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Viewers asked for it, so in this video I swap the preamp tube in the Fender Super Champ amp. I switch between a AX7 and AT7 and focus on changes to touch sensitivity and overall gain/output. I show the process of installing the tube, do some noodling and use a loop for direct A-B comparison.…

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hi everyone my name is Jeff Starr and in this video I’m going to be replacing the preamp tube and a fender super champ I’m using a preamp tube that was sent to me by a viewer and friend hey Ryan and this was ordered from tube Depot don’t drop it this was this tube was ordered from tube depot there’s a little sticker there inside the paper you get it nice and safe I shouldn’t talk while crinkling [Applause] little tiny tube here this is a new old stock this is where is it it said 1287 and I’ll show you what it looks like keep it safe here and this looks to be a Philips branded tube I say that because it says the word Philips you see G on it so I think that’s fairly safe to say it’s a Philips tube now on the fender super champ why would replace the tube on this be sort of an interesting experiment well there’s a couple things you may or may not know now this amp you hear when I turn this switch has 15 or 16 what is it it’s 16 preset voices now this is the XD model there’s the super champ x2 and then the x2 you can customize what those voices are by a USB input but I have the earlier version that doesn’t have the USB but doesn’t matter it’s still the same concept so these presets where are they there they are this is like digital DSP modeling and it’ll essentially change the voice of your amp and its gain structure to make your amp sound like more black faced fender more tweed you know give eventually some more modern sound amps high gain there’s some you know sort of martially tones in there if you are in the channel one this little channel switch here it sounds as if you’re not using that DSP well having done more research on this amp that digital modeling is always on just that when you are in channel one it is its most transparent setting let’s put it that way so the signal path is you go into the amp it goes through the DSP modeling to voice your sound and give it some sort of additional gain structures to emulate the amp that’s trying to do and you know help with the speaker model because it’s only a 10-inch speaker in this then that goes into the preamp tube and the preamp tube then provides additional gain and buffer and gives you more of that tube like response because you’re sort of using the DSP almost like you would like a solid-state pedal or some sort of digital modeling overdrive pedal it’s still running into a tube the interesting thing though is that that single preamp tube is doing dual purpose it’s a split tube so it’s doing both that preamp and buffer but it’s also acting as a phase inverter then it runs to the power tubes and then of course out the speaker so if you’re writing this at a low volume the power tubes are active but they’re not like acting like tubes they’re not having sag and sort of that power amp power tube responds you turn it up all the way which is how I really think this amps of excels in its higher volumes and then the digital modeling the seconds are like a pedal into the amp I think for the price of this you’ve got yourself a really great tube amp even though it’s hybrid so that’s a brief explanation as to how this amp works and sort of its setup and and why this question of would replacing the preamp tube this guy will this make much of a difference or not I think it will but there’s only one way to find out so let’s find out okay so just first quick note as you may have noticed that my outfit has changed and that’s because I’m going to be filming this video over a couple of days broken up a couple of reasons for that one my schedule is sort of busy I can’t get this all done in one big long sort of session and – I think there’s a benefit to that maybe that gives my ears a bit more objective for the recording here I’m going to be playing a couple things I’m going to play the guitar just by itself but I also I’m going to record a loop onto this boss RC – looper I will then use that loop in with both preamp tubes so we can hear the same pick attack basically do you know it’s the same recording it’s all the same oomph into that tube and I’ll be making sure that the output levels on that pedal are consistent terms of the amp itself I will be on channel one I’ll have the volume on five because I don’t want the output tubes to get too hot and to sort of running their own sort of tube meanness channel – obviously we’ll skip and then for treble and bass so that will be set on five so as to just sort of be a middle ground it goes up – it goes to 10 so five feels like a nice middle space and reverbs and effects that’s all off I’ll be playing this Fender Strat so fender into a Fender I will also just play the amp just with just direct cable right into the amp same amp settings and so I can sort of feel what the difference is the – the tube provides I’m guessing maybe I will perhaps feel more of a reaction from the tube either an additional touch sensitivity or less or more or sagging this squishiness to the to the way it feels when I play the amp and that is something that I always find a little bit interesting and hard to sort of communicate by just the recording for the recording you’ll see that I’ll be using this sm57 and it will be basically there internally and of course in the same spot for both times I’ve taped that so I have a reference and I’ll try to keep this as controlled as possible okay so if you want to do a tube swap on the fender super champ it’s very easy to access this obviously disconnect from power I’m going to disconnect the speaker and there are four screws here that you need to undo so I’m just going to drill here and very quickly very easily line it up one two drop that one hopefully won’t step on that there and now the cage here that protects the tubes is actually attached that panel so it can come right off in one piece tada and now you have access to the inside of your amp I have a little flashlight here you can see here is our two power tubes and these are Fender GT groov tubes and then in here is our preamp tube and we’re going to be replacing this with this Philips new old stock tube so this should be just as simple now as wiggling this free I’m going to turn off the flashlight so I can be a little better leverage here and this should just come right out I’m trying to be gentle there we go great and this is just a fender you can see thunder 12ax7 alright let’s get our new tube you just need to line up the pins the underside here it’s just gonna get the pins lined up and push a little wiggle let’s try to slide in up come on great just in so there you go last final note I’ve scratched the back plate of course always make sure that you plug your speaker in if you don’t plug your speaker in you’re gonna blow things up testing amp dynamics [Music] [Music] same loop different tubes [Music] you [Music] so what are my thoughts well this is it’s been really interesting and probably one of the more exciting videos I’ve made very much made my day and has made my week it’s something I probably would not have tried out otherwise and that’s just awesome in terms of how it sounds this is a really tough thing in the room I think that the original stock tube sounded a bit more dynamic and less compressed but also higher highs may be a bit more sharp and piercing and I don’t know if that’s because like transients were spiking or if it’s something else the the Philips tube which was in this box was an 87 and of course the the fender that shipped with was an 8 X 7 and that’s sort of its own interesting thing like you know how are those those tubes which are sort of interchangeable how do they sound different or do they at all I would say like the main thing I noticed was dynamics especially when playing through the loop I tried really hard to make sure that all the volume on the the loop pedal and on the amp was exactly the same I’m just checking all that one last time and and it’s just sounded quieter on the on the 87 but it may also just be quieter because the the attacks and the transients and those highs were a little more tamed and not as brittle that was one thing when I was playing with the fender tube the ax7 is that although it sounded louder and it was also more presence in the room I did leave feeling like I should see my money ears just a little little spiked little ice picked I do not feel that to the same degree with the 87 the main thing I’m really curious about though is to listen to the record so which I’ve not done and I will be hearing it sort of the same way you are for the first time essentially when you watch the video that’s where I’m going to see when I watch the video – of course I’ll be editing it but what I would really like from you viewer is to leave comments and tell me what do you hear differently what do you sort of notice or not how different do they sound to you now going forward the next question I would have for you as a viewer is do you want to hear a tube swap on this so this is the orange micro terror and if you’re not familiar this amp it’s 20 watts and as a solid-state power section but it uses a 12 ax7 preamp tube in the traditional gain stage just straight-up gain stage not like the super Tambor it’s sort of a split usage and because it’s a solid-state on the power amp it would be sort of interesting to hear like what does change that preamp tube how does that actually affect this because it should be a little more I hopefully that in the camera it should be a little bit more apparent so let me know about that let me know what you hear and the super champ if you like this video please feel free to check out other stuff from my channel of course subscribe click the bell to get notified whenever I post new content if you really loved this video or you liked the other stuff that I’m doing please feel free to visit me on patreon and a huge tremendous tremendous thank you to everyone who is over there people are just blowing my mind every time they join over there and I want to really be very very clear with how grateful I am about that that is it for now this was my preamp tube swap in the fender super champ thank you so much for watching happy practicing all right bye