go with:

no bias - whatever was in there, replace exactly but get a matched pair
with bias - whatever aftermarket power tubes have good reviews

V1 position = mullard reissue or a JJ ec803 OR some type of 5751
V2 = JJ
V3 = 12at7 cause i like this tube in the PI spot. whatever is available. JJ makes some, some cheap NOS models like JAN phillips, EHX makes one, etc. isnt a huge tone generator its more about what it does to the current / signal here in my opinion.
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#7
Quote by Pagan-Pie
Roughly what type of money are we talking for JJ's or NOS tubes?

For JJ's, you're looking at 3 preamps and 2 power, so about $30 for the preamp and $60 for the power.

NOS can run you hundreds of dollars for the power amp, but the benefit is, they take a lot longer to wear out. JJ's are usually pretty pristine for about 2 or 3 years. An NOS tube could last anywhere from 15-30 years.
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Last edited by Guy_Mitchell at Apr 22, 2014,
#8
Don't use JJ ECC803's in a combo. They have a tendency towards microphonics.

http://tctubes.com/12AX7-ECC33-5751-7025-tubes.aspx

The RCA's stand out. Really good tube. Fender written all over them. Best value for money of the bunch.
There are other tubes on that page I'd prefer though, if money wasn't an issue. I'd go for the Amperex ones, myself, but lots more expensive.
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#10
Yesterday I swapped out the preamp tubes in my RM. I took out 2 tung sol 12ax7 and an ehx 12ax7 that was in pi. Now it has rca 12ax7 in pi, GE 12ax7 in what I think is v1 and a jj12ax7 in what i think is the fx loop (its modular, not sure the tube setup between the amp and the modules). It made a notable difference. The amp sounds even more like a frickin' bell. Lil darker. Very chimey, glassy and full. Its turning me into a fan of crystal clear cleans.
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#11
I recently re-tubed my Mesa with a full set of JJs from Eurotubes. No bias issues and amp tone restored after 8 yrs on the originals. A good result.
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#12
ahh good point on the 803s.

edit - make that regular JJS.

i have tunsol re-issues. love em, but they are brighter. in TOO bright amps some say ice pickey and you went smooth. i personally think mullard would be GREAT.

_____

cath - RCAs? i mean good tubes but then cheapest ones on there are like 27-30 bones. some are 50+. to most, thats simply not economical. but great tubes.

_____

@ TS - imo gold pin is a marketing gimmick. they use 0.0001 cent worth of gold to make it look shiney and mark up about 3 bucks. they say they are "corrosion resistant" or some crap. really? does that matter? if so every wiring and circuitry connection if every guitar product made needs to be gold.

nah dude. research standard production tube types, the differences, and reviews for each. google them, se what people say. then if you feel like spending more, go ahead and get some good upgrades.

to starts, preamp tubes require NO KNOWLEDGE. plug in and go. no biasing. its like changing a light bulb. the first one in the amp, V! makes the most difference, and should be your biggest desicion and most money IMO.

power tubes are your big ones, they give your amp its muscle. if you buy the same models that were in our amp, they will run the same, and you can probably skirt by without a bias.
if you buy different ones, it may be a good idea to take it to a tech and have your amp rebiased.

power tubes can make a difference, but my boat says unless your being angus young and cranking it, then it doesnt matter much if your in your bedroom screwing around. they are not working hard enough to offer s tone of tonal differences.

thats just me. so personally, if i were you, i would use generic power tubes that are setup correctly, and invest knowledge and tine into your preamp section. if i am wrong, and you do CRANK your amp, choose good power tubes. they will matter if you drive your amp hard, as thier CHARACTER may come out more as you start to overdrive them.

just my experience.

a key point is going to be knowing which types of tubes are interchangeable and why. ie - 12ax7, 5751, 12ay7, 12at7, etc etc etc.
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Last edited by ikey_ at Apr 22, 2014,
#13
I was just showing him what sort of prices NOS tubes sell for. That site is about the best around. Sure the RCA's are still expensive but relatively speaking they are probably the best deal there.
As far as economical goes - they will outlast a modern tube so in the long term they aren't as expensive as the upfront cost would suggest. In the long run, they'd probably work out cheaper.
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Last edited by Cathbard at Apr 22, 2014,
#14
well in that case yes compared to most on that site they are the most economical of NOS tubes.

dougstubes is great.

i found this site last night. very good selection from something ive never heard of. i bought a new pot for some wiring on my carvin.

http://www.tubesandmore.com/products/vacuum_tubes
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#15
RCA's are good too. When it comes to american audio tubes I think it goes Phillips > RCA > GE in descending order of preferance. With some exceptions of course, but generally speaking.
That's probably not true when it comes to radio (the old ham radio guys used to love Raytheon), where stability is the most important spec but for audio tubes I think that order of preference is fairly sound.
If I lived in the US all my amps would probably be full of RCA's.
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Randall RM100 & RM20
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Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


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#16
My Super Reverb is full of RCA tubes. It is a 50 yr old amp with probably 30 yr old tubes. They were tested last year and still within spec so onward they go.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#17
Thanks for all the help everyone.

I've been playing for 10 years and I had no idea there was so much to think about, especially with regards to rebiasing. ikey, I do quite a bit of jamming with various musician friends, and we tend to play very loud. Indeed, most of the problems I've been encountering with my amp have been at high volumes. I'm starting to think I should take it to a tech anyway to make sure there's nothing else wrong with it. Or I might just need to buy a big amp.
#18
well then power tubes may matter more to you. i play 99% at home, and my master is barely worked. teh stock tubes sounded good to begin with, so i just keep going with the ruby tubes. pretty general brand. you may consider upgrading the power section.

not really that complicated. you can just buy JJs, all around or something general, get it set up right, and your good. keep replacing with those kind and ride that out for years. if you want to TINKER, then yes, every tube has subtle differences and applications.

the key is understanding preamp vs power amp and what the different positions / tubes do for YOUR AMP. every amp is different, and people have different goals. rule of thumb, the first (v1) preamp tube is always a huge tone generator for everybody when it comes to tubes. easy with that one.

the nitty gritty details after you have decided in tube type and position (like 12ax7 vs 12ay7) is reviewing all the brands. now you are really in the weeds.

another tid bit - DONT BUY SOVTEK 12AX7WAs. they are trash. cheap, fizzy mess. dont. if you have em replace them.
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Walden G630ce Acoustic
Carvin V3M, Avatar 2x12 WGS Reaper, vet 30
(crybaby, Fairfield circuitry Comp, GFS tuner, Vick Audio 73 Ram's Head, Xotic AC booster, lovepedal trem, TC Flashback, PGS Trinity Reverb, Walrus Audio Aetos power)