Preamplifier Valves (Tubes) Prices

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gaztech

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Feb 13, 2018
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8
Hi guys,

I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask the question but since this forum is for preamplifiers it may be relevant.

I've been repairing and building amplifiers for a great many years and I'm rather disturbed by what is happening with respect to valves (tubes for our U.S. Members).

There seem to be hundreds of "collectors" out there now that have this odd quest to collect and trade "old" type valves - some fetching hundreds of dollars. What the hell is going on? I saw a listing on Ebay a few days ago where a seller was selling a single empty Amperex valve box for $45! Don't even ask what the valve that goes into this box costs!

As a result of this behaviour, the supply of NOS (and even used valves - not that I'd use them) is drying up. Where it's possible to get them, (even NEW ones) I'm now finding that suppliers are demanding ridiculous amounts of money for even the most commonly used valves like the ECC83 (12AX7) type.

I'd like to ask if anyone knows of a reliable source of valves these days that doesn't charge an arm and a leg for them.

Yeah, sure, I realise that valve manufacturers are scarce these days but that doesn't really explain why the costs have risen to such ridiculous heights. You can still buy valve amps (often of Chinese manufacture) but I have to say that my experience shows that the Chinese produced valves are awful to say the least so a Chinese source will be questionable for sure.

I'm at a disadvantage in that I'm located in Malta. I used to get all my valves from the UK (there are many reputable suppliers that do charge reasonable prices and have everything I need) but the soaring costs of shipping plus the addition of customs duty and additional VAT (yep, I often have to pay UK and Malta VAT) means that buying almost anything from there now is very cost prohibitive. Of course, these charges can be passed on to the client but this often inflates the cost of the job so much that they decline to proceed once they know what it's going to cost them. All thanks to COVID, Brexit and EU red tape. Even the freight delays are now damaging. It's normal now to have to wait over 4 weeks to get anything. The world's gone mad...

I fix a lot of guitar amps and I need a good supplier preferably in Europe that can supply these things for a realistic price. Again, there are suppliers that do sell these valves (and of course, I can avoid the taxes) but these suppliers are more expensive from the get-go so there's not a lot in it.

Does anyone know of a supplier that is located somewhere in the EU who can supply on a "trade" basis - or is selling one-offs at realistic prices? Oh, and I'd prefer not to use JJ valves unless I have to as I've not had good results with them. I find them a bit hit and miss...

One of you guys on here must know a supplier I'm sure :)

Anyone?
 

rock soderstrom

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Oct 14, 2009
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I saw a listing on Ebay a few days ago where a seller was selling a single empty Amperex valve box for $45! Don't even ask what the valve that goes into this box costs!
:LOL::LOL::LOL::ROFLMAO:
All thanks to COVID, Brexit and EU red tape. Even the freight delays are now damaging. It's normal now to have to wait over 4 weeks to get anything. The world's gone mad...
No doubt about that. Freight delays suck.
Does anyone know of a supplier that is located somewhere in the EU who can supply on a "trade" basis - or is selling one-offs at realistic prices?
I don't understand exactly what you're really looking for, but here are my top 3 suppliers for tube related stuff.

1. Online shop for tubes and electronic components - buy tubes at BTB
BTB is a tube wholesaler, so a store where smaller stores buy their tubes. They have everything. If they don't have a tube you are looking for, you really have a problem.

2. Banzai Music GmbH
Banzai has a wide range and prices that are ok. However, Olaf and his team have had increasing problems delivering the goods in a timely manner lately.

3. Tube-Town Store - Tube-Town Store
Smaller store, less selection, often good prices.

Additional german large supplier. Good selection, prices often more expensive than the other suppliers here in Germany.


Cheers
 

ruffrecords

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Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Messages
14,191
Location
Norfolk - UK
I second the German tube supply shops. I have used most of them. I don't buy NOS, only current production and prices are generally reasonable.

I agree there is a significant market for exotic NOS tubes that seem to be based solely on the possession of some nebulous mojo. In my experience, the majority of NOS tubes generally inferior to current production ones.

Cheers

Ian
 

beatnik

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Joined
Oct 18, 2009
Messages
953
Location
Dorset, UK
I think the boom in hi-fi tube equipment has been a huge contribution to nos tubes increasing in price. In that crowd there seems to be a lot of people with more money than common sense...

For me the only good deals in vintage audio tubes in the past 5 years have only happened when you get in touch with an older person that doesn't use the internet. Everybody is pretty much switched on with ebay prices and there is no way I am going to pay £50 for a 12AX7

For modern production tubes you could give a try to Electro-Harmonix UK they have all the New Sensor tubes at distributor prices (EH, Tung Sol, Genelex, Sovtek)

If you buy from the UK you shouldn't be paying VAT twice, ask the UK supplier to provide an invoice without VAT and the customs will charge you that upon delivery.
Under £135 in value the seller is meant to charge the VAT but what I am seeing happening a lot is that parcels under this value actually go through the customs without presenting me with any VAT bill. I guess the customs is assuming that the seller has already charged the VAT at the source.

I think modern Russian made tubes are mostly ok, but I am finding hard to source a small signal pentode other than the EF86 - EF806 and these actually seem to be inferior to nos western production in my experience.. I guess it depends what tubes you are using.
 

gaztech

Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Messages
8
Thanks for the replies.

BTB could be a good call. I've used all the others listed above. Most have given good service. Delays from all of them but caused by the courier companies. I guess that's going to continue until things get back to normal after COVID.

I'm finding that I'm only using Watford Valves and Thomann Germany right now. With Thomann, their pricing is good but freight charges are a bit high to Malta. Watford pricing is where I want it to be but duty and freight really make a difference. Brexit... aaagh...

I think, realistically, I'm not going to achieve what I'm after here as most of the players work out at pretty much the same price-wise. It looks like the only way I'm going to make this work is to purchase in large quantities which is not really what I want to do.
 

gaztech

Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Messages
8
BTW, I end up paying VAT twice as I use a forwarding service when I'm quoted a stupid price for freight. If I use this service, the supplier has to forward the item to the UK depot for forwarding - so I end up paying UK VAT as it is being forwarded to a UK address - even though this address is a company that ONLY does foreign export of parcels! I then have to pay VAT again in Malta as it's considered an import. It looks like there is no way to get round this.

Why some suppliers think that £20 is a fair price to send a packet of transistors to Malta is beyond me... My forwarding service has a flat rate for a small packet of £6. That's why it's worth paying two lots of VAT on the transaction. Boris really needs to sort this duty and VAT situation out!
 

beatnik

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Joined
Oct 18, 2009
Messages
953
Location
Dorset, UK
Watford pricing is 20% more than the official Electro Harmonix UK distributor from what I can see.

The only thing "Boris" can sort out is a lockdown party for him and his friends
 
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