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Mesa Prodigy tube rolling?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Peter Lufrano, Jan 23, 2015.


  1. Peter Lufrano

    Peter Lufrano Blues. and nothing but the Blues. Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2004
    Berkeley, CA
    Hi all!

    Anybody out there had success tube rolling the preamp tubes of their Mesa Prodigy bass amps?

    I'd like something less "gainy" and a bit more on the warm side of things preferably.

    Thank you in advance for any insights you can share!
     
  2. waltdogg

    waltdogg

    May 24, 2014
    You know what's in there now? That would help. Certain 12AX7/ECC83s have a lot of harmonic content, some are "gainier", and some are "stiffer" then 5751s which are mil spec and low gain, followed by 12AT, AU, and AY7s which are all even lower gain than 12AX7s and its variants. What do you play?
     
  3. SamJ

    SamJ Founder - Fender MIA Club

    Apr 22, 2006
    PDX / SFO / HNL
  4. Peter Lufrano

    Peter Lufrano Blues. and nothing but the Blues. Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2004
    Berkeley, CA
    Stock tubes, which are 3 Mesa branded 12ax7's. I play mostly Blues and R&B genres. My basses are Dingwall P4 and J4's. I seems to have a strong preference for octal based preamps such as my Jule Monique and my 65amps Apollo.
     
  5. waltdogg

    waltdogg

    May 24, 2014
    Those Mesa tubes could be anything, JJs, Sovteks, Shuguangs. All budget and high gain.
     
  6. SamJ

    SamJ Founder - Fender MIA Club

    Apr 22, 2006
    PDX / SFO / HNL
    according to what the Mesa rep said in the thread I posted above they're likely JJ... what would be your suggestion for a non-budget tube?
     
  7. Peter Lufrano

    Peter Lufrano Blues. and nothing but the Blues. Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2004
    Berkeley, CA
    in the other thread that I was directed to above, it seems implied that the Mesa branded tubes are JJ's, although that was stated specific to the KT88's in the thread, and the preamps tubes could be sourced from another manufacturer.

    Any suggestions in specific other tubes that in your experience would be more what I'm after? and I appreciate your sharing your experience!
     
  8. waltdogg

    waltdogg

    May 24, 2014
    "Premium brands" Like JJ Gold, EH Gold, Tung-Sol, Genalex, Mullard and NOS.
     
  9. Peter Lufrano

    Peter Lufrano Blues. and nothing but the Blues. Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2004
    Berkeley, CA
    Any opinion on the Telefunken Black Diamond?
     
  10. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    The tubes Mesa uses are JJ's. I have some of both, same exact things. As well as Mesa saying they are in several threads.
    I have a bunch of late 50's RCA's, but i really dont feel like taking the lid off.
     
  11. Peter Lufrano

    Peter Lufrano Blues. and nothing but the Blues. Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2004
    Berkeley, CA
    There's only 6 screws, I'll help ya out with it :)
     
    cflat likes this.
  12. Peter Lufrano

    Peter Lufrano Blues. and nothing but the Blues. Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2004
    Berkeley, CA
    Obviously V1 will make the biggest difference, but what about V2 and V3?
    Do these also effect the tone of the amp?
     
  13. waltdogg

    waltdogg

    May 24, 2014
    Those are made by JJ. Try an EH gold pin. Very clean in my V-4 compared to a Tung-Sol reissue or a JJ also maybe try a 12AT7, JAN Philips cheap and great tone. I love using them as phase inverters in amps that usually call for a 12AX7 to drive my power section hard and keep my pre-amp from getting too buzzy. In V1 it would lower the gain but provide a greater current to the two later 12AX7s making them work a little bit harder. Though JJs don't seem to like to work hard, they hold up well and lower voltages seem to make them sound the best.

    I'm aware Mesa mainly uses JJs nowadays, but don't be surprised when you pull some Mesa branded tubes that are obviously Chinese or Russian. Manufacturers gets their tubes wherever they can for the best price and at the level of quality that is acceptable for their amps.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2015
    Peter Lufrano likes this.
  14. Peter Lufrano

    Peter Lufrano Blues. and nothing but the Blues. Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2004
    Berkeley, CA
    What would you suggest for V2 and V3?
     
  15. waltdogg

    waltdogg

    May 24, 2014
    I'd try swapping out just your V1 first and see what happens, JJs are fairly transparent for all the gain they have so that might be all you need. However, I'd definitely suggest upgrading your V3, phase inverter to a Sovtek 12AX7LPS or a 12AX7WC (mil spec). Though V1 will provide the general character of your tone, the phase inverter is what actually breaks up and creates distortion. V2 should stay happy as a JJ, if not try a Tung-Sol (Gold pin EH or JJ works good too) sounds great in the V2 in a V-4 or Marshall Super Lead clone.
     
    Peter Lufrano likes this.
  16. Peter Lufrano

    Peter Lufrano Blues. and nothing but the Blues. Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2004
    Berkeley, CA
    Thank you Waltdogg! That'll get me on my way at the least!
     
  17. Curious if tube rolling helped you out with the tone on the Prodigy? What differences have you noticed?
     
  18. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    I am kind of curious as well. If the stock Mesa tubes are equivalent to JJ ECC83S, those are probably about the warmest 12AX7 tubes you can buy. In every bass amp I have tried them in, they lack highs and lows, and are essentially all mids. Low gain (amplification factor) but they seem to break up fairly easily, and always seem to have a bit of fur on the tone like the are on the verge of breaking over into OD.

    I have found a few lurking in used bass amps I have bought, and pulled I them out after I compared them to other tubes. I have recycled a few into some of my guitar amps. I have one running in V2 of a Marshall 1959 and the top boost circuit of a vintage Vox AC30. I found the ECC83S reduced the ice pick in the ear effect, and made it possible to play the amps at slightly lower volume.

    The JJ ECC803S on the other hand has been one of my favorite tubes for all positions in bass amps but V1. To my ears it has bit more extension to the highs and lows, but not a lot of extra emphasis. The lows are lean and tight, and there seems to be a nice little harmonic shimmer in the upper mids, versus fur. Other than that, I would describe the tube as pretty much flat and neutral.

    The ECC83S is a short plate tube and the ECC803S is a long plate. I have rolled the ECC803S through V1 on several amps and it often my 2nd or 3rd choice. On a few occasion, I have noted a bit of mechanical noise, which can be a problem with long plate tubes.
     
  19. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    The early Prodigy I picked up was used, still has the stock power tubes (Shaugaung), but someone along the way loaded the preamp with JJ 12AX7's in v1 and v2, and put an ECC803 in the v3 position. It sounds great!
    Since I had a bunch of tubes I put a matching JJ 12AX7 in v3, and it took some crisp highs out that were there. So I put that long plate 803 back in, it really sounded better that way.
     
    Wasnex likes this.
  20. I tried an Electro Harmonix 12au7 my guitarist had as a spare in V1 just to see what would happen. It actually sounded really good and clean but it was way too low in gain to get enough overall headroom even with the master dimed. We play loud For me I find the Prodigy doesn’t sound good with the gain up. It gets rather muddy to me and lacks the definition with the gain set lower.

    I run a passive Jazz Bass into an EBS ValveDrive that makes the signal a little hotter but I actually keep it pretty tame with the -10db pad engaged in the pedal. I like using the Normal channel on the Prodigy for a less bright sound that the other two provide.
    I ended up putting the Mesa tube back in.
     
    Wasnex likes this.

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