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FDP Forum / Fender Amps: Vintage (before 1985) / Tubes? What's a matched set?

roadhog96

USA / CT.

Jan 24th, 2016 06:05 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Anyone know if these numbers would mean a matched pair?
I know it's better to use matched tubes for Fender amps and all other push pull type amps.
The tubes were tested on a calibrated HICKOK 539-C
Tube 1- is 52ma and where 3300 is min it tests at 6750
Tube 2- is 42ma and where 3300 is min it tests at 6000
I have no idea maybe someone here might have experience with this subject.

BbendFender
Contributing Member
*********

American Patriot

I'm on guard these days.
Jan 24th, 2016 08:34 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I doubt if Fender ever matched their tubes. They just grabbed a set and plugged them in. In some cases, the tubes might have been changed out 20 years later. No biasing done, just switch out for new tubes. Those old Fender amps sure sounded good.
I have tube testers and I have probably tried to get a set of tubes that tested about the same. I think some folks are taking this too far. I have a lifetime supply of tubes for myself and every one of them has been tested and I write the test number either on the boxes or on the tubes. I'd say 95% of my tubes test in the 90% range with good emissions and no shorts. That's good enough for me.

roadhog96

USA / CT.

Jan 24th, 2016 09:23 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I hear ya, I don't remember anyone years ago talking about matching tubes. I'd go to the store and bring the bad tube with me and the only matching was to make sure it was the same type tube. The testing machines use to be in a lot of stores. You stick the the tube in the the correct size socket and hold down the test button and the needle would tell you if the tube was good or bad.

Apparently there's a lot more to this than everyone realized back then. The military had more sophisticated testers for their tubes. All communication devices used tubes, tubes were everywhere.

I remember sitting in a room with the lights off looking through the vent holes on the back of the radio and tv to see the tubes glowing. You could feel the heat comming from them. I use to think they were cool looking. Back then we didn't have as much to amuse us as the kids today.

When you read up on tube amps it's spelled out why certain amps needs matched tubes.

It's a little over my head. I've never studied this enough to understand it all. But I can see why it's better for the amp and the tubes life. And at the going rate for vintage tubes it's probably better in the long run for them.

RDR

I tried to think

but nothing happened!
Jan 25th, 2016 08:23 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I remember buying tubes for my SR and TR way back in the day at Drug Fair. Had a stand up tester/storage unit. Never heard of biasing. Or matching cab/amp ohms. Sounded great and no failures.

My fav was the SR up about 7, with an additional 2X12 cab. 3 feet behind me. That's probably why I don't hear so good now...

I suppose that if the tubes are too mismatched, you can't hit a good bias point for both. OP's example seems a little too much difference.

Stratopastor

Stockton-on-Tees

all your tone are belong to us
Jan 25th, 2016 09:43 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I think if I'd bought a 'matched' pair and then tested them, I'd expect them to score closer to each other than Roadhog's tubes. But that pair will probably sound just fine.

Hammond101
Contributing Member
*********

So. Cal. USA

Jan 25th, 2016 10:22 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

They will operate differently in the amplifier so checking bias after installation is a good thing to do whether a matched set or somewhat miss-matched. Set up the bias so the tube drawing the most current at idle is in spec and let the other tube draw less.

Even matched tubes after a few months use will no longer be so closely matched. No worries there.

Guitar Fool
Contributing Member
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*****

Sunshine State

Just a pawn in someone else's game
Jan 25th, 2016 02:13 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I can understand why some folks are in to matched tubes...

my tester just goes to 100... and I try to use tubes that are close to each other...
Never had an issue with it....

roadhog96

USA / CT.

Jan 25th, 2016 04:39 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Here's an interesting article on tube matching you might find useful or maybe amusing.

When I think about all the people selling tubes on eBay and read their description for their matched tube results I have to laugh after reading this.

Its all a scam to get as much money for these tubes and no one has a clue, the buyer nor the seller.

Tube Matching

Hammond101
Contributing Member
*********

So. Cal. USA

Jan 25th, 2016 05:11 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have to agree. The only value matching has to me is making sure one tube will not be biased to hot or cold in a guitar amplifier while the other is in spec.

Most of the propaganda comes from the HiFi guys that want this stuff super clean. Not so in a guitar amp.

JBLTWIN1

usa

you want me to play where?
Feb 1st, 2016 05:11 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I've had some of the best sounding amps that were OFF a little bit. True matching is great for getting them to balance out but as stated, "BACK IN THE DAY", we just popped them in and hoped they didn't go boom. Some mismatch is ok, and even desired and they WILL drift differently over time so unless you're anal like me, you may never even know! Mike

Steve Dallman
Contributing Member
*********

Merrill, Wisconsin

Age is just a number...mine is big
Feb 2nd, 2016 10:30 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

If "matched" tubes are simply tested, paired and sold, they won't remain matched. Tubes drift, usually over the first three weeks use or so. Some vendors burn tubes in, then test and match. That's better, if matched is your goal.

I usually put separate bias adjusts in my amps, or if the amp has a bias balance, I'll leave the balance and add a bias adjust.

Matched tubes will be quieter, but the distortion will be odd order, as even cancels out. Mismatched will be higher in even harmonics.

Back in the day (60's for me) if a power tube blew, the TV Repairman would replace the bad tube...with whatever brand he carried. And the amps ran fine.

When I started repairing amps, I'd get Twin Reverbs and Showmans in that had 4 different brand and shape power tubes in. Pretty common.

If you have a mismatched pair, bias to the higher current drawing tube.

Silverface

Redondo Beach CA

No Chops but Great Tone
Feb 11th, 2016 07:41 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

You can't match tubes on a Hickok 539 (or any other Hickok model). They only hit the plates with around 170VDC, and you have NO idea what will happen at 400 or 420VDC.

Tube testers, as a rule (with the exception of some EXTREMELY expensive military units and some specialty models) are useful only to weed out bad tubes.

You really need to run them IN an amp with some kind of bias meter - like an Allesandro Bias and Matching Meter, a Weber unit, etc.

Twangmeister
Contributing Member
*********

E NC

Hoarder of instruments
Feb 11th, 2016 08:23 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Back in the day I was fussy about matching my power tubes: a pair of Radio Shack, a pair of RCA's, etc.
I thought the amp sounded better if the power tubes were "matched".


Silverface

Redondo Beach CA

No Chops but Great Tone
Feb 15th, 2016 07:47 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"a pair of Radio Shack, a pair of RCA's, etc."

There are still people who think the same label means "matched". Cracks me up.

Lynxtrap

Way Out East

Feb 17th, 2016 02:46 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

This: "I usually put separate bias adjusts in my amps, or if the amp has a bias balance, I'll leave the balance and add a bias adjust."

Do that, or have a tech do it, and never again worry about tube matching.

FDP Forum / Fender Amps: Vintage (before 1985) / Tubes? What's a matched set?




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