© Mike Konopka
My endearment to the vacuum tube began in 1969 when I plugged in my Gibson SG into a newly acquired Silvertone guitar amp. (the one that held the head in back of the cabinet.) After the first few warm, smooth tones that emanated from those twin 12" Jensens I was hooked for life on tube power. My affair with tube amps continued with Super Reverbs, Bandmasters, Tremoluxes, Twins, Supros, Valcos, Ampegs, Marshalls, Gretches, & Voxes. Most of these amps are still in regular service at Seagrape Studios today. We also have a pair of Macintosh MC-60s that even make NS-10s sound good.

Over the years I've picked up a few tips that can help your tube gear provide hours of trouble free use:

1. Proper Ventilation.
Orient tube gear in a manner that promotes airflow. Consider adding Whisper fans etc.. The fan rig on my '64 Marshall 100w is set to pull air across the EL-34 power tubes. These tubes last much longer than in our unfanned Marshalls.

2 Keep Tube Amps Clean.
Tubes perform best when they are free of dust etc.. Try not to touch tubes with your hands if possible. Wipe them with a soft damp cloth instead. Fans add to the dust problem, so devise a air filter arrangement.

3. Test Or Replace Power Tubes Yearly.
If your gear gets regular use it's cheaper to replace power tubes in pairs than expensive transformers, which could go south when the power tubes fail. At Seagrape, we have a tube tester to verify tube condition. If you can't find a tester, change power tubes and save the old ones for spares until you locate a tester. Pre-amp tubes (12AX7 etc..) generally last quite a long time so don't worry about these unless a specific problem arises. 

4. Contact Clean Tube Pins And Sockets With Cramolin R2 & B5.
Do this twice a year. You won't believe the difference! Follow Cramolin instructions carefully. To obtain Cramolin products contact John Burch at 708-833-4294.   

5.  Allow New Tubes 2 Hours To Burn-In.
Let unit idle before you "get on it". 

6. Replace Faulty Tube Sockets.
  Check for cracked and loose sockets. Also check hold down tangs that keep tubes snug in their sockets under vibration or in upside-down installations.
For tubes and supplies contact Richardson Electronics at 1-800-348-5580.

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Phone: 847 222 1029
Email: mike@mikekonopka.com

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