Guitar Gear Review: Tube Amp Doctor 12AX7A/ECC83 Preamp Tubes

When it was time to replace the tubes in my preamp, I was looking going with the same model of JJ tubes that I’d been using most recently. I’ve had an ADA MP-1 preamp since it was new back in the 80s, and having dialed in tones long ago based on the original tube voicing, it’s important to get tubes that won’t dramatically alter or shift the sounds I am used to hearing. The JJ tubes are great for that, but I still like to check around.

People that I consider experts in all things related to the MP-1 suggested TAD (Tube Amp Doctor) Tubes. The guitar show was that next weekend, so when I ended up in the MojoTone booth looking at their selection of tubes (and excellent pickups), I saw they also had some TAD options available. Getting some of the JJ tubes that I know will work, I also grabbed a set of the suggested TAD tubes to try out.

Well, for the past 2 months, they have remained in there. Now, JJ carries come excellent tubes and I do like them and I will encourage anyone to get them. But…these TAD tubes are really delivering.

Gain. When it comes to gain, we all want it. But how much do we want? If you’re like me, and you want gain to spare without it compromising your clean settings, you’re in the right place. Oh, you can still drive your clean tone to break up… but it does not have so much gain that you risk little prickly distorted overtones beneath the top layer of your clean settings.

Voice. The overall voice is mostly about transparency and definition. It lets the amp’s character come through, while elevating it to the next level. It provides more dynamics and a better response. I don’t think that my rig was muffled, but the TAD tubes do have an effect similar to lifting a sheet off your cabs.

The TAD site is very good at offering concise, yet descriptive explanations of what each model delivers….as well as suggestions for the type of amp and the position that the tubes are best suited. They also offer power tubes and rectifier tubes, among other parts and accessories.

Darth Phineas is a long time music industry insider who provides his readers with unbiased reviews on musical instrument and guitar gear. You can read more of his reviews and check out industry news on his Facebook community Darth Phineas