Tube Resellers - Risky

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Funky54, Dec 4, 2017.

  1. Funky54

    Funky54 Coat Hangers do not sound good Thread Starter

    Just thought I’d share my experience with a large Tube re-seller.

    I read thetube re-sellares reviews of the sonic personality of their tube offerings. I liked the description of a particular tube brand and model. I had had good experiences with that Tube brand in the past.

    I didn’t take the time to read other sites who share customer service reviews of thetube re-seller. So I purchased 8 matched EL-34 tubes from them. While I waited a couple of weeks for them to arrive, I took my amp to a repair shop. There they warned me that the particular tubes I was waiting for were problematic.

    So I called theTube Re-seller before my tubes were delivered and asked if I could upgrade to a different tube set. They assured me and were quit forceful, that I keep the tubes that were coming. They said something like this: “We are a mega store and sell thousands of this tube and have NEVER had any problems with them” If you don’t like them we can always exchange them..”

    I caved and said ok.

    My amp was still having problems and the shop I took it to couldn’t fix it. So I called the manufacturer again to get direction. In conversation I said what tubes I had bought and was waiting on.. The manufacturer said “ hey those tubes are trouble, we’ve experienced several Tranny’s burn up because of those tubes, We highly recommend you choose something else.“ So I called theTube Re-seller again. Shared what I was told. Again they dodged and said it was a ridiculous claim and that the tubes I had invested in were excellent and reliable.

    Three more weeks go by and I take my amp to yet another repair shop in Tampa Florida (excellent guys by the way) They fix the logic chip that was my amps problem, but then they install my new tubes and tell me four of the eight are bad. I said “What do you mean bad?” He say’s “well if you slightly touch any of them they sparkle like the Fourth of July. Trust me the’re bad” I call thetube re-seller and share that the shop says that four of the 8 are bad. They get all huffy and defensive and say that its impossible for tubes to leave their shop with any problems... that their tube tester is really expensive blah blah blah. They are rude indignant and uncooperative. They put down the repair shop and say they don’t know what they are talking about. They say they demand to know what tube tester they are using to conclude their tubes are bad..

    The repair shop calls for me. They give them the same crap and tell them (I’m standing there) that they will not talk to them only me the buyer. So they hand the phone to me and he gets all huffy and rude.

    He finally gave me a return number but I have to pay the shipping to CANADA (I live in Florida) for their Bad tubes. They told me “we’ll just see about this with our tester, but if they show ok, you’ll have to pay us shipping to send the same tubes back.” I shared that I had contacted them multiple times (emails and phone calls) and asked to upgrade the tubes.. they didn’t care. I reminded him of what they told me each time, they didn’t care.

    I sent them back to CANADA last week. Haven’t heard from them yet.

    Be warned. Buy from reputable tube dealers that others have reviewed. Just because a place “seems” big doesnt mean they are reputable.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
    bluemooze likes this.
  2. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    1. Charges for shipping back to the vendor is routinely paid by the customer. No idea why you're outraged by this. FYI, as a Canadian, I can't tell you the thousands (yes, THOUSANDS!) I've spent on shipping for goods to and from the US. You probably don't care but you wouldn't want to trade places with me in that regard, I assure you.

    2. Are you referring to The Tube Store? Your post wasn't clear on that point. If so, your experience appears to be the exception as I've ordered from them multiple times without incident and as somebody who plays and is exposed to tons of people who also play tube guitar amps, they are a store tons of people regularly do business with without incident. Google Reviews assign them a 4.8/5.0 rating out of 127 reported experiences.

    3. As a customer, you almost always have the power until receipt of the goods. Don't let a store bully you into accepting whatever terms they want. As long as the merchandise hasn't been shipped to you, you have every right to cancel/void the transaction. I've also had to learn that lesson the hard way a number of years ago. You're not alone.

    4. Is there a reason you're not divulging which tube you're referring to?

    The couple of times I needed to speak to somebody over the phone, I was served with courtesy. Maybe the person you spoke with was having a bad day which, IMHO, isn't an excuse for treating somebody without civility and courtesy. If what you mention is true, I'm entirely in your corner on this matter!
  3. Funky54

    Funky54 Coat Hangers do not sound good Thread Starter

    I realize that it is nessasary and fair to pay shipping if I make an exchange, upgrade.... but when I asked multiple times to change and was told no... and then what they sent was faulty. No that should be on them. I pay shipping if I ship something faulty. It’s called customer service. The internet is LOADED with bad reviews and people complaining about this company. Much of it is like word for word what I experienced. I can assure you I was courteous and trying to resolve and be fair. They were RUDE, and unreasonable.

    When I became angry was when the repair shop tried to do me a favor and call them direct to share what was going on. Thetube re-seller were condescending, rude and sanctimonious with them. That got me angry. I’m still angry. Those guys didn’t deserve that. They too were professional and reasonable thetube re-seller.

    I didn’t name the Tube manufacturer because they (in my opinion) are a good company. I dont know for sure if its true that these particular tubes are problematic. I was repeating what two repair shops and the Manufactuere of my amp said. So its not fair to say it on the internet when I don’t know if that’s true.

    I didn’t specificaly name the company who sold me the tubes whom I have a problem with because they “may” still make it right even if they were rude and stressful. I wasnt coming here to bad mouth a company. I came here to urge my friends.. you guys, to be careful and research who you buy from. The internet warned me in no time, had I only researched first. In fact I was hard pressed to find any positive comments about this tube reseller.

    I also have lots and lots of Guitar amps. The manufacturer of the tubes I have, are in most of those amps and I’ve been using that brand on and off for over 30 years. I would guess I’ve bought at least 400 tubes in my life. This company however has not been good to deal with.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
  4. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Not every company will operate the way you would want them to.

    You're being ambiguous about the store's identity but since you wrote "thetube" in the OP, I'm assuming it very well could be TTS.

    If so, the company isn't hiding anything. The language on their shipping policy is crystal clear. By ordering from them, you are submitting that these are policies you agree with for the order in question. - Return Policy

    "All return shipping costs are the responsibility of the customer unless we made a shipping error with your original order."

    Of course, if the store you're referring to isn't TTS, then, well, uhm,... ignore all that. :p

    Any links for webpages "LOADED with bad reviews" that you could kindly link to? Again, assuming this is TTS. I'm merely curious they are a shop the vast majority of North-American guitarists use and this is the first news I'm reading about a terrible experience.

    Well, that's a bit of a strange way to go about it. You state the manufacturer is a good company even though you're open to the possibility they have a defective product constantly churned and sold? Sorry, I can't say I follow your logic, here. Every vast company will make some good and bad products. That's a given.

    Furthermore, this isn't about dragging a manufacturer through the mud but simply about getting some facts. By mentioning the specific product, you could confirm whether others have had similar experiences with that tube, or at least when coupled with the hardware you possess. If it is incompatible for one reason or another, you could be further educated by those more knowledgeable than you are on this topic.

    Bottom line ; it's a disservice to the community and to yourself to hold back on the specifics.

    Don't forget there's a TON of rebranding in the tube industry. For instance, Fender tubes are rebranded Groove Tubes which are themselves rebranded from various other brands. The list is neverending.

    Especially because of this, it's important to know exactly which tube you're referring to. If it's rebranded and actually made by another company, I'm sure that's information you'd like to be made aware of, yes?
  5. Funky54

    Funky54 Coat Hangers do not sound good Thread Starter

    Let me reply this way.

    I like JJ tubes. I’ve had good experiances in my vintage AC30’s, Super Reverb and Marshall 18 watt amps. I just recently tried 8 matched EL 34 II tubes. 4 of 8 are bad. Shipping? Faulty from the start? I dont know. I wouldnt want to brand a particular tube bad just because I experienced it personally. They are tubes... they ship bad, become bad in shipping... lots of variables. 4 of my 8 Matched tubes are bad. If they were did four get by bad? Did it happen in shipping? I just dont know. From my personal perspective I cannot in fairness comment what really happened. And JJ doesnt deserve to be bad mouthed when I didn’t know. If I was a shop selling them and a bunch ended up bad, I’d be more qualified to answer. There is my “logic” I just want to be fair. these tubes “could” test ok but be bad under a real load in an amp. I know I tried two in my little El34 ES amp and they sparkled in it too. They have less than 3 hours use.

    In all businesses problems come up. I dont care about he problem. I care about the response of the company when there was a problem. It makes me feel violent and angry. I dont like feeling that way. It gets under my skin how rude and condescending they were.

    I am not linking the bad reviews for thetube re-seller or confirming, because I didn’t want this to be a rant of me yelling at a company... It was to remind folks to read reviews first before buying.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
    Aftermath likes this.
  6. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    I never took your post as an all too common rant. It was *much* more levelheaded which was (IMHO) refreshing.

    Tubes can be defective in a number of ways. Again, precision would help in this matter. Did the readings drift from what was initially measured? Did they become microphonic? Is it a defective getter?

    I'm sorry you're going through this and your reminder is certainly wise. Always good to do research first, that's certainly true. Having said that, I hope to know the specific store and tube eventually so we can make sense out of this experience.

    Please feel free to PM me if you'd rather not divulge this info publicly.
  7. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    I think that JJ has been guilty of having some models of their power tubes that have the unusual and devastating failure mode of plate to heater. I may be wrong as that is just what has been told to me a a couple of sources. The typical mode of failure is plate to ground and many amps have a fuse in place to protect for that. Some don't and a resistor will fail in its place. Very few amps have protection from plate to heater failures as heaters are basically a dead short anyway, but at only 6v. When that circuit gets hit with 450v, it can take out transformers.

    The other thing to note is that tubes are fragile and can test fine at one point and then fail after experiencing shock from transport or just thermal shock from use. It is possible that neither the customer, nor the seller are at fault here, rather one of the many UPS or Postal employees that handled the package. So the seller can be defensive about their product and methods, and intentions, and be correct, as can be the customer. I know because I too have received complaints about a dead product and I knew for a fact that it was fine when it left. So I have to wonder "was it the transit co or was it a fraudulent consumer?". If the consumer is being honest, he also wonders "was it the transit co or was it a fraudulent seller?". Neither is a pleasant position to be in, and neither is automatically at fault. So you get into a sticky situation with 3 parties involved in a tube transaction (not including the mfr!). That's why I don't like to retube amps with tubes supplied by the customer. You can get into a "who shot John" situation rather easily and there is no recourse for the customer through me if he gives me bad tubes. Then I worry about the customer being mad at me! It is thus best for everyone to buy the tubes from the shop doing the repairs.
    russk, Tullman, McLover and 1 other person like this.
  8. Standingstones

    Standingstones Forum Resident

    South Central PA
    You shouldn't be upset in any way. You were forewarned and you chose to take your own advice.
    Scott222C, McLover and Mr Bass like this.
  9. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    I've never used JJ tubes since they've long had such a poor reputation for QC -- this run of that tube has pins that are too small, that run of this tube draws too much current. Frankly, if any tubes like that come off a manufacturer's assembly line, they should be destroyed and never make it to market. Fair or unfair, the reputation is out there and I don't want to be the one testing whether that reputation is fair or not.

    Now if any seller of anything sells a defective anything, I think they should take it back at their total cost. Period. The customer shouldn't even pay return shipping. That would be good customer service. You sold a damn defective product, it's on you. But as Bill point out above it's hard to know sometimes with tubes where along the chain of custody the failure was, or, it seems like in this case, there's a dispute over whether or not there even is a failure. Still, if people in the production and sale of tubes would bear the cost of all the bad tubes out there, yeah, tube prices to the end consumer might be a little higher, but we wouldn't all have so many stories about early tube failure.

    These days when I buy new tubes I look for smaller sellers who I can correspond with directly, who do testing at full voltage and give the tubes several hours of burn in time. There are just too many bad tubes out there, I'd rather pay a little extra for more of a kind of boutique, extensive testing and personal service than pay a little less from a larger seller and do the QC weeding out of the bad tubes myself.

    A couple of weeks for the tubes to arrive from Ontario to Florida seems like an unusually long shipping time, but I guess post 9/11 something things get hung up crossing borders, even free-trade borders. Do shipments like that usually take you a couple of weeks? I get stuff here from overseas in significantly shorter periods of time.

    I don't know what went on specifically with these maybe bad, maybe not bad tubes the OP got, but I do know that the QC and sales support for the purchasing of tubes in general isn't all that great and for those of us who love tube gear and want it to have a future, that's a concern.
    russk, SandAndGlass and Funky54 like this.
  10. Funky54

    Funky54 Coat Hangers do not sound good Thread Starter

    Well your entitled to your opinion but I do think that’s a bit harsh and simplified. I called and emailed on multiple occasions and asked to pay any up charge to swap them before they ever even arrived. The seller asked and insisted on many occasions that I try his tubes first. I was very clear in writing I was nolonger comfortable with them. He said “IF YOUR NOT HAPPY WE CAN EXCHANGE THEM” that was then, now his story 40 days later is different.

    I will also add I think it was reasonable for me to say, ok I’ll try them before exchanging UPON THE SELLERS REQUEST, because he has an investment in this too. He needs to make a profit and returns / exchanges can jeopardize that. I was being reasonable saying... ok I’ll try them since your willing to exchange later.

    @Mr Bass

    Say you hire someone to paint your vintage Chevelle.. while sanding it down you have second thoughts cause someon tells you their work is so so... they say hey, it’s already sanded down. Give me a chance to show you what I can do. Wait till I’ve painted it, if your not happy I’ll refund you or paint it again to make it right.

    That’s kinda where I was.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
  11. Funky54

    Funky54 Coat Hangers do not sound good Thread Starter

    You may be very right about the manufacturer. I will share that I have used JJ 12 ax7’s, El84’s, 6l6 and 6v6’s many many times in guitar amps and have found them to be pretty decent and a good value. These are my first EL 34 JJ tubes.

    Fool me once... unfortunately I think this has turned me off of JJ for life moving forward. Four out of Eight is excessive.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  12. By touching a tube makes it sparkle seems to me like a loose contact in the tube socket. If a pin was loose in the tube, I would think that you would have even a bigger problem as the tubes are vacuum sealed and if open, would fry pretty quickly. Many tube come out of the same factories and have different brands on them. Before buying any aftermarket tubes, I do research. People with actual experience with a certain tube and/or brand is a little more important than what the seller says. You shouldn't have to pay return shipping for a defective item.
  13. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Chevelle Ma Belle

    Mid Atlantic

    I didn't have an issue with the post sale actions you took. I was more agreeing with the idea that Forum members can easily educate themselves about tubes here and since you are a Forum resident you must have known you were engaging in risky behavior. I never do that in the back seat of my Chevelle BTW.
  14. Steve G

    Steve G Forum Resident

    los angeles
    yeah same here - replaced them all with a matched quad of new tubes and I'm perfectly happy
  15. Standingstones

    Standingstones Forum Resident

    South Central PA
    Tubes from JJ had a history of having quality control problems. Whether they corrected this, I have no idea. A couple of tube amps that I purchased had JJ tubes supplied (12ax7s). These tubes became defective. I haven’t gone back to them since. I do know that Upscale Audio didn’t sell them due to poor quality. There are too many types of tubes out there to take a change on this one company, in my view.

    My view isn’t harsh at all. A little internet research would have turned up the problems with JJ.
  16. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    I mentioned this to the OP in private but now that the cat's out of the bag...

    Never liked JJs. They all sound extremely clinical and devoid of any musicality to me. I pop some gray or black plate Mullards or RCA and low & behold, everything sounds lush and engaging.
  17. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    So much wrong here that I don't know where to begin. So I won't.
    Strat-Mangler likes this.
  18. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    If you have the standard bench front seat, you don't have to.
    Funky54 likes this.
  19. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    Well, I don't dismiss the brand entirely. The JJ tubes have perhaps the warmest tone of any current production tube. Being new, they can sound rather blah at first but open up a bit and never sound harsh in my experience. They can be very, very good in some applications and seem to be robust as well. I do have concerns about their EL34 and KT77 versions specifically. So I just avoid those types. Any tube brand or model can have a failure, so take one man's horror story with a grain of salt, and the few that pile on with a full packet.
    Funky54 likes this.
  20. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Surprise, AZ
    I too had a tube seller get annoyed at me when I told him one of the tubes he sent was extremely noisy and I wanted to return it for a replacement. Another pair of tubes he sent were horrible sounding and because they cut off the identifying marking on the original RCA tube box I had no idea of what kind on AU7 variety I had but it did sound horrible which I posted about before. And he's one of the more widely respected sellers.
  21. I don't know what's so wrong, just speaking from my personal experience using 100's of tubes yearly.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  22. Man, after reading this thread, I was ready to tear out my new JJ E88CC Golds, grind them into my coffee, and take the quick way out!

    I ordered a pair of these from for my Schiit Valhalla 2 last Monday. They arrived in 3 days from Canada after a 7-day delivery projection, shipped perfectly. (I did buy their lowest and slowest insured shipping. If you buy glass tubes, go with the insurance!) They transformed my headphone amp into a stellar tubed machine! They add detail, dimensionality, musicality, airiness, and warmth. For the price, I doubt I'd get much better for the Valhalla.

    I'm listening to my Ludwig-mastered Gaucho for the umpteenth time—feeling like the first time—right now. It's so incredible sounding that I just might flip it yet again.

    It's only been a few days' listening, but I must say they're the best musical purchase I've made in a while. Granted, I never I had to deal with their customer service regarding returns, and I hope I don't have to do so, but their shipping was impressive.

    Not only would I highly recommend these particular tubes, but I will certainly purchase from this shop once again. Funky54, I hope you get what you want and need in the end.

    From one Bill to another, thanks for the confidence boost!

    Old Rusty likes this.
  23. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Seattle, WA
    I've read many warnings about JJs over the years. But so far I have not been bitten. And yet I have had a number of Russian output tubes short on me despite all of the claims that they are so much more reliable than the JJs.

    So I will continue to play Russian Roulette with my JJ KT77s because after trying about a dosen different EL34 variations, I have yet to hear a better sounding output tube inside of any of my EL34 based amps. It has the highs of a KT88, the mids of an EL 34, and the bass of a 6550. Its hard for me to imagine a more beautiful sounding output tube.

    I can't help but wonder if installing some Screen stability resistors inside of the OP's amp would cure his arching issues. Screen stability resistors can help on a lot of amps.

    But, in reading these warnings again, I'm thinking that its probably past time to put some of these amps on the bench and install some B+ fuses on the output transformers just to be safe.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
  24. Standingstones

    Standingstones Forum Resident

    South Central PA
    Have you considered the Genalex Gold Lion KT77s? I tried them and recommend them highly.
    Synthfreek likes this.
  25. BDC

    BDC Forum Resident

    JJ el34-2's may have issues with vibration, and tube testers don't test for that. That said, vibration issues don't bode well for a tubes overall ruggedness.
    JJ is the (arguably) best tube manufacturing company in the world right now. Hopefully they get the issues solved with the el34 2.
    I've read about that el34 2 being problematic, but I hear it sounds good in a guitar amp. The normal JJ el34 is the most reliable current production el34.... If you want to save headache buy Ruby tubes, they're well graded and for a lot of people that's worth paying for. I've had pretty good luck with the Shuguang STRs from Ruby, and I'm sure their graded JJs are really good. I've used Ruby's lowest noise graded 12ax7 HG5 HG7 tubes for certain applications. I tend to buy from "Doug's tubes" or "Antique electronic supply" , but then I gamble on Ebay too, LOL.

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