My Hot Rod started making a bit of a humming sound a couple of weeks ago, and I figured out that it was one of the preamp tubes. So instead of replacing the bad one, I decided to replace all of ’em. Not knowing what was best, I called up The Tube Store because I knew they’d know what would work best in my amp. After a nice, long conversation with Paula, I got two Tung-Sol 12AX7 and one Jan-Phillips 12AY7 – all three for about $49. I put one TS in my first stage, put the JP in the second stage, and the other TS in the phase inverter. What are the results? A lot more clean headroom in my clean channel, and a much smoother distortion in my drive channel. I had already tamed my drive channel a bit by getting THD Yellow Jackets and using EL-84’s in place of the 6L6’s I put in last year. But combined with the JP, we’re talking sweet, beautiful sound!
I’d heard of the virtues of NOS (New Old Stock) tubes, but I’m now a true believer! If you’ve got one of the Hot Rod series amps and are looking to tame your drive channel, and get a sweeter clean sound, do yourself a favor and replace your preamp tubes. You’ll welcome the change!