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Old 05-26-2011, 08:55 AM   #409
M.Gilbert
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Thanks for the kind words man, it's much appreciated!
I've heard good things about using a 5150 cab with the 5150 head. And they can be bought used for fairly cheap. Other than that, there are a lot of good cabs that I'm sure you would be very happy with. The Vader's are decent priced, and have a unique, mean tone to them. A Mesa recto cab, or Marshall with vintage 30's would also be good ones to check out. IMO any decent quality cab with Vintage 30's will do the job. But as an alternative, I do like the tone Vader's have as well.

As far as amp mods go, if I had a 5150, I would probably just send it to Voodoo amps and do the "standard mod" they do for 5150's. It costs costs about $300, but I've heard lots of good things over the years regarding their 5150 mods. Other than that, one mod you can do yourself would be to change the preamp tubes. The first preamp tube socket, or V1, will have the greatest impact on tone and feel. I'm a couple years out of the loop on modern, current production tubes. But I'm going to assume not a whole lot has changed. And if that is the case, then my favorite as well as many other tube snobs favorite tube is a NOS (new old stock) Mullard ECC83 (12Ax7). A Mullard labeled 60-70's NOS ECC83 can be very expensive, anywhere from 100-200 bucks. But some places may have re-labeled 1960-70's NOS Mullards for around $75.

Ideally, you want the highest quality tube possible in the V1 and or V2 socket(s) of a preamp section. The tone is just better all around. More character, more detail in the mids, better distortion, better feel, etc. Which is why the "holy grail" of preamp tubes (the NOS Mullard ECC83) would go into the first socket. The second socket is usually additional gain stages, so again, a good high quality tube (preferably a NOS tube) should go here as well. Usually the 3rd socket is for eq, effects loop, etc. A super high quality tube is not as crucial at this stage, but I would still recommend a quality tube here as well. And lastly, the 4th socket is usually for the output stage, and once again, a super high quality tube is not as crucial here, but you should have something good here at the very least.

They just don't make them like they used to. They were made of higher quality components, and at a higher level of consistency. And if you take for example, some of the most commonly used 12AX7/ECC83's of today such as JJ's and Sovteks, you will most likely notice a difference even when switching between 2 tubes of the same brand. They are very inconsistent and you can have 1 JJ tube that sounds much better than another one from the same batch. Invest in a NOS Mullard ECC83, or a NOS RFT ECC83, swap it out with the V1 stock tube you have, and you will notice an instant improvement.
I used to buy tubes from a dude called "Lord Valve", and a place called KCA NOS Tubes. I'm not sure if Lord Valve is still in business, but KCA is. I would email him and see if he had any suggestions for retubing that 5150's preamp section. Hope this helps,
-Mike
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