Best EL84 Tubes – When to Change Your Tubes

best el84 tubes reviewsIf you use a vacuum tube amp you will most likely get to a point where you have to change the amp’s tubes. It is inevitable, your tubes will either blowout or get worn out with playing time.

Sometimes the sound just doesn’t play the same way it used to before and you have to replace the tubes to get it back. Some people change tubes to alter the sound quality of the amp so it suits them better.

Now replacing the tubes is not really a problem, the challenging part is choosing the replacement tubes.

If you are looking to replace your el84 tubes then you are reading the right article, in this article, we will walk you through the information you need to pick out the best el84 tubes and provide a review of some of the best el84 tubes in the market.

What Are El84 Tubes?

Just in case you are not very sure what el84 tubes are, these are tubes used by vacuum tube based amps, they condition the tone of your sound. El84 tubes generally have a smooth, sweet classic sound that is favored by many players.

When Do You Need To Change Your Tubes?

In general, there are two common reasons why people change amp tubes:

The tube is burnt out

Sometimes a tube or multiple tubes can burn out and cause an amplifier to malfunction. In the event that a tube burns out, all of the amplifier’s tubes have to be replaced. Tubes have no definite lifespan and can burn out at any time.

To improve the tone of the amp

The most common reason why people replace their tubes is to improve the sound output of their amp, especially the tone qualities and the power.

You know it is time to replace your tubes when:

  • 1. The is weird noise
  • 2. Your amp loses the high end
  • 3. When clarity is lost
  • 4. The amp doesn’t work

What To Look For When Buying El84 Tubes?

There some important things that you should look at when buying el84 tubes, in order to get the best tubes that match your amp and desired sound, pay attention to:

Watts

You have to check out the watts of the tube and select the one with the wattage that meets your needs and your amp.

Type of tube

Different type of tubes will have a different sound and tone, for example, EL84 tubes have much lower output, but offer a smooth and sweet harmonic tone.

Reliability

How reliable are the tubes? A trusted tube is one that will give you the sound that you need without developing issues. You should also look at the durability of the tubes. You do not want to purchase tubes that wear out easily.

Budget

Most people factor in their budget when purchasing amp tubes. It is possible to find really great tubes at affordable prices.

Mullard EL84


Pro: Highly affordable, Excellent sound for blues, There is no burn in time needed
Con: The tubes give an early distortion, The sound is too clean and smooth for none blue players

The Mullard el84 is a remake of the original, it has black plates, carbonized screens and gold plated grids which already testifies to the quality of the tube.

The tube has the least clean headroom and it gives a soft and creamy tone when pushed into distortion. It is made in Russia and comes in a pair which makes it very convenient and affordable.

Because of its gold-plated grids, the tube can sustain heavy playing for long periods affecting the sound.

Vox AC30 Standard Tube Set, JJ Tubes x4 EL84


Pro: A set of 4 is cost-effective, Sounds great in overdrive, Easy to fit-in even without experience, Can breathe life into an old amp
Con: The sound differs from the stock tubes in some amps, The tube burns out easily on the Peavey Classic 30

The Vox AC30 Standard Tube Set, JJ Tubes are a perfect replacement tube for the Vox AC30 amp. These are JJ brand tubes that work on any amp that runs el84 tubes.

They have a lot of power and do very well in overdrive, just like any JJ tube they offer a string rock to when pushed high and the crispy clear when played low.

This is a set of 4 tubes, they are easy to install on VOX and on any other amp.

Fender Blues Jr. Tube Set x2 EL84


Pro: Easy to install, Offers the same tone quality as the originals on the Fender Blues Jr
Con: Can easily burn out on a non-Fender Blue amp

Excellent replacement tubes for the Fender Blues Jr amp. The tube comes in a matched set that only takes a few minutes to pop in the amp.

It has a high-quality sound with great longevity, it gives warm and full low tone; while the leads are bright with great sustain.

In terms of reliability this tube hits a home run, it will not wake up not working from the blue unless you have a faulty amp.

Sovtek EL84 Vacuum Tube


Pro: Highly reliable and affordable, High performance with plenty of power output without any problems, Clean sound on most amps
Con: Tends to have a heating problem, Prone to mechanical noise when used in combo amps

The Sovtek EL84 tube is the staple tube for amps like Fender, Boogie, Crate, and Peavey. It is a great value tube that is both reliable and highly predictable.

You know exactly what kind of tone you will get each time you play; it usually gives a clear smooth sound that tends to move into a classic el84 tube smooth breakup.

Because it can be used on basically any amp, this pair of the tube is considered to be really affordable.

Tube Amp Doctor EL84 STR Premium Selected Vacuum Tube


Pro: Heavy duty tube, can be used for strenuous periods, Highly durable, The price meets the performance
Con: Tends to have a vintage tone type that other players might not like, The thick glass makes them incompatible with amps that need the tube to pass through a hole in the chassis

Produced in Germany, the Tube Amp Doctor EL84 STR Premium Selected Vacuum Tube is designed to offer heavy duty use.

It uses a gold grid wire and a very thick glass envelope, paired with an oxide-coated unipotential cathode, this combination makes it a strong and reliable tube. In terms of tone, the Tube Amp Doctor EL84 gives you a solid rock vibe in overdrive and a clean tone when balanced.

Because of the gold grid wire, you are guaranteed that this should not fail on you out of the blue.

JJ Electronics T-EL84-JJ-MP Vacuum Tube EL84/6BQ5


Pro: Does not have overheating problems, Offers an improved tone to most old amps, Has a harmonic singing tone that is warm and sweet
Con: Tends to have a mechanical noise when installed in combo amps, Not a tube to go to if you are looking for a change in sound

The JJ Electronics T-EL84 is a tube favored by many players, it offers a balance between tone and reliability. In terms of tone, it has great mid-range, sparkling high tones, and solid lows.

Unlike other JJ tubes, the JJ Electronics T-EL84 has solved the issue of overheating and can go well into overdrive without any negative tonal effects.

The sweet and warm harmonic sound comes welcomed by many players, it is a reliable tube for the ages.

Electro-Harmonix EL84 Vacuum Tube


Pro: Has a variety tonal output, Can be used on a wide range of amps, Excellent high performing tube that lasts the distance
Con: The thickness of the tube may be an issue for amps that requires for the tube to pass through a hole, Sold in singles – the cost rises when buying multiple tubes

The Electro-Harmonix EL84 Vacuum Tube is the gold standard of vacuum tube and works on a variety of amps. The tonal variety is great, it can give a smooth sound, a bluesy feel or even a classic rock edge depending on how you set your amp up.

The tube is made in Russia and is made with a polished plate with different coating and a wrapped wire grid. It is officially recommended for the Vox, Peavey Classic 30 and Fender Blues Junior amps.

It is generally a reliable and affordable replacement tube for any amp.

*Any prices mentioned in the article were at the time of publishing and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.