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Retube or Rent High Quality Preamp?

Discussion in 'Preamps & Processing' started by punkrocker, Dec 4, 2008.

  1. punkrocker

    punkrocker Guest

    Hi all so I have a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier that I got used off of craigslist and I haven't yet swapped out the tubes. I think that they're between 2-3 years old (they are groove tubes if it matters). I'm going to be recording a new record soon and I'm wondering if it would be better to do a full retube or spend my money on a renting a high quality preamp such as an avalon 737. I am currently just plugging a 57 into a firepod right now. I have heard mixed opinions on how better your sound. Some say the result is just as drastic as changing old guitar strings and if that is the case I will probably go for the retube but others say it makes almost no audible difference. Please enlighten me.

    P.S. Hope this is in the right section.
  2. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Distinguished Member

    Feb 9, 2005
    South Florida
    Home Page:
    I'm not understanding your logic here...

    To me your question is "should I retube my amp or use a high quality preamp". That's like asking "do you walk to work or bring your lunch?"

    The two things are not the same. If your amp sounds like shite and it's because of the tubes, then you should retube your amp. Whether or not you should use a high quality preamp has nothing to do with the fact that you have old (or new) tubes in the amp.

    After thinking about your question a bit...perhaps what you meant was: "what should I spend my money on, a retube or preamp rental?" If that's what you are actually asking then the answer is what is most important to you?

    If the amp sounds exactly the way you like it, then spend the money on a preamp, although I don't know if a 737 would be THAT much better for recording distored guitar. It should be better but do you really need better?

    If you don't like the way the amp sounds or are looking for a something a bit different, AND you are happy with your recording so far, spend the money on the tubes. New tubes can give new life to an amp, but again, I don't know home much new life.
  3. punkrocker

    punkrocker Guest

    Yes I'm saying which one of the two would make a better improvement. Which ever will give better quality of sound is more important to me. So what I'm saying is, if I had to choose only one, will a full out tube replacement or higher quality pre make my recordings sound better over the other?
  4. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    Nov 21, 2005
    Still can't answer. Is there some reason that you believe the tubes need replaced..other than they're crappy Groove Tubes? IS there something wrong with the sound of the amp? Why do you suspect tubes, if so?

    If not, you don't need to retube. If so, a crappy-sounding amp through any preamp won't help.

    If you need to retube, do yourself a favor and get some better tubes.
    Which tubes do you think may need replacing? The output tubes, or one or more preamp tubes? Have you had the tubes tested?

    Do you KNOW your recorded tone sounds bad into whatever you are going to use? How do you know? Have you tried different techniques before deciding you need to spend money renting a preamp...that you have no idea of how it will sound yet?

    Will you play that amp other than for recording? Will your money go further retubing (if needed) than spending money on a preamp you are not familiar with? Do you use that amp, otherwise? Do you play live, and would retubing (if needed) be a better investment for just that...or will your new record buy you new tubes AND the Avalon?

    These are the questions you should ask yourself.

    Good luck,

    Kapt.Krunch :wink:
  5. punkrocker

    punkrocker Guest

    Nothing is wrong with the amp. Let me put it like this. If your recording a bass guitar direct with old strings, it is going to sound like crap, and putting new strings on is like hitting the awesome button in comparison. Is this the same thing for tubes? Will replacing fully functional tubes that are just old really improve my tone that much or will it be a minimal increase? Same with the preamp.
  6. Greener

    Greener Guest

    Nothing is wrong with the amp so don't fix it.
  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Fredericksburg, VA
    Don't replace the tubes. Unless there's something wrong with them.

    Tubes that are 2-3 years old have anywhere between 1 day and 27 years left in them (probably closer to the latter or at least in between).

    If you're just hard pressed to spend money, a new preamp is always a winner. Just make sure you know *what* you're buying and *why* you're buying it. My guess is, if you've settled on the Avalon, you can't answer either of the above questions (no offense, it's just that it's a common red flag in my book.)

    Buy a VIPre and call it a day.

  8. MadMax

    MadMax Distinguished Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    I'll chime in along with Cucco and company...

    Forget your "problem" as stated.

    Do you like the sound of the amp in the room you will be recording in? If so, there's your answer... don't mess with the amp.

    If not, is it because of unfamiliarity with the amp, or possibly something in the room? e.g. amp volume, position in the room, too much wall bounce, not enough wall bounce, TUBES, etc. Get the amp sounding right first. (If it doesn't already)

    You will get no better of a recording than the original source. Get the source right to begin with... only THEN should you worry about the pre, mic selection and placement.

    If you're going to rent a pre for the recording, I'd seriously consider renting more than just the 737. I'd rent at least two or three different pre's for a day and return the ones you don't settle on.
  9. punkrocker

    punkrocker Guest

    Hey guys. I think I'm going to go with a set of eurotubes because I found that when I turn it up past 12 the first note is extremely loud to the others that follow it in comparsion. Also, no I would probably not go with an avalon 737 on a recto either. I meant in my previous post some kind of high end pre. I would probably rather go with a 610 or 1073. Thanks for the help!
  10. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Fredericksburg, VA
    Different tubes won't help your problem. If you've got the amp cranked up to 12 on an MB, you're going to be deaf very soon. Your tubes are clamping due to the extreme excess of voltage and current flowing into them. They have a (relatively) long attack time to do so which is why tubes are enjoyed in the gain stage of amplifiers.

    I would say, come to the realization that you're not playing a full stack and understand what the MB is designed for, then play to that. Holy crap, what is your bass player having to do, run a tower? Is your drummer cracking heads and cymbals almost daily??
  11. fmw

    fmw Guest

    I used to be in the tube business. 10 years ago there were about 1/2 a dozen audio tube factories left and the best ones were in Russia (Svetlana) and Serbia (JJ.) As far as I know, there are now only two - one in China and one in Russia. The Russian one is owned by an American company called New Sensor Corporation. If it weren't for New Sensor we would only have the Chinese factory left. The Chinese factory is owned by, well, Chinese. The label on the tube has no meaning. New tubes come from one of those two factories. If you know the country of origin of the tubes then that's all there is to know. I tend to favor the Russian tubes for consistency and quality.

    Trying to chase tone with tube brands is akin to chipmunk trying to seduce a female elephant.

    The most important suggestion I can make is that you use the tube for which the circuit is designed. Many tubes can be substituted for one another. Some subs are almost meaningless Others are pretty severe. My experience is that it is best not to subtitute but to use whatever model were originally proved with the circuit. Note that some tubes have the European designation for its type and others will have the American designation. Substituting those is fine. It is only a name change. But just because it fits in the same socket, is not a reason to do the substitution.
  12. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    It's nice to hear about somebody actually preparing for a recording session. I can tell you how many guys have come into the studio with elaborate amplifiers & guitars and didn't bother to purchase any new batteries for their effects petals! They tell you they put the battery in new last week. Well that doesn't cut it.

    Your situation is a bit different. You purchase a guitar amplifier for its particular character of sound. If you're turning it up to 12 because 10 isn't good enough? You're a beginner hack and wouldn't know the difference between good sound or bad. Not to be offensive mind you. But it already sounds like you have some kind of issue with that guitar amplifier? But just because you like tubes & distortion doesn't mean, it has to be turned up to 12. Perhaps you like 12 because that's your age? I hope not? The problem you indicated wouldn't necessarily be corrected with new tubes. Tubes are like people. No two are the same. And certainly less consistency these days than they were when you could get good West German Telefunken tubes. And even if you get the same replacemen tube number, doesn't mean that tube will sound like the same one you replaced. The engineers basic credo is "if it ain't broke. Don't fix it."

    So you're going to a recording session and they have no decent preamps? You shouldn't have to purchase one. If the Studios facility is inadequate? Why are you going there? Is it in your own facility? You might find this hard to believe but most rock-and-roll hits have been recorded with a SM57. But that SM57 is generally plugged into an API 312/512, Neve 1073/1081/3115/1272, SSL, Apogee. And so that 57 really sounds a lot different through those guys. That's why we all use it that way. So get yourself an API? Neve 1272? I particularly like guitars on the Neve. These lovely little discrete transistorized & transformer coupled preamps can be "pushed". When you push the gain on these preamps, they take on a completely new character before they go into unusable distortion. It's that defining difference that makes the difference. And so the Avalon just as a cool name. I like car better by Toyota. Much bigger sounding than the preamps. Better get out-of-the-way quickly!

    Everything you wanted to know about sexualsound but were afraid to ask
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  13. punkrocker

    punkrocker Guest

    Um I turn it up to 12 because rectifiers fizz like crazy if you don't. If you actually had read my first post you would have seen that I'm not going into studio but rather renting one of those pres to take home and use.

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