N.O.S Valves (tubes in US money), what's your fave

Simon Says

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For the past few days, I read about new old stock valves, especially on ECC83/12AX7, as this is what my amp preamp have in all five positions

Any valve shufflers in the house? What would you recommend and why?

I play Boogie Fillmore if that helps. Fenderish cleans and Boogie Mark 1 type of drives, I guess.

V1 is an input tube for the clean and drive channel (first half) and the second stage for the drive channel (second half). The V2 is a tone stack cathode follower. These are the two main valve locations I want to focus on.
 
One idiot's opinion here:
With today's prices and availability (meaning, there's not really all that many amazing NOS 12AX7's available out there anymore) definitely don't spend NOS kind of $$$ on any 12AX7's other than maybe for V1--which is by far the most impactful tube. NOS power tubes, nope; because they'll wear out anyway. Rectifiers, maybe NOS and sure yes for 12AT7 & 12AY7 because the good ones are not all taken.
 
One idiot's opinion here:
With today's prices and availability (meaning, there's not really all that many amazing NOS 12AX7's available out there anymore) definitely don't spend NOS kind of $$$ on any 12AX7's other than maybe for V1--which is by far the most impactful tube. NOS power tubes, nope; because they'll wear out anyway. Rectifiers, maybe NOS and sure yes for 12AT7 & 12AY7 because the good ones are not all taken.
Yeah, I won't do NOS power for sure. I have a large stock of Mesa STR440, and I actually like them a lot. Very balanced. I even like a bit of mileage on them so that I will be good for the next 20 years.

Yeah, V1 is very impactable, but so do is V2 in my amp. I have put some RFT 12AX7 in a second position, and the tone stack just got a tonal blanket, very dull tone, and dominant lazy bass; I hated it. I put in TAD RT001 (Chinese selected by TAD, no longer made), and the amp started breathing. Not NOS, but I already know I need a nice and bright tube here, one that will hold cathode follower plate voltage. I'm eager to try a nice NOS tube here, too, eventually.
 
In general--and/or when in doubt--I like the Tung-Sol reissue 12AX7 in practically any preamp position, and the Sovtek 12AX7LPS in the phase-inverter (last preamp tube) position.

As for NOS, I've got a few RFT currently in use and they're good--but I've also had 1 or 2 crap out on me, so I don't know if I'll keep chasing these down. I really would (and do!) lean heavily on the knowledge & recommendations of Mike @ KCANOSTubes when buying NOS. [I'm in no way affiliated with him or his business, other than that I've received recommendations and bought stuff from him, and I trust that he knows his stuff hardcore.] Gotta know & trust your tube vendors... and especially so when going $$$ NOS.
 
So what I want to try is either RCA long black plate or JAN Raytheon 12AX7 for V1 and Sylvania long black plate or JAN-GE 12AX7WA for V2.

RCA and Raytheon are often described as valves with rich early breakup and pleasant harmonics, and Sylvania and GE are midy with less lows, so they should do the trick in a tone stack

In general--and/or when in doubt--I like the Tung-Sol reissue 12AX7 in practically any preamp position, and the Sovtek 12AX7LPS in the phase-inverter (last preamp tube) position.

As for NOS, I've got a few RFT currently in use and they're good--but I've also had 1 or 2 crap out on me, so I don't know if I'll keep chasing these down. I really would (and do!) lean heavily on the knowledge & recommendations of Mike @ KCANOSTubes when buying NOS. [I'm in no way affiliated with him or his business, other than that I've received recommendations and bought stuff from him, and I trust that he knows his stuff hardcore.] Gotta know & trust your tube vendors... and especially so when going $$$ NOS.
I often read that the Sovtec tubes are not recommended for the cathode follower (V2 in my amp), so I will be avoiding their reissue tubes.

I have a few RFT tubes here with yellow labels. Mine may be a bit chewed up as they are too dark. I'm not a fan of them in any position. Interestingly, I have a Polam 12AX7, often described as relabeled RFT, but it sounds NOTHING like them. Polam is way brighter with an insane early breakup. It's a bit raspy tone-wise. Out of three I own, only one is usable, one noisy and one microphonic.
 
The only NOS tube I really recommend is the Phillips 12AT7. I've bought a lot of NOS pre, rectifiers and power tubes that crapped out in one way or another shortly after installing. The Phillips AT7 has been a good, reliable, long lasting phase inverter or reverb driver for me. For the others, I swap a lot of new production tubes to find the best sounding and just go with them. NOS glass means nothing if you're at a gig and a tube goes south on you. Others will disagree, and I'm OK with that.
 
The only NOS tube I really recommend is the Phillips 12AT7. I've bought a lot of NOS pre, rectifiers and power tubes that crapped out in one way or another shortly after installing. The Phillips AT7 has been a good, reliable, long lasting phase inverter or reverb driver for me. For the others, I swap a lot of new production tubes to find the best sounding and just go with them. NOS glass means nothing if you're at a gig and a tube goes south on you. Others will disagree, and I'm OK with that.
Thx for the suggestion. Fillmore takes 5x12AX7, tho
 
I have a lot of amps (I may have mentioned this before...), so I also have a lot of tubes to keep them healthy and happy :)


Mullards mostly for small triodes, since I'm in the UK for 90 percent of the year; though I do also have a big mixed bag of old US, European and Japanese 12A*7 pulls including Tungsram, RCA, Philips, Sylvania, Siemens, and lord-knows-what else...... good for PIs, reverb drivers and special duty here and there.

I've got some matched-sides long plate Tele/Siemens, and 5751s for "taming" specific parts of higher gain circuits too, on account of not really doing high gain much, even with my various MkIIA-IIB-IIC+ Boogies.

Note: I've just gone through my records to see what's currently in my Two Rock CRS V1. It says:

v1 ECC83 =Mullard
v2 ECC83=Mullard
v3 ECC81=JAN
v4 ECC83=new Electro Harmonix 12AX7EH (yeah, I know...)
v5 ECC83= long plate Telefunken
v6 and v7 6L6= GT-labeled Sylvania 6L6GC.

So that was after a lot of trial and error over a nearly twenty-year period. I'd say it's also pretty representative of my particular likes and dislikes in any typical amp I would use a lot - aside from a Hiwatt or Marshall, which would be Mullard all the way through, barring the odd RFT EL34 set here and there.
 
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I like the long grey plate RCA 12ax7 the most of any NOS 12ax7 I’ve used. Have not tried a black plate version, because I believe the grey plates have less gain, and I actually sometimes prefer that in a V1 position. Less gain in the first stage creates less low end mud. But, I wouldn’t hesitate to use a black plate RCA, if that’s what you want (and can afford - $$$$$$$).

Mullard short plate, GE long grey plate have both been solid tubes for me. Tried an Amperex and didn’t particularly care for it.
 
Well, I use them. Found a nice small source 2 yrs back for 12ax7s, that dried up quickly after discovery. Seller had zero clue about what he sold I think, given his pricing. Got some nice NOS tubes. Mostly Philips ECC83s (both Heerlen and Blackburn), an original tungsram from the sixties. and I have an RCA grey plate somewhere as well. And (the kicker) a real NOS longplate mullard from 59. For poweramp tubes I do not see the point for the big bucks ones, however I do love those old USSR el84s that are made to last and dirt cheap.

I have them in my mesa TA-15. That is a rather low gain amplifier. I would not use them in the high (casgaded) gain offerings. I do not think that will be much of a difference. I did experiment with the different tubes in different positions in the amp. V1 is noticable, but not day and night, but then again I have rather "neutral" NOS tubes. They seem a little smoother than the current JJs and Russian tubes and the EQ varies between the philips, mullard and tungsram. I prefer the mullard in the vox side, a philips heerlen short plate (little brighter) in the V1 of the marshall side and the tungsram as "enhancer" in the PI.

Would I be happy with current offerings? Yes. Is this better? Marginally. It is mostly fun.
 
Oh, and OT: just for V1 and traditionally RCA are "fender" tubes irc.

Thanks for all the above. And yeah, I see Boogie Fillmore as a hotroded Fender, and I will approach it as such. I won't put European tubes in it; I'm not aiming for Marshall-like tonality. Ideally, what I would like the Drive mode to do is what it's doing now, just more. More harmonic content, more liquid sustain, more early breakup and more touch sensitivity. Bit more towards Dumble than a Marshall.
 
For the past few days, I read about new old stock valves, especially on ECC83/12AX7, as this is what my amp preamp have in all five positions

Any valve shufflers in the house? What would you recommend and why?

I play Boogie Fillmore if that helps. Fenderish cleans and Boogie Mark 1 type of drives, I guess.

V1 is an input tube for the clean and drive channel (first half) and the second stage for the drive channel (second half). The V2 is a tone stack cathode follower. These are the two main valve locations I want to focus on.
Fillmore

In the Fillmore I use an NOS RCA in V1 and NOS GE in all the other preamp sockets. Usually I buy the GE military grade tubes. As I understand it, the only difference is that the military tubes were selected from standard production because they tested to military standards. I love this combination of preamp tubes in the amp.

The 6L6s are new production Telefunkens, which are hand selected JJs that are then cryogenically treated for Telefunken. They're the nicest sounding new production 6L6 I've found, with nice round tones and no tube rattle (the cryogenic treatment stiffens the metal).

DG30

The DG30 was one of the "First 20" that were made for the 2013 Experience where the amp was introduced. These came equipped with NOS Brimar 12AX7s (and a JJ 12 AT7 for the reverb send and return). I bought an NOS Mullard to replace the JJ. The amp also came with NOS EL84M tubes, Russian military, very heavy duty version of the EL84. I bought a spare set but haven't had to install them - EL84Ms were designed to stay in spec for 50,000 hours (!). The Russian tube designation is 6P14P-EV. The rectifier is a Soviet 5AR4 (GZ34). PRS says to stick with this brand and tube. I haven't had to replace it, either.

Lone Star

The Lone Star has NOS GE with NOS Siemens in the reverb send and return and phase inverter. The output tubes are NOS Siemens EL34s. I've stuck with the stock Mesa branded rectifier tube.

HXDA

The HXDA has NOS Mullard in V1 and V2, the phase inverter is the stock JJ at the moment but I also use NOS Siemens. The output tubes are NOS Siemens EL34s.
 
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Fillmore

In the Fillmore I use an NOS RCA in V1 and NOS GE in all the other preamp sockets. Usually I buy the GE military grade tubes. As I understand it, the only difference is that the military tubes were selected from standard production because they tested to military standards. I love this combination of preamp tubes in the amp.

The 6L6s are new production Telefunkens, which are hand selected JJs that are then cryogenically treated for Telefunken. They're the nicest sounding new production 6L6 I've found, with nice round tones and no tube rattle (the cryogenic treatment stiffens the metal).

DG30

The DG30 was one of the "First 20" that were made for an Experience where the amp was introduced (2013). It came equipped with NOS Brimar 12AX7s and a JJ 12 AT7 for the reverb send and return. I bought an NOS Mullard to replace the JJ. The amp also came with NOS EL84M tubes, Russian military, very heavy duty version of the EL84. I bought a spare set but haven't had to install them - EL84Ms were designed to stay in spec for 50,000 hours (!).

Lone Star

The Lone Star has NOS GE with NOS Siemens in the reverb send and return and phase inverter. The output tubes are NOS Siemens EL34s.

HXDA

The HXDA has NOS Mullard in V1 and V2, the phase inverter is the stock JJ at the moment but I also use NOS Siemens. The output tubes are NOS Siemens EL34s.
Long plate, short plate, grey, black. Tell me more about these RCA and GEs. What do you like about them?
 
Long plate, short plate, grey, black. Tell me more about these RCA and GEs. What do you like about them?
The tone of these tubes simply works for me. This is where I've been buying them, links are below.


 
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