Tung-Sol 12AX7 Vacuum Tube Review

Review – Tung-Sol 12AX7

4:24 pm

There are only so many ways to describe tube tone and most have become cliches. The Tung-Sol 12AX7 has the gain and drive of a Chinese 12AX7 and the pure tone of a Mullard or Brimar from the U.K.

I’ve had two people come to me recently with amps they thought were in need of complete overhauls. In both cases, careful examination revealed no serious problems and all the tubes “tested” as good. At the end of the day, I replaced the NOS Mullard and RCA pre-amps (one in each amp) with a reissue Tung-Sol 12AX7. In both cases the owners were very impressed and thought that their amps had been restored to full health. Believe it or Not.

2 Responses

  1. Rick West
    Rick West at |

    Sir Templeton,

    This comment is not in response to your information; but in direct response from my own experience with trying the Tung-Sol 12AX7 as a pre-amp tube:

    I’m playing on a Crate Palomino V8 (Class A amp). It’s a basic circuit: 1 12AX7 pre-amp, and 1 EL84 output). It came stock with Groove Tubes; = one Sovtek 12AX7, and one Sovtek EL84). It had CRAZY GAIN to begin with! TOO MUCH GAIN… i.e. only 60-70% usable gain; the remainder… only “noise”. Past 70% on the gain knob, it sounded like “bees in a beer can”. Tinny, goofy, buzzy; without distinction… and they hiccuped!

    So I replaced the preamp tube with a Tung-Sol 12AX7: THE RESULTS WERE AMAZING! Everything sounded better– clean / overdrive/ full gain / whatever– EVERYTHING SOUNDED “MUSICAL”. I “lost” some Gain; but I needed to. My amp now had 20% more clean head room; which it needed. Now I had about 90% usage of my amp’s gain knob– and STILL HAD TOO MUCH GAIN. (But more range to dial-in musical distortion).
    The Tung-Sol 12AX7 sounded AWESOME! … but it burned out in about 1 year.
    So, now I’m experimenting with a different tube to see what those results might be…

    1. Jay Rivers-Reibholdt
      Jay Rivers-Reibholdt at |

      Hi Rick, yeah indeed this could be happen with Tungsol standard Tube line 12ax7,
      in my experience the Tungsol ECC803 / 12 ax type gold pin works a little bit stronger
      longer livelasting, same attributes as the standard but I think a little bit more
      better constructed, though some people tell the gold pins are only “moneymaker plus”.
      I don’t think so as I have compared several Tungsol 12ax7 and the gold pins are the winner.
      Have Luck and Fun Jay


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