Those Magic Tubes
Once upon a time I had a small stash of NOS Sylvania grey plate 12AX7s that made every amp I placed them in sound better, Especially in the V1 position of my dad’s old 1965 Deluxe Reverb. I dreaded the day when my last one went microphonic. I even left it in my amp a little longer than a should of because a hated to see it go. I immediately located a few more, but they just lacked the magic produced by that first batch and were also quite costly.
So over the years I tried everything from Blackburn Mullards and Bugle Boys to all the latest and the greatest 12AX7s I could get my hands on. But none of them brought back the magic in dad’s DR like those Sylvanias. They had a way of slightly increasing headroom and curing that ‘farty’ bass that is the DR’s only weakness.
That Magic Moment
While at NAMM in 2011 I happened across an older British gentleman named Peter M. Watson at a little booth in Hall D (the basement). We quickly struck up a conversation about the tubes he had on display. I noticed a fire growing in his eyes and an enthusiasm in his heavily-accented voice as he began describing all of his classic and latest designs to me. As he continued to talk emphatically about diodes, cathodes, and a bunch of stuff way over my head, I began to realize I was in the presence of a true genius. Turns out he was invited to NAMM as a keynote speaker on tube technology! I thought he might be the guy to ask about those “Special Sylvanias” I used to have. And boy am I glad I did! He said, “I’ve got just what you’re looking for… It’s my latest design the 12AX7HG.” Though vendors are discouraged from selling merchandise at NAMM, Peter really wanted me to try a couple of these tubes in my ’65 Deluxe Reverb. I felt like Jack the Giant Killer must’ve as I carried away two of these mysterious tubes like magic beans in my bag.
Guess what I did as soon as I got home from NAMM? You guessed it! I installed those tubes in the V1 position of each channel of the DR, plugged my guitar straight into the amp, and …. Thank you Jesus!!! After all my years of searching I finally found the perfect tube! These not only had the warmth and character of my beloved Sylvania grey plates, but they sounded even fuller with more harmonics. I tried them in all of my amps with the same results. They sounded even better in British amps because they cured the grainy breakup and tightened up the bottom end. All that with one tiny $15 tube.
About the 12AX7HG
The PM 12AX7HG tube is built to the highest possible standards and has extra screening to eliminate microphony (squeal) and excessive white noise. Though the HG in the name stands for High Gain this does not mean it will make your amp distort faster. Gain=Volume to the Brits. These tubes deliver up to 20% increased gain before breakup, thereby increasing any amps headroom by up to 20%. The PM 12AX7HG is a drop in replacement for any standard 12AX7 with nothing but positive results.
About Peter M. Watson
Peter M. Watson (PM) is the guy who brought guitar amp and hi-fi tube designs into all of those industrial tube factories in China, Russia, etc after EPA restrictions and advancements in solid state technology shut down the US and UK factories. Marshall and Orange amps used to come with PM tubes. After losing those contracts to cheaper tube manufacturers Peter concentrated his efforts on designing premium hi-fi tubes under the new Golden Dragon name. These are considered by many to be the best modern production tubes. Hi-fi enthusiast pay up to $700 for a pair of Golden Dragon 300B tubes. However, in spite of the respect and admiration Mr. Watson has received from the audiophile community his tubes are still virtually unknown to most guitarists due to very poor marketing in that arena.
It has been my mission to introduce these superior tubes to the artists I work with and every tone freak I come in contact with. And they have all thanked me again and again for helping them make this discovery. Not only is the game-changing 12AX7HG amazing, but every tube PM makes is leaps and bounds above their competition in design, quality, and tone. They make every tube you could want for a guitar amplifier (except an EF86) and every tube Peter designs is a mix of the best of the best classic designs with a few modern improvements. These tubes are produced at the highest standards using the finest materials available to Mr. Watson’s stringent specifications. And they sell for about the same price you would expect to pay for a JJ.
We do not offer tubes on the Tonesmiths website. www.tubeboutique.com specializes in PM Tubes and offers discounted tube sets for most amps.
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