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What will US Sanctions do to availability to Russian-mfgr'd Vacuum Tubes?

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  • #61
    Originally posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post

    Anything's possible in my poor excuse of a mind g1. Svet - reportedly - continued with the big RF tubes no problem there. About Tesla, I probably read about their situation @ 22 years ago in Vacuum Tube Valley. Another source supports my memory, see end of 4th paragraph here: https://jacmusic.com/tesla/tesla-jj.html .
    I'm sure you are right Leo, sorry to doubt. It never occurred to me both companies could have done the same thing (continuing only with RF tubes).
    Thanks for the link. Funny thing is that if Tesla truly had made a mistake, as he asserts, I'm not so sure Svetlana (the winged-c type) would have done the same thing all those years later. They were making very good quality tubes and still decided not to keep going, at the later market prices.

    "Everything is better with a tube. I have a customer with an all-tube pacemaker. His heartbeat is steady, reassuring and dependable, not like a modern heartbeat. And if it goes wrong he can fix it himself. You can't do that with SMD." - Mick Bailey

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    • #62
      Wow, talk about bad timing with Shuguang.

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      • #63
        I got this from the latest The Audio Voice 367: Vacuum Troubled Times. Think Chip Shortage is Bad? Try Using Tubes.
        Editor's Desk
        J. Martins
        (Editor-in-Chief)
        Meeting Supply for Vacuum Tubes
        Time to Save Those Tubes?
        Supply chain issues are a familiar problem for product-oriented and manufacturing businesses and the last two years have shown how extensive the consequences of any disruptions can be. For most consumers, the semiconductor shortage was the most visible sign of the market interdependency problems, where natural disasters in one country can cause ripple effects all over the world. The effects of the global pandemic have thrown a powerful combination of multiple, consecutive disruptions that are causing long-lasting shortages in the most unsuspected places.


        Over the last two years, the audio industry has felt the direct effects of those disruptions in the supply chain across all its market and product segments. While "chip shortages" have been extensively debated in mainstream media, a much less visible shortage of apparently non-critical electronic components is actually causing wider-reaching problems for all manufacturers who have been unable to meet demands, some even forced to stop production completely while implementing product redesigns to offset those challenges. And after two years, audio manufacturers - as in many other industries - have transitioned from just-in-time and build-to-order strategies, to design for availability.


        More recently, the cumulative effects of lockdowns and geopolitical tensions have caused even more strain over the supply of raw materials, directly reflected in escalating costs for aluminum, neodymium, and even more common materials such as steel and nickel. Adding the escalating transportation costs and shipping delays generates a perfect storm that is causing a complete rethink of non-essential product production. And I would like to highlight how manufacturing and logistical challenges are causing despair among many startups and entrepreneurs dreaming about new product categories and brand strategies - including the thousands of innovative crowdfunding campaigns in the electronics space that have suddenly become not viable and impossible to execute.


        The global supply chain was already feeling all the severe effects of two years of pandemic, when the invasion of Ukraine and the resulting sanctions imposed on Russia further impacted the supply of raw materials, and many important parts and components. It's a known fact that both Ukraine and Russia are important suppliers of raw materials, particularly steel and aluminum, but also many critical parts and components for the electronic industry. But the scale of the impact on vacuum tube production seems to be much larger than we could imagine.
        The invasion of Ukraine and the resulting sanctions imposed on Russia are obviously having a significant impact on the global supply of tubes, but the scale of that impact seems to be much larger than we could imagine.
        As audioXpress is getting ready to send its traditional Glass Audio May 2022 "tube issue" to the printer, most of the traditional amplifier tube suppliers have gone silent. The current situation is obviously having a significant impact on the global supply of tubes - of all the product categories that are so dear to the audio industry.


        This week, while we were already in contact with some of those suppliers trying to assess the scale of the problems, companies started to make their positions more clear. Many of the European and US-based suppliers and distributors of tubes have stopped taking further orders, and some websites were temporarily suspended. audioXpress received an update from Tube Amp Doctor Musikhandels GmbH, an established supplier of amplifier tubes, which has been around since 1993, always with products designed in Germany but outsourcing its manufacturing from China.


        "Without a doubt, the current situation on the tube market can be classified as dramatic,” they state. As Tube Amp Doctor explains, for years, manufacturing for the most common tube types, such as 12AX7, ECC83, EL84, EL34, and 6L6GC has been dependent on only three manufacturers. Following the closing of the Shuguang Electron Tube Factory operation in August 2019, the largest manufacturer of tubes in China, which has not reopened during (and probably because of) the pandemic, Tube Amp Doctor says that it is now working with a small manufacturer in China since 2020, but that facility is only producing the larger volumes types, while gradually introducing the production of further models.
        Prices for key raw materials are reflecting the effects of current disruptions and increasing exponentially.
        It's one thing to design cost-is-no-object DIY audio amplifiers that can rely on new-old-stock (NOS) tubes, but with prices of new tubes rising 4x and uncertain availability, any manufacturers considering volume production of audio equipment using new tubes will need to rethink their strategies - and cost structure.
        So, what's left for the short term? JJ Electronic, based in Slovakia, is an established source for many of the popular tubes used in guitar amplifiers and hi-fi equipment but even before the invasion of Ukraine and the Russian sanctions, the company was already confirming very long delivery times (14 to 18 months depending on models) as a result of the pandemic. And we don’t know how immune JJ Electronic remains from the rest of the supply chain, including from Russia, a common (and affordable) source for materials.


        A few contacts that audioXpress established looking for clarification of those interdependencies, and to understand which manufacturing operations remained in operation, led us to realize the level of uncertainty. No one knows for certain how many tube manufacturing operations remain viable in Russia, being certain that the sanctions not only make exporting tubes almost impossible, but that the sanctions are likely to cause further strain over operations and the supply of source materials that those manufacturers in Russia need. And from China, there are significant disruptions caused by the consecutive pandemic lockdowns, transportation challenges, and cost increases.


        One of the companies sourcing all its production from Russia is Electro-Harmonix (EHX). The company, founded by Mike Matthews in 1968, has been continuously expanding its business serving the music and audio industry - from its beginnings in guitar effects pedals, to being the highest volume supplier of vacuum tubes for amplifiers and professional audio equipment. Starting from New Sensor Corp., in NY, EHX today owns its own vacuum tube factory in Saratov, Russia, where it produces tubes under the Sovtek, Tung-Sol, Mullard, and Genalex/Gold-Lion brands.
        A product category that is currently heavily dependent on limited production coming from Russia or China. Alternatives are currently in Slovakia ...and the US.
        New Sensor Corp. and Electro-Harmonix had a connection with what was once one the largest factories of vacuum tubes in Russia, the Svetlana plant in St. Petersburg. New Sensor even had the rights for the Svetlana brand in the US and Canada, but that operation ceased production in 2012 and EHX production is now concentrated at the Xpo-pul factory (the former Reflektor plant) in Saratov. The latest update from Electro-Harmonix on its website says that the company has managed to resolve the export restriction on Russian tubes for now, and that back orders will be processed starting in April, while new orders are being accepted with significant price increases, fully reflecting the tariffs imposed by US and Canada.

        There's more to this article, but will have to add that in the next thread, as I exceeded the character count limit.


        Last edited by nevetslab; 03-18-2022, 11:27 PM.
        Logic is an organized way of going wrong with confidence

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        • #64
          Continuing the rest of the article above:


          Contradicting that announcement, websites such as the popular valvetubeguitaramps.com say that, "nothing is being shipped out of Russia" and that supplies are already running very low, while some popular items that can be sourced from JJ Electronic are not expected to be replaced "until 2023." Another popular website, Thetubestore.com simply announced that it is temporarily closed and not accepting any new orders after being "overwhelmed with orders."
          Western Electric has made quality tubes for more than 100 years and the company that carries the brand is getting ready for the next 100 in its state-of-the-art Rossville factory.
          Made in USA
          Meanwhile, while targeting the higher end of the audio market, Western Electric has resumed manufacturing 300B tubes in its state-of-the-art Rossville Works in Rossville, GA. Looking to better understand the perspectives for tube audio, I reached out to Charles Whitener, the entrepreneur who had the vision to carry on the Western Electric operation, and currently the company's president and CEO. In a brief conversation, we've learned that this situation is not likely to improve significantly, at least over the next two years.


          In his ambition to revitalize Western Electric, Charles Whitener is probably one of the very few individuals who has visited all the tube factories that remained in operation over the last three decades. In fact, since 2006, Whitener acquired some of those factories in the US and Europe, or acquired all the machinery that was left, and which is now being used at the Rossville Works to produce 300Bs, but can also be applied to revive production for other models.


          But, as Whitener states, no effort in tube manufacturing will be able to change the current situation in a short period. The challenges faced being cumulative in key areas that he acted upon over the last decade. First by acquiring the machinery, production equipment, and processes that are required. Second, training the people to resume production and achieving quality production yields, which is something that cannot happen quickly. In fact, as he confessed, Western Electric had to surpass many additional challenges over the last five years, including finding a supplier for the glass tubes, following the disappearance of the incandescent light bulb, and the closing of the last remaining glass factories, including General Electric, Philips, and Osram. Apparently, the quality of glass required for vacuum tubes is now only available from a single source in Germany, and requires volumes that far surpass years of production for the audio industry. Adding the rising costs of key materials, such as nickel, means that the investment level required for a manufacturing operation of tubes is higher than ever.


          If there is a company well prepared to challenge those obstacles and anticipate the timeline, it will be Western Electric. Over the last two decades, Western Electric acquired the know-how and machinery from the Philips Mullard operations, including grid and cathode machines, processes, and all the metal parts from Siemens, Mullard, and Telefunken. And that helps explain why Charles Whitener is optimistic that he will be able to meet future demand, even considering the costs of shipping and rising costs of materials.
          Charles Whitener, Western Electric president and CEO, is assessing plans to expand tube operations, since its modern Rossville factory is equipped to handle production of multiple tube types.
          Following our brief conversation on March 16, Western Electric has already sent out a (soft) announcement regarding the company's intentions and confirming "plans to expand tube operations." The announcement states: Recent Russian sanctions, along with the closure of a few essential tube manufacturers over the years, have led to uncertainty and disruption in the tube supply chain. At the moment, we're fielding an abundance of inquiries from concerned tube lovers & musicians about our capacity to produce other tube types like the 12AX7, for example.”


          "We are already up to our necks meeting demand for the type 300B vacuum tube. However, our factory was originally designed to sustain production of other tube types," they add. The company created a page for those interested in receiving more information about those plans for potential supplies of 12AX7, 6L6, EL84, 6H30, KT88, and 274B types. On that page Western Electric predicts: "in light of recent worldwide events, we believe our capacity to do so may become vital to the industry."
          So, the drama continues to unfold. I sent this entire thread where it begain 2/21/22 to the General Mgr here at CenterStaging, LLC in Burbank, along with to the new Director of Engineering at Hiwatt, where they have been using all J/J tubes in current production amps.
          Last edited by nevetslab; 03-18-2022, 11:28 PM.
          Logic is an organized way of going wrong with confidence

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          • #65
            Well PitBull Audio delivered my matched quad of Russian "Mullard Reissue" EL84s in good time,
            Click image for larger version

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            Still no word on my Slovak JJ 6L6's

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            • #66
              Thanks for those who provided deep info from great sources. Is anyone seeing a change in demand for tube amps, including repairs, because of this? I know I am using my tube amps less, and putting off tube projects for a while, even though I probably have enough tubes to get me through most of them.

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              • #67
                Originally posted by glebert View Post
                Is anyone seeing a change in demand for tube amps,
                Saw somebody checking out the solid state version of BF Super at the music store yesterday, I suspect that the 'Tone Master' line of amps may see increased interest, and maybe additional models.

                "Everything is better with a tube. I have a customer with an all-tube pacemaker. His heartbeat is steady, reassuring and dependable, not like a modern heartbeat. And if it goes wrong he can fix it himself. You can't do that with SMD." - Mick Bailey

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                • #68
                  a SOLUTION !
                  Click image for larger version  Name:	SS tube.jpg Views:	0 Size:	35.5 KB ID:	955947
                  from AMT, works for most preamps at least... where is AMT out of?
                  Oh $#*&^@!!

                  On a mores serious note Western Electric is taking an online poll of interest in tubes and maybe we could direct some sigs there (email contact is required)
                  https://www.westernelectric.com/expand

                  Last edited by tedmich; 03-20-2022, 07:23 PM.

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                  • #69
                    I object to them claiming to have made tubes for 100 years. WE ceased to exist in the 1990s. What we have now is a private company leasing the name Western Electric from AT&T to use on their own products. Parallel the name Mullard. The Mullard of today is not a legacy of the old Mullard company.
                    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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                    • #70
                      Originally posted by Enzo View Post
                      I object to them claiming to have made tubes for 100 years. WE ceased to exist in the 1990s. What we have now is a private company leasing the name Western Electric from AT&T to use on their own products. Parallel the name Mullard. The Mullard of today is not a legacy of the old Mullard company.
                      its again a subverted reality Enzo, but also the norm.
                      Dead company names existing solely as Trademarks (and thus lasting FOREVER now, thanks Disney) are worth minimally $1M I've been told.

                      How about those late night POS Bell and Howell LED flashlights? At least they aren't trying to sell Mullard mp3 players...

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                      • #71
                        At least Whitener claims to have bought all the tooling, tech info and IP for the 300B.
                        Whereas the only authentic aspect of the Philips Mullard heritage Mike Matthews seems bothered about is the branding.
                        My band:- http://www.youtube.com/user/RedwingBand

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                        • #72
                          Originally posted by Mick Bailey View Post
                          Is anyone still in contact with Stan? His point of view from the other side was always interesting.
                          Poor Stan is the head of all Russian Electronics and Music Industry, just had his 300m super yacht impounded in Finland....

                          Kidding, he is a missed voice round here, a great guy!

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                          • #73
                            Not sure if anyone has shared this update yet. Not sure when they updated their site, but I don't think it was there in the middle of last week.

                            https://shop.ehx.com/russian-tubes/
                            If I have a 50% chance of guessing the right answer, I guess wrong 80% of the time.

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                            • #74
                              While I did alert management here at CenterStaging, LLC Burbank, CA with regards to the pending doom from the now-effective world shortage of Vacuum tubes that we use in keeping our backline gear, tube-based Pro Audio gear and such alive and well..........I just went looking to see what I could find, having depleted the last of my J/J ECC83S tubes. Looks like nothing available everywhere I look, as well as the prices have already doubled and more. Our thanks to Vladimir Putin for his F**KING war/invasion of Ukraine!! Management did NOTHING to cover their ass. How delightful!

                              Doesn't help being on the low side of available funds and trying to keep work flowing thru the shop, when needing fresh tubes. I guess I'll have to start screening all the pulls I've kept over the years to see what I can do for the meantime. May also have to select low-demand tube amps in our inventory and cannibalize them for working tubes.
                              Logic is an organized way of going wrong with confidence

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                              • #75
                                These might make a comeback.
                                nosaj
                                When I die I want to go quietly in my sleep like my grandpa did. Not kicking and screaming like the passengers in his car.

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