All About Tube Amps

All about Tubes:

How do you know when an amp needs new tubes?

How do tubes change the sound?

What tubes for what sounds?

All types of tubes made by different manufactures some sound different then others. It can be pretty expensive to try a test of different tubes in an amplifier. It’s probably best to go with something you may know. Also, your amp was designed with a certain type tube set in mind and I usually tell most people to re tube their amp with the spec tubes for the amp. If you play hard or are a professional musician, you should replace your tubes every 6 months to a year in order to retain the full power needed to play in a live or club setting.

If you just play for fun then you need to change tubes every few years unless you have a bad tube; of course that would be replaced as needed – It’s really a no brainer.

Bench Rates start at about $105 for a flat fee repair plus parts. Bias test / set up with new tubes usually costs about $80 takes from one to three days to turn around.

Tubes do need to get replaced every so many hours of use (Eddie Van Halen used to replace his tubes every night, but that’s pretty ridiculous). It depends on how often you play and how hard you drive your amp. If you play every day, they should be replaced every 6 months to a year. Sovtek & Electro Hamonix tubes are good, Telefunkens can cost over $1000 each. What you may not be aware of is that a tube amp will never sound good unless it is driven near or at peak. That’s why it’s hard to get a great sound out of a 100 watt Marshall because your band mates will be screaming for mercy before you get any great tone. So, crank your amp all the way up and see how it sounds, there are testers for tubes, but your ear is the best gauge, remember, any tube amp will sound like crap at low volume.

You can tell if tubes need changing by their color and tone. When the amp is on take a look at the back, if they are not burning really bright, or there is a blue-ish glow you could probably use a new set. Tone will also tend to be dull… high/treble will not be as high and the bass/low will be a little murky. I have a Vox Ac50 – I prefer JJEL34 power tubes and TungSol 12ax7 preamp tubes. What tubes to use for what sounds is a difficult question because everyone has their own preference.

It rates tubes, explains their tonal differences and really gets in depth on what you can expect from each type of tube. Remember to take your amp to a certified amp tech for re-tubing… it will have to be re-biased and you can electrocute yourself and blow out the amp in the process.

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Installing Heat Shrink Tubes and Obtaining the Advantages

In case there is a 3:1 ratio, it means that there is 1/3rd shrinkage of the tube, when compared to its original diameter. The same concept is applicable if the ratio is 2:1. There are different ratios in which heat shrink tubes are available.

The most suitable ones are those which shrink to faintly smaller size of the cable you are applying to.

With effective tubing facilities, it is possible to extend a strong protective layer on the cables. This not only increases reliability and life extension but the performance of parts and components in different kinds of applications is improved with the same. Mentioned below are some ways in which heat shrink tubing are used:

1. Providing insulation from chemicals and heat – It is a well-known fact that exposure to extreme and high heat and chemicals can cause significant damage to cables and wires. There are tubing, which are heat and flame resistant, and these should be used for insulating electrical systems in various places.

2. Acts as a protective sealant – Cable splices and cables tend to gather dirt and dust. Water seepage in cables is also a common problem. With the help of good tubing, these problems can be avoided in the best possible manner. People looking for moisture and dust control for the cables in their personal computing and home theatre systems should use these tubing as much as possible.

3. Helps in effective soldering – Joining two wire splices can be done more effectively with heat shrink tubing, which is lined with some kind of conductive polymer film. This way of cable joints is more effective than that of soldering. The electrical connection is set up by the inner coating of the polymer film. Along with joining two wires, this helps in providing protection to the wires at the same time.

4. Helps in easy identification – Tangled wires are a common problem. As a result, it becomes difficult to identify the route of the wires. When you have to deal with messy groups of network cables, using tubing is highly recommended. This is also because the tubes come in various colours and colour coding is possible for the wires. This kind of labelling is way better than that of labelling with adhesive tapes and coloured papers.

5. Gives professional appearance – Instead of having mess of cables and wires, putting them in a tubing helps in imparting a professional look and appearance to any place – be it at office, in home or in an automobile. From protection to labelling to strain relief, tubing is a solution to many problems in one.

Make sure that the heat shrink tubes you purchase are of good quality, for sure.