Worst Service Ever– Aka, MY TONE SUCKED!!! (and question for you guys- help me!)

AAAGH! I have done a couple of posts on my journey to “my” perfect tone (face it, its all relative to 1- You! and 2- to the person listening, who also generally doesn’t care as long as your tone does not just SUCK).

Today I setup my gear and it sounded weird, like the pedals were not getting enough voltage. Service had started, so I kept playing on and we still had 2 more services to go. Then my tubescreamer started sounding less like a tube and more like dry gas as one would find in a Will Ferrel or Jack Black movie. My tone was farting and even my volume was inconsistent.
What is up with this???
At the end of the service, I hit my mute button (TU2) and moved my amp around. Out of the 3 tubes, one of the power tubes was faintly glowing instead of glowing strong. Well, we did a new song today, with a fun, fast solo for about 12 beats that helps the keychange. In practice I was just playing with a quarter delay and a D Chord pattern with a sweet “bend up a full step” right at the key change. Needless to say, with the blown tube, this was less than impressive.

There is something sad about your rich, deep tone being turned into solid state crap.

The culprit found!

The culprit found!

So here is where your comments and knowledge come in. I have heard wonders about certain tubes. What are your opinions on which I need?

I obviously need 2 6V6 and a 12Ax7 for the preamp. Again, what would you choose?

Here are my details of my sound and why I chose my amp:
I was looking for a small, easier to carry around tube amp that sounded great about 5 and awesome up to 10. I wanted it to break up easy at about 5 to give a jazzy/blues sound, and I wanted a range of distortion. I played this amp in a store here in PR, and they wanted 500 clams for it (a pack of electric elixers is $25 here). So I bought off of musiciansfriend for $320 at the time. It had everything I wanted, with the exception of the digital amp models being a bit overkill. I did find 4-5 of the overdrive channels that sounded great through the preamp tube and suited my style, particularly with a main OD going into them while the rest sounded like a Line 6 wannabe.

What I like the most about that amp is at the level 5 (which is where I most play it, as it gets LOUD) it is nice and crisp with slight breakup, but when pushed a bit more with the Zendrive or the TS9, it really cracks and sounds like pure heaven. Bliss… ah, sigh. Not like today.

So what tubes would you recommend? I understand that the Electro Harmonix are okay, but not the best- however those are what was in this thing, and I LOVED the sound I got. You guys should know by now that I go with “End Result” tone vs “pure, perfect, best from the beginning tone”. I guess it comes from playing with all the Nashville guys that can hook their guitar to a harmonica and have it sound good. If there is a differing brand with better breakup/tone, I’m open to suggestions! Although I do not want break up early on, so I am thinking of staying with the “mediums” for now.

Thanks for all your thoughts/comments, especially you- “Tubeman Karl“! And remember, the Fender Super Champ XD rocks for being such a small amp! When I graduate, I am definitely getting the “real” amp, but If I do not, this amp has sold me!


7 Responses

  1. I can’t help much… still don’t know much about tubes, but I’ll read the comments!

  2. not an expert on tubes but here’s a good info on which can be a best fit for your amp. http://thetubestore.com/6v6review.html

  3. Hey Larry,

    I feel for ya, brother. I hate those days! As far as tubes go, I’d go JJ or Tung Sol for the power amp section. If you decide to go JJ, the best place I’ve found to get them is eurotubes.com . Bob is a great guy, and you’ll have them by the end of this week.
    For the preamp, I’d strongly, strongly suggest the JJ ECC83 gold pin. It’s a bit pricey, but totally worth it. And it’ll be worth it, too, since it’s your only preamp tube and hence most likely the phase inverter tube, to have it balanced. You can order that from Eurotubes, too.
    If you’re feeling really adventurous and have a lot of cash to spend, check Gearpage for some NOS Mullard, Tesla, Amperex, Philips, or Sylvania tubes.

    Have fun! Gear going out is just an excuse to spend lots of money fidning good tone. hehe 😉

  4. Nice… I think I’m going Tung Sol based on Rhoy and Karl, and the fact musicians friend has them readily available.
    Rhoy- nice site find, I’m keeping it for reference. I really enjoyed the descriptions and understood why I have really liked the EH tubs.
    Karl- thanks for the expert opinion! I am going to check out JJs, will probably order a set next month to see the difference of them and the Tung Sols.

    Seems like the Tung Sols are a bit creamier/smoother with less compression than the JJ and EH. Which kinda scares me, because I loved the EH and I would like the keep the compression. JJs seem to be crunchier, more compression but sparkly- more musical. And a bit more than the Tungs.
    I’m excited at the opportunity to try new gear! Thanks for the comments, I’m still open for suggestions!

  5. no problem. i usually buy my tubes from this Canadian company: http://thetubestore.com/

    btw, from what I get in reading all your posts/comments, you might be better served with the JJ6V6 than the EH. if you are feeling adventurous, why not try that. it might really bring out the best of your jazzy licks 😉

  6. heh.. agreed Rhoy. I think my style is more rock-ish, but as I play worship the most I kinda just “fell” into this jazzy style. I am going to buy some JJs probably next month, and compare. I’ve got a great guy at church who said he’d help rebias and all that. So why not? It wasn’t until Karl’s post I realized that your tubes were like your strings- each brand has its own definition, tone and sound. I guess that’s just my ignorance!

    appreciate all the help guys!

    Again, anyone else with suggestions or a particular favorite tube, please post back for discussion.

  7. Do yourself a huge favor and check out http://www.eurotubes.com. These guys are great; the best customer service, great prices and a depth of knowledge that you just can’t find anywhere else. Plenty of documentation on their web site, including videos of how to set the bias yourself. They import JJ Tesla tubes.

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