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Good 12AX7 tube for Metal?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I've recently acquired a NOS GE JG-5751WA to put in the 12AX7 tube position in my Cayin HA-1A. It plays very nicely with most music... except Metal. I guess the lower gain takes away some crunch of the guitars. Fast shredding, for example, sounds kind of smudged now.

I've done a couple of searches on Google and here, but to no avail. Can anyone recommend, from experience, 12AX7 tubes that do well with Metal music?

For the record, here's the whole tube line-up in the amp:

12AX7 position: GE JG-5751WA
12AU7 position: RCA Cleartop
2x EL84 position: 6n14n Reflektor plant tubes (inexpensive NOS Russian tubes)

Thanks!
post #2 of 12
I have about 30 Amperex Bugalboy 12ax7 from an electrohome organ. I thought the European tubes were considered better then North American?
post #3 of 12
Try either Electro Harmonix, Groove Tubes GT-12AX7-R3, Ruby Tubes or Sovtek. There are many choices.
Tube Depot has a good selection and you can order any tube in High Gain etc.
post #4 of 12
The RCA clear tops are good (for the 12AU7 spot) but I would try and get some NOS Mullard for the rest ( NOS EL84 are still pretty inexpensive). A good alternative to the 12AX7 is the RCA 5751 black plate round getter. NOS Tung-Sol 12AX7A are damn good for metal/rock as are Amperex bugle boys (white labels). Orange globe Ameperex (Holland made) are also nice. There really aren't many bad NOS 12AX7's to speak of . GE can be run of the mill depending on plate size and date manufactured but for the most part any 12AX7 made between 1950 and 1970 will be better than any new production 12AX7. Of the new production tubes the Tung Sol reissue is OK but not better than the worst of the NOS 12AX7 made.

Beware of insane pricing with the 12AX7 (on eBay especially)....because of guitar amps (and the musicians using them) and speculators (flipping stock for profit) the NOS supplies of EL34 and 12AX7's are sometimes way overpriced. They are also getting hard to find (some EL34 types have all but been used up). 12AX7's are still plentiful with off brands being a good source of excellent sounding tubes. Look for organ company tubes like Lowry, Baldwin, Conn....those are good tubes at good prices. Rogers and Electrohome are two other names to consider. Many times these are Mullard, Amperex, RCA, or Sylvania made and exactly the same construction. Since they are meant for a organ they likely have very good specs/low microphony, low noise etc... good for audio gear in other words.

Dig around for good deals ...they can still be had (eBay is not a good place for such deals I'm afraid, at least not for 12AX7/EL34). NOS Mullard EL84's are amazing sounding tubes. I would look for no other brand in this spot.

Good luck,

Peete.
post #5 of 12
The Sylvania 7025 is a great tube - especially for the money - and to me sounds great with metal.
post #6 of 12
I listen exclusively to metal (goth, symphonic, death) and I gave up on the 12AX7/5751/7025 variants....to expensive for my blood. I went thru a bunch of 12AT7 tubes....lower mu than the 12AX7 family, but they sound very good and they're cheaper. I then discovered the 5965, 6414, and 7062 tubes. These have an mu lower than the 12AT7 but sound fantastic in my modified Jade amp. They pull a bit more current for the heater, but we're talking .08 amps. Plus, the 6414 and 7062 have a 10,000 hour heater life. Just the ticket for folks who want good sound but are also cheap bastards.

EDIT: I'm listening to Old Man's Child using a National branded 5965 tube. Goosebumps!
post #7 of 12
This chart from tubeworld is quite useful

post #8 of 12
The 60s - early 70s Tesla (non JJ) is a great sounding 12AX7.
post #9 of 12
In the past I used ECC83 (which is the same as 12AX7) from JJ and they were absolutely fine.
post #10 of 12
In my opinion from the many NOS 12AX7 tubes i tested the best for rock/metal is the RFT tubes. Nice dark sound, very balanced and with out the vintage tubey characteristics of many other NOS tubes, plus they are very affordable. As far as i know people with guitar tube amps just love them exactly for that reason.
post #11 of 12
Does HA-1A accept 12ax7 subs? In my speaker amp, I prefer 6414, 12av7, 12ay7 to 12ax7. 12ax7 sounds thinner compared with it's subs in this set up.
post #12 of 12

X2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
The Sylvania 7025 is a great tube - especially for the money - and to me sounds great with metal.
Same goes for me. I do like the re-issue Tung Sol for the money. But doing a little A-B comparison last night, it did confirm that the Sylvania NOS (1960s) did a better job (better sound stage, mids and treble).

But they are harder to find and cost more...
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