After a year of using a Boss TU-80 and a Peterson Stroboclip I now have a tuner which makes my guitar sound as if it’s actually in tune. I bought a Boss TU3 pedal tuner. The tuner is almost the “industry standard” and makes it incredibly easy to tune up, without having to clip anything to your headstock or wonder whether the LCD blocks on the screen are behaving correctly.

Here’s the beauty. There are many reviews on-line and YouTube will show you all of the functions. I really only have one thing to say about it, in terms of praise. It makes my guitar sound better when I play. That’s all that matters.


My other tuners are now on eBay.

NOS valves

The joy of my Tweed 5 from Rift Amplification continues unabated. Last night I convinced myself I was as good a player as Roy Buchanan and Big Eric – that may have had something to do with some cider consumption. It may also have had a lot to do with the great sounds emanating from the amp. I even remembered to use the low gain channel in consideration of my neighbours. It allows me to bump up the gain on my overdrive pedal for a grittier sound at lower volumes.

One aspect of my joy is that with easy access to the valves through the open rear panel, I can change them to alter the amp’s tone. I’ve seen YouTube clips of a well-known (Australian) reviewer stating that changing valves never really changed the sound of his amp, whereas in his opinion, a speaker swap makes a large difference. While every element in the signal chain affects the sound and a speaker swap would clearly alter the tone it’s not a quick process. Turning an amp around and gently waggling a valve or two is a lot easier to achieve.

My Tweed has three valves; a 5Y3 rectifier which converts the AC current to DC, an ECC83 pre-amp and a 6V6 power valve. From my reading up about the subject, changing the pre-amp tube has the largest affect on the amp’s tone, as it passes on the signal to the power valve for secondary amplification, although of course as we know, every element in the chain has an effect.

It would be totally remiss of me not to experiment with different valves in the amp; they’re not expensive (although they can be) and there are many, many varieties available from on-line sellers.

The first valve I tried was a TAD 12AX7/Ecc83 Premium Selected RT001 which is a very close relation of the ECC83 WA TAD RT008 which Chris @ Rift Amps selects as the original valve. The difference in tone from two very similar valves, supplied by the same company is quite amazing. The 12AX7 valve produces a much brighter sound with clearer highs and mid-tones, it made the Tweed 5 sound more modern, like my Blues Junior, which uses Fender 12AX7s. The original  EEC83 has a much warmer tone and sounds Tweedier.

I next tried a NOS (new old stock) Philips JAN 5751 which was a little more expensive than the 12AX7. The tone produced by this pre-amp valve was very smooth indeed. Less bright than the 12AX7 and less woody than the ECC83 – so in the middle but very assured and even. I gave the amp a volume pump and the tone was still snappy. Overall, I preferred the original ECC83 but this is probably because it’s what I’m most used to and have played the longest.


I tried both pre-amp valves combined with the TAD 6V6GT-STR power valve which the amp ships with. I did however have a NOS power amp to try, this US made Sylvania 6V6 which sounded absolutely fantastic with the ECC83. However, once again, on balance I think I liked the original valve configuration which the amp came with. This is almost certainly love of the familiar.


I didn’t test all of the combinations possible – that’s for another time. Although I think what I may do is keep things as they are and if/when one of the original valves dies or starts playing up, I’ll choose a replacement from my small collection.  I’m tempted though to try this one, which is reputed to sound superb, coming as it does, through time from 1969!