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Tube recommendations

1/28/2006 8:58 PM
Tube recommendations
I have finished building my 5e3x2 and I am in love with it, however I would be interested in trying some different tubes in it.  
The first question is about different rectifiers. I am curious as to what effect different types of rectifier tubes would have ie which would have more or less headroom and what effect they would have overall. Would I be right in saying that a 5U4G would give me more clean headroom and a 5Y3G would give less?  
I would also be interested in what 6v6 everyone likes, I am pretty sure I read somewhere about someone using 6k6 in a 5e3 I would be interested to know what this sounds like because I have only ever really been into 6L6 or 6V6 tubes and have a fair idea about these.  
Finally the Preamp. Again what effect would I get by using different preamp tubes ie 12AT7 or 12AU7
1/29/2006 10:04 AM
Congrats on the build!  
I have built two of those and both have the tone stack mod that chris helped me on that appears to be a main component of bruce's mod he sells. Aparently Bruce had the idea too. I really recommend it. It makes the amp a bit more smooth on the volume taper control by electronically having a tone control for each volume instead of sharing the one. I also look at coupling cap mods and the "paulc" phase inverter mod. The paulc gives it a bit more clean headroom as well, but the amp still sounds like a deluxe.  
I normally would have switched to a 12AY7 in the front end like a real deluxe uses. If I was to keep the stock deluxe preamp the choice would be an RCA or Tungsol 12AY7 - they sound the best! But I found that with the other changes I wanted to keep the 12AX7 - it seemed a good match. I think the chinese ones supplied are bright and high-gain - a bit too much in the first preamp tube in my opinion. I suggest the new mullard 12AX7M Groove Tubes mullard clone. It is harmonically rich and had decent output. It is not cheap though - as much as some NOS tubes. Or a real mullard ECC83 would also sound great. These tubes are not overly bright and have sweet rich midrange tone - I love that. An RCA5751 blackplate would sound awesome too if you can find one and it handles the high-gain OK.  
12AT7s and AU7s would reduce the gain quite a bit. I think if you are truly considering this, then do the tone stack mod instead. It will give you the more controllable distortion levels but also give you the kicking distortion at the higher volume settings that you would expect out of a deluxe. You are certainly welcome and safe to try the 12AT7s and AU7s to see how you like them.  
As for 6V6s - it will probably sound like everyone else but for the new tubes I like the 6V6EH or New Tungsol 6V6s. I also like the JJ if you want it to have a bit more of a 6L6 tone but still be a 6V6. I wound up using the JJs in mine, but the others sounded really good. I did not like the chinese 6V6s - I thought they did not have much definition and were "muddy" sounding. I also don't get the impression they would hold up very well either. I dumped them.  
I never tried the 6K6, but it sounds like an excellent idea if you need less power and lower volume. They are still available and not overly expensive for a NOS set. Hmmm, I think you will be stuck with using NOS, but as I said, you can still get them. As far as the NOS 6V6 tubes, they are getting quite expensive. Most major brands are pretty good sounding, but I am now buying the current production tubes that have came a long way and spending that money on other things to improve the tone. I like the new 6V6 tubes I mentioned.  
The amp uses a GZ34 - so both the rectifiers you mentioned will give it less power and more sag - more compression. Furthermore, I am not sure they will adequately handle the current required for the amp.  
Hope this helps you out.  
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1/29/2006 6:57 PM

What is this tone stack mod that you are talking about I have heard of the Bruces Volume mod, is this the same or something slightly different.  
I am thinking that I might have a look around for some different 12AX7 I also really like that warm midrange tone and I think you are right about the Chinese ones supplied being quite bright.  
I think for now I will keep the Webber Copper Cap in the rectifier spot.  
I might look abit further into trying some 6k6 maybe just for home for lower volume and less power and then get some different 6v6 for when I get to crank it more I think probalby the JJs
1/30/2006 10:20 AM
The tone stack mod I did is included in Bruce's mod. I did this with Chris before Bruce had his mod for sale or I would have bought the mod myself as it would have saved Chris, my friend locally, and me a WHOLE lot of time from all the experimenting we did. From the parts list Bruce discussed earlier, his has some other options as well in addition to the tone stack thing. I suggest Bruce's mods.  
Yeah the chinese 12AX7s are good tubes, but bright and very high output. You can still get high output but less bright from the JJ ECC83s. Or you can get a more harmonically rich and maybe a bit less output from the GT 12AX7M or real mullard ECC83. For a bit less output try the RCA 5751 or 12AY7 if you can find a good one. If those are too much then try the AT7s or AU7s.  
I like the new JJ, Tungsol, and EH 6V6s as mentioned earlier. They all sound good (and a bit different than each other). That is what is so cool about a tube amp! Change the tubes, change the sound! I love that. You can make your car handle better with new sport tires? Why not customize the sound of your amp with different tubes? Costs a lot less than another amp!  
I like to connect the yellow wires for the 5v to the rectifier socket to allow the option to change to a tube rectifier later. It still will work fine with the copper cap because it does not use the 5V heaters or have anything connected to those pins. That way you can use whatever you feel like - copper cap or traditional tube rectifier. If your copper cap fails, you can find a tube and put in there or the other way around. I have had copper caps fail before, but weber was very prompt in replacing them.
1/30/2006 11:54 AM

I went through 3 12AX7M tubes from a reputable dealer. They all turned microphonic within a month. I really liked the sound but the quality wasn't there in that batch. V1 in my 5E3 clone is a Ruby STR 7025. After 3 months it's working great and sounds good. If you have the $$, then get a quality NOS for V1. I forgot what I have for V2. I think an old RCA 5751 from a pull. Power tubes I'm sampling NOS 6k6, 6f6 and EH 6v6. I've read good and bad on the EH 6v6. I have them in two amps and they sound good. Not as good as RCA black plates, but I think they are a good buy. The rectifier is a JJ GZ34.  
Just my 2 cents.  
1/30/2006 7:28 PM

The copper cap included is a WR4 wouldn't this normally use a 5R4 type rectifier?
1/30/2006 9:57 PM
Thorny You are right
Oh yeah, I was thinking WR4 was a 5AR4 replacement but it is a a 5R4 replacement. The WZ34 is the GZ34/5AR4 replacement.  
My mistake, so it would have less sag/higher voltage with a GZ34 or WZ34 copper cap, as well as a 5U4/WU4 copper cap.  
Sorry for the error on my part - got the part copper cap part numbers mixed up.  
Also, I have had about a dozen of the GT 12AX7M tubes and they worked great in fender amps and so far none have gone microphonic. But they did not like the heavier gain amps and would go microphonic in those - such as I tried one in a budda superdrive and it did not work well. But mine worked great in fenders. Might have been a bad batch like he said.  
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