Is there an inexspensive and reliable way to test tubes...

Talk about tubes and their effect on your tone

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mark2boogie
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Re: Is there an inexspensive and reliable way to test tubes...

Post by mark2boogie » Mon Jun 13, 2011 1:00 pm

Hi Vogelsong,

Yes - an HICKOK tube tester will match tubes quite correctly : I would say "enough" for tube amps purposes, whereas if it's not perfect. The models 600, 600A, 6000, 800, 800A are simple to operate, convenient and reliable.

My 600 is a nice instrument and works quickly, but will never be able to be objective like my METRIX 310CTR, because it uses his own proprietary data (like all HICKOKs), whereas the METRIX relies on official datasheets, and can check different working points.

Nonetheless, the tests done by my HICKOK 600 are consistent, and while not as accurate as the METRIX, they are 99% in accordance. I mean : if the tube is good at the METRIX, then the tube is good at the HICKOK, every time. But if the tube is good at the HICKOK, the METRIX may detect a lack of performance versus the official datasheet, which doesn't mean that it is a faulty tube - at least for the major part of applications.

Note that an HICKOK tube tester must be calibrated to operate correctly. You can do it by yourself if you are tech-minded, the procedures can be found on the web. There's also guys who can do it for you (search on the web too).

Again, find a very good if not excellent condition instrument... I have paid 315USD my mint and complete HICKOK 600 last year (plus 100USD shipping to France, plus 200USD for the French customs) but I know what I have bought.

A+!
Only one venerable Boogie MKIIA S/N° 4915 from March 1980 (dixit Daniel "igfraso" - thanks !), in Tolex Cab with a 1978 ALTEC 417-8H Series II speaker, and personal circuit improvements.

guilhemamplification.jimdo.com

Vogelsong
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Re: Is there an inexspensive and reliable way to test tubes...

Post by Vogelsong » Mon Jun 13, 2011 1:03 pm

mark2boogie wrote:Hi Vogelsong,

Yes - an HICKOK tube tester will match tubes quite correctly : I would say "enough" for tube amps purposes, whereas if it's not perfect. The models 600, 600A, 6000, 800, 800A are simple to operate, convenient and reliable.

My 600 is a nice instrument and works quickly, but will never be able to be objective like my METRIX 310CTR, because it uses his own proprietary data (like all HICKOKs), whereas the METRIX relies on official datasheets, and can check different working points.

Nonetheless, the tests done by my HICKOK 600 are consistent, and while not as accurate as the METRIX, they are 99% in accordance. I mean : if the tube is good at the METRIX, then the tube is good at the HICKOK, every time. But if the tube is good at the HICKOK, the METRIX may detect a lack of performance versus the official datasheet, which doesn't mean that it is a faulty tube - at least for the major part of applications.

Note that an HICKOK tube tester must be calibrated to operate correctly. You can do it by yourself if you are tech-minded, the procedures can be found on the web. There's also guys who can do it for you (search on the web too).

Again, find a very good if not excellent condition instrument... I have paid 315USD my mint and complete HICKOK 600 last year (plus 100USD shipping to France, plus 200USD for the French customs) but I know what I have bought.

A+!
Hey thanks for all the info, I was wondering if calibration could be done myself. I'm sure I can handle it as long as I have good info. I have my eye on a few hickoks as we speak. I'll let ya know what I come up with.
Vogelsong

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mark2boogie
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Re: Is there an inexspensive and reliable way to test tubes...

Post by mark2boogie » Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:00 pm

So good search and good luck, Vogelsong !

A+!
Only one venerable Boogie MKIIA S/N° 4915 from March 1980 (dixit Daniel "igfraso" - thanks !), in Tolex Cab with a 1978 ALTEC 417-8H Series II speaker, and personal circuit improvements.

guilhemamplification.jimdo.com

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Re: Is there an inexspensive and reliable way to test tubes...

Post by Vogelsong » Mon Jun 13, 2011 4:15 pm

mark2boogie wrote:So good search and good luck, Vogelsong !

A+!
Real quick what is the differance between a Hickok 600-800 and a 6000?

I see the 6000's seem to have an extra square piece or something on the board that the others don't.
Vogelsong

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mark2boogie
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Re: Is there an inexspensive and reliable way to test tubes...

Post by mark2boogie » Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:44 am

Real quick what is the differance between a Hickok 600-800 and a 6000?

I see the 6000's seem to have an extra square piece or something on the board that the others don't.
Well, I have not the pics on hand so I'll go by memory :

On the 6000 series, all the tube sockets are grouped on a central "island", which is removable from the panel of the instrument (because it is installed on a socket too). On the 600 / 800 series, the sockets are directly on the panel.

The 6000 has the old tubes sockets complement island (UX = 300B, 45, 47, 42, etc... used in vintage / hi-end audio) whereas the 6000A has the TV tubes sockets complement island (Compactron = 6C10, etc... used in TV's and some Ampeg amps). But these are not interchangeable, as far as I remember, and the data roll chart is not the same, of course.

The operating mode and tests of the 600, 800, 6000 series are nearly the same, with some slight differences in features. For example, the way to test shorts : 600 = neon test, 800-6000 = meter test in megohms; 800-6000 = transistor test available (well...), not on the 600; better quality "bakelite" meter and seperate on/off switch on the 600, not on later models...

I do not remember all the differences, but these are usually minor for the all-around testing duty, and anyway less important than the condition and calibration of the instrument itself.

If I had to buy another HICKOK, it would be a 800A, only because it has both the Compactron facility along with the UX facility, that other models 600, 800, 6000 series don't have. But in terms of quality and aesthetics, I prefer the 600, a "piece of Art" tube tester. Again, see mine, which is from August 19, 1950 :

Image

Nonetheless, any of the 600, 800, 6000 series will do the job you expect, as long as they are complete, in good condition and calibrated, of course.
Only one venerable Boogie MKIIA S/N° 4915 from March 1980 (dixit Daniel "igfraso" - thanks !), in Tolex Cab with a 1978 ALTEC 417-8H Series II speaker, and personal circuit improvements.

guilhemamplification.jimdo.com

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Re: Is there an inexspensive and reliable way to test tubes...

Post by Vogelsong » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:28 am

Thanks again.
Vogelsong

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yeti
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Re: Is there an inexspensive and reliable way to test tubes...

Post by yeti » Fri Dec 16, 2011 4:52 pm

mark2boogie

what about a bk 700 mutual condunctance tester?

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SonicProvocateur
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Re: Is there an inexspensive and reliable way to test tubes...

Post by SonicProvocateur » Sat Dec 17, 2011 12:24 pm

I'm glad I re-read this thread. #1) I have a monstrous collection of TV/Radio tubes, some tested and some untested and I need a good tester but was unsure which one to go with, and this helps me chose. #2) I had no idea that some older Ampeg's used compactron tubes!! That's wild! I have several of those (some really good ones!) I thought they were designed almost specifically for color TV's.

Edit: just read on the interwebs that the Reverbrocket (probably my favorite Ampeg amp ever) uses a compactron. Wicked. Did not know this.
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mark2boogie
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Re: Is there an inexspensive and reliable way to test tubes...

Post by mark2boogie » Sat Jan 14, 2012 5:01 pm

Sorry to answer a bit late, guys...
yeti wrote:mark2boogie

what about a bk 700 mutual condunctance tester?
The BK 700 tests mutual conductance (Gm) on some tubes, but often with less better conditions than the Hickoks, depending on the tube type tested. For other tubes, it's only an emission test, not really usable for us, and unusable for any matching operation. These are the explanation I have in my litterature, but I must confess that I never had a BK700 in hands...
SonicProvocateur wrote:I'm glad I re-read this thread. #1) I have a monstrous collection of TV/Radio tubes, some tested and some untested and I need a good tester but was unsure which one to go with, and this helps me chose. #2) I had no idea that some older Ampeg's used compactron tubes!! That's wild! I have several of those (some really good ones!) I thought they were designed almost specifically for color TV's.

Edit: just read on the interwebs that the Reverbrocket (probably my favorite Ampeg amp ever) uses a compactron. Wicked. Did not know this.
Yes : many Ampegs used the 6C10 and similar Compactron triple triode, notably : the V4B, V4N, VT22, some Jets... On the Fender Super-Champ, on the Super Twin Reverb, you could find Compactrons too...

A+!
Only one venerable Boogie MKIIA S/N° 4915 from March 1980 (dixit Daniel "igfraso" - thanks !), in Tolex Cab with a 1978 ALTEC 417-8H Series II speaker, and personal circuit improvements.

guilhemamplification.jimdo.com

mark2boogie
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Re: Is there an inexspensive and reliable way to test tubes.

Post by mark2boogie » Wed Dec 26, 2012 6:29 am

Hi guys... The Tube Testing Craze in on !

I recently bought 2 tube testers :

A Hickok 539B with CA-4 compactron/novar/submin,etc. external adapter and complete original documentation :

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A Hickok 752A with complete original documentation :

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Needless to say : I love that kind of instruments... Of sometimes questionable usefullness !

A+!
Only one venerable Boogie MKIIA S/N° 4915 from March 1980 (dixit Daniel "igfraso" - thanks !), in Tolex Cab with a 1978 ALTEC 417-8H Series II speaker, and personal circuit improvements.

guilhemamplification.jimdo.com

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Re: Is there an inexspensive and reliable way to test tubes.

Post by stokes » Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:52 pm

For your needs an emissions type tester with shorts test is all you need.Matching for power tubes needs to be done by current draw,not by gm.I have a very good Triplett 3444 and a Weston 981-3,both are gm testers and the most reliable test feature is the shorts and gas tests.Although the Triplett will give me current measurements,I prefer to match power tubes in an amp that gives full working voltage.Tube testers dont give full working voltages.I have been repairing and building tube amps for over 30 yrs and the only reason I have the testers I do is for my personal collection of NOS and old stock tubes I have.But the only true,final reliable test is in the circuit the tube is intended for.You can get a good reliable emissions tester for under $100 on ebay,its really all you'll ever need.I like my testers for more of an informational type thing,but as i said earlier,the only true,reliable test is in the circuit the tube will be used in.

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yeti
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Re: Is there an inexspensive and reliable way to test tubes.

Post by yeti » Sun Jan 20, 2013 5:42 pm

i got my td55 on ebay for 25$. it's all i need. lets me know if the tubes are in working condition, and how much life is left on them/shorts/gas/leaks.

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Jak0lantern01
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Re: Is there an inexspensive and reliable way to test tubes.

Post by Jak0lantern01 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:25 am

Orange is coming out with a simple tube tester, just unveiled at NAMM. Looks pretty good from the demo.

mark2boogie
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Re: Is there an inexspensive and reliable way to test tubes.

Post by mark2boogie » Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:28 pm

stokes wrote:For your needs an emissions type tester with shorts test is all you need.Matching for power tubes needs to be done by current draw,not by gm.I have a very good Triplett 3444 and a Weston 981-3,both are gm testers and the most reliable test feature is the shorts and gas tests.Although the Triplett will give me current measurements,I prefer to match power tubes in an amp that gives full working voltage.Tube testers dont give full working voltages.I have been repairing and building tube amps for over 30 yrs and the only reason I have the testers I do is for my personal collection of NOS and old stock tubes I have.But the only true,final reliable test is in the circuit the tube is intended for.You can get a good reliable emissions tester for under $100 on ebay,its really all you'll ever need.I like my testers for more of an informational type thing,but as i said earlier,the only true,reliable test is in the circuit the tube will be used in.
As an emission tester is reliable to tell you if a really dead tube is really dead, you even don't need a tube tester... But some of them are so nice... Here is my NRI 70 emission tester, cool and compact, in his fingerjoint maple cab :

Image

I had in the past a mint Triplett 3423, but it was an "unreliable compass", not a tube tester, unfortunately...

Image

The best I have is the Metrix 310CTR (French made, non mais alors) which tests Gm by the static grid shift method, but measures plate current Ip under the datasheet conditions (up to 300V and 100mA) :

Image
Jak0lantern01 wrote:Orange is coming out with a simple tube tester, just unveiled at NAMM. Looks pretty good from the demo.
I think that it is a costy toy, but I may wrong as I never had one in hands yet. As said Stokes above : buy a vintage emission tester from the 60's, in excellent shape, fully functional, with its tube charts and data, like the ones I displayed in the posts before... There's zillions made, so these are usually very affordable.

A+!
Only one venerable Boogie MKIIA S/N° 4915 from March 1980 (dixit Daniel "igfraso" - thanks !), in Tolex Cab with a 1978 ALTEC 417-8H Series II speaker, and personal circuit improvements.

guilhemamplification.jimdo.com

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