Need recommendations for 6L6 tubes

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by Nicki, Sep 2, 2017.

  1. Nicki

    Nicki SS.org Regular

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    Well... the Bugera Trirec I just bought blew a power tube. So now I'm just going to replace all of the power tubes. I have a choice between Mesa Boogie 6L6's and JJs.

    Thoughts and Opinions?
     
  2. maggotspawn

    maggotspawn SS.org Regular

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    JJ 6L6's sound killer.
     
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  3. KailM

    KailM SS.org Regular

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    ^^^What he said. And just so you know, Mesa doesn't make tubes, they just rebrand them from other manufacturers and have you pay a big markup for the service.
     
  4. TheWarAgainstTime

    TheWarAgainstTime "TWAT" for short

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    I prefer the Mesa tubes over JJ's. They cut a bit less high end and retain more low end definition ONE. The Mesa tubes are rebranded Sovtek WXT's, but the WXT+ have even more headroom :yesway:

    Can't go wrong either way, though. The JJ's still sound good and are very reliable too
     
  5. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Blames it on "the rain"

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    JJ's seem to be the most consistent brand available. I also like Svetlana winged C's as well. Mesa branded tubes will be from a different manufacturer, but you're getting the best tubes that particular manufacturer had available so it's not really a rip off. If you're buying Ruby's or Groove Tubes, those are most likely "B stock" rejected by the amp companies. They can still sound great, but who knows about their tolerances and life span.
     
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  6. Tuned

    Tuned SS.org Regular

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    Best tubes are made in Russia. Mesa buys (beside JJ and currently Chinese Shuguang) Russian tubes too. When I bought my Mark III from the USA, it was equipped with "12ax-7a Mesa Boogie Russian 2" tubes and Russian Mesa Boogie STR power tubes (mine is a Simul-Class, so they were the STR440 and, IIRC, STR447). Now I have a full set devoted to Mark III of Russian-made: 5 Electro-Harmonix, 4 Tung-Sol and 1 Mullard (one 12ax7 is actually an extra to experiment). All of these are made by a sole manufacturer, Sovtek in the Reflector Plant, Saratov, Russia. The 6L6 you are specifically interested in are the Tung-Sol.

    Sovtek used to make some of their tubes in the Voskhod Plant in Kaluga, Russia, for a wile, but those were sub-par. Later Voskhod parted ways with Sovtek, but the story laid an impression on reputation. Voskhod-made NOS tubes may or may not occasionally appear on the market and confuse buyer who doesn't know how to tell them from Reflector-made ones.

    "Winged C" Svetlana have their devoted fans too, but that is a matter of taste. These are made in the Svetlana Factory in St. Petersburg, Russia.
    FYI, "winged" is not a "C", it is the Russian letter "S" (for "Svetlana").

    What you have to know though is that New Sensor Corp. holds rights for both Sovtek and Svetlana tubes. I just checked - sites of both Sovtek and Svetlana tubes dept. are inaccessible at this time, whereas New Sensor site effectively sells both brands now.

    It is not exacty correct that Mesa tubes are/were only WXTs. I have an Excel price list for Sovtek tubes that I got at Sovtek last November, which includes 111 types of more or less "guitar" tubes, and Mesa tubes are quite a handful of those, although none of them in the price list are called "Mesa Boogie".

    As far as "consistency" goes, Mesa just has a specific 5% tolerance rather than the regular 10% production standard. BUT it is not Mesa who pick them, that job is also done by the manufacturer. Some sellers will provide you with even a narrower tolerance and specific characteristics should you wish so. I bought mine from a small Russian boutique amp builder who buys loads of them.

    I can't remember exactly why I didn't buy any JJs for my Mesa, they were high on my list, the price was good, but I chose all Sovtek for a reason that I forgot by now).

    Have fun!
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2017
  7. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Maybe it's just me, but I've never been able to tell the difference between different power tubes unless it's something really drastic - like swapping types, or replacing a pair that's super old. I'd personally aim for whatever is likely to be reliable, which makes the Mesa branded ones sound like a safe bet without doing much research into where they all actually come from.
     
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  8. Tuned

    Tuned SS.org Regular

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    that was a sad way of saying you didn't give a...

    lol
     
  9. tedtan

    tedtan SS.org Regular

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    ^ No, there's a difference between not hearing a difference and not caring.
     
  10. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    That's not at all what I said. I'm suggesting that spending a bunch of time rolling power tubes in an amp that probably gets most of its sound from the preamp might not be yield a worthwhile result. Because I do care- about saving time and money in favor of a potentially unnoticeable change in tone.

    If you want mess with the character of the amp via tubes, the preamp tubes will have a much more dramatic effect. Any amp I've tried, the brand of power tubes made no difference, but the type did. V1 in the preamp of any amp I've owned has always had the most impact to my ears and is where I'll pay closer attention to what goes there.
     
  11. NinjaRaf

    NinjaRaf SS.org Regular

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    Mesa tubes are rebranded tubes from other brands like Sovtek and Shuguangs and stuff like that. They test them and take the ones that fall within rating specs for their amps. This is why Mesa strongly recommends buying Mesa tubes for their amps...they will fall within their fixed bias spec. Some other companies can test and match to those specs as well. They aren't any more expensive than other rebranding/testing companies, like Ruby...

    JJs are OK. I have found them to be all over the place over the years. Sometimes I get ones that last a long time, sometimes I get ones that die in 2 days...I stopped buying JJs a while ago because of this. Typically, I buy Rubys. Some Rubys are rebranded JJs, but I have never had a tube from them die. You can get JJs direct from Eurotubes for SUPER cheap, but they won't be tested and rated to the extents that other resellers like Ruby does.

    I get all my tubes from Valvequeen. I usually just contact her and let her know what I am looking for, and she gives me recommendations based on that. Always great service and great tubes. I have some of her preamp tubes that are 5-6 years old and have been in 7-10 amps. Some 6L6s that I have had for 3-4 years, too. Good stuff.
     
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  12. cGoEcYk

    cGoEcYk SS.org Regular

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    I did some testing with various 6L6 types in my Rectoverb with I had it. JJ's came out close to top and sounded most similar to the pair of 80's made in USA Mesa tubes (GE or Sylvania) that I had. Recent production Winged C were my favorite with a bit more detail. I did not like anything about the Tung Sol reissues they were physically smaller and sounded small too. Not worth the slightly lower price.
     
  13. mongey

    mongey SS.org Regular

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    sure amp is a big factor but I spent up on a set of winged c 6l6 for my dual recto years ago and I didn't like them . found them too warm in the lows . not terrible but I prefer the JJ or mesa branded
     
  14. wedge_destroyer

    wedge_destroyer SS.org Regular

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    I've not tried JJ 6l6's, but I didn't care for their el34's so I didn't try em. I can however recommend the Tung Sol 6l6 STR, as they were far better than the Sovteks and Sinos I had used previously.
     
  15. vick1000

    vick1000 SS.org Regular

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    Are you sure the amp is OK, the Infinium tech amps are very unreliable.

    As far as tubes, 6L6 variants are very amp dependent. Amps like 5150s don't react as much to minor tube make differences. Certain amps, like Dual/Triple Rectifiers react in the extreme on certain channels. Nothing sounded better in my Tri Rec than Mesa branded tubes, power and preamp.

    For your Bugera, I would try either the Sovtek WXT+ or the Tung Sol STR. If you want ore headroom, try the Tung Sol 7581. In any case, get them burned in for 24 hours and matched afterward, any other way invites a possible failure.
     
  16. BetterOffShred

    BetterOffShred SS.org Regular

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    Yeah I've tried most tubes and it's very dependant on amp for sure. I have liked all the JJ tubes I've tried, and even some groove tubes. I have some Sino's in my Bassman and it sounds amazing. My triple rec likes JJ's for sure. EHX tubes sound great too. I'd just get the Mesa branded tubes and realize as stated above they are going to be good.
     
  17. Nicki

    Nicki SS.org Regular

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    Just as an update, I dinked around more with the amp. I discovered what I thought was a burnt filament in power tube 1 was actually just the lack of a reflection of the orange LEDs between the preamp tubes and the power amp tubes. So the power tubes are fine.

    After a little more digging a came across a video of a dude repairing a different amp with the same symptoms and in that video, the issue was a failed output transformer. Rather than play with electricity, I brought to a Bugera repair center for warranty.
     

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