6V6 and 6L6 output valves
Valves are ancient technology. Over 100 years old. Many folks expect the reliability of modern electronics like an Iphone. However, the reliability and the lifespan of old technology is much less than modern electronics. We al love the sound of valves and this this the trade off.
Two really common audio output valves are the 6L6 and the 6V6. Very commonly used in American amps. They came on to the market in roughly 1937.
In the main picture on this short article you can see three valves. On the left is an original world war 2 6V6 and on the right the smaller 6V6GT versio. The GT means ” Glass Tubular” and you can see it is in a much smaller envelope.
The big beast in the middle is an 807. These were used as output valves on transmitters in world war 2. SO why did I put it in the picture?
It is actually just a 6L6 output valve with the anode brought on the top cap. This was done to make it more stable at radio frequencies. A 1943 example with its box is in the picture.
You can see that these guys have been around a LONG time. They were made in very high volume for the radio sets that were used in fighting vehicles by the allies.
The picture above shows a Wireless Set No 19 Mk III which has an 807 ( = 6L6 type) and a 6V6 output valve for the audio.
In the harsh environment of a Sherman tank ( or an amp in the back of a Ford Transit !) valves would fail. Every fighting vehicle carried a little metal box
This was a set of spare valves. Your life could depend on the radio so being able to replace valves in the field was critical. For a band playing at a gig, the amp is critical to you performing and getting paid. Why is it so few musicians carry spare valves?
By comparison the ECC83/12AX7, EL34 and EL84 are just young things. The 12AX7 came on the market in the late 1940’s. The EL34 and EL84 in the early 1950’s.
Maybe its time to get your spare valves ordered? You need a full set. For an amp with four output valves you only need a matched pair to put one in each side. One of each of the other types in your amp including the rectifier.
Then you are ready when it all goes to hell when setting up for the gig. But don’t forget to take a screw driver with you to get into the amp.
The survival kit needs spare fuses, some spare valves, a screw driver and you are sorted.
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