I’m always curious about getting the real story on tubes: where they come from, the metal used to make the electrodes, their construction and what makes them tick; in short, factors that affect their QUALITY. But tubes are an archaic thermionic technology that long ago had its day. Tube manufacturing giants, Philips, Mullard, Tung-Sol, RCA, Sylvania and others ceased operating decades ago, and we’re now left with just a handful of manufacturers based in Russia, China and JJ Tubes in the Slovak Republic. The tube industry is just a shadow of its former self; there’s no longer that vast sea of expertise to support tube research and development for domestic, military/space applications and scientific research back in it’s heyday in the 1960s. But some of the skills still survive, even flourish, in small pools, such as JJ, where the art of making tubes is being kept well and truly alive. There are good reasons to like JJ.
Firstly, their tube reliability is excellent, on a par with some of the best batches of new old stock tubes. We seldom encounter any tube failures and on the rare occasion that we have, JJ supplied replacements at no cost. Secondly, they’re a family operated business and are always efficient, courteous with and down to earth. This is very important to me in today’s world where it’s a constant challenge to fight through all the marketing hype employed by some tube manufacturers and vendors. If you take a look at JJ’s website you won’t see any rebranded tubes, cryogenically treated tubes, matched tubes or any of the other marketing gimmicks employed in an effort to disguise the absence of any genuine research and development effort. Thirdly, and finally, JJ Tube do have genuine heritage. If you look at the picture above you’ll see that a Tesla ECC83 tube made in 1973 has exactly the same same kind of anode plate, mica support and getter construction as a modern manufacture JJ ECC83. This is because JJ tubes are manufactured with some of the same tooling as Tesla tubes. The old Tesla tube fabrication machines were physically moved from the Tesla Rožnov factory, Czech Republic by Jan Jorgo (JJ) to Cadca, Slovakia (some 50km east) in the early 1990s. Bravo Jan Jorgo! You not only preserved a small piece of tube manufacturing history but you also kept it working and alive.
You can find out a little more about JJ Tubes and the other components used in Effectrode pedals here