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TyReid
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xx Review of JJ Tubes in a SLO
« Thread started on: Mar 23rd, 2004, 6:46pm »

i recently got a full set of power and preamp tubes from bob at eurotubes.com and since so many folks have been asking about different tubes in soldano amps i thought i'd share my findings.

first i put in the power tubes in and tried the amp that way so i could just hear the difference they made. very noticable difference in feel. the amp felt softer and and far more dynamic clean and dirty. in fact, i would say that the amp almost felt like it had a little bit of sag to it. the bass was also enhanced in that it seemed to go into a lot deeper frequency as opposed to the low midrange cutoff that the sovteks seemed to have. the cleans were a lot more vintage sounding and warm and the gain was more organic and fluid feeling. also, there is much more air to the tone. this is the soldano sound and feel i remember from playing one some years ago.

then i tried the balanced phase inverter and the tone didn't change much, maybe a bit softer sounding in the highs, but the amp did become noticably louder. i actually went over and checked to see if i had changed any of the dials but they were all set the same.

next i tried the first stage preamp tube. the sound got way fatter and warmer sounding, not nearly as compressed and stiff feeling as the sovtek and EH tube's i've tried there. very nice tone- the amp got a little warmer and more spacious sounding (just a great sense of air around the notes) and even spongier. strangely though i tried the other three tubes in the first slot and while one of them sounded just as good the first the other two, much to my surprise, seemed a little harder sounding and not as warm (still heads and shoulders above the stock tubes) so i put them in the later gain stages where they have less effect on tone. i talked to bob later and he said the difference in feel between the tubes was just the 10% difference in gain, that the stiffer one's had a little more and therefore felt more compressed.

as far as noise, the preamp is actually a little quieter with the JJ's than the sovteks while the power tubes from both companies are equally as quiet.

anyway i'm really digging the tubes and i would definitely reccomend going to bob/eurotubes (great service, very helpful and informative).
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xx Re: Review of JJ Tubes in a SLO
« Reply #1 on: Mar 23rd, 2004, 8:19pm »

Thanks for the review!
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Pete DuBaldo

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xx Re: Review of JJ Tubes in a SLO
« Reply #2 on: Mar 24th, 2004, 09:57am »

Hi TyRed.
Thanks for a cool review!
Your impressions are exactly what I had hoped for, and I'll def. go for the JJ 6L6's now in one (of two) SLO's I use. (I've considered this for a while, but not done it yet...).
Much of the same "sign.ture" tone are also with the JJ EL-34L's which I use in the amp now. What I miss with the JJ-EL34L's are a bit more open tone. They tend to sound a bit "dark" in the SLO.
I have to say, the other SLO with Svets EL-34'S and a bass-boost still is the fave amp. More crunchy and have a bit cripser tone without the top-end "glass/sizzle" the stock 5881's have.

Torbjørn smiley
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xx Re: Review of JJ Tubes in a SLO
« Reply #3 on: Mar 24th, 2004, 9:53pm »

JJs are really great for high gain type amps! I have the whole set in my 5150 II and it made a huge difference. I want the SLO so bad!!!! I might have to sell my John Suhr Modded 2203 to get it. undecided
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xx Re: Review of JJ Tubes in a SLO
« Reply #4 on: Mar 24th, 2004, 11:09pm »

Dude you've got to get a SLO. When I got mine 2 days ago I opened it up and fired it up and didn't get to play it very loud and I was actually pretty shaken up because of how cold and stiff it sounded. Well, I replaced the power tubes with these sovtek 6l6 wxt's and they helped with the topend stiffness. Well rehearsal comes along yesterday and I had no idea what was about to punch me in the chest. I turned the master volume up to about 5.5 or 12:30 in order to compete with a ampeg svt 8x10 stack and a triple rectifier, and let me tell you. Holy shit. Now I know why people talk about the slo the way they do. I was absolutely floored, and so was everybody else in the band. It adds a whole new deminsion of "BALLS" to our sound. It's just the most powerfull, cutting, fat, tight overdrive i've heard. hands down.
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xx Re: Review of JJ Tubes in a SLO
« Reply #5 on: Mar 25th, 2004, 06:59am »

bstark,

right on the money. the amp really comes alive and hits you hard at 5. monster, monster tone.

but mine felt real good stock and I didn't notice the stiffness at lower volumes too much with the stock tubes. Mine has the JJ83's in v1 and 2 so maybe that helped a bit.

I'll have to switch the power tubes out soon and see how it sounds.

best purchase i've ever made.


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xx Re: Review of JJ Tubes in a SLO
« Reply #6 on: Mar 25th, 2004, 08:54am »

son of a BITCH. Mike only put jj83 in the v1 of my slo. That rat bastard. heeheee grin
I guess that might have a little bit to do with the low level harshness. I also replaced all the sovtek preamp tubes after v1 with electroharmonix 12ax7 eh's. Those are good preamp tubes.
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xx Re: Review of JJ Tubes in a SLO
« Reply #7 on: Mar 25th, 2004, 6:35pm »

Dude, I KNOW!!!! I have a friend who has one and I have had plenty of time to crank it to the full extent of cranking. I dare you to crank the master volume on the lead channel to 10 and stand in front of it! shocked Talk about loud. cool
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xx Re: Review of JJ Tubes in a SLO
« Reply #8 on: Mar 25th, 2004, 8:45pm »

Ok, that makes me wonder a little...I may actually like that stiff feeling...it sounds like definition and articulation to me BUT I've not heard it in person with the JJ's. How does the lead differ in feel? I like the punch and definition A LOT. THX! cool
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xx Re: Review of JJ Tubes in a SLO
« Reply #9 on: Mar 28th, 2004, 12:19am »

glad you guys found the review useful! so far i'm still really enjoying the JJ tubes. the preamp tubes i have to say still sound nicer to me than the electro harmonix and the sovteks i've tried previously. just a little sweeter and fuller sounding where i'd describe the EH as being brighter and the sovtek almost harsh by comparison. still i plan on trying the new groove tubes mullard clone and the chinese preamp tubes in the first two positions down the road just for comparisons sake. same for the svetlana 6l6 tubes as well because i've heard so many great things about them.

tube amps only,

about the stiffness... it's only a small difference. the JJ's don't lack any detail or articulation to my ears, just a little less fatiguing in the highs that makes the strings feels a slicker to me (makes legato stuff come off a little better). think of it as if you normally had your presence knob at 7 and then turned it down to 5 so if you tryed the JJ's and wanted that stiffness and extra something in the highs just turn the presence up a notch or two.

honestly i've found that differences in the sound or feel of most modern tubes (haven't tried any of the old stuff yet) is usually subtle and much like changing brands of strings. differences in manufacturing can cause a different sound or feel that is noticable but not night and day.
« Last Edit: Mar 28th, 2004, 12:21am by TyReid » User IP Logged

bstark777
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xx Re: Review of JJ Tubes in a SLO
« Reply #10 on: Apr 5th, 2004, 11:17pm »

TyReid,
Did you rebias your amp after putting in the jj's?
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TyReid
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xx Re: Review of JJ Tubes in a SLO
« Reply #11 on: Apr 6th, 2004, 2:45pm »

on Apr 5th, 2004, 11:17pm, bstark777 wrote:
TyReid,
Did you rebias your amp after putting in the jj's?


yep. i biased to about 35 or so then tried a few other settings. hot or cold it didn't make a huge difference to me just a subtle shading one way or the other.
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xx Re: Review of JJ Tubes in a SLO
« Reply #12 on: Apr 6th, 2004, 6:44pm »

I know slo's have a adjustable bias. How hard is it to do? Is it explainable? There is a tech in town who can definitely do it, but for me that would be last resort. He's a real jerk.
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xx Re: Review of JJ Tubes in a SLO
« Reply #13 on: Apr 6th, 2004, 10:26pm »

You can buy one of those biasing tools. The most popular one is the Weber Bias Rite...
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TyReid
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xx Re: Review of JJ Tubes in a SLO
« Reply #14 on: Apr 7th, 2004, 11:39am »

on Apr 6th, 2004, 6:44pm, bstark777 wrote:
I know slo's have a adjustable bias. How hard is it to do? Is it explainable? There is a tech in town who can definitely do it, but for me that would be last resort. He's a real jerk.


no it's not hard to do. the SLO (and probably all soldano's are the same way) have a single blue wheel in the middle of the underside of the chassis to adjust bias. i use one of those weber bias rite meters but a multimeter will work just as well (there are lots of guides online on how to check the bias with a multimeter or just call/email soldano).

also i got your PM but just in case my response didn't go through (or if it's useful to somebody else) i'll post it here:


really though i've found that what soldano says about biasing really is true- it's not *nessicary* although it can be of some benefit (slight differences in sound in my experience and tube longevity). i know a lot of folks may disagree but this is what i've found with my amps.

when i put my JJ's in i initially biased at 30 and then went up and down from there as high as 50 and as low as 18 (the SLO's bias pot is set right in the middle of it's adjustment range from the factory and the JJs biased at 18 at that point as did the stock sovteks). at all the points i tried the amp sounded good and really it was just a matter of sounding a little louder and more robust and compressed at the higher settings versus a little quieter and slightly less compressed in the lower settings. just as an experiment i went below 18 on the bias (don't remember what setting though) and noticed it started getting that raspy "crossover distortion sound" you hear a lot of folks talking about. i've had similar results with a marshall i used to have- at higher settings it got a little warmer and more robust and at lower settings it just seemed a little quieter. not a huge difference by any means (except for the extreme low settings).

this is what a lot of guys refer to as biasing by ear. and really it's worked well for me. as i said i did check the bias all during the process but basically i ended up finding a point that sounded and felt right to me and then made sure i wasn't over or underbiased with the meter (about 30 worked for me).

so, all that said, if you have the equipment to bias or know someone who does, it's worth your time to do so. otherwise, provided you're using good/reliable tubes, i wouldn't worry about it.
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