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12AX7 shootout in V1 position - 21 tubes compared

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  • 12AX7 shootout in V1 position - 21 tubes compared

  • #2
    I was going to comment on his channel but decided not to, but the gist was that it is finally nice to have someone with the money and time to show that tube rolling is pretty much a wasted effort in futility. Could you imagine trying to tube roll every socket in the amp to only achieve a sort of noticeable difference?!?!? He also says in the opening that changing speakers is a much more effective way to chase a tone; probably much cheaper too if you ask me. There is only so many of these " NOS " tubes out there, and they are not getting any cheaper. If you use them, you do lose them, so to speak. You are quite literally burning up money. I think it is more prudent to find a modern tub that you are happy with and just save the tube rolling for the cork sniffers and bougie's out there. He had the cheap China made tubes in the mix and they sounded just fine against all of the other options.

    I love when he does these segments. He is really good at making the test show real-world results and gives a reasonable list of why and why not.


    • #3
      Originally posted by Ewizard View Post
      Could you imagine trying to tube roll every socket in the amp to only achieve a sort of noticeable difference?!?!?
      Yep! People forget this is why EQ knobs were put on the front of an amp. It started with a "tone" knob and evolved from there. If I need more mids, there is no need to panic, I have a knob for that.

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      • #4
        You guys thought those tubes sounded similar?


        • #5
          guitar nerd, uses standby switch. whaddaya know. he's a professional. don't try this at home.

          (said in Foghorn Leghorn voice.)


          • #6
            The "catch" to many of these shootouts is the fact that most of us have multiple guitars with an array of pickup models in them. When doing this shootout while playing guitar1(it has say a custom5 in the bridge) you might like an ehx or maybe a jjecc83 the most for v1,,,,,,,,and then when grabbing guitar2 (dimebucker bridge) the tung-sol sounds/feels the best.

            If you have a nice tube amp it is usually worth the time to try a couple/few of the industry standard current production brands/models in v1, but beware that you might choose differently depending on which of your guitars you happen to be holding, so if you play several different guitars the v1 choice is most likely not worth stressing at all.

            The only tube amps I know at all are the rectifier series, and with those I prefer tung-sol in v1 of 2000s-era, and either of the mesa/jjspax7 or ehx 12ax7 in the 90s-era.

            Honestly I think it's about the same deal with pickup models.
            With all the controls we have on amps these days,,,,,,, not to mention boosts, overdrives, EQs, compressors ect,,, .
            Give me about any model of pickup geared towards hard-rock/metal from a good main brand like SD,,,,,slap it in any guitar and that's it! Good enough and then some.

            I love when they do shootouts without moving the amp's knobs lol. I get the point but it's not a realistic context.


            • #7
              Certainly not realistic from an operational standpoint for sure. I think it just highlights the fact that many guitarists are stuck on myth, hype, old wives' tales, and marketing hoopla. There is a market for NOS tubes because it was created. I won't disagree that there are NOS tubes that sound better than modern production, but I certainly will not argue with anyone that there are modern production tubes that sound just as good. I.E. sound is subjective and NOS or modern production tube sound is more or less in the eye of the beholder.

              NOS tubes of today cost all of 50 cents to purchase 50 some odd years ago!!! They were cheap run of the mill tubes then. Modern tubes are not inferior. Perhaps the only major difference between some tubes then and now is that then, there were military-grade tubes, and today there are not really many if any being reproduced. The question is if a military-grade tube is all that much better ( being 50 or so years old ) given the cost. The only way to find out is to purchase one and either be happy or disappointed.

              The NOS tube market is kind of a sham really. Hey, there were thousands of these tubes NOBODY wanted stuffed in a warehouse, lets sell them to poor guitarists searching for the holy grail tone. How will we do that? We will tell them that these were made to a much better standard, that they sound way better, last longer, and then sell them for 1000 times what they originally cost!!!! Sweet, let's do eeeet!

              The brass tacks are that a tube that has managed to survive 50+ years sitting, or even being lightly used was a good tube, to begin with. Where I have a big issue with the NOS market is the price and the associated buyer's confirmation that goes with it. Imagine you buy a NOS Tung-Sol ( add nausium to any tube maker you desire ) and it does give you " that sound ". You know there is not an unlimited supply of these tubes, so if you want to keep that sound for eternity, you must buy several more of that tube. So now you have $300 locked up in tubes that may or may not actually sound the same, but you have 5 or 6 or more of them laying around now. The only person that won was the guy who managed to snag a stockpile of essentially worthless tubes until the NOS market was born. There wasn't as much of a NOS market in the 80s and 90s until Groove Tubes came along and popularized it. Being one of the earliest rebranders and marketers helped them significantly. GT was founded in 1979, I got the GT Tube Amp Book in the 90s when I first started playing. So within 20 years, Aspen took tubes and vintage amps a long way. How do you sell tubes to people? You have to have an angle. GT became an OEM supplier of tubes, sold rebranded tubes, and sold the mystique of vintage amplification and the tubes to operate them.

              I read a post today in fact on The Gear Page where a member was saying he will ONLY buy NOS tubes. Stating they sound better, and spank on modern production tubes sound. In the next sentence, he goes on to say that not all NOS tubes are good though, that you have to roll through several to find the good ones. Then the following sentence said that modern tubes don't necessarily sound bad, but just not as good as the good NOS tube you manage to find. This is what perpetuates the NOS market. You go out and buy a $50 12AX7, you like it ( for whatever reason ) and now you have to have as many as you can afford. You get a stash of them only to find out that half of them are microphonic, don't sound the same, or have some other performance deficiency compared to the one you really like. Hmmm, it kind of sounds like the same problem people have with modern production tubes. They don't sound a certain way, are too this or too that, yadda yadda.

              I have several vintage tubes I snagged from my dad's stash many years ago. They don't sound any better than any modern tube I have. Oddly enough, the generic tubes that simply say Made In China, sound quite good in comparison. I tend towards JJ tubes for one major reason. They are the actual manufacturer of 1/3rd of the worlds tubes, they sound just fine and they don't cost stupid money for what was once a .50 cent tube.


              • #8
                First off, I love these kinds of videos!
                I didn't hear much variation, I hear minor differences, but his tone isnt in my wheelhouse either.

                I have noticed in my own amps that changing the V1 tube has much more of a change in tone than what's portrayed in this video, huge differences in my garage. Maybe because I play very high gain? Just a guess.

                ​​​​​​Mullard's happen to be my favorite as well (in most amps.)
                My DSL's would be the exception, way too microphonic in those amps, ended up sticking EHX in them.

                Thanks for sharing it, OP.


                • #9
                  No two tubes are alike. The ear forgets quickly from tube to tube after a while. The best way to present results for the viewer is to have a couple seconds max of the same clip one after another after another so you can hear and judge that way. Sometimes the juice is worth the squeeze for sure but changing a few tubes will never make an amp you dislike miraculously turn into something you absolutely love. I also know from my own experience that some amps respond better to changing a tube or tubes than other amps. The huge majority of the time what the amp arrives with from the factory is the best bet because the builder has tried and tested numerous tubes in the build process and landed on what they selected for a reason. Anyway, this stuff is indeed a rabbit hole adventure and can be a fun one if you dislike turning knobs and playing guitar.
                  The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bogner View Post
                    No two tubes are alike. The ear forgets quickly from tube to tube after a while. The best way to present results for the viewer is to have a couple seconds max of the same clip one after another after another so you can hear and judge that way.
                    Ears also burn out trying to listen to the same frequencies consecutively and identify differences. A good way to ensure you are hearing the differences (when using playback recordings to compare) is to take breaks; e.g. audition 3-4 then take a 10 minute break before trying to compare the next 3-4.


                    • #11
                      The Neil Young riff really showcases the difference in tones from the different tubes.

                      I posted this in multiple forums and I am shocked that so many guys can't hear a difference and think the comparison is useless. Those same guys probably wouldn't know if their amps were covered with a tarp or the difference between a Sears guitar and a Les Paul custom.


                      • #12
                        gotta listen on good speakers or headphones, a phone or laptop isnt going to show off the subtle differences well


                        • #13
                          JJs were my least favorite -I want extra body if I get extra fuzzy gain -but someone looking more traditional metal tones probably will like them.

                          the Mullard RCA label was my favorite, impressed with the Brimar and Sovtek.
                          “For me, when everything goes wrong – that’s when adventure starts.” Yvonne Chouinard