Current production tubes for my 18 watt

Discussion in 'The Squawk Box' started by ac/dcfan87, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. ac/dcfan87

    ac/dcfan87 Senior Member

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    The tubes in my Avatar 18 watt amp have gotten pretty tired and I think it's time to replace them. Any suggestions?

    I'm only looking for current production suggestions at this point. I've had too many bad experiences with NOS tubes and this amp eats power tubes too fast to justify the cost anyhow.

    The amp comes with 3 12AX7s and 2 EL84s and an EZ81 rectifier.

    I'd like power tubes that break up early and compress but sound good when breaking up. I've had Sovteks that break up nice and early but they sound like blat when pushed too hard and lack dynamics so I'm looking for other suggestions.

    I've been out of the game on testing tubes for awhile so I thought I'd see what y'all think. Thanks!
     
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  2. Wrench66

    Wrench66 Senior Member

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    I used JJs in my 18 watt for a long time. I tried a mullard reissue in V1, but it was microphonic, so I'm back to the JJs in the preamp.

    I was pretty happy with the JJs in the power section, but i threw in a matched pair of Electro Harmonix EL-84s and was blown away. They've been in there for more than a year and are still going strong.
     
  3. cherrysunburst00

    cherrysunburst00 Senior Member

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    I'd like to see this become a sticky if it plays out as I think it will. @Wrench66 's post is the sort that will make the (potential) info in here invaluable
     
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  4. Marshall & Moonshine

    Marshall & Moonshine Senior Member

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    JJ’s are pretty widely regarded as pretty durable tubes. I don’t have any EL 84 amps, but I haven’t had any trouble with their other offerings.
     
  5. rockinlespaul

    rockinlespaul Oxblood Addict V.I.P. Member

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    I was never really that impressed with JJs but that's just me. Reliable, definitely, but they sound meh to me. I would take a EH over a JJ anyday. Again, just me.
     
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  6. ac/dcfan87

    ac/dcfan87 Senior Member

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    I've tried JJ EL84s quite a bit but have never tried EH Tungsol or Mullards... hmm..
     
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  7. northernguitarguy

    northernguitarguy SWeAT hOg

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    FWIW, I went through some tube testing to get the best crunch for my Tiny Terror. I went through a number of different new preamp and power tubes, but not all combinations. In the end, I went with JJ's for both. I also fully admit that my findings are all in my head and the differences were slim to none.
     
  8. GeeJay

    GeeJay Senior Member

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    I have JJ's in my 18W clone. They sound pretty good to me, but I've no idea how they'd compare with EH or Groove Tubes etc..
     
  9. mdubya

    mdubya Senior Member

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    According to Freyette and Friedman in the video in the other thread, EH and Winged C are made in two different factories. Winged C is tight and focused, EH is more loose and rich sounding. All other tubes are made by the same 2 factories.

    Whatever you do, don't discard the original tubes.

    I would try a different preamp tube in V1 first, if I were you.

    Even within the same brand, tubes will have different ratings for early or late breakup.

    I have put old tubes back in my 2204, which I thought were old and tired when I replaced them, and they sounded much better than the "new" tubes. :dunno:

    I replaced tubes a few years ago, but I think what I really needed is filter caps. :hmm:

    Lastly, you might want to get some Yellow Jacket tube socket converters and try 6V6's.

    Do you have a good amp guy, locally? I will pm you the name I have.
     
  10. ac/dcfan87

    ac/dcfan87 Senior Member

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    The amp originally came with JJ preamp tubes and Sovtek EL84s. My understanding is that the Sovteks, EH and Tungsols are identical in construction but somehow sound different? Not sure why.

    This amp relies a lot on power tube breakup, so the power tubes matter a lot more than your average amp.
     
  11. cybermgk

    cybermgk Singin' the body lectric Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    For my former EL84 amps, I preferred Amperex EL84s. BUT, you only want new production. JJs last, and were my usual new prod choice. Worked in an Orange, Peavey(s) and a Fender. They had more bottom end, imho than other new prod EL84s. And, they are cheap for a matched pair. I liked their breakup well enough.

    I couldn't stand EH EL84s in anything I tried them in. Mullard RI are ok, but cost a lot more than JJs, and really don't provide anything more. That's where I came to on new production. JJs sounded about as good as most of the others, for a lot less, and substantially better, imho than new Sovteks, Shuguang and other cheap Chinese alternatives..
     
  12. cybermgk

    cybermgk Singin' the body lectric Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    Not true, JJs are made in Slovakia, and are the only brand made there (though Ruby does rebrand JJs sometimes).
     
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  13. mdubya

    mdubya Senior Member

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    I was paraphrasing what Friedman and Freyette said in the video. I have no personal knowledge of such matters, just parroting what they said. :doh:
     
  14. ac/dcfan87

    ac/dcfan87 Senior Member

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    The problems with NOS is they're expensive as shit, difficult or unreliable to find and in an amp like this they'll just get eaten up.

    If non of those issues existed, I'd buy NOS Tungsrams and call it a day.

    But NOS tubes are too much of a headache IMO and just aren't worth the hassle. Plus pretty soon they'll be all but extinct.
     
  15. cybermgk

    cybermgk Singin' the body lectric Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    I figured that was where your coming from. That's why I still recco JJs. They are one of the cheapest, sound good and usually last awhile. But, even if they get eaten up, you haven't spent a lot on them. After JJs, it's Tung Sol or TAD.
     
  16. ac/dcfan87

    ac/dcfan87 Senior Member

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    What's the deal with these TAD STRs?

    This 18 watt is a bright amp. It lives in the high mids.

    KCA NOS describes them as smoother and less bright the JJs. Maybe these might fit the bill.

    I like the JJs but I have a theory about them. They start to lose their sound quickly. Even though they will still play, they seem to lose their character after 6 months or a year and they become dull. Anyone else experience this?
     
  17. northernguitarguy

    northernguitarguy SWeAT hOg

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    I’ve had the same set in my Tiny Terror for two years, still sounds great to my ears.
     
  18. jay1williams

    jay1williams Senior Member

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    I always liked Tung Sol's in the preamp (sound brighter / clearer than JJ's) and JJ's in the power (i've only tried new sovtek and JJ's for EL84's)

    - mix it up and put a 5751 or 7025 in V1 (but those are NOS)
     
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  19. Kris Ford

    Kris Ford Senior Member

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    I use a NOS '69 Tungsram in my '74 JMP in V1..it is a super aggressive sounding tube!
     
  20. afranke

    afranke Senior Member

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    try the jjs i think you will like them.matched sets are cheap and you wont lose much if you don't.
     
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