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Thread: Best New Issue EL34

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Best New Issue EL34

    What is your favorite New Issue EL34?
    In my new amp build I've tried EH EL34EH, Which I thought was too bright and trebly.
    The JJ KT77. which was too dark sounding.
    I can't afford to just buy a pair of all of them, but that would be fun.
    So what do the rest of the Group use.
    We can include the KT77, & 6CA7s.
    Thanks,
    Terry
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    For me, the Winged C are the best of new production, followed by the JJ KT77. I've heard good things about the Tung Sols. What may be bright and trebly or dark in your amp may be entirely different in a different amp. Which amp are you putting them in?

    Greg
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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soundmasterg View Post
    For me, the Winged C are the best of new production, followed by the JJ KT77. I've heard good things about the Tung Sols. What may be bright and trebly or dark in your amp may be entirely different in a different amp. Which amp are you putting them in?

    Greg
    I built a version of the Marshall 2204.
    I have it modded out to suit the tone I like.
    It has both Pre and Post Master Volumes.
    6L6s Sounded pretty good in it also.
    I'm using TungSol 12AX7s also.
    Thanks,
    Terry
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    I've switched over to JJ EL34's. So far, they seem to be the only ones that don't experience premature screen grid failure, and they sound good too. I've had problems with all of the Reflektor-made EL34's, and after getting a bad batch of 2dz. Winged-C 6L6's a couple of years back, I won't go near their stuff anymore.
    John R. Frondelli
    dBm Pro Audio Services, New York, NY

    "Mediocre is the new 'Good' "

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrfrond View Post
    I've switched over to JJ EL34's. So far, they seem to be the only ones that don't experience premature screen grid failure, and they sound good too. I've had problems with all of the Reflektor-made EL34's, and after getting a bad batch of 2dz. Winged-C 6L6's a couple of years back, I won't go near their stuff anymore.
    John, Do you like the JJ EL34 or the 34L ?
    Also how do they sound compared to the JJ KT77s?
    I thought the 77s were too dark in my amp.
    Too MonoTone sounding.
    Terry
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    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    John, Do you like the JJ EL34 or the 34L ?
    Also how do they sound compared to the JJ KT77s?
    I thought the 77s were too dark in my amp.
    Too MonoTone sounding.
    Terry
    I have to be honest, I haven't tried the 77's, though I've been contemplating ordering some next time I order from CE Dist. The E34L is the same as the EL34 with a higher-voltage bias requirement, for players or techs who want to install them in place of 6L6's without modding the bias supply (of course, you'd still need to jump pins 1 & 8).
    John R. Frondelli
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    John,

    This is a good example of the ups and downs in tube production. I've never had a problem with any SED/Winged-C tubes, and their 6L6GCs are my favorites.

    On the other hand, I bought a quad of JJ KT77s a few years ago. The bulbs leaned at various angles in the bases, and they had JJ's thinner-than-standard pin problem (which I think they've corrected). I know several tube dealers who've gotten bad batches of JJs. My conclusion is that JJ can make great tubes--when they feel like doing so.

    I used the Teslovak E34LS (aka the Groove Tubes E34LS) in my ST-70 for a while and liked them a lot--very coherent sound from top to bottom. But they seemed to have problems with their internal welds. I had two in which the screen grids simply became disconnected; you could see the results of arcing where the weld had come undone.

    In my ST-70 at the moment: a set of the EH 6CA7s. In the end, for Hi-Fi, I like the tighter bass of beam tetrodes vs. true pentodes, but for guitar, of course, midrange is the key.

    I think that the bottom line is that tube manufacturing, like speaker building, depends to an extent on the manual dexterity and attention to detail of the person putting them together.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhodesplyr View Post
    John,

    This is a good example of the ups and downs in tube production. I've never had a problem with any SED/Winged-C tubes, and their 6L6GCs are my favorites.

    On the other hand, I bought a quad of JJ KT77s a few years ago. The bulbs leaned at various angles in the bases, and they had JJ's thinner-than-standard pin problem (which I think they've corrected). I know several tube dealers who've gotten bad batches of JJs. My conclusion is that JJ can make great tubes--when they feel like doing so.

    I used the Teslovak E34LS (aka the Groove Tubes E34LS) in my ST-70 for a while and liked them a lot--very coherent sound from top to bottom. But they seemed to have problems with their internal welds. I had two in which the screen grids simply became disconnected; you could see the results of arcing where the weld had come undone.

    In my ST-70 at the moment: a set of the EH 6CA7s. In the end, for Hi-Fi, I like the tighter bass of beam tetrodes vs. true pentodes, but for guitar, of course, midrange is the key.

    I think that the bottom line is that tube manufacturing, like speaker building, depends to an extent on the manual dexterity and attention to detail of the person putting them together.
    I tried the EH 6CA7's in some rehearsal studio Marshalls, hoping to get a bit extra life out of them,even biasing them a bit on the cold side and upping the SG resistors. They still blew up in approx. the same amount of time as the EH EL34's.
    John R. Frondelli
    dBm Pro Audio Services, New York, NY

    "Mediocre is the new 'Good' "

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    Quote Originally Posted by jrfrond View Post
    I tried the EH 6CA7's in some rehearsal studio Marshalls, hoping to get a bit extra life out of them,even biasing them a bit on the cold side and upping the SG resistors. They still blew up in approx. the same amount of time as the EH EL34's.
    What was the failure mode?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhodesplyr View Post
    What was the failure mode?
    Shorted, but obviously it couldn't be the screen grids, as these are beam-tetrode replacements. I suppose the beam plates could short or break down, or some other internal short. Anyway, I wasn't a happy camper with this.

    It's easy to see why Marshall moved away from EL34's back in the 70's, and loaded all new Marshalls (well, they were new back then) with 6550's. Totally different sound, but EL34's, even the old Mullards, were always prone to spontaneous failure.
    John R. Frondelli
    dBm Pro Audio Services, New York, NY

    "Mediocre is the new 'Good' "

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    Quote Originally Posted by jrfrond View Post
    Shorted, but obviously it couldn't be the screen grids, as these are beam-tetrode replacements. I suppose the beam plates could short or break down, or some other internal short. Anyway, I wasn't a happy camper with this.

    It's easy to see why Marshall moved away from EL34's back in the 70's, and loaded all new Marshalls (well, they were new back then) with 6550's. Totally different sound, but EL34's, even the old Mullards, were always prone to spontaneous failure.
    Speaking of 6550s.
    I have tried 6l6s, EL34s,JJ KT77s, in my 2204 Amp build, was thinking of trying either 6550s, or Maybe KT88s Just For Sh*tz & Giggles.
    I wonder what they would sound like, and I think they will drop right into the 2204 No Problem Maybe!
    Terry
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    Old Timer defaced's Avatar
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    Maybe KT88s
    I run JJ KT-88s in my SLO style amp. Big and open is the only way I can describe them. I don't use power amp break up as part of my sound, and I very much like the KT-88s for their sound. You may need to tweak the bias supply to get these to bias properly depending on tube grade and such. I'm at -55v with ~52 ma on the cathodes at 535v plate and 533v screen at the moment.
    Last edited by defaced; 08-16-2011 at 02:14 AM. Reason: Added bias info.
    -Mike

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    I'm glad this came up. An old friend of mine has been buying groove tubes EL34 from the local store for his hiwatt dr105. This has resulted in several visits to me to service the amp recently. I'm not good at identifying these things, maybe someone else will know which makes these are.

    First he had a microphonic set. These would make a low end fuzz/rumble when the music was loud (which is all the time with this amp):

    img_0167.jpg

    After we proved it was the tubes with some substitutions he replaced all four with a different set of groove tubes. These were much worse. I checked the bias when they first went in and everything was cool but a few weeks later he brought it to me with a blown fuse and one very dead looking tube. I subbed in a replacement tube to get him back in business but a few weeks after that a second one of the set died. This time there was a scorch mark on the socket it was in, between pins 2 and 3. I replaced the socket and chucked the remaining tubes of this type. This type is marked made in russia and looks like this now:

    img_0164.jpgimg_0166.jpg

    Anyone recognize this tube? Whatever they are, Hiwatts make them commit suicide.

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    Old Timer Gtr_tech's Avatar
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    Rebranded EH....

    I had a set of EH EL34s in my Traynor Custom Special and I thought they sounded great and I didn't have any problems the few times I gigged the amp out for bass duty. I ended up robbing them to use in another amp and ended up subbing Ruby EL34s in place of the EH. They seem to work just fine but the sound ain't what it was with the EH. YMMV....

    No major problems with JJs since I've been using them as my go-to output tube some years ago.
    The farmer takes a wife, the barber takes a pole....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gtr_tech View Post
    Rebranded EH....

    I had a set of EH EL34s in my Traynor Custom Special and I thought they sounded great and I didn't have any problems the few times I gigged the amp out for bass duty. I ended up robbing them to use in another amp and ended up subbing Ruby EL34s in place of the EH. They seem to work just fine but the sound ain't what it was with the EH. YMMV....

    No major problems with JJs since I've been using them as my go-to output tube some years ago.
    Hey Guitar Tech:
    I have the Traynor YCS50 Combo with the Vintage 30 Speaker.
    Will the EL34s go right in it also?
    I have the Sovtek 6L6WXT+s in it now.
    They sound pretty decent also.
    I have the 2204 with the EL34Hs, They don't sound as good as the KT77s, but I thought I might try the 34Hs in the Traynor.
    If they would drop in and bias ok?
    Terry
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gtr_tech View Post
    Rebranded EH....

    I had a set of EH EL34s in my Traynor Custom Special and I thought they sounded great and I didn't have any problems the few times I gigged the amp out for bass duty. I ended up robbing them to use in another amp and ended up subbing Ruby EL34s in place of the EH. They seem to work just fine but the sound ain't what it was with the EH. YMMV....

    No major problems with JJs since I've been using them as my go-to output tube some years ago.
    Thanks for that, so these are the same type John was talking about then. I'm going to take his advice and skip the EH 6CA7 too. I was considering it because of the description of tighter bass. This player plays telecasters with monstrous big strings tuned down to C# so a little better bass response sounded promising but these EH tubes really don't seem to like his amp. Sounds like the JJ EL34 may be the most reliable in this group's experience?

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    Just a follow up here, I recommended the JJs to him and he decided he'd like to try something a little different this time so he ordered a quad of their 6CA7. These will NOT run at a reasonable operating point in a stock dr103. Plate voltage in this amp is 505v so at the stock bias voltage these idle at 22w per tube. I think most hiwatt owners have the voltage doubler/adjustable bias mod anyways but I thought it was worth mentioning. I biased them at 18 watts each and they sound good to me but he knows the amp better than me so I'll get his report after he's had a full band practice with them.

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    JJ KT77s - Too "high FI" and brittle for my taste.

    JJ EL34s - Acceptible on a budget. Good, not bad, but not earth shattering either.

    Winged C EL34s: If you have the means, do it. Still the king of EL34 tone. Prices have become ridiculous.

    JJ KT66s: Really enjoy these in my Marshall, moreso than any 34s, 6550s, or 7581s I ever had in there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wizard333 View Post
    JJ KT77s - Too "high FI" and brittle for my taste.

    JJ EL34s - Acceptible on a budget. Good, not bad, but not earth shattering either.

    Winged C EL34s: If you have the means, do it. Still the king of EL34 tone. Prices have become ridiculous.

    JJ KT66s: Really enjoy these in my Marshall, moreso than any 34s, 6550s, or 7581s I ever had in there.
    The JJ KT66s your running in the Marshall?
    Are you running the High Impedance OT (6-8k), or a EL34 OT (3.6k) ???
    Most of the New Sensor type KT66s are 6L6s in disguise.
    Don't know about the JJ 66s.
    B_T
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    Senior Hollow State Tech Bruce / Mission Amps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrfrond View Post
    I've switched over to JJ EL34's. So far, they seem to be the only ones that don't experience premature screen grid failure, and they sound good too. I've had problems with all of the Reflektor-made EL34's, and after getting a bad batch of 2dz. Winged-C 6L6's a couple of years back, I won't go near their stuff anymore.
    Yeah man, early last year, I got scared off with a bulk purchase of the "winged C" 6L6 tubes too... almost everyone of them inexcusably failed premature.
    Bruce

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    The JJ KT66s your running in the Marshall?
    Are you running the High Impedance OT (6-8k), or a EL34 OT (3.6k) ???
    Most of the New Sensor type KT66s are 6L6s in disguise.
    Don't know about the JJ 66s.
    B_T
    I've never measured the primary impedance so I couldn't tell you for sure. The amp originally came with 6550s. The JJ KT66s sure don't sound like 6L6s, they have balls for days and a huge fat tone, not glassy and scooped like the usual 6L6. Far more low end authority than any other tube I've tried in that amp.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce / Mission Amps View Post
    Yeah man, early last year, I got scared off with a bulk purchase of the "winged C" 6L6 tubes too... almost everyone of them inexcusably failed premature.
    Yeah, all it takes is one batch like that. I had a pair literally explode out of the glass! No more. The Reflektor EL34's are a different story. The come out of the box "tired", barely reaching spec on the Maxi-Matcher. The JJ's read perfectly, and the Reflektor tubes pay you back with a greatly reduced lifespan. I can't have that when running a business. I'm buying the JJ's from New Sensor anyway, so they aren't losing my EL34 business, but until they pull it together, I'm not purchasing any Sovtek/EH EL34's.
    John R. Frondelli
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    An update from the Hiwatt player I set up with the JJ 6CA7 tubes. He just got in from a 53 day stretch of touring in which he played 57 separate sets. He's loving the tone and not having any more problems. That was Vancouver to Montreal and back - twice - which is a lot of bumpy miles in the van plus loading and unloading sometimes twice a day so that's a big plus one on JJ reliability over the EH tubes he had before.

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    My own experiences seem to mirror those of other members of this forum.

    I now routinely use JJ-E34Ls for repairs as I have found recent production to be reliable (they even survive well in Laney Super Groups with HT and screen over 600V!), and I can get them at a good price, ie I my prices compare favourably with internet prices, and I still have a reasonable sales margin.

    However, I stopped using JJ valves when they reduced the size of the pins as I had problems with the valves not making good contact in the sockets. When JJ increased the size of the pins I then had problems with E34Ls and 6L6s valve shorting on first application of HT and, oddly, thermal runaway, which I could only rationalize as grid emission, as the valves had been tested for gas.

    I've now had no problems with JJ E34Ls (nor 6L6s) for the last couple of years.

    Of the other EL34s I've tried, my favourite sounding are the =C= Svetlana, however I have some experiences of failure with these valves.

    My theory is that they are very susceptible to mechanical stress; for example I had several problems with =C= valves sent in boxes where the valve can rattle around, whereas I've had no problems with =C= valves shipped in packaging where the valves can't rattle.

    Having said this, I don't have a huge sample size, so this is just a theory.......

    Of the other EL34s I've tried in some quantity, I not really liked sound of the EH-EL34 and had reliability issues; the S-logo Svetlanas were better, but not really available much in the UK; and the generic Chinese EL34s used by several rebranders are relative expensive and don't seem very reliable.

    I tried some of the first run of JJ-KT77s and wasn't overly excited by their sound; had a rather mushy lower mid. I also had a couple short out.

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    Old Timer km6xz's Avatar
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    I do not see a lot of variety here nor that many tube amps, about 2 a week in my part time side business. But despite the low volume I see more amps come in, brand new, just from the factory(Yerasov, a popular brand here for heavy metal guys) with JJ EL34's that fail within 24 hours. The only good tubes I have available, if I beg, are the authentic Svetlana since they are located across town from me. They seem to hold up when I can get them. They have a very bad production reliability....meaning they usually have none to sell and one has to wait untill they get around to making another production run. More often than not, they have none in stock and do not get the idea that if they made some they would sell. Glass tubes are not their business however, their metal glass and metal ceramic tubes of HIGH power are their focus. A single 4cx20,000 makes a lot more profit than a hundred el34s even at their crazy high wholesale price.
    I won't buy New Sensor tubes out of principle so I have been left with searching inChina for good supplies. I have a good contact in Engineering at SHUGUANG and they have been very cooperative in modifying production runs of small quantities to my spec. After a couple tweaks I am getting a EL34 I am happy with and survives in the Detonator amps., and are cheap. They are about $6 each and so far they are holding up really well, much better than the JJ and EH that have a bad track record here also. I wish Svetlana would get a manager in charge of the small consumer tube section who would beef up production and set realistic prices, but that product line is probably too much of a pain to deal with. The company has 17 divisions and the only one that is not high tech is the vacuum tubes so it does not get much attention from upper management. I've used some of their metal ceramic tubes in new designs and in RF applications and they are quite good, some of the best in the world if you need 5-50kilowatt anode dissipation tubes. But for the price of the mod'd SHUGUANG tubes and performance I am stocking up. Chinese companies are pulling ahead in high power, high vacuum devices however, lots of original research. They must have 50 manufacturers who make 1megavolt or larger vacuum switches or power tubes, versus 4 in the rest of the world.

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    Supporting Member jmaf's Avatar
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    Why do you not buy from Sovtek out of principle? What happened?
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmaf View Post
    Why do you not buy from Sovtek out of principle? What happened?
    He actually said New Sensor, which is Sovtek and many others.
    I sure would be lost without my Tung-Sol 12AX7 New Production Tubes.
    And, Many other New Sensor Tubes.
    So Like jmaf What Principle?
    They have all wound up in either Russia or China.
    Terry
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    Supporting Member jmaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    He actually said New Sensor, which is Sovtek and many others.
    I sure would be lost without my Tung-Sol 12AX7 New Production Tubes.
    And, Many other New Sensor Tubes.
    So Like jmaf What Principle?
    They have all wound up in either Russia or China.
    Terry
    Yeah, I usually say sovtek to mean the whole business - I meant new sensor. Slovakia's JJ is an exception and I heard Groove Tubes made EL34's in California a few years ago, probably making it the only civilian tube made in the USA recently...I may be wrong, I don't keep up with the tube industry gossip.
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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    I had my 2204 I built this early Summer Sounding Great!
    I turned it on today and before I ever Played 1 Chord I heard a Loud Pop, then Nothing.
    I turned it off and checked the fuses and the .5 Amp B+ Fuse looked Like It Exploded inside the Glass.
    I plugged up my Dim Bulb test unit, put in another fuse.
    Everything looked good until I flipped it off standby.
    The bulb gott real bright.
    I turned it off and unplugged my Fave JJ KT77s, turned it back on and all was fine.
    I plugged one tube at a time in and one was apparently shorted.
    So I had a set of spare EL34EHs I put in and all was fine again.
    So my Question and dilemma, is these KT77 tubes were only a couple months old.
    I don't perform, The tubes had never been away from My house.
    No rough treatment, and I bias everything low, I had them running about 30-35 ma, at 485V.
    So Is this what everyone was saying to expect with EL34 Type Tubes.
    I know tubes don't last forever but Damn!
    B_T
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    Supporting Member jmaf's Avatar
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    I've had good luck with the JJ's and contrary to this case you had, I've had issues with EH. I guess it happens with all brands, but nothing negative to report about JJ so far.
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    You may have had some of the JJ's with small pins. Those will often lose contact with pins and you might lose the bias or something and poof goes a tube. I buy my JJ's from Eurotubes since they are across town from me, and also because they make sure the tubes test ok and check the pin size, etc.

    Greg

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    Supporting Member jmaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soundmasterg View Post
    You may have had some of the JJ's with small pins. Those will often lose contact with pins and you might lose the bias or something and poof goes a tube. I buy my JJ's from Eurotubes since they are across town from me, and also because they make sure the tubes test ok and check the pin size, etc.

    Greg
    JJ had issues with smaller than usual pins? I didn't know about that. Care to ellaborate?
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    Quote Originally Posted by soundmasterg View Post
    You may have had some of the JJ's with small pins. Those will often lose contact with pins and you might lose the bias or something and poof goes a tube. I buy my JJ's from Eurotubes since they are across town from me, and also because they make sure the tubes test ok and check the pin size, etc.

    Greg
    I'm using the Belton Tube Sockets.
    I thought the tubes fit rather snug into the Sockets.
    I Also hope you elaborate!
    Terry
    Technicians Run the World, but Bankers, Lawyers, and Accountants, Take All The Credit!
    Keep Rockin! B_T
    Terry

  34. #34
    Member cbass's Avatar
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    I had heard a few years ago that JJ Was having problems with undersized pins suposedly they have corrected the problem.

  35. #35
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    One of JJ's customer's apparently had asked for smaller pins, so JJ made all their octals with them. Unfortunately, they were too small and some of the pins would lose contact because unsuspecting tube installers would not readjust the socket to match the smaller pins. JJ reverted back to normal size pins shortly after, but there was a lot of stuff made like that. It has been at least 3 years since this problem and some vendors are still clearing out the JJ tubes with the smaller pins. Here is a link below to a post with some more info about it. Also, if you buy from a decent vendor (such as Eurotubes) then you will most likely not get any with the small pin issue.

    Greg

    JJ pin size issue finally put to bed [Archive] - Telecaster Guitar Forum

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