6P3S-E aka 6N3CE tubes

Discussion in 'Amps [BG]' started by Bunyo, Feb 7, 2014.


  1. Bunyo

    Bunyo

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Im ordering these for my Mesa D-180. Anybody has any experience with them? I've read some threads on different forums about these Russian tubes and they sound optimistic.
    One thing. I heard that they might be the same as Sovtek 5881. Few yeras ago I changed tubes in my 400+ which I no longer possess, to Sovtek 5881. They sounded awful. Hope that these are different.
    Any ideas?
  2. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto Ontario Canada
    if the 5881 tubes you replaced were built to the proper specs they would not be able to handle the load. A 5881 has another name as the 6L6WGB and belongs in the earlier GB family. It does not have the power output of the GC family. It has less voltage handling too. In my mind you'd do better replacing your outputs with the tube type your amplifier was designed to use.
  3. Bunyo

    Bunyo

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    OK.
    Keep in mind that Mesa also sells Sovteks 5881 and there are many users of Mesa 400+ with these tubes in their amps.
  4. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    I has a set of these tubes in a baseman. Vendors seem to sell them as a 5881 and they claim that they are the same as a 6L6WTX. They didn't perform up to that standard as a real 6L6GC.

    Two things to consider:

    1) some of the russian tubes are close equivalents but not the same. So care must be taken.

    2) when they are sorting through these tubes, when they find ones that don't come up to the 6L6GC spec, they label and sell them as 5881's. It may look like the same tube but it sometimes doesn't perform to the same spec.

    It is important with these amps that the tubes be well matched to each other and that the bias in the amp be adjusted properly for those tubes. When buying a matched set, deal with a vendor that you trust will do a good job matching them.
  5. nashvillebill

    nashvillebill

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2002
    Location:
    Nashville TN
    I have the spec sheet for the Russian 6P3S (with and without the -E) a/k/a 6N3CE and the operating voltages are indeed quite low: 250 volts on the plate (anode for non-Americans :) ) which are in line with the earlier 6L6GB.

    Some folks say the Sovtek 5881 is a rebranded 6L6GC and not the 6P3S. I have seen the Sovtek 5881 run at 500 volts on the plate. My old Fender schematics show the 5B6 Bassman with the real 5881's at 390 volts on the plate.

    Personally, I'd just buy the 6L6GC, they aren't THAT expensive. I'm running a pair of EH 6L6GC's at around 510 volts on the plate and 500 volts on the screens in a Peavey Triumph 60.
  6. Bunyo

    Bunyo

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Anybody tried them?
  7. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2007
    Location:
    boston, ma
    In one of the V4 threads there was a guy who swore by the 6P3S for his vintage V4 in place of the 7027s.

    Here you go, it was 96tbird, he might be able to give you some insight if you shoot him a PM.

    At that point in that thread we were discussing the high plate voltage of the vintage ampegs vs the reissue. The 6P3S data sheets that people could find listed plate voltage rating at 250-375V, unclear if that was a maximum in pentode connection, but that's what was listed and is similar to most listings for 6L6GB/5881 at around 360V. A 6L6GC is designed to handle higher voltage, upwards of 500V maximum. If the amp is designed around the 6L6GC I'd stick with the GCs.

    Why cheap out only to have to replace them again sooner rather than later (trust me on that one, it's a lesson I've learned a few times ;)).
  8. 96tbird

    96tbird Supporter Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2010
    Location:
    Manitoba, Canada

    That would be me. They rock. Make sure they are the E variant with the button type bottoms; they can take v4 juice. I read a lot about them on DIY radio threads and guys had tested them as far as 600v. These are mil spec Cold War surplus rough duty valves.

    Just heat them up for a few hours and keep an eye on them. When idling, I can touch the tops and they are barely warm. But that is a v4 whee they hang down, don't touch them if they point up! Hot.
  9. Bunyo

    Bunyo

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Yes Sir. We are definitely talking about E version, which are different than 6P3S without E!
    So can you tell me if these 6P3S-E are exactly the same as Sovtek 5881? Note also that these which I ordered are from 70/80' Russian NOS.
    I just ordered them.
  10. 96tbird

    96tbird Supporter Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2010
    Location:
    Manitoba, Canada
    No, I can't say for sure they are the same. My feeling is that they are. They sure appear to be. I think they are the same as the Mesa branded 6l6str.

    The Russians made millions of these and were a direct rip off of American 6l6's so the story goes. If they tested out as excellent quality, they got the diamond "otr" logo stamped on them and were stockpiled across the union for the military.

    Anyhow, I think they're great. A perfect sub for my 1970s 7027s which are on hiatus but at the ready. The fear mongering is unfounded IMHO. Everyone that is fearful has zero experience using them. Tubes can die, be more worried about a filter cap dying: that'll ruin your day.

    Fear mongering! One guy tried to say that the rusty old staples on my age yellowed 6p3s-E boxes were probably counterfeited by unscrupulous Ukrainian eBay ers. :rolleyes:

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