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How often do you change tubes/valves

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by gareth, Dec 30, 2005.

  1. gareth


    Jun 9, 2002
    I been using my trace elliot V6 for about 2/3 years now doing about 90 gigs a year.

    The amp had been little used when I got it, but I'm wondering when I should change the valves?
  2. jeff62

    jeff62 Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2005
    Orlando, FL
    Are we talking about pre-amp tubes or power tubes? Here's a good guideline for 10-15 hours per week of playing:


    Pre-amp tubes: 2-3 yrs
    Power amp: 1-1.5 yrs.

    You are definitely due and, if using power amp tubes now, will notice a nice difference.

  3. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    Baloney. Preamp tubes should last as long as they aren't microphonic. There are 69 SVTs around with the original preamp tubes. Power tubes need to be changed a bit more often, but still, every year is a bit much.

    Mesa is a bit suspect with their tube dealings. You're getting your information from a company that makes a killing from selling tube amps; they say "use our tubes only for best performance;" then, they say "retube your amp every 1-1.5 (power) and 2-3 (preamp) years."

    Hmm! I don't buy it.
  4. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    I only change them when they start sounding like crap. Otherwise, any good set of tubes should last just as long as it's transistor equivalent.
  5. gwx014


    Dec 22, 2005
    It depends on how much and how loud you are playing. If your playing REALLY loud you'll need to change them a heck of a lot more often than if you're playing at practice volumes.


    Nov 24, 2001
    New York,NY
    ...uh oh, I guess ALL my tubes are sour according to these posted "expiration dates"...LMAO!...

  7. jeff62

    jeff62 Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2005
    Orlando, FL
    Did you bother to read the recommendations? Because it's not based on expiration date, it is based on the amount of playing you are doing and its a guideline. Tubes will work up to the point of failure (or microphonic feedback). You will get more oomph when comparing new tubes to tubes that may be functional but have 1000 hours on them.


    Nov 24, 2001
    New York,NY
    ...I'm afraid I did read the "recommendations"...I have tubes that I've used for over 10yrs(pre&pwr) with many hrs of usage that still sound great. I've also played through early 70's SVT's that had original tubes & they killed(yes, they were used for years)! I also have a collection of tubes that are from the 50's-60's that were used way beyond the "recommended" tube life/change that sound better than all of the new junk floating around(if that's what you're basing your changing methods on). Basically, if it sounds good/great, leave it alone, the $$$ you waste for that "in your head" extra nuance of "newness" might disappoint you.
    But, as with everything under the Sun, YMMV...

    my $0.02

    PS: Tip of the day- Never throw "old" tubes out if they still work satisfactory...
  9. No you won't. Unless there is something wrong with your amp and/or it's eating tubes, you shouldn't be worring about replacing ANY of them for another decade or two. You WILL want to get annual bias checks/tweaks for maximum longevity and tone.

    Mesa's 'recommendation' is laughable and is designed more to sell tubes than to 'ensure good tone.' If tubes are really THAT short lived, why are there so many fine working extremely well-used examples of old US tubes when large scale commercial consumer tube production has been ended for over 30 years?