NOS Power Tubes Worth It???

Cstell

New Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2021
Messages
23
Reaction score
16
Within the past year or so, I’ve gotten into NOS preamp tubes. I think it’s a fun way to fine tune your tone. I definitely hear the difference. What’s everyone’s opinion on the old power tubes vs new ones tonally? I hear the old Mullard and RFT EL34 getting a lot of love on here. Are they worth the hype?
 

1234_thumbwar

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2022
Messages
142
Reaction score
265
I’ve got some RFT EL34’s in my SV20 I’m pretty fond of. Idk if you’ll hear a massive difference in a band mix but they sounded more agreeable to me playing by myself at volume. They were a bit darker and fuller sounding than the EHX’s I had before and they broke up in a more even way for lack of a better word. If I get another pair of EL34’s I probably will get more RFT’s or try some Japanese Matsushitas which were made with Mullard equipment in the ‘70s and ‘80s from what I’ve read

I also have a pair of Philips ECG 6CA7’s which are basically Sylvania 6CA7’s. I notice a difference between stock Marshall EL34’s or the EHX’s vs the old RFT’s but the difference between all of them and a 6ca7 felt far greater even though they’re interchangeable tubes. These are my favorites but they’re expensive so I’ll just go with RFT’s or Matsushitas since the sound seems better to my ear with a looper and even more so under my fingers when I’m playing than with the modern tubes I’ve used. Maybe the Gold Lion KT77 would be more up my alley but I’ve had a couple different brands of modern EL34’s or alternatives that just didn’t satisfy me
 

Cstell

New Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2021
Messages
23
Reaction score
16
I’ve got some RFT EL34’s in my SV20 I’m pretty fond of. Idk if you’ll hear a massive difference in a band mix but they sounded more agreeable to me playing by myself at volume. They were a bit darker and fuller sounding than the EHX’s I had before and they broke up in a more even way for lack of a better word. If I get another pair of EL34’s I probably will get more RFT’s or try some Japanese Matsushitas which were made with Mullard equipment in the ‘70s and ‘80s from what I’ve read

I also have a pair of Philips ECG 6CA7’s which are basically Sylvania 6CA7’s. I notice a difference between stock Marshall EL34’s or the EHX’s vs the old RFT’s but the difference between all of them and a 6ca7 felt far greater even though they’re interchangeable tubes. These are my favorites but they’re expensive so I’ll just go with RFT’s or Matsushitas since the sound seems better to my ear with a looper and even more so under my fingers when I’m playing than with the modern tubes I’ve used. Maybe the Gold Lion KT77 would be more up my alley but I’ve had a couple different brands of modern EL34’s or alternatives that just didn’t satisfy me
Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I’ve got an old 2203 and 2104. One has JJ EL34 and the other with EH EL34. Both amps sound great, but I’m not sure how I feel about the JJ’s…I came across a pretty decent deal for some RFT’s and I’m thinking I might just pull the trigger on them.
 

1234_thumbwar

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2022
Messages
142
Reaction score
265
Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I’ve got an old 2203 and 2104. One has JJ EL34 and the other with EH EL34. Both amps sound great, but I’m not sure how I feel about the JJ’s…I came across a pretty decent deal for some RFT’s and I’m thinking I might just pull the trigger on them.
The good thing about old glass is when you’ve got a good pair they’re going to keep on going for what feels like forever with proper care. It might seem expensive now but you’ll be running them for years down the line as a good investment.

With that in mind the RFT seems like a darker power tube in general to me like the JJ but without being muddy or underwhelming if that was an issue with the JJ. They definitely break up in a way that screams hard rock and they’ll probably go well with either master volume amp if they seem a bit bright. The next pair I get is going in my 4104 to knock some of the upper mids and highs back a bit along with new speakers. I can’t think of an EL34 based Marshall they wouldn’t do well in as many Marshall’s tend to be on the bright side or at least I feel so
 

Browneyesound

Active Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2022
Messages
120
Reaction score
202
In my limited experience, the short answer is they do make a difference for the better.

For EL34 types, I’ve only compared (circa 2008) Teslas (that came with my superlead reissue), Svetlana’s (old real svetlanas, not the newer made in russia or JJ), Grove tube EL34M “mullards” (Chinese made by?), and xf4 Mullards.

To keep it short and sweet, Mullards (even my inferior xf4’s) have “the” sound, bass, crunch, smooth brightness (not harsh)…the old Svetlanas were 85% of the way there, but had a harsh icepicky treble that was not pleasant, Teslas were my least favorite…just functional tone but nothing to seek (for me), and the GT EL34Ms were the closest to the mullards, but needed lower bias current than the others (would redplate if I biased the same as the others), but sounded good at a bias that would have been too cold for the mullards.

Have not tried any newer production tubes since then, so maybe some of these MM clones or others are the bees knees…also just got in a quad of Psvane’s sitting on the bench waiting for when I have time to mess with such things.

Sylvania 6CA7’s are a whole ‘nother ballgame.
 

Cstell

New Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2021
Messages
23
Reaction score
16
The good thing about old glass is when you’ve got a good pair they’re going to keep on going for what feels like forever with proper care. It might seem expensive now but you’ll be running them for years down the line as a good investment.

With that in mind the RFT seems like a darker power tube in general to me like the JJ but without being muddy or underwhelming if that was an issue with the JJ. They definitely break up in a way that screams hard rock and they’ll probably go well with either master volume amp if they seem a bit bright. The next pair I get is going in my 4104 to knock some of the upper mids and highs back a bit along with new speakers. I can’t think of an EL34 based Marshall they wouldn’t do well in as many Marshall’s tend to be on the bright side or at least I feel so
I definitely don’t mind a darker tube. In fact, I usually prefer them. I’m basically just trying to get the most out of my amplifier. I’ve always read these old Marshall’s love the old tubes.
 

1234_thumbwar

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2022
Messages
142
Reaction score
265
I definitely don’t mind a darker tube. In fact, I usually prefer them. I’m basically just trying to get the most out of my amplifier. I’ve always read these old Marshall’s love the old tubes.
The RFTs will do you well then, they’re full sounding with the only fault against them vs Mullards or Telefunkens is that they aren’t as pristine with the highs as those two. Xf4 Mullards are somewhat attainable but xf3’s and xf2’s are going to cost you an arm and a leg along with Telefunkens. RFTs make for great preamp and power tubes. I usually run my amp with nothing but RFTs if I have EL34’s in. Occasionally I’ll throw a long plate Hammond 12ax7 or a CBS 5751 in v1 but RFTs are made to rock without tearing your head off
 

matttornado

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2012
Messages
1,686
Reaction score
1,242
For me, it depends on how the amp gets used. If it’s a home amp for recording, maybe NOS tubes would be good but for an amp that gets played hard and often at gigs every weekend, it’s current production tubes.
 

_Steve

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2020
Messages
566
Reaction score
478
Location
Los Angeles
I have a set of nice RFTs.... sitting on my shelf. I find the JJ EL34IIs to be outstanding in my SV20 - which BTW is FOR SALE.

But my absolute favorite "EL34" is the new production Gold Lion KT77s. Fuller and firmer than all the EL34s.
 

Browneyesound

Active Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2022
Messages
120
Reaction score
202
Heh, I’m recommissioning my Marshall’s after a long “rest”, reforming the PS caps, and I see my superlead is running a pair of xf2s and a pair xf4s…and 2 broken TechTubes 😭

Here’s porn and tragedy:

381EFC7D-FC48-4645-8D83-E9A7119DA190.jpeg 8403FD12-CF95-4ED1-AE92-79F05F43DAFE.jpeg C86D3571-0CC7-4B2C-893B-258A25EDB428.jpeg
 
Last edited:

SteelLucky

Active Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2016
Messages
174
Reaction score
190
In my 2 SC20H amps, the EHX small bottle EL34 and the PSVane EL34C are so close to the RFT EL34 that I wouldn’t pay crazy prices for NOS. The JJ EL34II that came stock in the amp sound really good too. Fun fact, one of my amps has NOS RFT in preamp and power. One amp has all new tubes EHX tubes but for a JJ in the V2. In blind testing most people pick the EHX amp as better sounding. Swap the tubes between them and they still pick the EHX amp as better sounding. Go figure. I prefer the RFT amp but then I know which one it is so I am biased.

The normal reason I hear when I ask why they prefer the EHX amp is the RFT amp sounds like it is trying to hard or something similar. I can hear what they are saying too when I listen to them and it is subtle. But I still prefer the RFT amp. Both sound great to me so all good in the end.
 
Last edited:


Top