12AX7 Selection Guide
- Top Picks - Audio
- Top Picks - Guitar and Bass Amp
- Getting the tone from your Guitar or Bass Amp
- Recording Gear Application
Quick Note: You can see quick price comparison by going to our 12AX7 / ECC83 / 7025 category and clicking on Quick Look box.
Top Picks - HiFi Audio
Premium Genalex Gold Lion12AX7 with a long plate design delivers rich full tone with good articulation and details. Gold Lion tubes are built with meticulous quality, and is ideal as premium upgrade in audio application.
Standard TungSol ECC803S Gold has a short plate design, making it less susceptible to microphonics. This makes it well suited for phono stage and other high gain application. ECC803S Gold has good resolution, extended range and smooth mids. Recent production TungSol ECC803-TS Gold especially is low in noise floor, and test results are consistent.
Best Value Sovtek 12AX7LPS - 12AX7LPS has provided stable quality and great sonics over the years, and is favored by many high-end tube audio amp manufacturers. 12AX7LPS has good tonal balance, articulation, rounded out with and pleasant low-mids for fullness. For any 12AX7 upgrade, 12AX7LPS is a cost effective choice.
Top Picks - Guitar and Bass AmpsTip: Save a few bucks! You do not need matched 12AX7 pairs for guitar amps.
High Gain Distortion 12AX7B Silver Dragon has higher average gain, and can be overdriven easily. Great choice if you are after the most distorted sound. If you are looking to keep current tone but just want higher gain, Sovtek 12AX7WC is a higher gain version of stock 12AX7 found in many amps.
Driven Rock and Blues Sound For smooth break up, TungSol 12AX7 delivers good gain without washing out detials. Mullard 12AX7 also has good amounts of gain, with a touch more of the fuller driven sound.
Wailing High NotesJJ ECC83S provides smooth treble notes when driven.
Guitar Amp - Tone Tips
Vacuum Tubes have characters. They all sound different with different colors and textures, and there isn't one that is best. Tone is subjective, and experimenting is often the only way to get what you want. We suggest trying out a few 12AX7s. Also, micing the amp and recording a few tracks with different tubes is a good way to objectively hear the difference.
Reducing GainIf you are looking for that soulful bluesy tone or crunch with bite, reducing gain often gets you closer. This is because harder distortion washes out and chords often get muddy. This is especially true with today's hot pickups. Changing out the first stage 12AX7 (usually marked as V1) to one of the tube types below can help you get more out of your amp.
12AT7EH 12AT7 is close in gain to 5751, but has different characteristic that results in different balance. Great for full, fat crunches. If you are looking for NOS, Philips ECG 12AT7WC JAN is cost effective.
12AY7EH 12AY7 has less than half the gain of 12AX7, and you will get clean tone even with the amp turned up all the way up.
12AU7EH You want that luscious warm clean tone but still getting the distortion and feedback with your beautiful semi-acoustic? 12AU7 has one-fifth of the gain of 12AX7 and will greatly bring down the gain.
Things to note
- Adjustments in both amp and player is needed when you change V1 to a lower gain tube. Things will be different than what you are used to.
You will have to turn up the amp more, and will have to experiement with both amp and guitar settings.
- The description here is for your information. We do not warranty against any problems that may result from it. We have never had,
nor heard of any such problems. And we swap out 12AX7 tubes with lower gain tubes regularly on our amps. But you should check with
your amp manufacturer if in doubt.
Recording Gear ApplicationFor re-tubing a recording gear with 12AX7, Sovtek 12AX7LPS or TungSol 12AX7 is excellent.
- 12AT7 / ECC81
- 12AU7 / ECC82
- 12AV7 / 5965
- 12AX7 / ECC83 / 7025
- 12AY7 / 6072
- 2C51 / 5670 / 6n3p
- 6CG7 / 6FQ7
- 6DJ8 / ECC88 / 6922
- 6SL7 / VT229 / 5691
- 6SN7 / VT231 / 5692
- EF86 / 6267
- Other Preamp Tubes
- Tube Sets for Fender Amps
- 6BM8 / 6GW8 / 14GW8
- 6L6 / 5881
- 7591A / 7868
- EL34 / 6CA7 / KT77
- EL84 / 6BQ5 / SV83
- KT88 / KT90 / KT120
- 2A3 / 300B / 811 / 572
- Other Power Tubes
- Rectifier Tubes
- Tubes By Number->
- Amps and Accessories
- DIY Parts
- Specials! Specials!