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What are peoples tonal experiences with different power tubes?

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  • What are peoples tonal experiences with different power tubes?

    For example, EL34's vs. 6L6's vs. 5881's vs. "whatevers".

    Im just trying to learn as much as i can about tube characteristics here.
    My Soundclick page.

  • #2
    Re: What are peoples tonal experiences with different power tubes?

    Originally posted by Young Angus
    For example, EL34's vs. 6L6's vs. 5881's vs. "whatevers".

    Im just trying to learn as much as i can about tube characteristics here.
    6L6s and 5881 are pretty close in tone these days...A 5881 used to be a stricter more tolerant 6L6 made to work in military radio equipment...

    The 6L6,5881 tubes are generally the Fender/Mesa tube in that the tone is warm,full,and round,with more overall headroom...

    The EL34 is a British tube that replaced the 5881 because it was a cheaper tube for Marshall to buy in large quantity...This tube has a nice compressed tone about it when driven hard...Mids are more prominent...This tube has a warm tone also but the tone could be described as a "thonk" instead of a "thunk" like the 6L6 tube above....If you're after the whole british vibe then the EL34s are the tubes to use..

    I Like the round and headroomy clean tones I get from my Fender amps with 6L6s and I Love the crunchy,midrange,cutting tones of the EL34s...Both are great in the right amp...
    Amps: 66 Fender BF Pro Reverb Combo,1973 50 Watt Marshall Head,Marshall 4x12 A/V Cab,Vox ToneLab LE,Vox VTH Valvetronix 120 Head,Vox AD 2x12 Cab,Roland Cube 20X

    Guitars: Several Stratocasters,2 Fender Telecasters,Gibson SG Standard,Tokai Love Rock Les Paul,Dean Acoustic.

    Pickups: SD SSL2,SSL5,Twangbanger,Antiquity Surfers,59N,Seth Lover N/B,Dimarzio Fred,Dimarzio VPAF N,Fender Fat 50s,Fralin SP43 Bridge,Brobucker,Antiquity Texas Hot.


    • #3
      The 6l6WGB/5881 will give you a little less headroom than the 6l6GC.


      • #4 is a good place to read up on the differences between tube types and brands.

        My school of thought is that I prefer EL-34's for humbucking guitars, and sometimes with a strat for that Hendrixy type clean tone.

        I prefer 6L6's for Strats and Teles, since the breakup is rounder
        and less raspy on the top end. 6l6's have a sweeter and rounder clean tone, whereas the EL-34 clean tone is real
        glassy and woody. I do like strats on a 100W EL-34 amp,
        because it has all that nice headroom.
        Originally posted by Boogie Bill
        I've got 60 guitars...but 49 trumpets is just...INSANITY! WTF!


        • #5
          This was just my personal experience......

          I have a JCM 800 1 X 12 50 watt combo. In the beginning I found it too bright with the stock Marshall EL34s. I wanted something warmer and rounder (esp. on the gain channel). So I read around a bit and decided on KT 88s. I had Sovtek KT 88s installed and to me the amp was still too bright for my taste.

          In the end I had my tech guy MOD my Marshall amp to fine tune it for to my taste.

          I have other combos too and actually prefer my Fender Super 60 1 X12 combo over my Marshall. The fender has 6L6 tubes which to me sound warmer/rounder...IMO


          • #6
            I've used a Marshall head as a poweramp and I use a peavey classic 60/60 as poweramp.. To me, 6L6GCs sound better. Less Harsh, and didnt get muddy like the EL34s after they were driven a bit hard.

            But i guess its a personal taste of sound.



            • #7
              I think you have to consider that many amps were designed with a particular power tube in mind, so that although we can describe a particular tube's characteristics, it's also the combination of circuit design + the tubes = tone.

              that said,

              6L6's ..... big and round
              6V6's .... like a smaller version of the 6L6, with a little sweeter crunch
              EL 34 .... yes, sweeter overdrive
              EL 84 .... crunchy, even snarly, a little less bottom, with some inherent compression under gain. Sweet top end with lots of harmonics. Unlike the others here, it also has gain.
              "music heals"