Vintage Tubes and Tube Sockets

Before the invention of transistors and solid-state electronics, everything relied on tubes. Old radio tubes where large, ran hot and eventually burned out. They also produced that warm tube sound that many musicians and fans swear by.

What Uses Tubes?

Vintage vacuum tubes appear in a wide range of devices but they are most common in audio electronics particularly amplifiers. Many older vacuum tube amplifiers work very well so long as you have the right vintage tubes. Tube amplifiers have the following advantages:

  • Warm Tone: Tubes produce a warmer sound than transistors and many people prefer it.
  • Harmonic Distortion: Overdriven vacuum tubes produce even order harmonic distortion, which sounds more musical than odd order distortion from transistors.

Replacing Tubes

Because they need regular replacing, most tubes follow a socketed design. Simply unplug the device, let it discharge and then remove the old tube from the vintage tube socket. The new tube should then slide right into place. Do be careful, vacuum tubes work at high voltage so you want to make sure they discharge before you touch anything.