Tubes for noobs



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Tubes for noobs

Postby LowWoods » Fri Mar 28, 2008 7:58 pm

About a year ago I bought my first ever tube amp, a Fender hot rod amp - the Blues Jr.! I've left my amp on for 15 hours at a time (probably 3 times) on accident. I'm aware that the tubes need replacing but I don't know when to replace them. I've seen a salesperson at a store totally touch them with his barehand (of course not when they're hot) and I was wondering if that was recommended.

I'm also aware that there are 3 preamp 12ax7s and 2 output EL84's (weird springy metal thingy around them). However, I'm not aware of a good tube to replace it with. There is the new old stock, electro-harmonix and lots of other options. I would love to hear what you guys' favorite tubes are and what you recommend.

I play some classic rock soundin' stuff (I use a smart people factory Green Line and a Throbak Strangemaster (germanium treble boost) and I also add in the power of Devi's fuzz (favorites are Cherry Pop, VF, 33, and Bit). I'm really into F.Zappa, QOTSA, Kings of Leon, Cheap Trick if that helps understand what I would enjoy playing with.
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Re: Tubes for noobs

Postby felix » Sat Mar 29, 2008 5:46 pm

Touching a tube with your bare hands is perfectly acceptable (it's not quite like a light bulb or anything). If his/your hands are super greasy/oily when you touched them, it can't hurt to wipe the tubes off.

It will be pretty obvious when the tubes need to be replaced. You'll notice your tone getting much weaker and might even hear various jumps/dips in volume while playing. When you left your amp on for a long period of time, did you have the standby switch engaged (if you amp has one)? If so, that will have had less wear on the tubes.

As for replacement tubes, the best bang for the buck are JJ/Tesla tubes. They are very close to comparable with expensive NOS tubes, but are much more affordable. There's several different outlets online; I like tubedepot.com.

I'd avoid the EH tubes, they are virtually the same thing as sylvannia or any of the other chinese tubes...probably are virtually the same as the ones already in your amp.

PS. The springy thing around your EL-84s is simply to hold the tube in it's socket snuggly. Just carefully pull it up and off the tube (hold on careful though, I let one slip once and it smacked and shattered the tube...making it *really* difficult to get the shattered tube out if the socket ;) ) Your 12ax7s might have something similar, a metal "sleeve" with a spring inside. With those, you simply turn the sleeve until it pops off.

Also, don't expect to have your amp sound totally different after replacing the tubes. Replacing with better tubes may increase the clarity and definition of the amp, but it's not going to sound completely different than it did before.
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Re: Tubes for noobs

Postby LowWoods » Sat Mar 29, 2008 6:16 pm

Much appreciated! :hug:
http://www.soundclick.com/lowwoods

myspace.com/lowwoods

"My theory is that music is good, it's the only religion that delivers the goods. And anybody who wants to hear any kind of music is entitled to hear that music because it's good for you – it makes you feel good. If you like it, go for it. Just because I don't like it doesn't mean anything – it's a matter of personal taste."

-Frank Zappa
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Re: Tubes for noobs

Postby arotothen » Sat Mar 29, 2008 8:16 pm

I actually inherited a tube amp and replaced the tubes with EH across the board. Yes, I don't know much about it and they may not last as long as JJs but I am very happy with the EHs....




....so far..... :omg: :joy: :omg: :joy: :omg:
My band; Counter Cosby!!!
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Re: Tubes for noobs

Postby zerosum » Sun Mar 30, 2008 9:04 am

Vacuum Tube Valley has the best service and can probably get you any tube that you want.

Just carefully pull it up and off the tube (hold on careful though, I let one slip once and it smacked and shattered the tube...making it *really* difficult to get the shattered tube out if the socket


How did you get it out? :eek: and how many pieces did it come out in?
Wow that sounds scary :(
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Re: Tubes for noobs

Postby felix » Mon Mar 31, 2008 12:46 am

zerosum wrote:Vacuum Tube Valley has the best service and can probably get you any tube that you want.

Just carefully pull it up and off the tube (hold on careful though, I let one slip once and it smacked and shattered the tube...making it *really* difficult to get the shattered tube out if the socket


How did you get it out? :eek: and how many pieces did it come out in?
Wow that sounds scary :(

The plates and grid were still there so I started to pull that and wiggle it side to side :) The glass was all over the place, but the bulk of the tube was still in one piece.

It made a cool pop sound when it broke too, like when you smash halogen lights.

Oh, and completely unrelated, but if you like breaking glass and things that pop, shoot a lightbulb that has been on for a few hours with a squirt gun. I did that when I was 8, and it was like the coolest thing ever at the time.

edit: DISCLAIMER!!! - shooting a hot light bulb with a squirt gun makes a big fucking mess!
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Re: Tubes for noobs

Postby the raytownian » Mon Mar 31, 2008 3:21 am

and it can work similarly to a nail bomb... I got INJURED as a result of something very similar to that. WATCHYOSALF...
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Re: Tubes for noobs

Postby Suilebhain » Mon Mar 31, 2008 9:51 am

I think I have a tube that is going out on me. It sounds like my reverb spring is shaking, even though I have the reverb completely off.
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Re: Tubes for noobs

Postby felix » Mon Mar 31, 2008 7:42 pm

Suilebhain wrote:I think I have a tube that is going out on me. It sounds like my reverb spring is shaking, even though I have the reverb completely off.

That sounds like it might be a microphonic tube. Turn the amp on without anything plugged in and lightly tap the tubes with a pencil (or something wood) a couple of times each. If one of them sets off that ringing sound, that's the microphonic one.
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