#1
Do the tubes in a tube amp have any chemicals in them and is there danger to using a tube amp?
Last edited by SolidusArmor at Jan 4, 2017,
#4
Quote by SolidusArmor
Will Lane But what kind of chemicals?
From what I understand, just coatings on the anode/cathode, and maybe a bit of gas in the vacuum. I think there is some gallium on the getter as well. Nothing really of note or any sort of potency though. People have been using tube amps for 70+ years and no one has died from any chemicals inside a vacuum tube.
Last edited by Will Lane at Jan 4, 2017,
#6
If you eat the tubes you won't die, but you'll have a rough shit sometime later.
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#7
The tubes are sealed with thick glass to keep the vacuum intact. Anything inside is not going to get outside unless you break it, and even then you'd have to try pretty hard to ingest enough to be an issue.

As mentioned above, don't eat them and you'll be fine.

Also, everything "has chemicals in it." Don't let vague, meaningless phrases form irrational fears. I don't assume that's what you were doing, but it's common enough that I think it deserves a mention.
#9
SolidusArmor

Probably not. Its unlikely you will end up with broken glass inside your amp just from playing guitar a lot. Literally throwing the amp around, then maybe you risk breaking tubes.
#10
No, they're not going to break from playing. I've handled hundreds of tubes, and I've only broken a couple on accident, and that was from rough handling. I've seen a couple of cracked tubes, but since they're a vacuum on the inside, they're still pretty well contained. Think about this: to keep the vacuum hard, it's necessary to use metals that won't leach anything into the vacuum. That means, generally, that they aren't going to escape and murder you in your sleep even if the vacuum is gone. The getter will oxidize if the tube breaks, but it'll stay in place (now with protective coating). You really would have to break a tube with a hammer, scratch out the getter, grind it up, and snort it to do any sort of immediate damage to yourself. Maybe if you were in the habit of breaking a tube once a week and then licking the insides you'd get some sort of stochastic effect. If a tube breaks your number one concern should be the broken glass. Dispose of it properly and wash your hands and you're fine.

This is like "do I need to wear sunscreen in the basement" levels of worry. Go play your guitar.
#12
SolidusArmor A few do but none that are used for guitar purposes from what I see. And you would still have to break them which requires you actually trying to break them. Seriously friend, are you overly suspectible to chemicals or in an otherwise dangerous area to have to worry about this kind of thing? If not,

Quote by Roc8995
Go play your guitar.
Last edited by Will Lane at Jan 4, 2017,
#13
fluorescent lights have mercury. will that stop you from walking into the grocery store?
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#14
Quote by SolidusArmor
is there danger to using a tube amp?

pretty much the same danger as any electronic device. you want to be careful you don't get electrocuted. also tubes get hot so you don't want to touch them when the amp is on, or shortly after it's been turned off. and they're made of glass so i guess if you managed to break them you could cut yourself.

(the other guys answered the other bit)
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#17
dude must be from California tube amps are known to the state of California to cause cancer you know
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#18
Don't worry too much about that "danger" in the tube amp buddy. Everything is made with pros and some cons are always there. Manufacturers produce products to build their business up rather than ruin it.
#19
Got this from a site called the chemistry of vaccum tubes.

Cathodes (heated electrode): Thoriated Tungsten- 2% Thorium (IV) Oxide, ThO2. 98% Tungsten, W. (Sometimes just Tungsten)

Anode (electron receiver plate): Molybdenum, Mo

Grids: Lead, Pb

Glass casing: fused quartz or pure silica glass- SiO2

Btw if you are scared of your tube amp, you are going to have nightmares when you learn about your microwave and smoke detector and if you live next to an airport forget about it.
Last edited by geo-rage at Jan 5, 2017,
#20
Quote by AcousticMirror
everything contains chemicals dude.


And morons abound. Guy just put some commercial anti-rodent chemicals under his house. Rains came. Those anti-rodent chemicals release a poisonous gas when they get damp. Killed four people (including some kids) in his house, made another six very sick. The OP is right to consider his health when contemplating 70-80-year-old technology. Otherwise we'd still be chewing on the lead-based paint.

It's smart to question which of those chemicals can kill you, make you sick or injure you. Over time, the wrong chemicals have created thalidomide babies (google it), the Love Canal, cancers in folks living under high-tension wires, black lung, lung cancer (tar and nicotine) and more. In their time, all were thought to be safe.
#21
Quote by dspellman
And morons abound. Guy just put some commercial anti-rodent chemicals under his house. Rains came. Those anti-rodent chemicals release a poisonous gas when they get damp. Killed four people (including some kids) in his house, made another six very sick. The OP is right to consider his health when contemplating 70-80-year-old technology. Otherwise we'd still be chewing on the lead-based paint.

It's smart to question which of those chemicals can kill you, make you sick or injure you. Over time, the wrong chemicals have created thalidomide babies (google it), the Love Canal, cancers in folks living under high-tension wires, black lung, lung cancer (tar and nicotine) and more. In their time, all were thought to be safe.


wood has been around for millions of years as well. better watch out for splinters. those cuts can get infected.

people should be smart enough to know not to eat an entire vacuum tube. otherwise i'm not sure we are much better of then when we did eat paint chips.
Prs se Holcomb is the answer
#22
Quote by dspellman
And morons abound. Guy just put some commercial anti-rodent chemicals under his house. Rains came. Those anti-rodent chemicals release a poisonous gas when they get damp. Killed four people (including some kids) in his house, made another six very sick. The OP is right to consider his health when contemplating 70-80-year-old technology. Otherwise we'd still be chewing on the lead-based paint.

It's smart to question which of those chemicals can kill you, make you sick or injure you. Over time, the wrong chemicals have created thalidomide babies (google it), the Love Canal, cancers in folks living under high-tension wires, black lung, lung cancer (tar and nicotine) and more. In their time, all were thought to be safe.


Yeah that's a fair point.

thalidomide's one of those ones which were covered in chemistry lectures. darn thing racemises in the body (i think) so even if you give people the right enantiomer it still is dangerous (for pregnant women).

I think it's being used again for other things, though (but very tightly controlled).

you're kind of scaring me now because our neighbours always seem to be up to some hare-brained scheme. often there's a dodgy chemical-type smell.

not that i wasn't a bit scared already, lol.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#23
It's definitely responsible to be cautious and skeptical about what you ingest and surround yourself with.

It's not the initial question here that I find curious, but the fixation. The chair or couch you are sitting on now is almost certainly doused with a whole range of flame retardants, anti-fungals, wood treatments, and god knows what else. A tube, which is hermetically sealed in inert glass and contains largely a vacuum, the one thing on earth that can be said not to have chemicals in it, is a strange thing to interrogate so closely about chemical dangers.

Why tubes? Why not be similarly afraid of diodes, or capacitors, or the finish on your guitar, or a million other things? It's not wrong to ask, it just seems odd to me to pick tubes. They might actually be the safest part of the amp. Heating up all the stuff that's in solder, tolex, glue, etc. might release some unpleasant things, though probably not at any significant level, or out of line with other common electronics.
#24
Thorium molybdenum and lead can all be dangerous. When they are contained in the unbroken tube they are all probably fine. It would be bad to throw these things in a landfill though. One should probably recycle tubes in an appropriate way. Same with electronic components that might contain pcb in the boards and capacitors. Especially electronics dated before the 40s or 50s when wire insulation, circuit boards and oil capacitors might contain pcb's. Even if the tube breaks though poison is not going to fly out at kill you. None of the things i mentioned will hurt you unless you eat them or smoke them. Never smoke vaccum tubes!
Now im wondering if the thorium oxide in tubes could be radioactive. Even if it was, which i doubt it is, i wouldnt be worried unless someone ate it or burned it with a soldering iron or something
Last edited by geo-rage at Jan 5, 2017,
#25
Thorium is an alpha emitter, it's not going to penetrate the glass of the tube. Like everything else in there, it's in very low quantities and it's only dangerous if you are extremely negligent or enormously stupid.
#26
Alpha? Like helium nuclei?
Last edited by geo-rage at Jan 5, 2017,
#27
Correct, which means they're too massive to penetrate through the glass or even more than an inch or two of air.
#28
Quote by Roc8995
It's definitely responsible to be cautious and skeptical about what you ingest and surround yourself with.

It's not the initial question here that I find curious, but the fixation.


Yeah that's true. I guess because he/she isn't used to them, and also dspellman's point about older technology as well is a good one.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?