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  • Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

    Hi there,

    Looking to change my stock Mesa F50 tubes to something new.

    Can anyone give me some recommendations on what to get in both the preamp and power tube sections?

    Not really able to try them out, so just looking for opinions on what has worked well with other Mesa or F50 users.

    If anyone with experience of changing both the power tubes and preamp could let me know their opinions on what they felt sounded good, I'd really appreciate it as right now I have no idea what new tubes to buy!

    Would all JJ's in the preamp and power section be a good idea? Looking for a high gain metal tone, with clarity and no mud!!

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

    When I bought my Triple Rec it had all JJs in it except for the stock Mesa 5U4 rectifier tubes. Awhile back I accumulated several, Mullard RI, Electro-Harmonix & Tung-Sol RI and did a bunch of tube rolling in the preamp with them and the JJs it came with. After it was all done, I settled on Tung-Sols in V1, V2, & V3, and JJs in V4 & V5. I found that the TSs in the gain stages made the amp more vibrant and the JJs in the last two holes (especially the Phase Inverter) gave the amp a nice growl.

    I've been looking at EL-34s for the power amp, and I'm 99% sure I'm going to get a set of New Sensor Svetlanas because they're supposed to have a more prominent midrange than the others and a tighter bottom end. Which is what I feel my amp needs. But for you, that might not be the way to go.

    For a start, these pages will give you an idea about the differences in different brands of power tubes. But bear in mind that tubes will sound different in different types of amps. So your results will probably vary, as I'm sure mine will when I get my power tubes.

    http://www.thetubestore.com/6L6-Tube-Review

    http://www.thetubestore.com/EL34-Tube-Review
    Wanted: 1982 Gibson Les Paul Standard, Serial Number 82232531.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

      I owned that amp for a while. Great amp! The fact that I regretted selling it is what led me to purchasing an Express (the F Series' replacement) recently.

      For the pre-amp tubes, I eventually ended up going with lower gain tubes. I don't remember what kind. 12AU7, 12AT7, 12AW7, maybe. I think I got whatever the local music store had, which probably means Groove Tubes. They are something else re-labeled, and they sounded great. Much clearer and more dynamic than the stock 12AX7's.

      For the power tubes, I can't say. I never felt the need to replace the stock tubes.

      Mesa tubes are Sovteks at this time, but they are thinking about going to JJs, because they are having all sorts of unreliability issues with the Sovteks. This is per the manager at the Mesa/Boogie shop.
      Last edited by ItsaBass; 10-13-2013, 04:38 PM.
      Originally posted by LesStrat
      Yogi Berra was correct.
      Originally posted by JOLLY
      I do a few chord things, some crappy lead stuff, and then some rhythm stuff.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

        Originally posted by Gone_Shootin View Post
        When I bought my Triple Rec it had all JJs in it except for the stock Mesa 5U4 rectifier tubes. Awhile back I accumulated several, Mullard RI, Electro-Harmonix & Tung-Sol RI and did a bunch of tube rolling in the preamp with them and the JJs it came with. After it was all done, I settled on Tung-Sols in V1, V2, & V3, and JJs in V4 & V5. I found that the TSs in the gain stages made the amp more vibrant and the JJs in the last two holes (especially the Phase Inverter) gave the amp a nice growl.

        I've been looking at EL-34s for the power amp, and I'm 99% sure I'm going to get a set of New Sensor Svetlanas because they're supposed to have a more prominent midrange than the others and a tighter bottom end. Which is what I feel my amp needs. But for you, that might not be the way to go.

        For a start, these pages will give you an idea about the differences in different brands of power tubes. But bear in mind that tubes will sound different in different types of amps. So your results will probably vary, as I'm sure mine will when I get my power tubes.

        http://www.thetubestore.com/6L6-Tube-Review

        http://www.thetubestore.com/EL34-Tube-Review
        Thanks! I was thinking of going with a Tune Sol RI in V1 and JJ's for V2, V3 and V4. And also JJ's for my Power tube? Do you reckon this will be a good combination? Looking for a tone high gain tone, that is clear and articulate!

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

          Originally posted by ItsaBass View Post
          I owned that amp for a while. Great amp! The fact that I regretted selling it is what led me to purchasing an Express (the F Series' replacement) recently.

          For the pre-amp tubes, I eventually ended up going with lower gain tubes. I don't remember what kind. 12AU7, 12AT7, 12AW7, maybe. I think I got whatever the local music store had, which probably means Groove Tubes. They are something else re-labeled, and they sounded great. Much clearer and more dynamic than the stock 12AX7's.

          For the power tubes, I can't say. I never felt the need to replace the stock tubes.

          Mesa tubes are Sovteks at this time, but they are thinking about going to JJs, because they are having all sorts of unreliability issues with the Sovteks. This is per the manager at the Mesa/Boogie shop.
          I agree my friend, it's an awesome amp and one I don't think I'll ever get rid of. Great clean and distorted tone a for a smallish combo amp!

          So did you notice much of a difference when you changed tubes, compared to the stock Mesa's? I like the tone the amp already has, but guess I'm looking to see if I can find something that is slightly better and has bit more clarity and punch....

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

            Originally posted by matrixman_397 View Post
            Thanks! I was thinking of going with a Tune Sol RI in V1 and JJ's for V2, V3 and V4. And also JJ's for my Power tube? Do you reckon this will be a good combination? Looking for a tone high gain tone, that is clear and articulate!
            If it were mine, I would put Tung-Sols in V1 & V2 with JJs in V3 & V4. But that's my tastes. To my ears, no matter the amp, JJs have a strange edgyness in the gain stages that I personally don't like. I highly recommend trying different tubes in different positions in the preamp, because everybody's ideal preamp cocktail usually is different than the next guy's.

            As far as power tubes go, that's entirely up to you. All I can say is research, research, research, and research some more. The more you dig, the more you learn. And after downloading the manual for your amp, I see that you don't have the bias switch like the Rectos have, so you're stuck with 6L6s. And of the 6L6s out there (I'm not a fan of any of them except for an amp that is dedicated for cleans), I suppose I would stick with JJs.
            Wanted: 1982 Gibson Les Paul Standard, Serial Number 82232531.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

              Tung Sol in v1, ruby 12ax7ac5hg in the gain stages, and jj ecc803s in the driver positions. This will give the amp clarity, tightness, cut, and growl. As for power tubes I recommend JJ, Ruby, Tung Sol, EH, or TAD 6l6gc types.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

                Originally posted by Gone_Shootin View Post
                If it were mine, I would put Tung-Sols in V1 & V2 with JJs in V3 & V4. But that's my tastes. To my ears, no matter the amp, JJs have a strange edgyness in the gain stages that I personally don't like. I highly recommend trying different tubes in different positions in the preamp, because everybody's ideal preamp cocktail usually is different than the next guy's.

                As far as power tubes go, that's entirely up to you. All I can say is research, research, research, and research some more. The more you dig, the more you learn. And after downloading the manual for your amp, I see that you don't have the bias switch like the Rectos have, so you're stuck with 6L6s. And of the 6L6s out there (I'm not a fan of any of them except for an amp that is dedicated for cleans), I suppose I would stick with JJs.
                Really appreciate your help, its been very helpful!

                Could I just ask what style of music you play and what sort of tone you look for? What is it about the JJ's you didn't like in the gain stage?

                One thing I've noticed is Mesa's naturally have quite a bassy sound. I only have the bass on mine at 9 o'clock, as I like a really tight and clear sound.

                At the moment I'm thinking of buying a full set of JJ's but also buying two additional Tung Sol's to see how they sound in V1 and V2 as I've got a feeling from what I'm reading that the JJ's will be a bit muddy which I don't want.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

                  Originally posted by TSE View Post
                  Tung Sol in v1, ruby 12ax7ac5hg in the gain stages, and jj ecc803s in the driver positions. This will give the amp clarity, tightness, cut, and growl. As for power tubes I recommend JJ, Ruby, Tung Sol, EH, or TAD 6l6gc types.
                  Thanks for your recommendations, your decription sounds exactly like the sort of tone I am looking for from this amp! Do you have an F50 or Mesa?

                  How do you think Tung Sol's in V1+V2 and JJ's in V3+V4 would sound? Power tubes most likely JJ's.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

                    Originally posted by matrixman_397 View Post
                    Really appreciate your help, its been very helpful!

                    Could I just ask what style of music you play and what sort of tone you look for? What is it about the JJ's you didn't like in the gain stage?

                    One thing I've noticed is Mesa's naturally have quite a bassy sound. I only have the bass on mine at 9 o'clock, as I like a really tight and clear sound.

                    At the moment I'm thinking of buying a full set of JJ's but also buying two additional Tung Sol's to see how they sound in V1 and V2 as I've got a feeling from what I'm reading that the JJ's will be a bit muddy which I don't want.
                    Like I said, the JJs in the gain stages have an edgyness that I don't like, and like was said above, they can get muddy in the gain stages. But JJs are great for the Phase Inverter. IIRC, the 803s that TSE recommended for that hole is a balanced version of JJ's 12AX7, which is what a lot of people recommend. But me personally, I feel that the amp is a little more vibrant is the PI tube is slightly unbalanced. But that's just a matter of preference.

                    As far as what music I play. I mostly play metal, but I don't go for the most modern tone. The other guitarist in my bamd likes his stuff scooped out, but I don't. I'm a Marshall guy at heart, so I like to have some growl in my midrange. Which works out fine, since it allows each of us to occupy a different place in the mix, so we can both stand out wothout walking over each other. This is also why I prefer EL-34s over 6L6s. And yeah, my Rec is bassy. I run the bass barely cracked open and sometimes all the way down, depending on the guitar.

                    But all that is my personal preference, YMMV........
                    Wanted: 1982 Gibson Les Paul Standard, Serial Number 82232531.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

                      I play metal as well, black, tech, death, shred stuff through a 6505+ that I modded to get the original 5150 sound through the pre amp on a toggle switch so I could go between 5150/5150ii sound. Ironically I like the 6505+/5150ii more for its tightness. Anyway, the sound I go for is mid punch, tight bass, and clarity. I find that JJ ecc83s in gain stages kills clarity and makes the bass round and spongy. The ecc803s is much better in that they have more treble and clarity with pronounced mid compared to the ecc83s. Trouble is they have such long plates they squeal in v1 or gain stages with high gain. So I like them in fx loop and phase inverter driver positions instead. To me they seem like a more interesting 12ax7LPS and more sturdy. I like the Ruby 12ax7ac5hg in the gain stages because they have very tight bass with good, cutting mid and highs. The TS in v1 provides much clarity and low noise. They have slightly subdued midrange compared to the rubys, but they have more highs to help cut through. I think the sight mid scoop in the TS and brightness is what makes them sound more clear than other new production tubes. The TS and Ruby 12ax7ac5hg have the snappiest and tightest bass response ime. This is the combination I have found to best serve my sound.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

                        Thank you guys for your help! Its been very insightful for me, just gotta make a decision and take the the plunge now!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

                          Let us know how things turn out.
                          Wanted: 1982 Gibson Les Paul Standard, Serial Number 82232531.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

                            Originally posted by Gone_Shootin View Post
                            Let us know how things turn out.
                            Will do for sure!

                            Right now I've decided on purchasing a full set of high gain JJ's for both the preamp and power section. Will also buy 2 additional Tung Sol's for V1 and V2 and see how they compare to the JJ's and make adjustments accordingly. Guess its the only real way of deciding what sounds best to my ears! Will report back once I get them installed.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

                              If you use JJs all the way thru the preamp, the amp will probably sound too dark. I have a mix of EH and JJs in most of my amps, and I like the Groove Tubes 12AX7-M Mullard clone in V1, but those are discontinued.

                              In my Mesa combos, I use either the Mesa 6L6, the GT6L6-GE, or the Winged C/SED. I really like the SED, I got mine from thetubestore.com. Be sure to tell them it's for a Mesa and they can set you up with the right range. In my experience, the JJ power tubes don't hold up well in these small, high-powered combos.

                              Don't let anybody talk you into putting adjustable bias pots in your amp. Just buy your tubes from a reputable, knowledgeable tube dealer who can provide tubes with the right specs.

                              Oh, and Mesa warranties their power tubes for six months, which is darn good. And they back them fully.

                              Bill
                              When you've had budget guitars for a number of years, you may find that your old instrument is holding you back. A quality guitar can inspire you to write great songs, improve your understanding of the Gdim chord while in the Lydian Mode, cure the heartbreak of cystic acne--and help you find true love in the process.

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