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Preamp Tube Shootout

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by Guitarfreak, Sep 27, 2009.

  1. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    I recently invested in a few different tubes for my amp which only has room for a single preamp tube, the rest is solid state. I thought I'd share my findings with you. I could hear and feel a pretty nominal difference while playing through the amp, but to be honest I strain to hear the difference in the recordings, maybe your experience will be different.

    I recorded two DI tracks, one clean and meant to be played dirty. I sent them from Logic Pro through my PreSonus FireBox then to a Radial ProRmp into my B. K. Butler Designed amp head through a Crate 4x10 mic'd off center with an SM57 finally back into the FireBox and into Logic Pro again... got all that? :D

    The Tubes Used:
    Mystery Tube - I'm not sure what tube this is, but it's a 12ax7 that came with the amp
    Ruby - 12ax7 AC5 HG+
    Mullard - 12ax7
    Tung-Sol - 12ax7

    Here are the files for download:

  2. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Is it not an obvious difference or just not that interesting?
  3. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    No interest? k, what can I do to make this better? Any tips?
  4. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    From what little I've heard of your playing, you are a talented young man.
    But these cheap little solid-state amps that use a single 12ax7 tube in the preamp stage are simply designed to provide fizzy-fuzzy distortion based on "starving" the plate voltage to the tube. In these cases, that results in a harsh, non-linear distortion like transitors do. It's got a tube for marketing hype more than any real musical advantages. Any real differences between tubes used in this way are usually noise issues, not so much tone. Hence, this "shoot out" is a "moot shoot"...
  5. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the feedback! :D I get where you are coming from, I wish I had an all tube signal path amp but it's overkill for me right now, I don't even have a band at the moment. I just thought I'd share my experience with the forum considering you guys are so helpful.
  6. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    That's great, don't stop. Just be cognizant of the hype out there.
  7. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Man... I was hoping we were gonna talk about GT's and Avalons and...
  8. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    I listened and did nothear such a significant difference that I was like wow thats the one. The tungsol sounded best but not much....
  9. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    I agree, that's pretty much how I perceived the clips. The experience was a bit different though.

    I've got the Tung Sol in there because it exhibited the least noise and most gain, so for only having on tube spot it seems that's the best bang for buck.

    The Ruby tube seemed to have more of that warm 'analog' feel like it was rounding out the transients, very pleasing on the clean channel. The only drawback was that there was less gain, It would probably be my first choice if I had tubes cascading eachother, but one by itself just doesn't produce enough.

    The Mullard just had that fat older Marshall feel to it, it was a lot like the tung sol because of its gain and presence but the breakup seemed more 'wooly' with more lower mid response.

    The original tube just didn't have any redeeming qualities, not very much gain, and dull tone (which is different than warm tone).

    It's just a shame that this experience didn't show up on tape, but perhaps the experience was the playing with the settings and seeing how each tube 'responded' and the shootout was a snapshot that doesn't tell the whole story. Well, one way or another, now you know. If I had an actual tube amp with multiple tubes I would assemble the Preamp section this way...

    V1 - Tung Sol (For its power and clarity)
    V2 - Ruby (For the warming aspect and fatter tone)
    V3 - Ruby...
    V4 - Ruby...
    and so on, for however many tubes there are in the preamp section. But if there were five slots I'd probably put the first two as tung sols and the next three as Ruby's. And so on, I am sure you get the point.
  10. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    BENT! Where you be at? PM me when you get the chance and let me know how the studio is coming aling...the day gig, too.
  11. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Hey man, will do.

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