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Thread: best preamp tubes for Marshall tones.

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    WhoDatologist korovamilkdud's Avatar
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    Default best preamp tubes for Marshall tones.

    I took a gander at the Groove Tubes site for Marshall amp comliments. It looks like they used a lot of 7025 pretubes early on, tried out the 12ax7 for the JCM900, and eventually started using ECC-83 for their more recent amps, such as the JCM2000.

    So for those in the know, what tubes do you think work best for Marshalls and why?
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  2. #2
    supernosher
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    Default Re: best preamp tubes for Marshall tones.

    7025, 12AX7, and ECC83 are just different names for the same tube. Like ECC83 is european, 7025 is the US military number, etc.

    They probably used 7025's early on because there was a surplus at that time. I've been hearing some bad stuff about the GT tubes lately. Like they go out fast, an don't sound that great. After all the Groove Tubes product is just tested and relabeled.

    Sorry, but I can't recommend a particular tube because I don't have a Marshall.

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    Ultimate Tone Member Usurper666's Avatar
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    Default Re: best preamp tubes for Marshall tones.

    Don't waste your time or money on Groove Tubes, they are a overpriced rip off. I have a Marshall JCM800 2204 and the best sounding current production tubes I've found are the Sovtek 12AX7LPS. The "new" Tung Sols all went bad in a matter of minutes, the JJs were dark and mushy, and Groove Tubes have all been bad right out of the box in my experience. The best sounding tubes would be NOS but they are on the expensive side for the good stuff.

    Cheers,

    CJ

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    Tone Member Myles's Avatar
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    Default Re: best preamp tubes for Marshall tones.

    All of the 12AX7 types sound different and there is no right or wrong .... it is personal taste.

    In my own experience I like RFT and Brimars in non-master, 800 and 900 amps.

    They guy I get those from and send my GAB clients to is Mike at www.kcanostubes.com

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    Electron Herder glassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: best preamp tubes for Marshall tones.

    Quote Originally Posted by Myles View Post
    All of the 12AX7 types sound different and there is no right or wrong .... it is personal taste.
    There you have it...its all about matching your amp to the sound in your head. One to stay away from would be the Sovtek 12AX7WXT, it's dark and bassy, but the bass kind of collapses in on itself. Harp players love em though...especially in old Silvertone amps.

    Most of the Marshalls that entered my shop left with Chinese 12AX7s in them. I always had the amp owner "test drive" the amp with an assortment of preamp tubes handy. They generally chose the Chinese ones because they gave the best "attack". I didn't keep a lot of NOS stuff on hand because most of these guys were 1 paycheck from poverty and couldn't afford them...I purposely limited thier choices so that thier wives wouldn't kill them.

    I am a little out of the loop now since I closed my shop (about 5 years ago) so this information is somewhat dated.

    Play around and have some fun

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    Tone Member Myles's Avatar
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    Default Re: best preamp tubes for Marshall tones.

    Here is a bit I wrote for a fellow over at Guitar Player ... this might be of some benefit in this post.

    _________________________________________

    This is a question I received over at Guitar Player and I thought it might be of interest to some here ....

    Hi Myles!

    Newbie alert! I have recently purchased a Rivera K-Tre 55-watt combo purely on the basis of the spectacular clean channel. When I got the amp home, I discovered it actually had a dirty channel too -- one for which I hold no particular love. I've tried a number of things with greater or lesser success:



    - I returned the combo to a near-original tube setup (12AX7WBs across the board), and the clean was great, but the dirt was staccato as opposed to smooth

    -I replaced the tubes with 12AX7EHs across the board, and the whole thing went dark

    -I put back the 12AX7WBs and added a 12AX7EH in position 1. It all got better, but I still find it a bit staccato-sounding

    For what it's worth, my other rig is driven by a JMP-1 in which the dirty preamp is run through a 12AX7LPS. It is by far (to my ears) the smoothest gain/overdrive I've heard so far, and is more or less the quality I'm going for in the drive side of the Rivera. Alas, the LPS does not do particularly well in combos.

    I'm about to order another raft of tubes (probably just in pairs for position 1 and 2) and I'm looking for advice. I'm considering Tung-Sols, JJs, and in an interesting twist, 5751s.

    Anything else I might like to try?

    Joe


    Joe,

    The biggest problem in swapping preamp tubes is one does not know what an off the shelf preamp tube is doing. Trying to compare a 12AX7EH to a 12AX7WB will yield untrue results if the WB is close to design spec and the EH is not close. You need to compare tubes that have their specs close .... transconductance, true gain, plate resistance and current output.

    You said that the EHs made the amp dark and this tells me you had some weak ones as the EH is brighter and more articulate than a WB.

    A recent test of a lot of EH's showed this:

    1.0 1160 0.014 82.9
    1.1 1430 0.016 89.4
    1.1 1510 0.017 88.8
    1.3 1610 0.018 89.4
    0.8 1260 0.014 90.0
    0.8 1120 0.013 86.2
    1.3 1580 0.0165 95.8
    1.3 1560 0.0165 94.5
    1.1 1540 0.017 90.6
    1.1 1540 0.017 90.6
    0.8 1310 0.015 87.3
    1.2 1570 0.0165 95.2
    1.3 1540 0.017 90.6
    0.9 1370 0.015 91.3
    1.1 1470 0.017 86.5
    1.2 1590 0.017 93.5
    0.6 1160 0.014 82.9
    0.8 1280 0.014 91.4
    1.0 1430 0.0155 92.3
    1.4 1670 0.018 92.8
    0.8 1200 0.014 85.7
    0.9 1290 0.014 92.1
    1.1 1480 0.0165 89.7
    1.2 1490 0.016 93.1
    0.8 1340 0.015 89.3
    1.0 1540 0.0165 93.3
    1.0 1370 0.015 91.3
    1.3 1620 0.018 90.0
    0.8 1300 0.0145 89.7
    0.6 1170 0.013 90.0
    1.0 1500 0.017 88.2
    0.9 1370 0.0155 88.4

    Output TC Gain
    1.0 1418 90.09
    84.9% 88.6% 90.1%


    1610 100.6%
    1120 70.0%
    30.6%

    1.4 116.7%
    0.6 50.0%
    66.7%

    95.8 95.8%
    82.9 82.9%
    12.9%

    This might not make a lot of sense but the important factor here is that these vary 66.7% in regard to spec current and the average tube is down 15% from spec and that is like turning a 50 watt amp into a 30 watter depending on position in the circuit.

    Transconductance has a 30% spread and this is not good either.

    You need to be able to compare apples to apples as today's production preamp tubes are a crap shoot and the odds are NOT in your favor.

  7. #7
    Tone Member Myles's Avatar
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    Default Re: best preamp tubes for Marshall tones.

    Quote Originally Posted by supernosher View Post
    7025, 12AX7, and ECC83 are just different names for the same tube. Like ECC83 is european, 7025 is the US military number, etc.

    They probably used 7025's early on because there was a surplus at that time. I've been hearing some bad stuff about the GT tubes lately. Like they go out fast, an don't sound that great. After all the Groove Tubes product is just tested and relabeled.

    Sorry, but I can't recommend a particular tube because I don't have a Marshall.

    The real 7025's in the past had this industrial designation and were 12AX7s that were selected to have lower noise. If you look at some Fender tube charts many times in V1 and V2 of a Blackface (the first gain/tone stage of each channel of these amps) the chart says 7025 in V1 and V2 while in V4 and V5 it says 12AX7. Fender wanted a higher quality tube in those two critical positions. V3 and V6 in those amps were 12AT7 tubes.

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    Super Toneologist marvar's Avatar
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    Default Re: best preamp tubes for Marshall tones.

    Myles- Welcome
    It's good to see you here, I've followed your wisdom and advice thru different forums, and your Blueprint site. Although some of my conclusions turn out different than your preferences, I always respect and listen to your advice. Your vast knowledge will be a great asset to this forum.
    " Rock and Roll IS a contact sport!"

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    Ultimate Tone Member Indie P Bass's Avatar
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    Default Re: best preamp tubes for Marshall tones.

    I actually have JJ's in my marshall preamp (and marshalls in the power-amp... igh), I think 12at7's, actually. I really like it. The distortion's crunchy, but not brittle and the cleans are pretty decent. But, then again... all I've ever used at GT's, JJ's, Sovteks and Marshall tubes... so, I've no idea how the sol's sound.
    You can get a suprisingly good country guitar tone out of a Marshall Halfstack.

  10. #10
    Tone Member Myles's Avatar
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    Default Re: best preamp tubes for Marshall tones.

    Quote Originally Posted by marvar View Post
    Myles- Welcome
    It's good to see you here, I've followed your wisdom and advice thru different forums, and your Blueprint site. Although some of my conclusions turn out different than your preferences, I always respect and listen to your advice. Your vast knowledge will be a great asset to this forum.
    Thank you and please always feel free to express your differences. I can't learn anything new from folks that agree with me on everything !

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    Mojo's Minions 75lespaul's Avatar
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    Default Re: best preamp tubes for Marshall tones.

    I LOVE the sound of the Groove Tubes 12AX7-M Mullard reissue. However, about half of the ones I bought were microphonic and a few others were just plain dead. When you get a good one, they are the best imo. I've used them in Plexi reissues, early 70s NMV amps and a Silver Jubilee, all of them sounding just right to me after using the tubes. Had a lot of luck with the Tung Sols as well. The Mullard GTs....don't know if it's worth the hassle of going through so many to find good ones. GT will send you new ones if you have the reciept and it's less than six months old but still a big hassle.
    My songs....enjoy! (hopefully )

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