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| | |-+  What preamp tubes in my Expression?
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Author Topic: What preamp tubes in my Expression?  (Read 10418 times)
BigJim
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« on: March 05, 2008, 04:17:29 PM »

Just got an Expression from a member here. Digging the tone, touch sensitivity and dynamics, but one of the preamp tubes is going microphonic. Looking to replace the bunch, but thought I would see who has what where.

What are your favorite pre-amp tubes for your Expressions?
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poipounder57
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« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2008, 10:15:07 PM »

Howzit BigJim...congrats on your new amp!!!  I have my Expression loaded with Amperex 12ax7's.  I had some Mullards in it...but they went microphonic on me.  The Expression is really sensitive to a bad tube.  I'm using the Mullards in another one of my amps.  Mullard are sweet...but they are $$$.  I heard the new production of the Tungsol's and Shuguang  12ax7 are pretty good and priced right.  I'll have to try some out sometime.
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BigJim
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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2008, 09:46:36 AM »

Thanks Poi.

I found a box of older preamp tubes last night, gonna rotate a few in and out of there.

The Expression is a beast, played it for a bit yesterday. Amazing amount of gain, almost uncontrollable at times, this was with my strat!

Problems seem to arise when I touch the treble control or bright switch, microphonics pop up.
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poipounder57
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« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2008, 09:07:55 PM »

I use a DIY Airbrake attenuator to tame the down the beast.  If not for the Airbrake my wife would've kick me out a long time ago:-)  I cranked up my Expression only a couple of times at a friends house.  Awesome tones...it is a amazing amp!!!
I purchased my Expression from Nik built minus the tubes...once I replaced the microphonic tube no problems. 
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BigJim
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« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2008, 10:55:28 AM »

It's a tube I'm sure. Unfortunately all of my replacements are crappy too! Looking for some Amperex's now, where did you find yours?
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poipounder57
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« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2008, 09:15:04 PM »

I scored some nice tubes on Ebay.  Just need to be careful...I got burned a couple of times:-( 
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BigJim
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« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2008, 09:22:35 PM »

Yeah, I'm leery about eBay and tubes, especially "NOS" there. But I was pricing them on a few different reputable places on-line, $75 a tube is a bit more than I want to spend!

Any suggestions for current day manufacturers? Sovtech? JJ? EH?
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poipounder57
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« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2008, 09:40:24 PM »

I heard the new production of the Tungsol's and Shuguang 9th generation 12ax7 are pretty good.  Never tried them yet...but I'm planning to try some later.  They are priced right:-)
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BigJim
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« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2008, 10:52:27 AM »

Ordered 3 tubes from Doug's Tubes: Sovtek 12AX7WA, Sovtek LPS, Tung Sol 12AX7 re-issue. These are all "low noise, high gain" types that I have read up on and people recommended for the Express style amps. They should be here tomorrow, I'll let you know how it goes...
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M Fowler
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« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2008, 11:22:42 PM »

I forgot to as Nik what tubes are coming with my express and I don't see it out on the web site so I assumed they were specially made for ceriatone.  I have a few different one laying around and I also have a box waiting for me full of tubes from a local radio repair place that find them for me.  The box scored some great tubes.  I used to get them from hospital salvage as med tech equipment and engineering departments in old hospitals also ran tube equipment.

So instead bugging Nik does some one out there know what tubes I will be getting on a stock TW express.

Mark
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toriko
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« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2008, 04:12:32 AM »

I recently built my TW Express and it is really a fire breathing monster!
Have experimented with several tube sets including: 6v6, 6CA7 and EL34s.

Judging from the TW clips on YouTube, the original TW cleaned up amazingly and could go from clean to insane with the swell of one's guitar volume. The main problem with the TW Express by default is that it is way over gained, there is no possibility of cleaning up or dialing in any workable tone past volume one (7:00). I would seriously bring this to Nik's attention however I have never played through an original TW and Nik is god in some circles Smiley

Here is an original 1989 TW:

I was a little discouraged until I experimented with several preamp tube configurations I have found something that is more versatile from liquid lead to clean. Try using a Tung Sol 12ax7 in V1 and an EH12AT7 in V2. This brought down the gain by 40%. You can further reduce the gain using 12AU7. Check out: http://thetubestore.com/gainfactor.html  The newly designed TungSol 12ax7 have no discernable microphonics! You can tap the EH or JJ 12ax7 and hear how microphonic they really are.


In my experience, I'd further recommend humbuckers as single coils don't drive the TW that well.

Having built the TW I later installed the PVIMV Type II, I personally like the sound of the 6CA7 biased at 40ma. They have a lot more bottom than the EL34s and sound great through my Marshall 4x12 with greenbacks. This is indeed TW nirvana.

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M Fowler
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« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2008, 01:52:55 AM »

Remember you can also run 6V6 power tubes for whole different power level and sound.  I have been switching out pre-amp tubes trying different sounds and gains.  I like the JJ and Groove tubes the best for low end or cheaper tubes without going broke on NOS.  If you ask around you will be surprized where you can score old tubes.

Glen K. youtube video is good as well as his CDs and he has built his own TW clones and knows his way around these amps.  I like what Nik is doing to keep these old amps available for all at very reasonable prices but shipping sucks, what can we do?

My Express came with JJ from Nik in Gabkit Red cab.  I loaded a mix of ecc83, 5751, 12ax7, and JJel84 in the liverpool I built in the drawer cab from Woodcraft.com.

Mark


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« Last Edit: November 30, 2008, 01:54:37 AM by M Fowler » Logged
SHenneman
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« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2020, 11:01:43 PM »

I'm reviving an old thread in the hopes that someone might benefit from my trial and error.

 I tried a TON of different combinations of tubes in my Expression and by far the best I've found are V1: either NOS RFT or new production Tung Sol 12ax7 V2: JJecc83s V3: Sovtek12ax7LPS, preamp tubes are important for sure, but the biggest tonal differences I found with trying different EL34s.

 I tried Winged Cs( not bad, but shrill and honky), EHX 6CA7( thin, shrill, and honky), new production Mullard( AWFUL), JJ EL34( ok, but honky), JJ E34L ( a little sluggish and honky), and a few more almost all of them made the amp sound harsh or harsh and honky.

 By far the best I've found are the Shuguang EL34B, sold as Sino EL34B via Tubedepot. Smooth, no harshness, no honkiness. Sounds like a nicely balanced EL34.

A couple other things to note: The PPIMV is almost useless and only sounds good at 3 o'clock or above and sounds best turned all the way up. I found the parallel ceramic and poly caps between V1 makes things too mushy on the low end, especially for humbuckers and even more especially for higher output humbuckers so I removed the .002 ceramic cap. I went from having the bass dialed all the way off to being able to use it between 9 o'clock and noon without any flub or mud. If I used the PPIMV I'd probably not remove the cap however as things get thin quickly once PPIMV is turned down.
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SHenneman
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« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2020, 11:10:25 PM »

AND I almost forgot, depending on the style of tone bleed on the guitar different length cables really seem to work for different guitars. My SG without a treble bleed sounds best with a 10 - 15 ft cable while my prs with a standard 200pf-ish treble bleed on it sounds best with about 40 ft of cable between the guitar and the amp. Really guitar dependent for cable length though probably as much as treble bleed, definitely worth trying different combinations.
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