The Boogie Board

Does tone really come in a bottle?
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Author:  Henz [ Sun Dec 24, 2017 10:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Does tone really come in a bottle?

Greetings,.. For give me if this has been discussed before. With all of the different brand of preamp tubes out there,do they really make a dramatic difference in ones tone? Or , do they just make the amp work as designed? With all of the reviews out there regarding preamp tubes, ppl say " wow! made a huge difference in V1", or "this one works great as a phase inverter V5" or "this one is great for this or that". I have a MKIIC+ and have been tube swapping for yrs. .Its hard deciding on wht tube to buy just to experiment with and costly, perhaps only to be dissappointed. Wudn't it be nice if tube stores wud send you a platter of various tubes that you cud try before you buy? I still need to know that if a socket calls for a 12ax7, will any 12ax7 work? I totally understand bout noise and microphonics in v1. And, some ARE better than others , but what about tone and the sound that u are striving for? Granted, I put a 12au7 instead of a 12ax7 in my V1 and wow! how sh!t it sounded!. The socket calls for a 12ax7, is that why? Wow, maybe I answered my own question..... What tube wud u suggest for my V1 ? I tried GT, Sovtec. Currently using Mesa's SPax7 w/ the black wrap. I just feel as tho that there is sumthin out there that will unleash my amp. RFT's, Tung-Sol's..... on and on.... Hope to hear from someone who has been down this road. Blessings. James

Author:  jediguitarist [ Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Does tone really come in a bottle?

It ends up being subjective. From various research, the Mark series (at least MkIV but I assume MkII->) were voiced around chinese tubes. Is this good? Hard to say.

Most people will say get the Mesa branded tubes. Personally, I grab whatever is in my stash. They range from Grooves, EHX, Sovtek, Sino and whatever various re-branding is available. Currently, I have Tung-Sol in V1. I like the way it sounds in my widebody MKIV, but not so much in my compact MKIV.

JJ's are on sale at GC. Cool, I'll grab a few. Found some at a garage sale or flea market. I'll take them.

Could you tell the difference if someone were to swap tubes and not tell you what they were? I'm sure some people could but confirmation bias would take over at some point. I thought EHX sound harsh. But compared to what? I could always turn down the treble, or switch guitars, change pots, change strings or a great number of things to change my perception of what I like or dislike.

When playing live, I would turn a few knobs. I could move the mic, change the eq on the board, bring the amp closer, or lift it off the floor, face it toward my head...etc. Recording is even worse. How many mics will I try before I like what's coming through the monitors?

My main concern is the noise and microphonics in V1. If the other sockets are specified for 12ax7, I'll use only those. I've replaced all the preamp tubes in my Quad. I like the way it sounds. I've put all the originals back in and I still like the way it sounds. Lol.

I'm a working guitarist and my thing is to be able to play the gig. If I notice extra feed back, I'll swap V1 during break. All in all, I think we're the only ones that care. The audience can't tell what tubes you're using. Only if the band sounds good to them.

Author:  screamingdaisy [ Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Does tone really come in a bottle?

When I first started out with Mesa they used EHX for preamp tubes, which are a lot brighter and less compressed than the JJs they currently use.

In a Rectifier EHX gives the amp's distortion a harsher/colder and more aggressive/industrial sound. The example that just popped into my head is Du Hast.

If you like JJs it's because they smooth your amp out, and if you don't like JJs it's because it sounds like someone put a blanket over your cab.

In the older amps I find all JJs are too much and inserting a Tung Sol into the V1 makes a noticeable difference. It brightens things up a lot. Going all Tung Sol/EHX gets a little too industrial for what I go for these days, so leaving JJs in the positions used for the lead channels smooths them out and adds some compression without getting the full blanket over the cab effect.

Modern Mesas (those designed post 2008) seem to be voiced around the JJ and I haven't found a lot of benefit from inserting a Tung Sol in the V1. The brightening effect is there, but I don't find it as beneficial as it was with the older amps that were voiced around Sovtek/EHX.

Author:  bandit2013 [ Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Does tone really come in a bottle?

+1 on the 2008 and beyond.

Tubes of different design (short plate, medium plate and long plate), metals and grids will have an effect on tonal qualities, some tubes may have higher gain at higher frequencies vs others. Some may be warmer in tone and lower gain at higher frequency. Depending on the circuit the tube is placed may sound great or terrible. With some amps it may be hit or miss and depending on the topography and gain of each tube position (cold cathode, high plate resistance, cathode follower, cascode, or parallel).

Subjective, absolutley. I have found same tubes from one souce to also have tonal differences and this includes Mesa as well. Tube rolling can be a tedious task and could take a few minutes to days depending on how much ear fatigue you get during the process. Sure new tubes will always sound brighter, crisp and clear in detail compared to used tubes past their prime. Same would apply to power tubes as well. In some cases you may notice a difference and in other cases no change at all. some amps respond differnetly to preamp tube changes and some do not. Many flavors of 12AX7 tubes out ther and they are not identical in tone or gain characteristics but in some cased there may not be any notable change as this is dependent on the circuit the tube is installed into and its applied plate voltages, not to mention the applied signal level on the grid. Amps that share common tubes for different channels may also have a great affect on one channel but a bad effect on a different channel. The change may be sublte or it could be dramatic. It can be hard to have a definitive answer to the question.

Author:  Henz [ Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Does tone really come in a bottle?

Thanks for the replies. All so interesting. Good one, I prob cud not tell a diff if someone switched a tube in V1. Boy, its so psychological. I just dont know what to think. I have been tube rollin for yrs. Both pre and pwr. I am almost to the point to where ,if it sounds good, fk it. I put EL 34's in my head and in the outer sockets in my 2 90. it sounds great for a heavy, hot sound. Just wondering, the bias circuit is neg. 220k is norm (i think ) for most boogies on pin 5. If i want the tube to run hotter or colder, what value wud u use? more resistance ( 300K for ex), wud that make tube run hotter or colder? Sorry. the negative value always fd w/ me. If it ain't broke, dont fix it!!! Blessings! James.

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