A little more information

The two main activities in my life: Helping the hungry in the late hours of the night and helping guitar players sound better one amp at a time.

I always try to remember that in order to do good one has to take action and actually do something.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I have watched the city and Southern California change for well over half a century.

I can be found on facebook at www.facebook.com/mylesr or on twitter at www.twitter.com/myles111us or on my own Guitar Amplifier Blueprinting website at www.mylesrose.com

Los Angeles Architectural History

Los Angeles Architectural History
1935 Art Deco at some of its finest: No. 168 - Griffith Observatory- (click on the photo for information)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Genalex - Gold Lion N709 / EL84 Power Vacuum Tube

Just when you thought vacuum tube production could not get any worse ....

Have I mentioned that I feel the current state of affairs regarding vacuum tubes is not very good?

Click on "Read more" to continue

Here is .... An expensive tube ... that is an old design of a tube that used to be cheap by New Sensor... it used to be rugged ... it used to fit in amps. I did not like the tone much as it was dull but it was pretty reliable. Leave it to New Sensor to take what was a mediocre tube design of theirs and .....

So, the good folks at New Sensor slapped a old name of a past great tube maker on the tube ( seems like New Sensor even ruined a name ), made the tube unreliable, made the tube physical spec incorrect and one vendor even recommends that they are not to be used in cathode biased amps. I am sure somebody can list a few more grid biased amps that use an EL84 (all I can think of is a Fender Blues Junior and one era of Black Tolex Fender Tremolux (sold primarily with 6L6 tubes) but in the end we have an expensive, unreliable tube that won't fit in many popular amps.

As far as this tube being made to be "a true echo the past" .... rubbish. BS. Lies. False advertising or misleading advertising. This tube, other than working poorly in limited EL84 amps is not remotely close to an original. Even the visible aspects of the tube such as plates and mica design are not even close to the original.

Some of the commentary from my facebook page below:

The end?  Well, close enough that you can kick a rock to the end from where we currently stand.


  1. Hi Myles, Wow! Just another dose of bad news! What I don't understand is how New Sensor (and/or whoever) can expect to sell overpriced junk like this. If people just refused to buy then maybe they'd get the idea that they have to make something at least reasonably decent. Maybe the well known tube resellers should refuse to peddle this stuff or at least tell the truth instead of repeating the manufacturer's hype. I used to have a lot of respect for Mike Matthews but now it seems like he's trying to outdo Aspen Pittman in the snake oil arena. Gary.

    1. Gary,

      I would not compare Aspen Pittman to Mike Matthews. Aspen's main weaknesses were doing whatever his wife asked him to do, not supporting his employees and not giving credit to folks that came up with and developed some of the great products that carried the GT name.

      GT did strive to match tubes properly (which they did very well). Aspen was the father of tube matching for the most part or at least was the one who put the information out there. The quality of the GT tubes and products were always very high until the last few years of their run. At that point things came onto the scene such as "Silver Series" (unmatched and ungraded power tubes that were nothing short of dangerous) and amps such as the S30 and S50. Silver Series were primarily sold to Guitar Center and they are going down the same path that GT drove. The ViPRE and Glory Comp were great developments as a side note.

      When Aspen decided to make a tube such as the 6L6GE, EL34M and 12AX7M he sought out to accurately remanufacture the tube using the original design and materials. He did not take an existing tube and slap on an old name. The 12AX7M Mullard Reissue was a spectacular tube for the first three or so runs. Then things went down the proverbial toilet, never to recover. The 6L6GE was a spectacular tube from day one all throughout production. When GT had 10 ratings things were pretty sweet as there were practices in place to assure that two #6 tubes, for example, matched. Fender took these ten ratings and broke them down to three; red, white and blue. Matching went out the window. Even the ten scale system was dated in the last few years but with a lot of labor could be very accurate. When Aspen sold the company to Fender it was like watching the sale of a fleet of Boeing 707s being sold off to some unsuspecting airline. The era had passed. Now Fender is left holding the bag. I used to have a certain level of respect for Fender. The level of respect dropped a bit when they bought GT as their "experts" were anything but experts.

      Aspen Pittman did a lot of great things for guitar players. He is the father of tube matching in my eyes. He is a fun guy when his wife is not around.

  2. Hi Myles, Thanks for the perspective. I do not know either of the two men personally but they are "sorta" public figures in that they are or were fairly high profile in the industry and have both been well and poorly written of. Obviously I can only know what I have read. I did get the impression from the your posts about GT and Pittman that you weren't pleased with many of his business practices and that was the comparison with Matthews that I intended. I have no doubt that Pittman and GT did a lot of good initially but, for whatever reason, that level of quality was not maintained and ultimately it's the customer who suffered. Matthews had a major impact on guitar effects with Electro-Harmonix. Clearly though his adventure in Saratov is deteriorating and once again it's the customer who will suffer. Perhaps "snake oil" was rather harsh and I'm sorry if my comparison of the two men caused you any upset. It doesn't change the fact though that any of us who have to rely on modern tubes are floating further down that proverbial creek without a paddle. Gary.

    1. Gary,

      I am not upset at all. You are right on the money when you say that all of us that need to rely on modern current production tubes are the ones who are getting the short end of the stick.

      Aspen always tried to maintain quality. It was very important to him. He would take written reports to the tube manufacturers on a very regular basis, many times a year, to try to get them to be more consistent and reliable. It was futile and my proverbial hat is off to the man. There is nothing more that he could have done and put in countless hours trying to make things better. This was one of his strong and great attributes.

    2. Hi Myles, I thought this might be a new tube but New Sensor's Genalex EL84 has been around for awhile, right? I've been poking around a bit and my impression is that people have been complaining about it for quite some time. You'd think that the tube resellers and the manufacturer would have gotten the message already. I don't understand it. For people to keep making and selling it is an extremely bad business practice. Borders on fraud, if you ask me. Gary.

    3. New Sensor does little more than put out the same tubes year after year with two changes: A new label or name on the tube and lower quality (less consistent, farther from design spec, less reliable and shorter life).

  3. fritz to miles we tried to get a hold of you but no response. we really love the blog but the past can carry you so far?
    respond now fritz

    1. I find it hard to believe that you tried to contact me and got no response. My direct email is listed as are my contacts on other social media places. I also don't understand your comment. This is a current production tube and was not made in the past.

      I also know nobody with the name of fritz and you clearly do not know me as you spelled my name incorrectly.

  4. I am just curious, are you basing this opinion of the tube as a MUSICIAN in an amp or a person who is interested in audio? I've found these tubes to be great for hifi, especially in vintage audio equipment. Just curious because of your strongly worded entry above. Great writing, but I wanted to see where it was based from. And yes, they are freaking expensive. I agree with that wholeheartedly. New Sensor needs to start listening to their customers or they will start putting out more and more rubbish.

    1. I look at tubes in a technical way and post the findings. Listening is subjective and there is no right, wrong, good or bad. But, inconsistent performance, bad curves, tubes far from design spec ... well, those are facts. This tube does not resemble, in ANY way, the Gold Lion of the past other than it has nine pins and is encased in a glass bottle.

  5. El84 Tubes are for good sound reproduction and this is paramount importance unless they do not last of fail quickly.
    I have read not to use these el84 in cathode bias amps just like many new production tubes and 12ax7 made today also do not last a week in cathode follower positions in preamps !
    That is common knowledge and cathode quality has been affected by time and well developed rare earth coatings not around any more.
    Political correctness of specifications was gladly ignored by JJ tubes as the voltage has increased from 110vac to over 124vac since the 50s !
    Add that problem with amps that produce 360-400 plate volts in el84 tubes ? spec. 350 max ?

    AC30 amps have cramped power tube area that cooks tubes and common knowledge is the sovtek el84str tubes are to use there !
    The sonic differences has been tested in guitar amps , this Gold lion el84 tubes topped out the new production tubes and further testing revealed this GL tube out lasted the JJ as the JJ suffered sonic quality and dynamics dropped off.

    I am convinced the Russian el84str can stand up to higher temps and last but now you can not get them !
    JJ el84 are too big too fit in AC30 and other amps.
    Instead of dwelling on specs and trivial mind games , test them and then blog your negative theories or what ever you gripes are !
    If price and specs. are the base of your grades then your not in the reality of running tubes in amps to tell us anything of use and are out of touch like politicians are !

    Alas I am setting bias using webbers bias calculator on class A/B fixed bias Rebel 20 that usually
    has 362 voltage on the plates !
    Others have had trouble with every tube made today so care is recommended to break in a bit lower than %70 bias as I have read and agree with !
    If running Cryogenic treated tubes your tubes {MAY}not suffer at %70 starting out is popular theory !
    Lets review tubes in the reality based known voltages and not in hyperbole fantasy specifications that do not exist now that were using higher voltages since 1940 tube data spec. charts were invented !
    Actual is reality and hyperbole opinion is what I read above on el84 Gold Lion tubes , egos go away , what is the actual performance is what I want too read !

  6. The only EL84 guitar amp that comes to mind that is not cathode biased is the Fender Blues Jr. This was done because EL84s were cheaper than 6V6s and only one type and size of tube socket was needed for the amp, keeping BOM cost down.

    Most everybody I know prefers using the JJ. It has a long life and a curve trace that is most close to the classic tubes of the past.

    I have not seen anybody have a problem fitting an EL84 in a Vox AC30. There are bottle size specs that all tube need to follow. On occasion, there are some Chinese tubes where the bottle diameter was too large to fit in some amps of some types that had PCB mounted output tube sockets and an aluminium guard with holes over the PCB that were too small for oversize, non-spec, bottle diameter. JJ was not one of the folks with this issue.

    Higher voltages are used for reliability testing. Tube design spec voltages are used to see if the tube even meets design specs.

    Most folks I know shy away from the dark and muffled sounding Russian EL84 variants, especially the EL84M variant.