Advice On Tubes

Preamp tubes can be an important part to get the best out of an amp.  People complain about the sound of a Dual Rectifier being buzzy, flabby low end, shrill high end, weak cleans, noisy, no dynamics, etc. Caused by many things, but because many Recto’s are shipped with Chinese pre- and poweramp tubes it might be the most common source of these troubles.

Current production preamp tubes

Few factories in the world produce preamp tubes:


All current production preamp tubes come from these factories.  The same thing accounts for power tubes as well. For one exception, which is that Groove Tubes is now producing a 6L6 tube in the USA.

The tubes that are used a lot come from Sovtek in Russia. They’ve produced different tubes over the years and have lately produced their best tubes so far  (sold as Electro Harmonix ). The noise is lower and the tone is much better, but they still have a bright top end that may give amps a buzzy top in their lead stages, also the clean sound isn’t as toneful as most other tubes.  

Besides the previous mentioned tube companies, there are still two factories making preamp tubes: JJ and Svetlana . We can keep it short on the Svetlana as 99% of production goes directly to Marshall. According to various sources these tubes are not stable and the quality isn’t as high as expected. And then we have JJ are modelled after the Telefunken ECC83, one of the best tubes ever. The sound of the JJ’s is warmer which is great if you want to get rid of the buzzy sound in many of today’s amps. They have a very deep low end and distinct mids and sound great both for high gain and clean.

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