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Guitar Amp Tubes -- They Can Really Make a Difference in your Sound

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#1 solidwalnut


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Posted 09 August 2007 - 07:46 PM

I did some learning and shopping about tubes. I have a tube amp, a Trace Elliot SpeedTwin C50. Awesome sounding amp. To make a long story short, I plugged in my new PRS to it and the guitar just sounded awesome (sweet resonation, tone and harmonics. Very tight). But I could hear an artifact that I didn't like.

The Trace Elliot has really great gain. What an awesome amp. I won't go into all of that right here, but I'll say that when you play it in the second channel and give it some gain, or switch in the high gain (the afterburners, as I like to call them!) I could hear more fuzz in the distortion break up than I like. I could hear it before when playing my Les, but my Les is not as good sounding as this PRS (it has set-up issues, but I won't get into that here, either...).

So I started looking around. There is so much info on the 'net about different tubes and how they definitely sound different. In a nutshell, I found a site where this tube snob says there are only two 12AX7-type tube manufacturers to consider for a guitar amp: EI and JJ (formerly Tesla). All the others are innapropriate or 'junk' to his ears. Of course, it's all so subjective. He says Tesla (JJ) ECC83's are best for modern high gain amps (tighter bass and all-round tighter sound and clear harmonics, more punchy), and EI's 12AX7's are best for vintage type amps (a bit smoother, more break-up and vintage fuzz).

So I ordered some JJ 12AX7 / ECC83S's and picked them up today. I just replaced the Russian brand 12AX7-A's that came with the Trace Elliot. Oh yeah!!! He was right! Much more punchy and tight sounding. The harmonics are jumping out of my amp on command! The Russian brand tubes have more break up and are looser/fuzzier sounding. They're still ok. I'll keep 'em for back ups.

So I recommend checking these tube types out. Here are a couple of sites for ordering/research to get you going.


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