Finding the perfect vacuum tube is easier said than done. The industry can be confusing. Below are some recommended tips to implement to make the process go smoother.
1. Markings matter
Each vacuum tube is stamped with a unique identification marking. The markings are stamped during the manufacturing process. The markings on each tube varies according to the country of origin. Markings can be letters, numbers, and/or a combination of both. For instance, tubes manufactured in the United States will have five digits. The first two common notations will be numbers. These reveal the filament voltage. The second set of digits will be letters. These refer to the tube’s model number. The final notation will be another number that reveals the number of filaments or internal elements.
2. Fit is not a performance indicator
It may seem logical that if a tube fits into your amp’s socket, it will work. That is incorrect. Thousands of tubes share the same identical basing. They key is matching the basing to your amp’s operational requirements. Consulting with a trained tube professional will provide valuable insight into this area.
3. Deal with a trained specialist
The tube industry is a complex and confusing one. Many music stores sell tubes, but lack the know-how into how to optimize your amplification system. Trained professionals will understand the industry and the intricacies of choosing the correct tube. Only deal with companies, like The Tube Store, who willingly work with customers to optimize the buying experience. They want to help the customer find the perfect tube for enhancing any amplification system. Reputable companies will offer high-quality vacuum tubes for sale at reasonable prices.
Deal with companies that offer money-back guarantees, online libraries of industry data, and valuable resources. Choose a tube provider that willingly answers questions in a professional and knowledgeable manner. Avoid those that act offended or insulted by your questions.
4. Know your budget
Set a financial limit when buying your vacuum tubes. Tubes come in a variety of prices. Understand that vintage vacuum tubes will cost more due to their limited availability and high demand. Some may not be manufactured anymore. These tubes are perfect for the amp traditionalists who prefer maintaining a vintage amp system. There is something nostalgic, prestigious and note-worthy about having a rig that’s the envy of others. It usually costs more than other tube types. Not everyone can claim to have a vintage rig.
5. Selling site matters
Consumers need to understand that the same tube can be sold under different labels and identification numbers. It depends on where the tube is sold. For instance, the United States sells a 12ax7 tube. This same tube is sold in Europe as the ECC83.
Guitar manufacturers can assign a unique part number to versions of a tube. The popular manufacturer known as Fender, for instance, can market the 12ax7 tube as its own 7025 model number. Consumers can limit confusion by dealing with a trained tube professional.
6. Understand the JAN designation
Some tubes have a JAN stamping. JAN stands for Joint Army Navy. Obviously, these tubes were originally manufactured for military use. The technology, construction, and quality control are continually updated to provide optimum performance levels.
Finding the perfect vacuum tube takes research, insight, and time. Consulting with a trained professional, like those at The Tube Store, can lower your frustration and confusion level.