NOS stands for New Old Stock: tubes that were made a long time ago but never used. There is no official rule for how old a tube has to be to become NOS, but most of the time it is applied on tubes that were built either in the US or Europe until the mid 80’s (when the production stopped).You also have Old Stock tubes, which are the same as NOS but but these are used.
The quality of the tubes is not affected when they just lay around doing nothing. As long as the pins are not suffering from oxidation, which rarely is the case. Many people prefer NOS over current production tubes, simple because back then they used higher quality materials and in most cases higher standards. Many of today’s production tubes are built on machines that were used by the big companies (like Philips and Telefunken) many years before.
Right now there are only a few factories left that produce tubes and they are all based in Eastern Europe (JJ in Slovakia), Russia (Svetlana in St Petersburg and Sovtek) or in China (Sino). And only JJ and Svetlana are capable of producing tubes that come “close” in tone and quality when compared to NOS tubes.
Some people like the newer Sovteks and their Electro Harmonix tubes. These are certainly better then their production in the 90’s but imo not as good sounding as JJ’s or Svetlana and from NOS tubes.
But there is of course a large collection of New Old Stock tubes available. Some are really expensive and rare, others are widely available and affordable. In many cases New Old Stock tubes sound better than most current production tubes simply because they used better materials and higher standards back then.
New Old Stock preamp tubes
But there is of course a large collection of NOS tubes available. Some are really expensive and rare, others are widely available and affordable. In many cases NOS tubes sound better than most current production tubes simply because they used better materials and higher standards back then.
If you are looking for the real Fender type twang, highly recommend using GE 5751’s, they have a bright top end and late break up. Using these in Fenders or in the clean stages of Boogies will give you a fresh and clear open sound with lots of dynamics. In high gain stages they give you more control over the break up which can be great to get that pushing/breaking up sound. The sound is pretty raw and bold, don’t expect silky smooth endless sustain, so these are not recommended for solo’s but for rhythm guitars they are great. But in high gain situations they tend to produce more noise then some others. Still these are great as a main input tube and for all other applications to get a clean and clear sound with plenty of detail and lots of headroom.
For a warmer sound then suggest you check out tubes from Philips . Mullard ECC83They have a great warm sound, deep lows, low noise, good gain. The USA made JAN spec tubes tend to have more top end then the European (Miniwatts). Perfect the European ones made in Holland or imported from Mullard. They have a very warm sound that’s great for cleans and smooth leads.
If you want a true rock/blues tube then RFT ‘s are definitely something you should check out. These East German made tubes were also sold as Telefunken, Tronal and other companies and are known to produce a sound that is very close to Mullards. They are extremely low noise, plenty of gain, deep lows and a nice warm top end. Their breakup is great and they are very reliable and low in microphonics.
But when it comes to bang-for-a-buck, nothing beats original 70’s Tesla tubes. They were made by and for Telefunken on their machinery and they are identical to Telefunkens. Nice of E83CC (12ax7) tubes from Tesla, they are simply amazing. The detail is by far the best , frequency spectrum is wide and balanced, quality is high and tubes are all close when tested. Original Telefunkens will go for a lot of money, but these Tesla can be found at affordable prices. They bring the best out of any amp. It in whole setup, in a Bogner Triple Giant and a Peavey 5150 II for example and have sold many to very happy customers.
These are the tubes recommended if you want to go NOS and don’t want to spend too much cash. Of course there are many other fine NOS tubes out there that sound amazing like Telefunken, Mullard, Brimar, Siemens and Sylvania, but been able to test them all, or they are soo expensive that really recommend using them unless you have Grade A gear and the money to spend.