I am not a technician, acoustician, amp architect or audiophile, nor do I put myself out as such, here or anywhere, at any time. I'm a player, and not a very good one -- a well-trained musician, however, whose ears are not just painted onto the sides of my head. Given that, my preferences are my opinions only.darkhorse wrote:EL34s,6L6 or 5881s, any preference? What do you think sounds the best?
As far as listening to recorded/broadcast music is concerned, the question is absurd. How can you choose between Cream-era Clapton, Ted Nugent's wall-of-Twins, SRV's menagerie of daisy-chained amps, or Keith Richards' mystic studio/stage selections? They are all equally yummy. This sounds glib & facile, I know -- but it's true: In the hands of an artist, ANY tube will shine.
In terms of personal performing preference, I am fortunate to have spent some time in the amp-repair business & have played through a lot of amplifiers up close & personal at low volume in small rooms. That is not the same as playing through an amp on stage or in the studio. My personal, self-selected amp experience has been limited by finances. I swap tubes when I absolutely must, with what i can get my hands on affordably at the time. That said, I lean to the "American" sound -- the Fender-y sound produced in general by 6V6/6L6 tubes -- more than the "British" sound. Within the Fender bracket I'm most happy in the Champ-Deluxe spectrum. Twins are lovely in the right venue, but you have to have a space in which you can crank them up.
My personal "tone quest" ended when I found my Number One Amp: an early-'50s National tweed 1x12 combo. My Number Two Amp is a '60s National, a Studio 10. Both amps are based on 6V6's. The 1x12 has two channels: one has a Champ-ish vibe, although the architecture is obviously different, and the other has way more gain and a Deluxe-ish vibe. The 1x10 is Champ-y, but not as tight as the non-tweed Champs I have played through. I have thrown a lot of tubes into both & have no distinct preference. Both amps badly need to be re-capped; the 1x12 isn't suitable for stage or studio. They are one-trick ponies, both of them -- but they make beautiful sounds, to my ears.
If we're going to get into specific tube designations, we will logically follow that with specific pickup designations, specific body- and neck-wood/scale-length designations, pot values, cable specs, et cetera ad nauseum. This is fine for those of us who need a lifestyle. Myself, I have a lifestyle. At present, I don't care to adopt a new one based on the infinitesimal nuances of guitar tone. There are folks out there who have adopted that lifestyle, and God bless 'em. But it's not my bag.
OD's/distortion pedals with tubes: This gets into the difference between preamp-tube distortion and power-tube distortion. I haven't worked out the distinctions between the two, and I haven't worked with tube-based overdrives enough to have a preference.
Assuming your caps & resistors are all healthy, you're right.Retubing an amp is like getting a new one especially if you get some quality tubes.