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Who makes the best tubes these days?

Discussion in 'Vintage Analog Gear' started by audiokid, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    We might as well know this.

    audio preamps, guitar and bass amps...

    Who are the best tube manufacturers?
    Who do we buy them from?

    Why are there differences?
  2. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    JJ actually has their own plant, and they're the ones the guys at Eurotubes sell (I highly recommend Eurotubes; they really know their stuff). Fender just bought Groove Tubes (which are just the good Chinese tubes, anyway), and Ruby tubes are mostly better Chinese tubes. Then there are the Electro Harmonix tubes. I haven't been able to try them, but I'd assume they're made in the USA. Maybe EHX tubes are a match for JJ? Anyone tried them? But JJs are the best I've tried SO FAR. :D And I like JJs because they're quiet, relatively consistent, and don't compress when they aren't supposed to.
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Good info, thanks for sharing...

    Is this the company?


    Check out their amps! whoa
  4. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member


    Here is some information for you



    This guy is CRAZY when it comes to prices but worth a look http://www.audiotubes.com/audtube.htm#aud list





  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I've been getting tubes from a local guy who has done a lot of experimenting. His basic preference in modern production tubes seems to be JJ for EL84s and Electro Harmonix for 12AX7. Works for me.
  6. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    This really depends on which type tube and the application. I like GT-Rusky ones (Svetlana)- for my 6550 power tubes in the old Mc and Dynaco power amps. GT provides an excellent "grading system" and QC on the products that they market, and the best customer service.
    I like JJ's in the guitar amp power sections (6V6 and 6L6) in the Fenders.
    Their EL34s are awesome, too. And the E-H preamp tubes are hard to beat, especialy for QC regarding microphonics.
  7. cfaalm

    cfaalm Active Member

    To my knowledge Electro Harmonix is Russian today, used to be NYC. I have two of their 12ax7s in my ENLG 570 (Guitar Preamp). I can highly recommend them for high gain cicuitry. I also have a JJ 12AX7 as a spare which is the same type. JJ is a Czech company. The JJ to me however was not as quiet or solid. So I guess you should try EHX too sometime. 8) I am only talking preamp tubes here.

    The Chinese quality is hit and miss. Your best bet is to get relabled ones, where someone already took out the bad ones.
  8. Dwrek

    Dwrek Guest

    Eurotubes are great in old peavey amps (Triumph, Heritage) for playing any kind of clean channels. I can let these amps get really hot and the Eurotubes just scream with slide parts in recordings, or in a live setting. Great for blues or southern rock.

    Electro Harmonix are great in newer Peavey JSX's, XXX's, 6505's, and 6505+'s. I love the way they sound on any metal recordings/live. The XXX is my favorite amp by far. Aside from a friend of mine redoing the circuitry, and allowing the tubes to get hotter, and sounding downright amazing...the amp is astonishing. I use this amp on 70% of my recordings, and 50% of the music I play live. At mid-high temps, these tubes handle great, and have minimal feedback. The 12ax7's were a couple years older than the 6L6's. (I think those are the tube setups in most of those amps, I'm not exactly sure how i have them all setup)

    Groove tubes are great in the 5150's.
    I have an old 5150 III 2x12 combo and its my best all around amp. Whether I'm just laying out some scratch tracks, or recording with a live band, on the clean side of the channels, this setup is great.

    It all depends on the genre

    This is all just from personal experience.
    I haven't really mixed up brands in a single amp.
    I just have probably 15-20 peavey amps, thanks to an endorsement for a few couple years. But i've gotten bored and tried different brands in different series of amps, and those are what I've noticed.
  9. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    Well, my brand new EHX pedal says "MADE IN NYC, USA," and I can see that every pedal in the brochure they sent legibly says "MADE IN NYC, USA" on them, although, some seem to just say "MADE IN USA," but I think that's due to space restrictions on some pedals. I think they made a budget line of Russian pedals at one point in time; I don't know whether they are still in production or not. I couldn't find anything on the EHX site that said where the tubes were produced, but I did find this statement on TubeDepot.com: "TubeDepot.com stocks the entire line of Electro-Harmonix audio tubes. Electro-Harmonix tubes are made in one of the biggest glass tube factories in Russia. They have steadily improved and are considered by many to be some of the best new production tubes available." So, I guess the tubes aren't made in the US.

    I thought I'd add on some stuff.........

    "Best" is a very subjective term, especially when it comes to tubes. Sure, JJ tubes are probably the most consistent, predictable tubes out there, but there are companies like Ruby tubes and many smaller dealers who can excellently match other companies' tubes for very little extra cash. I use a Carvin V3 for my primary amp, and it came stock with all Groove Tubes gold series tubes (prior to the Fender buyout of GT), and I have to say I was never really happy. I finally ended up getting some matched Chinese preamp tubes from an online dealer, and then a couple of matched 6L6 Sovtek tubes from another online dealer, and the tone is much improved for the sounds I want to achieve. My point here is that, when it comes to tubes, the "best" tubes might not have the sonic characteristics that fit the sounds you are trying to achieve. Sometimes cheap, matched Chinese tubes are better for your amp. Just be careful they really are matched and screened, 'cause the quality control isn't as great from the factory.
  10. crazzycat

    crazzycat Guest

    thanks foк links Thomas really great info


    ...With love to myspace glitter graphics...
  11. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

  12. jafferinc

    jafferinc Guest

    For the best amp that would sound better then there should be one gain, one function and one driver. According to me the Electro Harmonix is the best and creates the awesome sound processor with the better service.
  13. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    According to me, the best sound processor that wants tubes to glow better and creates awesome sound with best results for the musical performer. These are made by the Russian industrialist Sovtek and have been used in some of the best radar systems the world knows of. Highest gain tubes make electric guitar sing like bird and can watch plane that flies like bird, even at night. Electron tubes make everyone want to be happy with reliability of service and awesome sound!
  14. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Is this a great country or what??
  15. boxcar

    boxcar Active Member

    I buy most of my tubes from Brent Jesse.Great service and awsome selection.

    I have a set of JJ's wich i like for my deluxe reverb but i have NOS 50's RCA's in there now.
    I especially notice extra smoothness when playing lead notes above the 12th frets with the rca's.
    Also have some mullards and phillips that i like for outboard gear.
    If price is an issue though, JJ's are hard to beat and they can take a beating as far as high biasing for amps.
    Old tubes can get really expensive.($350 for 7 RCA tubes for the deluxe reverb) but i hear they last forever.
    They might outlast me,we'll see.
    Bob Barcus likes this.
  16. thanks for the post.
  17. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    First let me say, Eurotubes is not a brand but a tube distributor, and very very excellent one at that. Around here, we have the privledge of being able to show up at Bob's and get first hand service. He's very very knowledgeable about tube design and what goes where and why.

    And then this....Tube performance is as subjective and individual as guitar choices. I personally like the JJ's when they get broke in nicely. A guitarist in my band uses only NOS Mullards and Telefunkens. He also has a set of JJ's as a backup set and theres is a noticable difference. Whether its better or worse is in the ear of the beholder. I have become a little 'iffy' on the Electro-Harmonics preamp tubes. The set I had a couple of years ago was better than the newest set as far as warmth. That earlier set was about 12 years old though and maybe thats why. They were listed as made in NY and the newer ones are Ruskies for sure.
  18. Gette

    Gette Active Member

    Well, I will add this. Over the last few months i have had the pleasure of working on some very nice tube inspired gear. (Drawmer, Tube-Tech, Summit, Mesa-Boogie, Marshall, Peavy... etc) I also have at my disposal a huge tube collection,,, (to include New Old Stock) Of the modern tubes, JJ and EHX are at the top of the list, the choice varies on it's purpose. JJ can be quieter in some applications, but have found EHX work well in rack gear. JJ I load with out second thought into guitar amps with the exception of the Mesa (unless the Mesa has a bias mod and the customer requests it) The deference's between them is small, it comes down to what you are looking for and what application you are using them in.

    Boxcar: They no longer produce tubes the way they once did, either it be QC issues or EPA issues. Modern tubes do not last as long as the tubes of earlier generations. I have heard tubes lasting well into the years in regard to the older tubes.

  19. eric labrie

    eric labrie Active Member

    JJ is one of those who got the less leaky or microphonic tubes per batch, in my own experience. I had trouble with leaky sovtek, and leaky tung-sol, never had trouble with Electro-harmonix, thought. In term of sound, i like sovtek and tung-sol, when they don't exibit to much hum lol. When shopping for tubes, i try to take JAN as much as pissible, not NOS but JAN.

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