Which tube and why?

Discussion in 'Amps & Cabs' started by dbb, Mar 26, 2014.

  1. Relic61

    Relic61 Well-Known Member

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    You know John, it is funny you mention the Bandmaster. I have a Silverface Bandmaster Reverb & it surely is a Fender Freak of Nature! :eek: In a good way of course. I was using that BR in a stereo cab with a 1975 JMP 50 watter on the other side. ( interesting to note the Marshall JMP had two EL34 power tubes & the Bandmaster Reverb had two 6L6 power tubes) I had that BR dialed in so close to the Marshall that if you closed your eyes & hit the AB switch enough times so you lost track of what was what, the two amps were really hard to tell apart at a semi clean / just starting to break up volume! :confused:

    Of course the BR couldn't compete with the Marshall once it was turned up past that point & the Marshall didn't have the BR sparkle & fulness at lower volumes. But right there on that middle ground, the two amps were able to sound so similar it was dumbfounding! :cool: I guess my ears know what they like & I can get that sound out of most amps with a little work, so long as the amp doesn't completely leave you wanting more or just..ahkhemmm (totally suck):noway:
     
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  2. SG John

    SG John Well-Known Member

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    Mine is a Blonde Black Face. Yeah, a freak of nature is a good description. I love how crunchy it can get, yet it can also clean up real well. I just bought some 60's NOS Sylvania 6L6GT's for it. Can wait to give it a good cleaning and tune up. It's a great little amp.

    :applause:
     
  3. Relic61

    Relic61 Well-Known Member

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    Can't go wrong with some NOS Sylvia's bro. I've found all sorts of Sylvania tubes to be exceptional. They were just doing something right man!

    And these Bandmaster Reverbs are great llittle 40 watters! No doubt about it! So yours gets crunchy too huh:thumb: Gotta love it. I guess it is literally due to the design then eh? It's just funny that the other 40 watt Fenders stayed clean like the Super Reverb & Deluxe Reverb amp design formats, and the Bandmaster get so hot n rockin. Gotta say it reminds me of the Black Face Bassman (64) I own in a lot of ways but of course it's even better because it doesn't sag as much. Very much stays tight like a Marshall. Fender freak that it is n all. I've never heard people raving about the Bandmaster like yhey do when it comes to the Bassman or the tweeds Fenders the 50's. Maybe some of that is because they don't fall apart & get all raunchy like a Bassman does when it's pegged? I think the Bandmaster of this era is sort of a best kept secret. Shhh. We may want to buy more of them & don't need those prices going up and higher.:wow:

    My only complaint with my Bandmaster Reverb would be the EQ and it's frequency attenuation. And if only that bright switch was on an adjustable knob so you could dial it in and not have it be so 'all or nothing', it's either on or off man! Just a shame really. To me when the bright switch is off I want just a little bit more upper highs, ya know, some sparkle. Then when I turn on the bright switch it's too damn bright & turning the treble down just don't 'cut' for me. (lol! an amp joke!) That in a nut shell is big reason it only gets used once in a while and I ventured further into vintage Marshall territory so, no hard feelings on my part! lol. But it certainly can shine when it is dialed in just right!

    Let us know how you like them tubes John. Short of them arriving broken I don't see how you won't just love 'em.
     
  4. javamagic

    javamagic Well-Known Member

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    I think that is generally reckoned to be down to the output transformer. Smaller in the Bandmaster than the Super, also running into a different impedance.
     
  5. frankd

    frankd Well-Known Member

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    I Have 7 Tube amps all 6v6 and el84. In a Nutshell the 6v6 has a bit more Bottom end and is a little less mid rangey than the 84. My BH 5 one 12ax7
    one el 84 will get super nice clean sound and I almost changed
    it to a 6v6 amp which would have made it a BH 6 . Now my custom built
    JTM plexi clone has 6v6 tubes and cleans and headroom out the wa zoo
    you fender loyalist would be surprised by its clean beauty ! But ch jump and crank her up wallah awesome breakup and crunch the amps a beast!!
    and by ear you will think its a el 84 but then listen harder you also note more
    bottom end the 6v6 affords it. My Orange or 15 gets okay cleans
    decent headroom but is a better gain machine that don't need a tube screamer or dirt pedal it can DO IT. So My answer is Both But I can also
    say the 6v6 affords more clean headroom and bottom but in the right amp
    like my plexi will also break up and crunch as nice as any el 84 can.My next amp will be either have my BH15 modified closer to a 1974X or get a 74X
    clone after that I would be looking at el 34 and Kt 66 only amps.
    frankd
     
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  6. Relic61

    Relic61 Well-Known Member

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    Ya man thanks for that. I wasn't certain about which transformer was responsible and wasn't even sure I'd be making a correct statement if I mentioned any as being the reason as it's been a while since I've read up on these amps & God knows I hate to be wrong about such things. From what I can remember wasn't there a couple of things that added up & contributed to this amp not being as linear & solid sounding almost right up to max volume? The Bandmaster Reverb just don't get the props it deserves or even the ink. Out of curiousity are the other tranny's the same too or what. I'm thinking things were variable depending on the exact year in that there was changes made throught the Bandmaster lines history & evolution.

    OK, so I'm going to have to go date mine & do a bit of reading. From what I remember when the Bandmaster added Reverb it also went to a 5U4 rectifier from the diodes that were the in preceeding non reverb models. I would imagine those non reverbs sounded pretty rockin too!
     
  7. 58pit

    58pit Well-Known Member

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    The best test for an amp is to hook up a modded Tube Screamer type of effect and see if it doesn't matter. Then you have a good amp. :)
     
  8. dbb

    dbb Well-Known Member

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    Obviously not for a jazz player!

    I assume you mean for the usual SRV-ish blues-rock approach?
     
  9. Relic61

    Relic61 Well-Known Member

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    So how did that work out for ya John? Did those Sylvanias sound heavenly or what? Every Sylvania I have ever tried has at the least sounded good & some have quite often sounded amazing! Hope your experience was the same for you. Just Remember... the real magic in a powertube happens when they get pushed so this gives you an excuse to really crank things up a bit, in the name of science, .. kinda. :laugh2:

    I did end up reading a bit on the Bandmaster series amplifiers and dated mine by the stamped in chassis number to 73. It does have the 5U4 rectifier which greatly limits typical tube rectifier sag when compared to a 5y3 type. Also came across some neat tricks for these amps with a really cool one being the modding of channel 1 to control the reverb. Now that sounds interesting!

    If anyone cares to read a well written piece on the Bandmaster amplifiers here is a link to check out. Lots of interesting gems & bits of info beyond Bandmaster as well.

    Bandmaster « fenderguru.com. Fender amps, mods, modifications, vintage, maintenance, tubes, speakers, schematics, blackface, silverface, jens mosbergvik.

    Smoke 'em if ya got 'em.
     
  10. dbb

    dbb Well-Known Member

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    Which makes it a better amp for my taste than the ones with 5y3's.

    I still think of the Bandmaster as the trial run for the Showman. I'm not sure if the designs are related, not being an amp schematic maven. I know they piggyback design was borrowed for the Showman.

    Interesting link - I notice there's no mention of the Showman on the list, and the Twin and the Showman are almost the same amp, I looked at the entry for the Twin (Twin Reverb « fenderguru.com. Fender amps, mods, modifications, vintage, maintenance, tubes, speakers, schematics, blackface, silverface, jens mosbergvik.) says:

    "it offers tons of clean headroom and volume for unmiked gigs and really big stages. Where the other Fender amps break up at around 4 on the volume knob, the Twin stays clean up to almost 6 and will hold up against heavy drummers and bass players with clean notes sharp as a knife edge...... It is designed not break up like the other Fender amps"

    "you should find some mods on this page interesting. With just a few simple tricks you can make your Twin break up earlier"

    Well what if the reason I like Twins and Showman amps are that they DON"T break up so fast, same reason I left the Champion 600 stock, so that it stays Fender clean as much as possible.

    The entire world does not agree that amps need to be in the sweet spot of distortion to be "versatile". That's what pedals are for.

    Why do I like a clean amp rather than that "sweet spot" thing? Because you can never really clean up an amp that is overdriving. It's either really clean or not - a little dirt is still dirt. Of course this depends on what you call clean, and what one's musical needs are.

    My choice is a clean amp for a lot of my playing, maybe most of it.
     
  11. Relic61

    Relic61 Well-Known Member

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    I would have to agree with you on that too Dave! Ya know what strikes me as funny (in a puzzling way) is when I compare my 64 Bassman (which had no rectifier tube by 64 but SS circuitry) to the Bandmaster with a rectifier tube, the Bandmaster still sounds tighter with way less flab on the low end (sag) when playing near max volume and the way the Bandmaster sounds in general really outshines the Bassman to my ears. But I'm sure others just love that Bassman breakup & sag. So it appears other things do come into play besides which tube is being used in the rectifier spot. And yet, the Bandmaster doesn't stay completely free of sag either. Go fig. This totally contributes to my personal desire to want one of everything! lol Now that Dual Showman on the other hand doesn't distort at all which is rather amazing when you think about it.

    Anywho, I wanted to tell you that I do understand where you are coming from with wanting your amp to sound strong, clear, crisp and free of distortion. I mean lets face it, guitar players that play in styles beyond Metal, Grunge, Thrash etc etc kinda need to have the ability to play with a clean setting. There is no substitute for it when the song demands it. I get that man. You can't undirty a dirty amp but you can add dirt to a clean one! That was my personal approach for years and in most bands settings I'm playing in I still need that clean tone to a large extent too.

    In my 20's & 30's & right up into my 40's I got by for years using a 100 watt MusicMan 112RD. That heavy little bitch did it all man. Of course other amps came & went but it wasn't until I bought a Fender Hot Rod De Ville 2X12 that the MusicMan got a break. Much like the Music Man, the DeVille (60 watts) had a solid sounding clean channel that could get way past too damn loud before distortion entered the picture but it also had a 2nd channel that could give you a little sum'n sum'n with a bit a hair on it with the stomp of a switch.

    Heck it wasn't until the last 5-6 years or so that I really started getting into various tube amp configurations that colored the drive with their tube selections that I was able to enjoy them for what they did & were able to do so exceedingly well in the right setting. Once I opened that door and started enjoying that simple magic that happens I will freely admit I became not only hooked on playing & collecting various tube amps but I have become so interested in them that I've actually started reading books on tube amps and now find it all to be one of the many faceted joys in life that is rewarding on many levels. Kinda nerdy I guess but..:dunno:


    [​IMG]

    It really has been a lot of fun.

    That pic is some of the older Fender stuff I've held on to.

    The way I see it Dave, as long as we are enjoying ourselves & getting to play, share & enjoy our music with others, whatever means of amplification that allows that to happen & allow us as players to be happy with it's performance & tone is darn good enough. What others think is really irrelevant, unless their complaining it sounds horrible & is making their ears bleed! lol.
     
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  12. voxgibber

    voxgibber Member

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    BUMP

    I'm a JJ guy all the way. My VOX amps use 12AX7 & EL84 - actually so does my Marshall Class 5. I find the JJ's hold up better/are more reliable than pretty much anything other new production brands. I can't really be bothered with NOS as I feel that cash is better invested in speaker upgrades or other gear, like another guitar.
     
  13. gball

    gball Well-Known Member

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    In total agreement on the JJ's. I won't use anything else.

    As for the EL-84 vs. 6V6 question, the two amps I play through the most are one of each and they both have their good and bad points. I love the way you can push '84's into power tube distortion and the big midrange hump they give you. I like the balance of 6V6's and the tighter low end. I live having both, and they are my two favorite tube types,both for sound the the relatively lower power levels they provide over 6L6 or EL-33 amps.
     
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  14. potatofarmer

    potatofarmer Member

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    ^^ This.

    The biggest difference between one tube and the next is how much voltage swing it needs from the preamp (and phase inverter) before it breaks up. El84s need very little voltage drive, while 6L6s require a ton. 6V6 and EL34 oddly enough require about the same, though obviously you get different levels of volume from one to the other.

    There are so many differences from one amp to another, and while power tube type is the only obvious one to the casual observer, the circuits surrounding the power tubes (and the whole amp) are primarily responsible for shaping the tone and determining how much overdrive you get, and at what setting on the volume knob.

    The Fender 6G9 Tremolux was made with EL84 tubes. How does it sound? Like a brownface Fender. I built a Vox-y amp with a quad of 6V6s. How does it sound? Voxy.

    Classic Marshall amps were exported with 6550 power tubes instead of the EL34s they were equipped with in the UK. Those two tubes are radically different - one's a pentode, the other's a beam tetrode; different levels of voltage drive required for full output; different behavior at the screen....

    So were Jimi Hendrix's Marshalls stuffed with EL34s or 6550s? Or possibly KT66s? No one knows for certain. That should tell you something about how "distinctive" the tonal difference is between one type of power tube and the other. Everyone, literally everyone, has heard those recordings a million times and still nobody knows for sure. Heck, for a while he used Sunn amps with KT88s.

    For classic designers, and today's big-volume designers, it's been more a question of how much power do we need to make, and what tubes and transformers can we get cheap?

    Anyway, to answer the question, my favorites so far are 7591s, though I can't get away from 6L6s either. :)
     
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  15. voxgibber

    voxgibber Member

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    Great post.

    I did bite the bullet last night and bought a date matched & tested pair of NOS RCA Long Blacks from 1955 on ebay from a reputable seller. I plan on dropping them into V1 & V2 in my AC30CC2 to replace the stock Chinese tubes. It does have one Tungsol in it already so I'll drop that in the PI. I recently upgraded that baby with some Greenbacks so I'm really looking forward to what it sounds like. Will report back.

    \m/,
     
  16. ScottMarlowe

    ScottMarlowe Well-Known Member

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    I've gotten some REALLY good deals on ANOS (tests as new old stock) gently used 12AX7s on Ebay. I picked up 15 various tubes (12 12AX7, 1 12AT7 and 2 5751s) for $90. I have to say that for the lead channel in my Classic 50s NOTHING has the same tone and grind etc as some of those old American tubes. For the other slots I like JJ/EH/Tungsol or even Chinese tubes sometimes. But for V2 on those amps nothing cooks like American NOS.

    And at that price I paid less after shipping per tube than for any new tubes cost. Two were microphonic in the V1 position, but fine in later stages. All worked well.
     
  17. gtone

    gtone Well-Known Member

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    I have one amp with EL84's (Phaez DaisyCutter), one with EL34's (Marshall JMP), one with 6L6's (BF Bassman) and one with 6V6's (Vintage 47 Supreme). Honestly, I like 'em all and each have their individual strengths and weaknesses. Variety is the spice of life, after all...
     
  18. Relic61

    Relic61 Well-Known Member

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    As to the old argument that the circuit & not the tube is what makes the tone I will only say that an essentially same circuit Marshall with EL 34's has noticeably different characteristics in harmonic content & gain saturation than its same year & model 6550 counterpart.
     
  19. potatofarmer

    potatofarmer Member

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    And you'd expect that; 6550s require more bias voltage and thus are harder to drive to full power (and distortion) and they're also beam tetrodes instead of true pentodes so you'd expect a sharper transition between clean and distortion (though the global NFB loop will dominate and make either tube transition sharply into distortion).

    The other thing is Marshall was shoehorning one tube into a circuit designed around another. The plexi OT has a lower primary impedance than 6550s would like. Tubes are pretty flexible, thankfully, about what load they're working into. The biggest contributor would be the fact that the phase inverter has to be able to make even more signal before it distorts in order to get the full loudness (or any distortion) out of the 6550s. Plus 6550s require smaller grid leak resistors, which means the PI is loaded even more, making it even harder for the PI to produce the final voltage needed...

    But! You could definitely make a whole new 6550-based plexi, with different power and output transformers, reconfigured phase inverter, altered voltages down the line.... and it would sound like an EL34 plexi. Or a whole heck of a lot closer than a regular plexi with 6550s shoved in it.

    There are dozens if not hundreds of interlocking "whack a mole" factors to consider when designing tube amps, and for better or worse classic guitar amp designers ignored a lot of 'em.
     
  20. Relic61

    Relic61 Well-Known Member

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    And on the other hand I have a newer Fender SuperSonic 22 Custom with 6V6 output tubes that can totally nail a JMP era EL34 fitted Marshall & comes just short of nailing down a JCM 800 impersonation when using the drive channel & twisting both the pre & post gain knobs up, albeit at a much lower volume.
     
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