Visit Our Catalog at for Steel Guitars, Strings, Instruction, Music and Accessories 
Forum Index
where steel players meet online
The Steel Guitar Forum

Post new topic Tubology 101
Reply to topic
Author Topic:  Tubology 101
Don Mogle

Fort Worth, TX, USA
Post Posted 29 Dec 2017 10:40 pm     Reply with quote

Hey Everyone,

With so many people out there using or thinking about purchasing a tube amp, I thought it would be a good idea to have a site where somebody could go to receive some basic education about tubes, tube amps, how to troubleshoot amp problems, etc.

I came across these videos and thought they'd be educational. Feel free to add any other sources you know of that may be of interest to other tubologists out there...



Phil Bradbury (Little Walter Amps) talking about power tubes in his educational series…

Phil Bradbury talks about Tube Amps…Power Tubes, Preamp Tubes, etc.

Phil Bradbury on Octal Tubes, microphonics, tube quality, tube preferences, etc.

Vintage video of an RCA tube factory…good basic knowledge of how tubes work and were made…

Journey to the Center of a Tube!

Here’s Uncle Doug talking about basic tube topics more technical in nature but really good information…

Troubleshooting Tube Amps…

What microphonic preamp and power tubes sound like…

Phil Bradbury talking about tone stacks…how to set the tone controls, etc.

Here’s Steve Carr talking about the black art of reverb…troubleshooting…theory, etc.

Steve Carr on the tube substitution and theory continued…

Steve Carr shows how to properly change tubes (good nuggets of information)

Six Preamp tubes compared (a shootout) in a Marshall amp…Amplified Parts video

Guitar Tone: V-1 Tube Rolling/Preamp Tube Comparison—Mesa, Telefunken, JJ Gold, etc.

Gerald Weber--tube amp seminar for novices. Good basic information in a four-part series. This is the first session. From here, you can link to the other three sessions.

Last edited by Don Mogle on 25 Jan 2018 4:33 pm; edited 3 times in total
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Don Mogle

Fort Worth, TX, USA
Post Posted 30 Dec 2017 6:19 am     Notes from the Tubestore Reply with quote

What Makes A Good Tube?

The musical detail or ability to reproduce the sound of the instrument is a key factor in assessing a tube for guitar amplifiers. There is no perfect tube available. Each one has strengths, weaknesses and certain factors that contribute to its overall ratings. Usually a compromise is arrived at in the search for premium tone.

All tubes will exhibit some degree of microphonics. Microphonics do not mean that a tube is unusable. You just have to screen them a little closer and determine where they are best suited for use. Input pre-amps are the most sensitive areas of the amplifier. When used in this application most tubes will generate some noise if you tap on them with a pencil during operation. Keep in mind that doing so can actually damage the tube and make it more microphonic or cause it to fail if you hit it real hard. Although they are screened prior to shipment a tube is an electromechanical device and can be damaged during shipment. A microphonic tube will ring, howl or produce general feedback problems. It will be more noticeable at louder volumes or when used in close proximity to a speaker, typically in combo amps. If the tube has good tone at lower volumes and is free from unwanted noise, you use it in a less sensitive part of the circuit, such as tone recovery or phase inverter applications.

Noise is more of a problem than microphonics. A noisy tube will make random popping noises, crackle occasionally or just hum. All tubes have a certain noise floor; this is the inherent background noise that the tube makes in operation. Typically, you will notice this as a soft hiss or "white noise". Tubes designed for high gain can exhibit more background noise. Other components can cause noise problems that may be blamed on a bad tube. Plate resistors are notorious for causing hiss and crackling as they age and begin to fail. A new tube may better amplify these defects, so try substituting another new tube to be sure of the source of the noise.

(Source: The Tubestore)
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jack Stoner

Inverness, Fl
Post Posted 30 Dec 2017 6:47 am     Reply with quote

I started in electronics, in 1955, when there were only tubes. I got my Ham radio license (W5DVO) in 1960 and all ham gear was tube.

Lots of theory and perceptions of tubes and how they work or what they do. Which ones are better or better suited for a particular application or circuit, etc. Some is fact, others are not (or marketing hype).
Franklin D-10, Hilton VP, POD X3, MatchBro, SG Black Box, Carvin BX500, EPS-15C, Sonar Platinum and Studio One 3 Pro DAWs, MOTU 896mk3 Hybrid
R.O.P.E. Member
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Steve Mueller

Ohio, USA
Post Posted 1 Jan 2018 10:55 am     Reply with quote

That's great info, stated clearly. Thanks!
2016 Williams D12 8 x 8, 2015 Williams D12 8 x 8, Milkman Pedal Steel Mini, Li'l Izzy, Earthdrive, 2008 Gretsch 6120
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address
Michael Butler

California, USA
Post Posted 1 Jan 2018 11:11 am     Reply with quote

i didn't see it so i'll add this link. updated today!
franks electron page

play music!
please see my Snakeskin's Virtual Music Museum below.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Mike Scaggs

Nashville, TN
Post Posted 3 Jan 2018 5:27 am     Reply with quote

Go visit Uncle Doug on YouTube. He has a lot of good knowledge and is well suited for folks who are interested in vacuum tube amplifiers.
Everything affects everythng

Infinity D-10 9x8, 73 Emmons P/P Lacquer/Metal neck D10, Telonics TCA-500c & Pedal, NV400, 64 Twin (JBLs), KT66 Deluxe Reverb, Tremendous Reverb, p2p JTM45... Visit my website
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Don Mogle

Fort Worth, TX, USA
Post Posted 12 Jan 2018 6:19 pm     New Site Reply with quote

Thanks to Mike Scaggs for this site...a ton of information on tubes and more!
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jim Sliff

Lawndale California, USA
Post Posted 15 Jan 2018 3:49 pm     Reply with quote

I don't have the patience for videos so I don't know if these were covered.

One thing first-time (and many long-time) tube amp owners are not aware of is the need to have the amps serviced periodically. High-voltage electrolytic capacitors have a life expectancy of roughly 15 years (less if an amp is stored for long periods) and can blow without any audible OR visual warning.

Many vintage amp buyers end up with amps that have never been serviced (or haven't been in FAR too long), turn them on and end up with problems as serious as a fried power transformer.

manufacturers have never made a point of service needs, figuring most new amp buyers won't keep them long enough. Plus warranties expire long before caps fail.

The other problem is something that concerns potential DIY "amp techs", and that's safety. In many amps those same caps can hold a deadly charge for a very long time, even with the amp unplugged. Many would-be techs get a serious shock because they were unaware of how to safety discharge capacitors - and others have died.

Good things to be aware of.
No chops, but great tone
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Jump to:  

Our Online Catalog
Strings, CDs, instruction,
steel guitars & accessories

Steel Guitar Music
Instrumental steel guitar CDs for your permanent collection

BIAB Styles
Ray Price Shuffles
for Band-in-a-Box

by Jim Baron

Please review our Forum Rules and Policies

The Steel Guitar Forum
148 South Cloverdale Blvd.
Cloverdale, CA 95425 USA

Support This Forum