Some Nice 6L6s

Discussion in 'Amplifiers' started by LSchefman, Jul 2, 2021.

  1. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    I have a Mesa Lone Star 100W that is a fine amp. My #1s are the HXDA and DG30, and I've equipped them 100% with NOS tubes. I loaded the preamp of the Lone Star with NOS GEs and an RCA in v1, and yes, it was a big improvement, but I didn't want to blow nearly a grand on a quartet of NOS RCAs, Sylvanias or GEs for this amp.

    I've previously retubed the output tubes and rectifier tube twice. I each case the Mesa brand Chinese tubes Mesa had blew or had noise issues.

    These Chinese tubes also rattled like crazy! I had to buy tube damper rings to stop the rattling (from Eurotubes, and yes, they work).

    I decided to try the JJ 6L6s Mesa now brands and sells, but I remembered that Telefunken works with JJ to hand select their tubes, and then they cryogenically treat them. Telefunken makes some very high end microphones based on classic designs, and bought the name. I'm usually against doing that, but the mics are absolutely killer, and their top ones are very expensive (and sound the part).

    I figured, wtf, they weren't that much more than Mesa was charging for their JJs. I bought a quartet of them.

    Cryogenics for tubes could be BS - or not. The process was invented to change the strength and stiffness characteristics of metal, and is used in industry for that purpose. I haven't tested the stock JJ tubes. I have no idea if they'd sound like the ones I installed. They might sound exactly like the Telefunken brand ones, or not.

    It doesn't matter, of course. If I blew an extra little bit of coin to make myself happy, I'm good with that.

    These tubes truly improved the tone of the amp, and they do not rattle AT ALL like most modern tubes do in a combo. they have a tight bass response, a very nice, crisp high end that doesn't take your head off, a great midrange with lots of balance, and they break up nicely when the amp is driven. And at 100 Watts, driving the Lone Star into output tube breakup is...um...loud...but hey. It's all about tone.

    The amp sounds a lot better, and now I like it 85% as much as my PRS amps - and I LOVE my PRS amps. So that's saying quite a lot.

    If you're of the opinion that these are just rebranded JJs and that the cryogenics is BS, I'm good with that. What I can say is that I've got good results!

    :)
     
  2. RickP

    RickP Established 1960, Still Not Dead

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    Good to know! I'm also, as you know, pretty sold on NOS tubes... a category that (sadly) even the original Svetlana/SED/Winged C belong in. Mesa branded tubes in Mesa amps have always worked well for me, and with a fixed bias, I relied on them making sure the output was right. It's good to know there are some options! I honestly have no idea or opinion on the cryo treatment, but at the worst it isn't hurting the tone so a little snake oil might keep your tones slippery. :eek:

    On the Mesa-branded front, I've been trying to stash away a few sets of the STR450 EL34s made by you-know-who, but even those are nearly $200 a pair.
     
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  3. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Energized

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    Good to hear, Les. For some reason, I've found that TAD (Tube Amp Doctor) STRs or GC 6L6 tubes have been pretty reliable. Good headroom, low noise, zero microphonics, good harmonic content. Not considered an NOS tube by any means, but I've experienced good success with these. And TBH, when I find something that works well, lasts long, and doesn't cost much excessively, that's where you find me.

    And yes, I used to own 2 custom orange leather Lonestar heads/2x12 cabs back in the day. Both had TADs put in.
     
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  4. El Fenix

    El Fenix New Member

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    I'll second the Tad 6L6GC. I have them in a Marshall 6100LM.
     
    #4 El Fenix, Jul 2, 2021
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2021
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  5. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Energized

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    Thanks. Most stock tubes new amps I'd ordered were from a foreign country (China, Russia, Eastern Europe).

    I'm not sure of the TAD origin, but they're decent tubes.

    Unfortunately, my bank account couldn't afford a set or 2 of NOS Sylvanias or GE tubes, though I'd be interested if Les could put together a sound clip of his Telefunken-equipped Mesa.

    How about it, Les? Some clips so we can enjoy your Lonestar like you have?
     
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  6. Herr Squid

    Herr Squid I was severely impressed

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    TADs were Chinese manufacture the last time I looked.

    My experience with JJ power tubes has been that they're very rugged and stand up well to vibration and high voltages. Telefunken Elektroakustik is probably cherry-picking from JJ tubes that are pretty solid to begin with.
     
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  7. Simon Says

    Simon Says New Member

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    I also like the TADs (RCA type) had them in Rivera last year and they woke up that amp. I'm using Mesa STR440 with my Boogie but considering switch to them and to stock up. Chinese factory burned down a year ago and currently there's no Chinese made tubes (TADs are chinese made, as well as STR440s) so grab them while they last
     
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  8. jak3af3r

    jak3af3r Jake

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    Same here. I have a quartet of 6L6 in a twin reverb that's supposedly rated at 135W. They don't seem to mind one bit.
     
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  9. AP515

    AP515 Mostly Normal

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    I like JJs. Don't have any experience with the snake oil treatment.
     
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  10. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    That's a good idea!

    I like to write an original piece to demo a piece of gear, but the timing is good since I just finished up an ad project for a car company and am between gigs. When I have something I'll post it.
     
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  11. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    I know that cryogenics isn't horse-pucky when it comes to industrial materials, it's real, and it's used for good reasons. Is it snake oil in audio parts, like tubes? Beats me.

    The tubes don't rattle. Win!

    Whether that's because the metal parts are stiffened by the process, or because the tubes were simply cherry-picked by Telefunken, or because JJ simply makes a mechanically sound tube, is something I can't answer, as I don't have standard set of JJs to compare them to.

    When I originally got the amp, the tubes rattled so much I could hardly record with it. Granted they're hanging over the speakers in a 212 combo, but there were plenty of 212 combos like my old Tremoverb and Twins back in the day with 85-100 Watts that didn't have tube rattle. So I called Mesa, and their tech told me they couldn't find current production tubes these days that didn't rattle. His suggestion was, "I don't buy combos any more, just heads; maybe you should get a head."

    Great. It's a custom ordered, leather covered combo, if I sell it I'm going to lose my ass. So I found the Eurotubes damper rings, and they were a game changer with the stock tubes. However, these Telefunkens not only don't rattle at all, they sound significantly better to me, so I'm OK with whatever the snake oil is. ;)
     
  12. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    The Winged Cs were standard in both my 50W and 30W HXDAs before they ceased production. Of then-new production tubes, I thought they sounded really good, but a little tubby in the low end, and I did get a little rattle with them at higher volume. I went with Siemens after one of them blew. I tried a set of JJ EL34s in the amp, but they were tubbier than the Winged Cs, so that's when I went with the NOS Siemens.

    Of course, in another room that's brighter, that isn't carpeted, etc., what I describe as tubby might simply sound warm and excellent. So much depends on the room you're playing in!

    $200 a matched pair is worth it in a good amp, and I love the Siemens in my HXDA. I probably would have spent $800-1000 on NOS for RCAs, GEs, or Sylvanias for the Lone Star if I hadn't just invested in that KHE amp switcher and more acoustical treatment for the recording area, but I had a case of the guilties.
     
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  13. Simon Says

    Simon Says New Member

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    I used to use wingled c el34's with Orange Rockerverb. They did alright in that amp. Wouldn't say night and day to MP's this amp came with but same time I had it biased really cold so I wasn't really giving them a chance to shine. I had 5 pairs left when I sold the amp, Mesa select's. Sold them 200 quid /pair. I couldn't believe how fast they sold. If I knew I would order more from Mesa...
     
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  14. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    I was sidetracked by a 3 day power outage; no electric guitars.

    Then when the power came back on, I was offered a deal on a new orchestral library. I had to take them up on that, it's going to add to my creative orchestral output. So I'm spending time learning how the articulations sound and haven't played guitar yet.

    There's my excuse for not getting a tube demo done. But I will.

    I should probably just participate in the Orchestral Sample Library Forums, but where's the fun in that? :rolleyes:
     
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  15. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Excuses, excuses...

    I'm back in Orchestra-Land. I practice guitar, of course, but when I start recording for my own amusement lately, it's with strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion.

    This is a very sad state of affairs. Or not. Because I'm having an absolutely wonderful time. :)
     
  16. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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    I've used Winged C and Ruby. Happy with both. I suspect my ear is less refined than some.
    That being said I put a pair of Groove Tubes in my H after a failure and hated them.
    PRS recommended Rubys and they were/are bang on.
     
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  17. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Not at all, If you were able to hear differences, then your ear is plenty refined.
     
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  18. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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    I was shocked, amazed, and impressed how different tubes made such an obvious audible difference!
     
  19. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Paul Smith says anything that touches the strings is god. I say anything that touches the audio matters. It's weird, but it's true.
     
  20. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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    Yup, and the speaker/cab choice is another amazing differentiator.
     

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