Amp Tube Replacement

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Amp Tube Replacement

Postby JLHooker » Fri Apr 10, 2009 12:20 pm

I don't know what to think about replacing amp tubes periodically. I read a lot of stuff on the internet advising people to change tubes from one brand to another and so on.I play with a guy who uses a 65 Fender Twin Reverb that he bought new in '65.This amp has been around.It has had beer, whiskey . and several other beverages spilled on it and in it.It still keeps going.We have been playing together since '68. I sked him about this tube changing business and he told me that he changes them when they go bad.He keeps spares on hand when he uses the amp.
Which option should I take with my peavey clasic 50?
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Re: Amp Tube Replacement

Postby NEONMOONY » Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:51 pm

Well, my 2 cents is , if you are not unhappy with the performance of your amp, just play it till the wheels fall off. Then replace whatever quits.
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Re: Amp Tube Replacement

Postby Troubleman » Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:12 pm

Tube life depends upon the amp's design - how much voltage it slams the tubes with, as well as how its biased (hot vs cold), how much you play, how you play (cranked amp? low volume?), environmental conditions (amp repeatedly stored in a cold vehicle before gig?), the type of tube, and the individual tube itself. Fender Twin Reverbs use 6L6 tubes, which (if you used a good brand) is a fairly sturdy tube in that amp. Properly biased Twins that aren't really pushed hard don't generally eat tubes. You're Peavy Classic 50 however... if memory serves me correctly, it uses EL84 tubes. In just about every amp I can think of that uses this tube - its biased fairly hot. That's normal. What it means is that those tubes won't last as long. I've EL84s in a couple of my Budda amps - they're biased hot by design. In the amp I gig with the most, I need to change tubes probably every 6-8 months. I can hear a difference at that point, even though the tube will physically continue to work (albeit with a degraded tone) for longer. Much like a spare tire in your car - it is ALWAYS a good idea to carry spare tubes, and maybe a multi-meter or Bias-rite so that you can change tubes at a gig if necessary.
Of tubes - they should be matched for performance (so that they push/pull equally)
There are companies that individually test every tube, then match and grade them (groove-tubes comes to mind).
Once you settle on a set of GrooveTubes, as long as you go back to GrooveTubes and use the same type and grade of tube, you won't have to re-bias your amp.
They do charge a premium for this, and I'm of the opinion that GrooveTubes, while generally really good, aren't necessarily the best-sounding tubes out there. I'm a big fan of JJ tubes...

On an aside, it really is "individual amp" dependent
I read an interview with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, and AudioSlave.
He said he's had the same set of tubes in his Marshall for years - world tours and studio use
He pushes that amp hard too
It freaks his tech-guy out...


pEAcE,

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Re: Amp Tube Replacement

Postby Ed Boyd » Fri Apr 10, 2009 3:00 pm

I never change the tubes in my 60's era blackface Fender Super and Twin. They rarely need it.

For the last 10 years I have gigged with a little 1-12 Mesa Boogie 50w combo. I have put more tubes in that thing than all of Fender Amps combined. I don't know why.

The sweet spot on the Boogie is so freaking loud I am thinking about bringing one of the Fenders out of retirement.
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Re: Amp Tube Replacement

Postby Troubleman » Fri Apr 10, 2009 4:37 pm

Ed Boyd wrote:I never change the tubes in my 60's era blackface Fender Super and Twin. They rarely need it.

For the last 10 years I have gigged with a little 1-12 Mesa Boogie 50w combo. I have put more tubes in that thing than all of Fender Amps combined. I don't know why.

The sweet spot on the Boogie is so freaking loud I am thinking about bringing one of the Fenders out of retirement.


Which Boogie?
I know their .50 caliber (at least the 1st ones) used EL84s (much like their studio .22) that received slamming-high voltages. They pretty much dined on tubes.
I used to own a Mesa MkIV; it needed tubes about once a year (didn't run as hot as the .50 caliber or studio .22).
It's power tubes failed on me at a big gig in NYC; that's when I learned - carry spare tubes
And like you said - you have to push Boogies HARD before they hit their sweet spot - which also diminishes tube life...

Most black panel Super Reverbs and Twin Reverbs weren't very hard on tubes.... most I say. Some Super Reverbs were "King of Kleen", and some were screamers.
I used to have a 1968 Super Reverb (STUPIDLY, STUPIDLY, STUPIDLY TRADED IT - DAMN IDIOT I AM); that was the gnarliest-sounding Super Reverb in creation.
Apparently several of the 1968s were this way - think SRV in a box, no TubeScreamer needed, just turn up the volume.
That Super Reverb also had somewhat of an appetite for tubes, due in no small part I'm sure to the fact that I pushed that amp hard - I put a ClearSonic plexiglass shield around it and turned it up LOUD.
What a great amp.
What an idiot I was for letting it get away....


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Re: Amp Tube Replacement

Postby Ed Boyd » Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:08 pm

The Mesa Boogie I have is called a DC-5 combo. I bought it new probably around 1993-1995 .... I'm not sure. When I say I had to re-tube it alot I'm probably only talking once a year. I buy Boogie tubes I replace them in pairs.

I think I still have an orginal power tube in my Super. I never liked to replace Fender tubes cause the whole bias control thing always intimidated me.

I have been happy with the Mesa but the amp either practically off or screaming loud. It only has one gear and it is a loud one. :lol:
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Re: Amp Tube Replacement

Postby Troubleman » Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:39 pm

Ed Boyd wrote:The Mesa Boogie I have is called a DC-5 combo. I bought it new probably around 1993-1995 .... I'm not sure. When I say I had to re-tube it alot I'm probably only talking once a year. I buy Boogie tubes I replace them in pairs.

I think I still have an orginal power tube in my Super. I never liked to replace Fender tubes cause the whole bias control thing always intimidated me.

I have been happy with the Mesa but the amp either practically off or screaming loud. It only has one gear and it is a loud one. :lol:



I think if you gig regularly, a year is reasonable for power tubes, especially if you really push the amp. DC-5 uses what - 6L6's?
Power tubes in my Marshall used to last about a year when I was gigging it a lot.
My Mesa MkIV ran on 6L6's - again, about a year's life. It was my main gigging amp.
It also had a personality similar to your DC-5. It could play at speaking volume and sound great (not loud enough to gig).
Its second sweet spot arrived at a volume loud enough to dent steel...
My Budda Twinmaster - probably 6-8 months of tube life when used at the same pace.
I've a friend who gigs an old Vox AC-30 (EL84s). He probably changes tubes quarterly...

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Re: Amp Tube Replacement

Postby ricochet » Mon Apr 20, 2009 6:52 pm

I recommend against "preventively" changing tubes. Tubes are far more likely to fail in their first 75 hours or so of operation than the rest of their service life. Tubes that survive infant mortality are unlikely to quit on you, they slowly fade away as they lose cathode emission. As long as they sound OK, let 'em keep doing their job.
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Re: Amp Tube Replacement

Postby JLHooker » Wed Apr 22, 2009 12:35 pm

Thanks for the advice on tubes for my Peavey C50.I gave it a 6hr workout last Sun. and I really like the sound so I guess I'll go with the idea"If it ain't broke, don't fix it".I'll just keep some spare tubes for emergencies and replace sets or singles when I need to.
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Re: Amp Tube Replacement

Postby ricochet » Wed Apr 22, 2009 6:01 pm

Good plan.
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Re: Amp Tube Replacement

Postby thunda1216 » Fri May 08, 2009 12:24 am

:D I have a Peavey Deuce with the original tubes fro 1978 in it (albeit they are USA made...). My Mesa Hearbreaker was retubed with Winged C power tubes in 2004, still going strong. I replaced all the preamp tubes about a year later with NOS USA tubes, and used at least 20 hours weekly, none have failed.

Many tube sellers want you to change tubes periodically so they can sell you tubes. Carry spares when you gig. Change them when they fail or go microphonic on you. You don't change your light bulbs 'till they blow, do you?

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Re: Amp Tube Replacement

Postby CashWiley » Fri May 08, 2009 1:39 pm

I did swap out some light bulbs that had too cool a color temperature. :twisted:
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Re: Amp Tube Replacement

Postby bigdaddyguitar » Sat May 09, 2009 12:28 pm

Ricos right . Leave them alone . If its not broke , don't fix it .
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