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  1. #1
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    Wes Montgomery Groove Tubes/JJ Electronics/ which for Super Champ X2?

    I bought a Fender Super Champ X2 head about a month ago, running it through a 12" speaker. The X2 comes with Groove Tubes. I know JJ tubes are supposed to be real good, but at this point would I gain in sound quality if I switched to JJ tubes? Or should I wait until I need new tubes?

    Thanks

    Doug

  2. #2
    I happen to like JJs but I haven't tried every tube on the planet, and some people (probably some on this forum) have. It's likely that if you do some research you'll find a lot of recommendations about what different brands and makes of tube sound like.

    You don't say whether you bought the amp new or used; even if you bought it new, it might have been played for years on the floor of the store till it reached your hands. So it's hard to know what shape the tubes are in. Generally, if you play a few hours a day, you're going to want to re-tube once a year. Sooner if a tube gets noisy or microphonic, which can happen pretty much at any time. If you're not sure the tubes are brand-spankin' new, you might hear an immediate difference as the result of retubing. OTOH if they still have plenty of top end (treble and presence) and you're getting good power output, they probably have enough life in them that it might be best to really get to know the sound of the amp before you start making changes.

    Let's say you do change them. Who knows whether you'll actually LIKE the sound of JJs over GTs? Are you able to eat the cost of a set of tubes you don't like much?

    Also, there are a variety of different preamp tubes that are interchangeable, and each have their own particular sonics. There are dedicated forums where people OBSESS about all SORTS of tubes, not just about JJs. Even JJ offers a variety of sets or individual tubes according to how much headroom or breakup you want. Check out eurotubes.com for a lot of good info (also I recommend them as a supplier; good prices and fast service.) They have ALL the JJs, with good descriptions of the characteristics of each. They'll even work with you one-on-one to answer your questions and recommend tubes according to your preferences.

    If you're going to be really picky about it, you would get the amp biased correctly for the new tubes and your personal prefs. Most (all?) Fender amps are fixed-bias, but many players retrofit a bias pot that simplifies rebiasing for different tube types. Simply swapping tubes without having a good amp tech re-bias and perhaps clean up the pots won't realize the full sonic potential of such a change.

    Finally, there's a lot more to the sound you get than just the tubes: your playing style, strings, speakers, etc. Again, on this forum and others, there are incredibly detailed discussions of speakers, tubes, etc.

    Unless you really can identify something about the amp that you know is wrong or that you know you don't like and can change with a tube swap, I'd play the amp every day for a good long time, in lots of different situations, to really get to know what it can do. THEN you'll be in a good position to evaluate the effect of retubing, trying different preamp tubes, speakers etc.

    HTH

    SJ

  3. #3
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    Wes Montgomery

    Quote Originally Posted by starjasmine View Post
    You don't say whether you bought the amp new or used; even if you bought it new, it might have been played for years on the floor of the store till it reached your hands. So it's hard to know what shape the tubes are in.
    New amp bought on order, never on a showroom floor. Manufactured November 25 2018.

    To summarize what you said-it's not worth bothering about right now and is mostly a case of personal preference even 5 years down the line.

  4. #4
    I installed (the stock tube went bad) a pair of Tung Sol Reissue 6V6GT purchased from KCANOStubes.com
    -----------------------------------

    "The instrument keeps me humble. Sometimes I pick it up and it seems to say, "No, you can't play today." I keep at it anyway, though." Jim Hall

  5. #5
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    Wes Montgomery

    And how did the Tung Sol tubes sound compared with the original tubes?

    Thanks

    Doug

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Doug B View Post
    And how did the Tung Sol tubes sound compared with the original tubes?

    Thanks

    Doug


    While I prefer vintage tubes, for the power amp, it’s not always a great idea.

    The new tung sol 6v6 sounded very good. Their 12ax7 too.

    I like jj and dislike “GT” who mostly rebrand and overcharge.

  7. #7
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    Tubes are a relatively inexpensive way to play with your sound; I have J&J 6V6's in one amp, and TAD 6V6's in another, and I like them both. Since you're heading down the rabbit hole, you may get rid of the 12AX7 preamp tube, and swap it with a 5751 or 7025.

  8. #8
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    Tube upgrade

    Doug,
    A set of JJs would cost about $45, 2 6v6s power and 1 preamp. With the cost of the amp head at $300 I would hold off for now. IMO I would focus on the cab and the speaker with it. See how you like the tone as these influence tone. Then go from there. BTW If your not familiar with tube upgrades, in general I recommend the JJs to start with or stick with as I have. Reasonable priced and decent quality. A good baseline to start from.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug B View Post
    I bought a Fender Super Champ X2 head about a month ago, running it through a 12" speaker. The X2 comes with Groove Tubes. I know JJ tubes are supposed to be real good, but at this point would I gain in sound quality if I switched to JJ tubes? Or should I wait until I need new tubes?

    Thanks

    Doug

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Doug B View Post
    And how did the Tung Sol tubes sound compared with the original tubes?

    Thanks

    Doug
    The idle noise of the amp decreased (which surprised me because it's usually a preamp tube issue) and I think (I am not sure could be psychoacoustics) it was smoother when overdriven.
    -----------------------------------

    "The instrument keeps me humble. Sometimes I pick it up and it seems to say, "No, you can't play today." I keep at it anyway, though." Jim Hall

  10. #10
    The preamp tube in an X2 is the phase inverter - in this case, it’s a gain stage followed by a cathodyne inverter. This is actually part of the power amp. Changing this won't have nearly as much an effect as the first tube in an all-tube Fender. Preamp tubes can last years, by the way - changing tubes every year is more a rule of thumb for power tubes, and it depends very much how much you use the amp.

    JJ 6V6, while a good tube,is very atypical for a 6V6 and sounds more like a small 6L6 than a 6V6. For current production I generally use the Russian ‘TungSol,’ which is another Mike Matthews production. It has a more robust construction than the others that come out of that plant (eg Sovtek) and can withstand higher voltages (DR) but still sounds and behaves very much like a 6V6.

    Steven

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by vintagelove View Post

    dislike “GT” who mostly rebrand and overcharge.
    Now that IS info worth knowing-thanks.

    Doug

  12. #12
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    Wes Montgomery

    Quote Originally Posted by marcwhy View Post
    you may get rid of the 12AX7 preamp tube, and swap it with a 5751 or 7025.
    And what would the difference be as far as your sound goes?

    Thanks

    Doug

  13. #13
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    Jim Hall

    Quote Originally Posted by Wildcat View Post
    Doug,
    A set of JJs would cost about $45, 2 6v6s power and 1 preamp. With the cost of the amp head at $300 I would hold off for now. IMO I would focus on the cab and the speaker with it. See how you like the tone as these influence tone. Then go from there. BTW If your not familiar with tube upgrades, in general I recommend the JJs to start with or stick with as I have. Reasonable priced and decent quality. A good baseline to start from.
    Thanks for the info.

    Ya, I was thinking about the speaker as well. I currently have an old speaker(CTS?) from the 1970's that I made a 3/4 " birch plywood speaker cab for. There's nothing wrong with the speaker, it's just the hot rodder in me that wants to try and mod the equipment! I have read several times that the Eminence Cannabis Rex produces a nice sound for jazz.

    Doug

  14. #14
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    the super champ x2 has a solid state front end...op amps and dsp...so as stevo58 pointed out above ^, the 12ax7 is for the phase inverter...changing it is not really going to alter your tone...

    when 12ax7 tubes are in the first gain stage position, usng a lower gain tube like a 5751 or 12ay7 instead, will give you a little more room on your volume knob before breakup...

    but this doesnt apply to the super champ x2

    most tubes these days are asian made and tested and rebranded under various names..groovetubes name is owned by fender...they rebrand tubes...

    i like jj tubes...eastern european made...the only tube company outside of russia (mike matthews) or asia left making tubes

    cheers

    ps- i havent used jj 6v6's...but love their el84 and 6l6 power tubes...stevo58 says their 6v6s are 6l6-ish...that sounds like something i'd like!!!.. bigger fuller tone..i think that would benefit a ss front end as in the scx2

    tho maybe not my first choice in a 65 deluxe reverb if i were going for true vintage tone
    Last edited by neatomic; 03-15-2019 at 05:58 PM. Reason: corr-

  15. #15
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    +1
    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic View Post
    i like jj tubes...eastern european made...the only tube company outside of russia (mike matthews) or asia left making tubes

    cheers

  16. #16
    Manufacturers:
    JJ - Slovakia
    Sovtek/TungSol/EH/Mullard/etc. - Mike Mathews (Russia)
    Shugang - China (many other lesser-known)
    Deceased:
    EI
    Svetlana

    Rebranders:
    Groove Tubes (Fender)
    TAD
    Ruby Tubes
    many others

  17. #17
    Current Groove tubes are made by Sovtek.

  18. #18
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    well they are still a rebrander and not an actual manufacturer..they could source from anywhere and call'em groove tubes

    currently from one of the large electronic supply shops- 12ax7 sales blurb-

    Vacuum Tube - 12AX7 C, Groove Tubes
    9 pin miniature preamp tube (Amplification Factor = 100). This is the ubiquitous Chinese 12AX7 with added selection. The gain is high and the American "Groove Tubes" must be filtering out the noisiest ones.

    cheers

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug B View Post
    And what would the difference be as far as your sound goes?

    Thanks

    Doug
    Well, see Stevo's post above; I'm used to "normal" (fender) amps with power- and pre-amp tube setups, but apparently the X2 is a different animal (I didn't realize this). [Typically, though, the lower gain pre-amp tubes provide more headroom and somewhat "cleaner" sound, which jazzers tend to like.]

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