PSA, American tube manufacturer looking for our interest

VictorB

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I filled out the survey.

The reason they stopped being manufactured in the US is that our tech outgrew them, unlike in many parts of Russia, China, etc...
 

mgenet

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Neffco, thanks for posting the link.

Filled out the questionnaire.
Now we wait.

:iough:
 

yamariv

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Submitted my feedback! Would love to see a US made quality tube again, I'd definitely pay more for a quality product like the old tubes
 

cooljuk

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Did Fender acquire the old GE tube manufacturing equipment that Aspen Pittman bought in the 1980s (and never got working), when Fender bought Groove Tubes?
 

JMP

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I know nothing of these 300B tubes. I suspect they’re mostly used in hi- end audiophile applications. But $1,500 for a pair of tubes! Damn!
 

el84ster

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Filled out, thanks for posting
We have to protect and encourage tube production!
 

Neffco

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Looks like they are going to make it happen thanks to the enormous interest we musicians and manufacturers have shared with WE!
 

Neffco

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What has the initial response been like to the prospect of Western Electric expanding beyond the 300B?​

“We announced our intentions to expand tube operations on 16 March. Since then we’ve heard from thousands of guitarists, amp builders, hifi enthusiasts, and concerned tube fans around the world. The reactions have been incredibly supportive.
“But what really surprised us was the speed of the responses. We simply published the page and sent it to a few industry contacts and it blew up over one weekend. The requests are still pouring in.”
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A Western Electric 300B vacuum tube.
A Western Electric 300B vacuum tube. Image: Western Electric

The Western Electric 300B sits at a much higher price point than its equivalents made in Russia or China. With a potential move into guitar amplifier tubes, would you aim to cater to the premium end of the market, or compete with the more affordable offerings that are (for now) available?​

“Labour rates in the United States are much higher than in Russia or China. Additionally, the materials we use are of a higher quality. So, the price will be higher.
“For those wondering, however, our plan is not to take advantage and charge an absurd premium for new tubes.
“Regarding the WE 300B, it has no real equivalent(s). The Russian, Chinese, and other 300B replicas are different creatures all together with price points that often reflect their level of quality. We guarantee the quality of our 300B with a 5-year warranty. The last time we checked, the so-called competitor manufacturers only offered 90-day to 1-year warranties.”

Is it fair to say that the guitar amplifier market is less ‘niche’ than the premium hifi market? Would an expansion into even the high end of guitar amplifier tubes require a significant increase in production numbers?​

“After the overwhelming response from our little announcement, we know for a fact that the guitar amp crowd is massive. People are ready for higher quality, American-made tubes. We’re ready to meet that demand and increase production capacity accordingly. We have the infrastructure in place to do so.”

Much more harmonic distortion is acceptable in guitar amp tubes than in hifi tubes – is this lower-fidelity sound reflected in the ease of the manufacturing process?​

“There is a need for better quality. This is yet another major reason we would even consider breaking into the guitar amp tube market. People have grown accustomed to cherry-picking from any given batch of tubes to get the best sound. Along with better reliability, we hope to offer a super low-noise, low-distortion, and consistent product people can trust. Our goal has always been to make the best electron tubes in the world.
“That being said, yes, manufacturing a miniature dual triode like the 12AX7 is significantly easier and less labour-intensive than a 300B, for example.”

Looking beyond the current uncertainty, do you think that musicians and amp makers would be better off having access to a wider range of American-made tubes?​

“Yes. American-made tubes would bring life and diversity to what’s been available for so long.”

Would you hope to lead the way for others in the hifi industry to make a similar move?​

“In the long run, we hope others do step up. Look at what’s happening with the record pressing business, with Jack White’s plea to the major music labels. It’s a big reminder that there will always be demand for analogue technology like vacuum tubes.
Several vacuum tubes
Image: JB / Alamy
“Because the financial and technological barriers are so high for the size of the market, we doubt major competition will arise anytime soon. At least by a manufacturer that is willing to take time and get it right.”

If Western Electric’s initial expansion is successful, would you consider opening plants outside of the US in order to remain competitive?​

“Western Electric products have been and always will be made in the USA.”

With a process that’s over a century old, have there been any significant advances that have made tube manufacturing easier?​

“Our line operators are working safer and smarter than ever before. There’s a long list of things we’ve been able to modernise across our current 300B operation. Robotics, automation, and laser-welding, to name a few. We also take advantage of higher purity materials previously unavailable in the heyday of tube manufacturing.
“We’re equipped to do the same with other tubes, all while honouring the old, practised art of Western Electric manufacturing. Our customers will enjoy longer life and higher performance as a result.”

Would you need to source or create new parts for the production of guitar amplifier tubes?​

“At the same time we resumed 300B production at our new facility, the Rossville Works, we planned for expansion. The equipment is here today and ready to go online. As for sourcing materials and parts, problems will naturally arise – even with our existing reliable suppliers. We’re prepared to meet the challenge.”

Similarly, how transferable is the process of making different fittings? Each guitar amplifier tube type has a different pin formation – would this be a hurdle for the expansion?​

“We are in the throes of tooling up for various tubes, starting with the most urgently-needed, popular types.
EH-185 Clone Part 4

“Guitar tube amps use two primary pin configurations, the octal (8-pin) socket and the noval (9-pin) socket. On rare occasions, the 7-pin configuration is utilised. We already stock these components. Setting up for the most popular tube types does not present as big a hurdle as one might think.”

Does the process present any environmental challenges that weren’t a concern in the 1930s? You mention that you’ve made “key updates to machinery to ensure clean, green, and safe assembly” – would these updates present challenges when tooling up for a wider range of tubes?​

“No. Every material we use is considered safe and green. Western Electric strives to meet all OSHA and EPA standards and does not use any banned substances. We sell and ship vacuum tubes every day. We hope this is enough to demystify any old wives’ tales about tube manufacturing hazards.”
Find out more and have your own say over at westernelectric.com/expand.
 

decoy205

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I’m getting the sense that more companies want to ride this wave of getting out of foreign manufacturing while bringing the money back to the us. If they can pull this off the country will be way better off. If it results in better musical equipment I think everyone on here will be that much happier. I like where this may be headed. Hopefully more industries step up.
 

BRMarshall

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A lot of us have paid higher prices for American made Martin, Gibson, Fender, etc. guitars competing with often less expensive guitars built outside the US. Part of this is labor, but higher quality materials also enter into it. It would seem reasonable to expect many would pay a premium for quality American made tubes.
If the above post was responses from a WE executive type, I’m encouraged.
 

yamariv

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A lot of us have paid higher prices for American made Martin, Gibson, Fender, etc. guitars competing with often less expensive guitars built outside the US. Part of this is labor, but higher quality materials also enter into it. It would seem reasonable to expect many would pay a premium for quality American made tubes.
If the above post was responses from a WE executive type, I’m encouraged.
Very True but I worry that they will come out with outrageous prices like the Hifi Tube they make. I'd pay a higher price for American made quality but only to a point. If they are asking $100+ for an EL34 I'd be out
 

Neffco

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Well I think those 300B hifi tubes are expensive no matter what. The Chinese version of that tube is 700$ I’d expect a matched set of EL34 to be around 65-70 bucks with that math. I could definitely handle that price.
 

CyFan

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Took the survey. I just got killed buying tubes anyway, they may as well be American.
 

pmonk

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I’m getting the sense that more companies want to ride this wave of getting out of foreign manufacturing while bringing the money back to the us. If they can pull this off the country will be way better off. If it results in better musical equipment I think everyone on here will be that much happier. I like where this may be headed. Hopefully more industries step up.
In light of recent events, it would more sense to start bringing these manufacturing jobs back into the USA. Not for USA pride but to assure supply of vital equipment for U.S. consumers and vendors

People cry about oil and gas prices but the god damn microchip was invented in the U.S. but now only 12% are made in the USA and the more sophisticated chips, 0% are made in the USA.
 

redking

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The thought of being able to get my hands on brand new US made tubes (assuming the quality and life expectancy are as advertised) is giving me a bit of a chubby right now. :drool:
 

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