Are there replacement tubes for the Maz 18 head that give the amp even better warm breakup tone? I keep hearing about NOS tubes. Can someone please educate me on these tubes and why they're suppose to be better.
basically, the NOS stuff was made to much stricter tolerances because the tubes back then were used not only in audio gear, but hospitals and military equipment as well. hence the need for reliability. nowadays that is not the case and it is cheaper for most companies to rely on warranty replacement rather than taking the time to do such rigorous testing of their tubes.
Mike at KCA has a lot of great stuff but remember .... Mike is one of the top NOS guys and there are a LOT of really bad guys out there and BAD NOS tubes .... or tubes that are "pulls" sold as NOS bu a lot of folks.
NOS stuff ... we are at the bottom of the barrel and you are going to pay premium prices for good stuff from a vendor that has proper test equipment (like Mike) who knows how to properly test and does it.
I rarely use NOS stuff on the road or in an application that needs the amp to sound and work consistently. You just cannot get good NOS stuff on the road.
Current amps are designed around the tubes of today and there are a lot of great production tubes available.
I recently had a friend bring over 30 NOS GE and JAN 12AX7s that he got for a "great deal". In every case, every tube did not come even close to new spec. The tubes all had 2/3 at best, the current output that the tube should have had. The transconductance was also far short of spec and any tube vendor should have at least had equipment on hand to test this if they were selling these as new.
I do not like NOS output tubes in EL84 based amps. I guess if you have a ton of money and a great supplier it would work but most EL84 amps sound much improved when you pop in a fresh output set at even about 300 hours. On a 200 night per year tour that can get pricy if not just inconvienent.
I save NOS stuff for the studio generally or for vintage amps that had these vintage tubes.
There are exceptios ..... The EF86 is a great example. There are NO decent new production EF86s. Dr. Z has some good current Svetlanas but he has to hand pick them. The Z amps are not as picky as any of the other EF86 amps. In a Matchless or Bad Cat, 65 amps London, Victoria Sovereign, etc., you better have a good EF86. Also, what may be a good EF86 today will generally not be good tomorrow. Turn these new ones on and off ten times and they can go microphonic out of nowhere with no warning. Different materials used today with expansion and contraction rates of the parts that was not taken into the consideration of guitar amp applications where things are hammered a lot harder than in the audio world.
You may want to check out Dr Z's Third Note (in his section on this board) regarding the Svetlana 12ax7 and the Maz 18. I dropped them in the two slots of my Maz18 reverb head as the doc suggested and was very pleased at the warmth and body it provided - just like Dr Z indicated in his write up. At gig levels last Friday night, my strat neck pickup was singing in a new way. Very cool.!
Hope this is helpful.
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