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Genz Benz Streamliner Tube Rolling

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Joe Smithberger, Aug 6, 2011.

  1. Joe Smithberger

    Joe Smithberger Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Canton, Ohio, USA
    I wanted to start a new thread to (maybe) consolidate the groups experience with tube changes on the Genz Benz Streamliner. I have a few 5714 Sylvania (low gain) tubes on hand to experiment with. My personal goal is to roll off a little of the deep lows. I opened up my unit and swapped the tube in the second position (Bass and Treble tone). It definitely tamed both ends of the spectrum a bit. I want to play it a bit with this configuration before I move things around more. At this stage, I am wondering what others have done and speculations about what to try.

    Of course I could try different cabinets to work this the other way. I am currently using an Avatar TB153 nEarful type 3 way cab. Thoughts?
  2. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Interesting idea for a thread. Andy has said that the Shuttles were designed so the type of tube you use didn't matter so much, but it sounds like the Streamliners have different tonal goals from the Shuttles, so it would be interesting to hear what happens with tube swaps.
  3. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    I tried a couple of different 12AX7's in there and heard differences, but nothing dramatic enough to make me stick with them. I put the stock Ruby Tubes back in there.

    Mind you, I didn't have a 5714 kicking around. I shall be curious to see what other people's experiences have been with swapping tubes.

    I've had good results with the painfully expensive TAD 12AY7 (it's about 30 Euros, plus hefty shipping fees from Germany) in guitar amps that needed a gain reduction. Unfortunately, I sold my last one to a customer a while ago, and haven't had a chance to try one in the Streamliner.

    Still, that might be a good candidate for reducing the big (I refuse to use the word flabby) low end on this amp...

    Also, EHX has released a new 12AY7 clone. That might be worth a try as well.
  4. SlingBass4


    Feb 28, 2009
    Kansas City
    The cab of use will have significance, and tubes are cheaper than cabs......but that may / may not matter to some. This should prove interesting :ninja:
  5. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    I put a 12au7 in position 1. I have much less gain - I now put the gain button in, but the sound is really wonderful. Richer, somehow.
  6. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    There will be more influence in tubes with the Streamliner as it was designed with a significantly different tube circuit topology. I personally prefer a lower gain in a tube amp but each player will discover their own personal preference and are encouraged to do so.
    bradjonesbass likes this.
  7. sratas


    Dec 15, 2007
    Parma, Italy
    did a tube swapping. Tried a National ecc83, a GT ecc 83, a Philips miniwatt (except the GT, very old tubes, not NOS), the three positions...all produced clear changes in the tone. All those tubes produced a mellower tone, pleasant but felt also less precise and detailed. So I returned to the stock set. The attempt to tighteen up the low end is maybe counteracted by the need (for my tone goals) to keep the wonderful clean and silky top end, so I can not reduce the gain in V2 by merely installing a low gain tube there. I found the Rubys very clean and transparent in the midrange, solid sounding, with a wider response and 3-dimenional effect. I think I like them, unless I find something different.
  8. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I don't have a Streamliner, but just wanted to mention that I swapped some reissue Genalex Gold Lions into my H&K tube preamp and they sound lovely. Low noise, strong clean tone.
  9. AwkwardLoudness


    Jan 11, 2010
    KY USA
    First swap I would try is vintage Telefunken ECC82 low gain preamp tubes. I've played a Streamliner, but don't own one yet to try this.
  10. StickBass


    May 27, 2011
    Thanks for the cool info, dudes. I'm gonna try some experimentation.
  11. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    I had to place a couple of tube orders for guitar amp repairs, so while I was at it, I scooped myself a pair of the new EHX 12AY7's, as well as some late '60's RCA 12AX7A greyplates.

    I'm on my way to an outdoor gig right now, but hopefully I can get some shop time w/the SL900 over the weekend. Will report back.
  12. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    Tube swap report: Electro-Harmonix 12AY7 in V2

    I wanted to tame the low end on my SL900. Like others, I initially ran the bass at 9 o’clock, mids at 3:00 (600Hz), and treble to taste. Lately, I’ve been further taming the low mid bump by cutting the mids at 200Hz instead, and cutting the bass even further. Cool for grindy tones, but such extreme settings are a bit of a balancing act, and the tubbyness returns the moment I turn up the bass.

    The 12AY7 has about half as much gain as a 12AX7. As I had hoped, putting it in V2 lowers the bass and treble relative to the mids, effectively extending the range of mid-boost available.

    Here are the pros (all IMO): My top string sounds thicker and more balanced, the treble is less zingy, and the bass is tighter. There's still an ample amount of midrange cut available if you want it, and boosted mids at either 600Hz or 2.7KHz sound better than ever. Best of all, cutting them to 9:00 at 200Hz gives the smooth, natural tone I wanted all along (imagine a Shuttle 9.0 with the controls at noon, but smoother and rounder-sounding). Despite the reduction in overall gain, the range of volume control is more than adequate with even the quietest basses. I'm not a distortion geek, but the 12AY7 seems to make the amp more touch-sensitive and controllable at the edge of breakup.

    And the cons: The gain is lowered on the treble as well, so slappers looking for glassy highs might find the treble control a little underpowered. Also, the gain and volume controls have to be cranked quite a bit higher in order to get distortion. That's not an issue when playing loud, but I found that at lower levels, going for maximum breakup meant turning the master almost off. This made the control so abrupt, that I could no longer get fuzz tones at bedroom levels. YMMV, depending on the cabs you’re using.

    Previously, I made a couple of experiments with vintage 12AX7’s, and wasn’t blown away. In fact, I had chosen to stick with the stock tubes until now. However, the AY achieves exactly what I was looking for. I highly recommend this swap.
  13. Red Planet

    Red Planet

    May 29, 2005
    Talking Rock GA
    OEM Manufacturing Supplier
    Have not seen this thread till now. Subscribed. I'll come back with some of my experiences when I get a chance.
  14. Joe Smithberger

    Joe Smithberger Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Canton, Ohio, USA
    Full disclosure...I had issues with my SL900. It stopped working all together. Luckily it was in my practice room and not on a gig. My tech said that he thought something broke loose on the circuit board (maybe from swapping tubes?). I sent it back to Genz with the original tubes reinstalled and they fixed it and shipped it back - no charge.

    My experiments are over for now. I'm leaving mine alone. It sounds great stock if I just use the knobs as intended.
  15. Tunaman


    Dec 26, 2004
    +1 I can change the EQ at my bass (with a Bongo 4 band EQ) & that solves my tonal goals if I'm a little too bass heavy
  16. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    Hmmmm, this is very interesting. I'd like to try it, the dropped highs isn't a big deal for me though, as I run with my tweeter off anyway, but the dirt issue could be, I often run mine at the edge of breakup, or fully distorted, and need to do so at low(or at least reasonable) volume too.

    Could you put a higher gain tube in V1 to counterbalance the loss of gain?
  17. Red Planet

    Red Planet

    May 29, 2005
    Talking Rock GA
    OEM Manufacturing Supplier
    I currently have a 5814A (Military 12AU7) in V1 which I prefer. It allows me to dime the channel gain and put the pre gain at about 1:00 and get the level really high without any distortion or noise at all. I want to try a lower gain tube in V2 to see what it does as far as taming the Bass a little and I now have a Long Plate Mullard ECC83 (real) in V3 as my Blackburn Tech Tube crapped out on me the other day.

    Trying different tubes really makes a difference in the Streamliner.

    BTW I have a NOS 1955 Long Plate Mullard ECC83 in my Shuttle 9.0 and I love it in there. Sounds great. That one tube I purchased NIB along with 5 others just like it. They cost me $150.00 each back in 2005. I bought them from Charlie at Vacuum Tube Valley. Great freaking tubes. All together it cost me $900.00 for 6 preamp tubes. They range from year 1955 to 1966. These are all Mullard labled Mullard boxed NOS Mullards.
  18. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    Darkstrike, in reference to using a low-gain 12AY7 in V2:

    Since the 12AY7 only has a gain of 45 (vs the stock tube's gain of about 100), you're looking for quite a bit of makeup gain. And sadly, I'm not aware of any preamp tube that's substantially hotter than the JJ ECC83-S that comes stock in V1. You can find other 12AX7's that are darker/brighter/whatever, but double the JJ's gain? Not going to happen.

    If you found that you liked the sound of the 12AY7 in V2, but wanted to get some gain back, why not put a decent clean boost pedal in front of the amp? Guitarists goose their tube amps that way, all the time. You'd also get a nice secondary foot-switchable gain boost into the bargain...
  19. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    Now there's a good idea! There's a lot of very good boost pedals out there too.

    Could even use a Blackstar one, heh, more tubes in the signal chain! :D
  20. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    Yep. I would rather use tube swaps to get the tonal balance where I need it, and then use outboard gear (if needed) to push the amp over the edge for overdrive tones.