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Rule of thumb... how many spare tubes to bring for gigs?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by dgt49ers, Mar 8, 2013.

  1. dgt49ers


    Mar 3, 2013
    Hey guys -

    I switched from SS to tube amps a few years ago and I've never had a failure at a gig. But lately, I'm getting a bit paranoid (is it age?) and just wondering what the Boy Scout approach would be for spare tubes. Thoughts?
  2. None, unless they are in another amp. A back up amp is the way to go. Tech time at a gig to replacing tubes is not.
  3. alembicguy

    alembicguy I operate the worlds largest heavey equipment Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
  4. Just bring a solid state as a backup. I only had a tube go down every couple years. My issue with it was any replacement tubes I tried didn't sound the same so I switched to a rackmount sans amp for a similar tone.
  5. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Bingo. Had a microphonic pre tube when I got to the gig a few weeks ago. I just plugged my BBE preamp that I keep in my cable bag into the pre-in on the amp to play the gig. Most tube amps, whether they're rack mounts are in wooden head boxes require a bazillion screws to loosen to get to the tubes. As has been stated, the time before a gig generally is a bit hectic to be swapping tubes...unless you're playing one of those venues that requires you to show up two hours before the doors open to get your sound check done.

    I don't necessarily think you need a spare amp per se (although I have started to keep a spare amp in the band trailer), but you should have a contingency plan, whether that's a DI box or a small preamp that you can send to the house like the Tone Hammer.
  6. dgt49ers


    Mar 3, 2013
    thanks guys... looks like I need to get through tonight and get on the lookout for a SS backup (only own tube amps now)
  7. I have brought spare tubes before. If you are an experienced tech and want to spend your breaks fixing the rare failure at a gig then bring spares. A backup plan is more advisable for the RARE failure at a gig. Times I have used spare tubes at a gig ZERO. Times I have seen a failure at a gig that prevented a tube amp from being used, once in over 40 years.
    Times I had a SS amp fail and could not be used, four, and that was with one SS Bassman (I hated that amp!).
  8. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Also, keep in mind that sometimes a tube failure will burn up a screen grid resistor, so replacing the tube in that socket is pretty pointless until you get that resistor replaced.
  9. JBNeedsBeer

    JBNeedsBeer Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    New Brunswick, NJ
    At the very least, you should bring fuses, if not a ss backup
  10. ngh


    Feb 6, 2013
    brooklyn, ny
    any old thing will work as a backup. I use a Randall 300 as my backup (which is a piece of ****) and I figure that when a tube fries on my sunn i will be so angry and upset that tone will no longer matter ;).

    but i really do use a randall 300 as my spare. strangely enough doesn't sound all that bad though I feel like it should. does way as much as a tube amp though.
  11. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    I always have a 12AX7 in my gig bag whether I am using tubes or not (also always carry a spare bass head).
    The 12AX7 is also for the gui****s; I've seen a pre-amp tube go bad that caused no other problems and was easily changed. Seems to me that if a power tube dies without warning, there usually is some other component carnage that goes with it.

    I use a small presecription container with a piece of foam at the top and the bottom; tube floats between the foam and travels well.
  12. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    It really depends on the amp. Some allow easy access and a change takes no time at all. Other amps require a lot more work to access the tubes.

    I do carry spare cables, strings, some tools, a speaker cabinet breakout box, cloth, bandaids, etc. where ever I am with my gear.

    I had a 12AX7 blow in a small Boogie amp and had a replacement on hand that saved my bacon.
  13. None! Since 1978, I've used all tube amps & never have needed a spare tube. (that I can remember:D)
    Tho a spare 12ax7 ain't a bad idea, & these days I carry a micro-class D- amp in a bag, just coz it's SO easy.
  14. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Been there, done that...on a set break.:p

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