Vacuum Tubes

Last week I ordered a number of New Old Stock vacuum tubes for my primary stage guitar amplifier, a Fender 1965 Deluxe Reverb Reissue.

I purchased the following tubes:

Quite an expensive upgrade to the amp. I thought that re-tubing the amp would have a subtle impact on tone. I was hoping to achieve a smoother sound. Less strident. The Fender amp is exceptionally bright. Or, should I say, was exceptionally bright.

The difference in tone was not subtle. It was dramatic. The tubes completely changed the voice of the amplifier. And I mean completely. I now own a different amplifier.

At first, I wasn’t sure about the change. I had to rediscover the amplifier’s sweet spot. Gone was the excessive brightness. Gone was the washed-out reverb. Gone too were all the settings on the amp, guitar and pedalboard for the other amp I used to own. Panic set in as I had to figure out how to dial in the best sound from this new amplifier.

I spent several hours on Friday evening tweaking tone. The amp was also used in session to track some electric guitar overdubs. The tone, as with the playing, was inspired.

I used the amp on stage on Sunday and I was thoroughly delighted with the changes. The new speaker is due to come in shortly. I wonder if the change in speaker will be equally as dramatic.

I suppose I could always buy a really, really old amp. Like the Gibson pictured below. Perhaps that is the best way to get vintage tone?


6 replies
  1. Steve
    Steve says:

    Ah ha! I knew it sounded different yesterday. Wow, I really liked it. A question though: was the change in tubes the reason for your change from your common volume setting?

  2. richard cleaver
    richard cleaver says:

    With the original tubes, the amp was extremely bright and to achieve break-up and a decent tone required the volume to be set at 2.5 – 3, the treble control at 1.5 and the bass control at 7.

    With the new tubes, the amp smoothed out dramatically. Break-up was achieved at a lower volume. The volume control was set at 2, treble at 4.5 and the bass control at 3.

    The new amp settings were dramatically different. The tubes changed the tone of the amp and allowed me to get a sweet spot at a lower volume level.

  3. nikolaros
    nikolaros says:

    i have got the same problem playing my Marshall 1959slp reissue. It is very, very bright and harsh sounding… I spent lots of money and i feel i am an idiot… ANY GOOD SET OF TUBES PLEASE?

  4. Richard Cleaver
    Richard Cleaver says:

    Hi Nikolaros,

    You can check out the links already mentioned in the comments above. I have no experience with the Marshall 1959 reissue. What I can tell you is that changing the stock tubes may have a significant impact on the tone of your amp. I found the tube dealers to be very helpful in terms of making recommendations. Email a few and see what they say.


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