How do I buy cheap NOS tubes?
post-15759821
Thread Starter
Post #1 of 13

tubebuyer2020

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 24, 2020
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
Location
World
Joined
Jul 24, 2020
Location
World
Posts
4
Likes
0
Why do tube vendors get angry or ghost when asking them about brands they have in stock for cheap tube types?
It's not like I am asking for detailed measurements or something like that.
 
     Share This Post       
post-15760058
Post #3 of 13

buke9

Headphoneus Supremus
Help and Recommendation Contributor
Joined
Feb 21, 2015
Messages
8,587
Reaction score
1,528
Location
Kentucky
Joined
Feb 21, 2015
Location
Kentucky
Posts
8,587
Likes
1,528
Most NOS tubes aren’t going to be cheap. Got a Tung Sol 5998 4 years ago for $99 which was pretty expensive but try finding one at less than double that price now they will not go down in price as there is a finite stock of them.
 
     Share This Post       
post-15760101
Post #4 of 13

tubebuyer2020

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 24, 2020
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
Location
World
Joined
Jul 24, 2020
Location
World
Posts
4
Likes
0
What amp and/or DAC are you looking to buy for?
It's one of Garage 1217 amps, so it supports almost any reasonable dual triodes.
In terms of tubes, I am looking at stuff nobody wants e.g. 6BQ7A. The ones I got so far sound "fine" to me.

Tubedepot states: "This is a suitable replacement for any 6BQ7A / 6BZ7 tube type. Various brands.".
Who is going to buy "various brands" blindly - television repairmen?

Most NOS tubes aren’t going to be cheap. Got a Tung Sol 5998 4 years ago for $99 which was pretty expensive but try finding one at less than double that price now they will not go down in price as there is a finite stock of them.
Yeah, exactly. I don't want to shell out for stuff like that and overpopular 6SN7/12AU7 - I think that ship has mostly sailed. However trying different brands is still fun! Hence my interest in cheap types.
 
     Share This Post       
post-15760109
Post #5 of 13

buke9

Headphoneus Supremus
Help and Recommendation Contributor
Joined
Feb 21, 2015
Messages
8,587
Reaction score
1,528
Location
Kentucky
Joined
Feb 21, 2015
Location
Kentucky
Posts
8,587
Likes
1,528
It's one of Garage 1217 amps, so it supports almost any reasonable dual triodes.
In terms of tubes, I am looking at stuff nobody wants e.g. 6BQ7A. The ones I got so far sound "fine" to me.

Tubedepot states: "This is a suitable replacement for any 6BQ7A / 6BZ7 tube type. Various brands.".
Who is going to buy "various brands" blindly - television repairmen?



Yeah, exactly. I don't want to shell out for stuff like that and overpopular 6SN7/12AU7 - I think that ship has mostly sailed. However trying different brands is still fun! Hence my interest in cheap types.
Well if different brands are available then probably means they aren’t that good or someone else would have picked up on them.
 
     Share This Post       
post-15760210
Post #6 of 13

Monsterzero

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Aug 21, 2013
Messages
7,997
Reaction score
4,029
Location
Down at Dinos Bar & Grill
Joined
Aug 21, 2013
Location
Down at Dinos Bar & Grill
Posts
7,997
Likes
4,029
eah, exactly. I don't want to shell out for stuff like that and overpopular 6SN7/12AU7 - I think that ship has mostly sailed. However trying different brands is still fun! Hence my interest in cheap types.
In my limited tube buying experience i have come to the conclusion that brands ,regardless of tube type,had a "house sound".
For example,RCAs were very,very warm with big and often bloated bass. If you wanted a more refined version of that sound you opt for Mullard.
On the other end of the spectrum you have brands like Telefunken,which were quite bright and airy.

IMO if you get to understand the house sound of a given mfg then I think you can safely buy any given type that your amp can take knowing what sound you will be getting....generally speaking.

Other members with way more experience than I with tubes agree with this mindset. If your tube seller wont allow you to choose a specific brand then you need to find a new tube broker.
 
     Share This Post       
post-15760264
Post #7 of 13

attmci

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 24, 2005
Messages
1,735
Reaction score
507
Location
North America
Joined
Feb 24, 2005
Location
North America
Posts
1,735
Likes
507
Most NOS tubes aren’t going to be cheap. Got a Tung Sol 5998 4 years ago for $99 which was pretty expensive but try finding one at less than double that price now they will not go down in price as there is a finite stock of them.
NOS is not equal to NIB. :) But even those "NOS" or "NIB" tubes could be used ones. :)
 
     Share This Post       
post-15760296
Post #8 of 13

buke9

Headphoneus Supremus
Help and Recommendation Contributor
Joined
Feb 21, 2015
Messages
8,587
Reaction score
1,528
Location
Kentucky
Joined
Feb 21, 2015
Location
Kentucky
Posts
8,587
Likes
1,528
NOS is not equal to NIB. :) But even those "NOS" or "NIB" tubes could be used ones. :)
NOS is New Old Stock so should not be used and if it is should not be called NOS.
 
     Share This Post       
post-15776222
Post #9 of 13

attmci

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 24, 2005
Messages
1,735
Reaction score
507
Location
North America
Joined
Feb 24, 2005
Location
North America
Posts
1,735
Likes
507
NOS is New Old Stock so should not be used and if it is should not be called NOS.
Only a handful of trusted seller call their tube tested as NOS.

If you want to purchase real "NOS" tubes, may I suggest "NIB"?
 
     Share This Post       
post-15777314
Post #10 of 13

buke9

Headphoneus Supremus
Help and Recommendation Contributor
Joined
Feb 21, 2015
Messages
8,587
Reaction score
1,528
Location
Kentucky
Joined
Feb 21, 2015
Location
Kentucky
Posts
8,587
Likes
1,528
Only a handful of trusted seller call their tube tested as NOS.

If you want to purchase real "NOS" tubes, may I suggest "NIB"?
There is a difference from NOS and NIB. NOS refer to older tubes that haven’t been used and NIB could mean recently made tubes that are new in box so might not be the thing to look for as you said trusted seller is the key.
 
     Share This Post       
post-15777380
Post #11 of 13

attmci

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 24, 2005
Messages
1,735
Reaction score
507
Location
North America
Joined
Feb 24, 2005
Location
North America
Posts
1,735
Likes
507
There is a difference from NOS and NIB. NOS refer to older tubes that haven’t been used and NIB could mean recently made tubes that are new in box so might not be the thing to look for as you said trusted seller is the key.
Those non-used tubes made in the 30s, 40s, 50s in their original box are also called NIB. :)
 
     Share This Post       
post-15778920
Post #12 of 13

tomb

Member of the Trade: Beezar.com
Joined
Mar 1, 2006
Messages
10,332
Reaction score
628
Joined
Mar 1, 2006
Posts
10,332
Likes
628
In my limited tube buying experience i have come to the conclusion that brands ,regardless of tube type,had a "house sound".
For example,RCAs were very,very warm with big and often bloated bass. If you wanted a more refined version of that sound you opt for Mullard.
On the other end of the spectrum you have brands like Telefunken,which were quite bright and airy.

IMO if you get to understand the house sound of a given mfg then I think you can safely buy any given type that your amp can take knowing what sound you will be getting....generally speaking.

Other members with way more experience than I with tubes agree with this mindset. If your tube seller wont allow you to choose a specific brand then you need to find a new tube broker.
You can only make that statement for a few select tube types and even then, it could be wrong. Tube manufacturing was quite incestuous back in the day - and even now, too. Manufacturers might make an entire series of tubes, but then not others. Just so that they would have a full lineup for their sales and distribution, they'd buy unbranded tubes by the thousands, then brand the tubes, box them, and sell them as their own. This happened with GE, RCA, Tung Sol, Sylvania, etc., etc.

Some tubes were made by almost every manufacturer - like the 12AU7. That wouldn't stop them from buying 12AU7 stock from another mfr if they were short during some periods.

What you really need to look for is construction. Some mfrs had certain methods in the way the plates were formed, or the getters were made. Others would etch the glass - a much more permanent method of marking than a painted-brand. GE used a series of etched dots; RCA used a squished octagon that held the tube type designation - it was etched, not painted. That said, there are instances of mfrs such as GE and RCA etching sub-contracted tubes, too.

Some tube vendors reference number codes on the tubes. These are useful, but there was nothing to keep a mfr from re-coding and these days, they're often the first thing to rub off on the tube.

When it comes to NEW manufacture tubes, things get even murkier. There were basically only 2 tube mfrs left outside of Asia, New Sensor (Electro Harmonix) and Sovtek (JJ). Since 2012, they're all New Sensor. This guy owns both: Mike Matthews. Like the Chinese in other industries, he's been busy buying up the trademarks to once-familiar tube brands. Certain things are done with the construction and quality to create a perceived difference, but NEW manufacture TungSol, Mullard, Genelex, etc. are all New Sensor (same as either JJ or Electro-Harmonix).

Those non-used tubes made in the 30s, 40s, 50s in their original box are also called NIB. :)
Been in this business for over a decade - bought, sold, and tested a couple of thousand tubes, but never heard of NOS tubes called NIB. As others have stated, they're either genuine NOS or they're not. Boxes are superfluous. You can buy egg crates of 100 tubes each, without a single tube box and they can all be genuine NOS ... or not. Also, anybody - anybody can take a tube and put it into a box. Who's to say what's really "original" (see the first reply above)?

It's one of Garage 1217 amps, so it supports almost any reasonable dual triodes.
In terms of tubes, I am looking at stuff nobody wants e.g. 6BQ7A. The ones I got so far sound "fine" to me.

Tubedepot states: "This is a suitable replacement for any 6BQ7A / 6BZ7 tube type. Various brands.".
Who is going to buy "various brands" blindly - television repairmen?



Yeah, exactly. I don't want to shell out for stuff like that and overpopular 6SN7/12AU7 - I think that ship has mostly sailed. However trying different brands is still fun! Hence my interest in cheap types.
Something that irritates a tube vendor probably more than anything else is to call them up and ask for all sorts of brands on a relatively cheap tube. In the case of TubeDepot, one of the most reputable tube vendors around, they already have notable tubes separately listed by specific mfrs. If you see a listing that says, "various brands," it already means that they're so cheap it makes no difference. If you are going to purchase something that inexpensive, ask to have a variety and order 6-12 at least. Or, start looking on ebay. Ebay is fine if the price is right and it's the tube brand that you want (or the construction is, see first reply above).
 
     Share This Post       
  • Like
Reactions: gimmeheadroom
post-15779198
Post #13 of 13

attmci

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 24, 2005
Messages
1,735
Reaction score
507
Location
North America
Joined
Feb 24, 2005
Location
North America
Posts
1,735
Likes
507
You can only make that statement for a few select tube types and even then, it could be wrong. Tube manufacturing was quite incestuous back in the day - and even now, too. Manufacturers might make an entire series of tubes, but then not others. Just so that they would have a full lineup for their sales and distribution, they'd buy unbranded tubes by the thousands, then brand the tubes, box them, and sell them as their own. This happened with GE, RCA, Tung Sol, Sylvania, etc., etc.

Some tubes were made by almost every manufacturer - like the 12AU7. That wouldn't stop them from buying 12AU7 stock from another mfr if they were short during some periods.

What you really need to look for is construction. Some mfrs had certain methods in the way the plates were formed, or the getters were made. Others would etch the glass - a much more permanent method of marking than a painted-brand. GE used a series of etched dots; RCA used a squished octagon that held the tube type designation - it was etched, not painted. That said, there are instances of mfrs such as GE and RCA etching sub-contracted tubes, too.

Some tube vendors reference number codes on the tubes. These are useful, but there was nothing to keep a mfr from re-coding and these days, they're often the first thing to rub off on the tube.

When it comes to NEW manufacture tubes, things get even murkier. There were basically only 2 tube mfrs left outside of Asia, New Sensor (Electro Harmonix) and Sovtek (JJ). Since 2012, they're all New Sensor. This guy owns both: Mike Matthews. Like the Chinese in other industries, he's been busy buying up the trademarks to once-familiar tube brands. Certain things are done with the construction and quality to create a perceived difference, but NEW manufacture TungSol, Mullard, Genelex, etc. are all New Sensor (same as either JJ or Electro-Harmonix).


Been in this business for over a decade - bought, sold, and tested a couple of thousand tubes, but never heard of NOS tubes called NIB. As others have stated, they're either genuine NOS or they're not. Boxes are superfluous. You can buy egg crates of 100 tubes each, without a single tube box and they can all be genuine NOS ... or not. Also, anybody - anybody can take a tube and put it into a box. Who's to say what's really "original" (see the first reply above)?


Something that irritates a tube vendor probably more than anything else is to call them up and ask for all sorts of brands on a relatively cheap tube. In the case of TubeDepot, one of the most reputable tube vendors around, they already have notable tubes separately listed by specific mfrs. If you see a listing that says, "various brands," it already means that they're so cheap it makes no difference. If you are going to purchase something that inexpensive, ask to have a variety and order 6-12 at least. Or, start looking on ebay. Ebay is fine if the price is right and it's the tube brand that you want (or the construction is, see first reply above).
http://www.tungsol.com/tungsol/html/faqs13.html

"NOS" stands for "New Old Stock", which means that the tube has never been used and is from old production. In most vacuum tube circles NOS generally implies that the tube is in the original box.

"NIB" stands for "New In Box". These are old production tubes that have never been used and are usually placed in plain white boxes. This is done because the original box has deteriorated over the years or the tube was from a manufacturer who purchased bulk-packed cartons of tubes that were not individually boxed and used for assembly line installation.

However, in my dictionary, the NIB are those new tubes in their original box.
 
Last edited:
     Share This Post       

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top