Guitarist interviewed Adrian Emsley (Orange’s amp designer) in the February issue, and asked about NOS tubes. Emsley’s reply: “They are better tubes than what’s made now for sure. Like Mullard, General Electric preamp tubes, for example, they’re going to be, for the most part, better sounding. They’ll probably always yield a bit more gain and sound better.” Emsley recommends cleaning the pins on NOS tubes to remove any black oxidation if it’s there; old tube pins had a high silver content, and the oxidation can prevent good electrical contact. I’ve expressed my own belief that NOS tubes yield a more satisfying long-term playing experience many times. At first the differences can be subtle, but I find that when an amp has NOS tubes, I don’t get that nagging feeling that I need to trade it in and look for something “better.” I’ve also come to believe that NOS tubes matter more than hand wiring, though given the choice I prefer mostly hand-wired amps. Granted, re-tubing an amp with NOS can be expensive, but in the long run I buy gear with the intention of getting long-term use out of it, so the investment is worth it. The preamp tubes in particular seem to last forever (20 year life is common), but even the power tubes last longer with NOS.