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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:58 am 
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Bottle Rocket

Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:32 am
Posts: 5
Hi Everyone,

First off let me say this board is great. I'm really hoping some of you can help shed some light on re-tubing my Ace 50 Watt Head. i am a complete Novice when it comes to Tubes and Tubing an amp. I have Never done any of this before.

Although I love the Ace and have been gig'in with it for almost a year now there are a couple things that I find a bit frustrating.

I find the Clean Channels and tones wonderful. I am particularly fond of the Fat Clean although when playing live I usually use Channel one in Crunch.

Channel 2 however is where I think a Re-tube (and from what I've read) will help.
I prefer the Tight Gain on Channel 2 but I find 1st off its way too bright. Especially with single coil strat guitars. I usually have the treble and presence set way way low to try and compensate for this. Also I find that the Bass/low end on this channel is very weak.
Compared to channel 1 it almost seems non existent. I crank the bass knob all the way up too.

So after reading some posts here I contact a local tube supplier and asked their opinion on re-tubing the Ace. To tame the brightness and add some bass.

Here was there 1st suggestion:

"The stock Boogie EL34's are almost certainly relabeled Electro
Harmonix EL34EH tubes. These tubes are, in my opinion, way too bright. A very
good upgrade would be the Winged "C"/SED EL34 tubes. They are warmer, have a wonderful vintage tone, and are very reliable. Here's the link:
http://thetubestore.com/el341.html

In the preamp section, I suggest the Tungsol 12AX7 tubes,
http://thetubestore.com/tungsol12ax7.html

It is unlikely that you need to replace the 5U4 tube you have now, but
if you do wish to, I suggest any US made NOS 5U4GB tube. We have some
available for $24.95 each. I do not expect this tube change to affect
the tone a lot."

Next I suggested that I was looking for more Bass in the Drive Channel 2 side of things
and here was there response:

"Regarding low end enhancing and such, yes, tubes affect this. However I can't say a specific tube will do it. The RFT ECC83 is known to be a darker sounding tube so perhaps one of these in the V2 would help? Something you can experiment with.
http://thetubestore.com/rsdecc83.html"

I was curious what you guys think, especially those of you who have re-tubed your Ace before.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to go with the Winged "C"/SED EL34 tubes
but for the pre amp section I'm really not sure. I'm not to concerned about the cost of the tubes. I'm willing to pay for good tone. But I know nothing about V1, V2, V3, V4, V5 and what each ones does. (Like I said I am a complete Novice at this)

PS. They have been extremely helpful at the Tube Store, I have no beefs with them or anything like that, I'm just looking for more advice from other Ace owners, and maybe someone to shed some light on the whole V1, V2 etc

I know this is a lot and I appreciate any help or advice you can give.

Thanks!


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:47 pm 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2006 11:21 pm
Posts: 2833
Location: North Alabama C+ Mafia-Kingpin
The winged =C= is a good power tube choice. The Tung-Sol should not be used in V3 or V4.
Read this link. http://www.kcanostubes.com/products/377 ... AX7-15.htm

The RFT will darken it a little, but don't expect a miracle cure for the excessive bright nature of the Ace.

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"One of these days, I'm gonna change my evil ways....... one of these days.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 1:54 pm 
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Mark IV
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Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2008 11:26 am
Posts: 870
Location: So Cal
Quote:
The Tung-Sol should not be used in V3 or V4.


True...Mesa specifies their Chinese made tubes for v3 and v4. The Russian ones may 1) arc to the filament and/or 2) may not work at all due to voltage difference from cathode to grid being out of tubes op range capability....sometimes they will work for a while, but not worth the risk of problems.

I recently tried the new(er) Groove Tube el34M. They added tons more bass over the stock Mesa 34's. I really like the tone.

I have some =C='s on the way, but can not comment 'til they arrive. All I have heard about them has been good so far.

I tried a JJ 12ax7 (ecc83) in v2 and this curbed the brightness quite a bit. You may consider that.
I have tried the TungSol in v1....Lots of gain, but still bright, I did like the sound however. Not as harsh as stock Mesa's.

Now I use NOS and used Telefunken and Amperex tubes from the 1960's in v1 and v2 and love that combination. They are pricey, though, if you can find them.

Most of the tubes I've tried have been an improvement over the stock tubes so there is hope!

Good luck :D

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Stiletto Ace head
Triaxis/50-50
4x12 and 1x12 cabs
Studio Cal 22+
Various Hamer, G&L, Jackson

"Old rockers never die; we just start to smell that way...or is it the amp?"

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 2:02 pm 
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Mark IV
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Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2008 11:26 am
Posts: 870
Location: So Cal
PS....please be aware, if you didn't know this, that other than Mesa power tubes "may" void your warranty. Although generally only if Mesa traces the problem(s) to the non Mesa power tubes (preamp tubes aren't the issue). The risk of this is your own.

They do OK the use of Groove Tubes rated 4, 5 or 6. My GT el34M's are rated 5 and work great.
You might want to stick with these unless you are certain what rating of other brands will work in the Ace. Only way to be sure is to have a tech check the idle current (controlled by bias).
Mesa told me the idle current spec is 38-40 ma. but not all suppliers use the same method of measurement. Mesa or Groove Tubes are a relatively "safe" choice.

Again, Good luck :D

_________________
Stiletto Ace head
Triaxis/50-50
4x12 and 1x12 cabs
Studio Cal 22+
Various Hamer, G&L, Jackson

"Old rockers never die; we just start to smell that way...or is it the amp?"

Image


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 3:10 pm 
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Bottle Rocket

Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:32 am
Posts: 5
Thank you for your replies,

Now that I've been researching this a bit more I have learned that the pre amp section of the me Ace is like this ( this is straight from the owners manual)

V1A = 2nd gain stage
V1B = Input Stage (all modes except fluid drive & fat clean)
V2A = Input Stage (fluid drive & fat clean)
V2B = 3rd Gain Stage
V3A = 4th Gain Stage / 2nd Gain Stage Clean Modes
V3B = 5th Gain Stage
V4A = FX Return
V4B = FX Send
V5A & V5B = Phase Splitter / Driver

So if I want to try and tame the brightness and add Bass to the 2nd Channel (distortion) tones of the amp I should be looking at replacing V1, V2 & V3?

Should I just leave V4 & V5 the way they are? Because I don't use the Effects Loop & well I don't even know what V5 does but I gather its not about tone and about phasing.

Am I sort of on the right track with my thinking?
Again I apologize if my questions seem silly but I am a complete Novice to this, its much more confusing than I originally anticipated.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 3:21 pm 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 1:01 am
Posts: 2828
Location: SoCal
"You are correct, sir!"
The signal from the guitar generally goes first to V1, then V2, V3, etc.
The tubes at the front of this chain (V1, V2) tend to have the most affect on tone. Often the last pre-amp tube is a "Phase Inverter", which connects the pre-amp to the power amp, but doesn't really add or subtract from your tone per se.
So the place to start is V1. It's also important to change pre-amp tubes one at a time, then do the audio test. If you just pull and replace them all, you'll never know which one, if any, does the trick. This is especially true if you are looking for a defective tube.
Power tubes work in matched pairs, and should be replaced as such.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 3:30 pm 
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Mark III

Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 9:15 am
Posts: 425
Location: North Texas
I'm currently running the TungSol 12AX7's in both V1 and V2 and it really helped the brightness for me. I'm also using the TungSol El34B's for power tubes; they helped smooth the treble bite some as well. I really felt like the 2 preamp tubes helped the most. My ES-355 is a fairly bright guitar so I had to keep tweaking until it was "good" for me. I play mostly on the Ch1 crunch mode and the Ch2 tite gain settings. Practically NO presence and treble on about 9 or 10 o'clock. Hope this helps.

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'95 LP Standard, '11 Gibson SG Jr Reissue, '99 Guild JF-55N
'08 Stiletto Ace, 4 X 12 Recto Cab


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 3:40 pm 
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Bottle Rocket

Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:32 am
Posts: 5
MrMarkIII wrote:
"You are correct, sir!"
The signal from the guitar generally goes first to V1, then V2, V3, etc.
The tubes at the front of this chain (V1, V2) tend to have the most affect on tone. Often the last pre-amp tube is a "Phase Inverter", which connects the pre-amp to the power amp, but doesn't really add or subtract from your tone per se.
So the place to start is V1. It's also important to change pre-amp tubes one at a time, then do the audio test. If you just pull and replace them all, you'll never know which one, if any, does the trick. This is especially true if you are looking for a defective tube.
Power tubes work in matched pairs, and should be replaced as such.


Awesome, Thank you So Much, at least now I feel like I'm getting my head around this a bit.
Adding one at a time, great advice, as silly as it sounds I wouldn't have done that, I prob would have swapped them all at once... Thanks for explaining the "Flow" also, that helps big time!!!

rocksalt7 wrote:
I'm currently running the TungSol 12AX7's in both V1 and V2 and it really helped the brightness for me. I'm also using the TungSol El34B's for power tubes; they helped smooth the treble bite some as well. I really felt like the 2 preamp tubes helped the most. My ES-355 is a fairly bright guitar so I had to keep tweaking until it was "good" for me. I play mostly on the Ch1 crunch mode and the Ch2 tite gain settings. Practically NO presence and treble on about 9 or 10 o'clock. Hope this helps.


Thank you for your suggestions & exp. You use the same modes as I do when I gig!
Great to know what worked for you, this helps very much!!!


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 3:55 pm 
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Mark IV
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Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2008 11:26 am
Posts: 870
Location: So Cal
Close, but......

remember.....v3 and v4 are sensitive positions (cathode follower) that are better off with CHINESE tubes. I have used the GT 12ax7C (Chinese) there and that's OK too. The others MAY or MAY NOT work at first, and may cause grief later on when you've forgotten what you put in there.

Something to keep in mind....
:D

_________________
Stiletto Ace head
Triaxis/50-50
4x12 and 1x12 cabs
Studio Cal 22+
Various Hamer, G&L, Jackson

"Old rockers never die; we just start to smell that way...or is it the amp?"

Image


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 4:07 pm 
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Bottle Rocket

Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:32 am
Posts: 5
Old BF Shred wrote:
Close, but......

remember.....v3 and v4 are sensitive positions (cathode follower) that are better off with CHINESE tubes. I have used the GT 12ax7C (Chinese) there and that's OK too. The others MAY or MAY NOT work at first, and may cause grief later on when you've forgotten what you put in there.

Something to keep in mind....
:D


Okay I think I'll start with V1 & V2 only, play around with a couple different makes prob a TungSol 12AX7 & a RFT ECC83 / 12AX7 on the pre amp side & try the Winged "C"/SED EL34 tubes, play around a bit and see what happens...

I'll just leave the rest with the stock Mesa Tubes...

unless another strat player has had good results with any other 12AX7 tubes? Taming the Brightness and maybe filling out the bottom end on the distortion side?


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 5:07 pm 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 1:01 am
Posts: 2828
Location: SoCal
Any tube changes are going to be subtle. Certainly not as dramatic as changing speakers or pickups. IMHO. :)


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:58 pm 
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Mark III

Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 9:15 am
Posts: 425
Location: North Texas
A tip of the hat to Old BF on this...yes , you are very correct about the Chinese tubes in the V3,4 and 5 slots. I left the original Mesa tubes in those positions on my Ace. Hope that didn't confuse anyone.

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'95 LP Standard, '11 Gibson SG Jr Reissue, '99 Guild JF-55N
'08 Stiletto Ace, 4 X 12 Recto Cab


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 10:23 pm 
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Donating Member
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Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 10:36 pm
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Location: DC Metro Area
If you're looking for something that will simultaneously tame the brightness and give you a kick in the low end, the JJ EL34L is what I used. Most guys seem to either love them or hate them, but I ran straight JJ's in my ACE before and it worked wonderfully. I ran them all around in the amp, with high gains JJ ECC83's in the first few positions and EL34L's in the power section.

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Boogie user of 20+ years, previous owner of 150+ Rectos, author of the previous "2 Channel Recto User Guide" and current "3 Channel Recto User Guide" (if I ever stop being lazy and finish it)...


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 11:42 am 
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Mark IV

Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 3:22 pm
Posts: 528
someone above mentioned it's a subtle change when you swap tubes, and I agree. I'd still do it, but don't expect an entirely new sound. I used Doug's Tubes as a one stop answer shop and they sent me their set of preamp tubes they feel is best for Stiletto. I'm a strat/Ace player and on top of changing tubes, an EQ in loop will really help shape the Tite Gain mode giving it bottom/girth. And since you're a Fat Clean fan, I also like Fat Clean with an Xotic pedal crunching it. Only problem is your crunch sound is not almost too dark and too fat (I'm not kidding). My singer the other day asked me if I had a brighter channel on the Ace for a song we were doing. You can actually take Ace to the other end of the spectrum with Fat Clean and an overdrive.

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Dual Rec/Ace/ElectraDyne/DSL50/VintageModern/Vox Night Train, Roadster Cabs, Voodoo PP2+, Boss TU-2, Emma DiscumBOBulator, Tone Press, Mojohand Phaser, CAL 4.23, Hardwire CM-2, Timefactor, EHX Voice Box


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:19 pm 
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Mark III

Joined: Tue Jun 03, 2008 6:43 am
Posts: 179
jab wrote:
I'd still do it, but don't expect an entirely new sound. I used Doug's Tubes as a one stop answer shop and they sent me their set of preamp tubes they feel is best for Stiletto.


Let me guess--it's the same set of preamp tubes he sends everyone...


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