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Russian export ban hitting an unexpected market — guitarists

Russia’s export ban has hit an unexpected market – guitarists

Many guitar amplifiers use vacuum tubes from Russia

As the Biden government, along with the United Kingdom and the European Union, announced heavy sanctions against Russia, export bans from that nation quickly followed. Many manufacturers, repair crews, guitarists and other musicians have felt their own struggle in the global financial flow. Russia has banned the export of vacuum tubes. For those unfamiliar, guitars, bass and other amplifiers often use very old power technology. As transistors began to take over the market in the 1960s and 1970s, the sound coming from them did not have the same “warmth” as the tubes. A little primer for you: Tubes or “valves” as some call them, vary in type, size and more. The sound you received from the guitarists and players at the height of the rock and roll era came from raising the amplifier high. This pushed the power pipes to their limits. Think of the sound from a guitar or an instrument gradually: the signal goes to the “preamplifier” stage, which then goes to a phase converter and then to the power amplifier section. If the intensity is high, the signal is also high … pushing higher voltage through these amplifiers. This trend is distorting – the kind you hear in something like, say, Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” or the famous AC / DC tone in “Back in Black” or just about anything else by Eddie Van Halen. Even as technology became smaller, more solid-state, these solid-state power components could not receive the compression, tone, and often response of a tube. Hence, even today, aid companies such as the UK builder Marshall. California Fender and Mesa / Boogie (now owned by Gibson). and boutique manufacturers tend to lean towards tube / valve boosters. As amplifiers evolved and could create sections in the amplifier that deformed into lower volumes – even these sections used tubes. As the world became more solid and the 1980s and 1990s raged, pipe construction took a hit. Fewer and fewer companies made them. A flashback was Russia, then still the USSR. Much of Russia’s military communications – and, it must be said, the United States – continued to use pipes for one simple fact: if a nuclear bomb exploded, all solid-state electronics would die. The static and an electromagnetic pulse from the explosion of the bomb would make the silicon-based transistors disappear. The tubes, however, were immune. As a result, Russian manufacturers with names such as Sovtek and Tung-Sol were quickly used to supply pipes. Now, as these sanctions and export bans hit, the music market is also hit. Initially, the company Electro-Harmonix, which distributes many pipes under different brand names, was without commission. The company’s founder, Mike Matthews, announced on the website last week that Russia had banned the export of vacuum tubes. At that time, the Russian-based New Sensor plant could not place orders. Since then, online retailer Reverb has announced that tube sales on their site have increased dramatically. “A wave of purchases has begun as amplifier manufacturers, repair shops and owners have been supplied with an available supply,” they said. The only non-Russian major supplier is Slovakia-based JJ Electronics. There are smaller manufacturers, but their prices are even higher. Since then, Matthews and Electro-Harmonix have announced that export restrictions have now been resolved. However, prices have still risen dramatically. Although small compared to global events right now, this increase is another blow to an industry that has had a difficult two-year period. As the pandemic struck, more and more musicians lost their jobs and could not play. As musicians start playing again, the pay for the show may not be equal to the pay for maintaining their equipment – between inflation, supply chain problems and now a lack of vacuum tubes that will hit musicians’ pockets.

As the Biden government, along with the United Kingdom and the European Union, announced heavy sanctions against Russia, export bans from that nation quickly followed.

The export ban included a product that entered a market that no one expected: musicians. Many of the manufacturers, repair crews, guitarists and other musicians have felt their own struggle in the global financial flow.

Russia has banned the export of vacuum tubes.

For those unfamiliar, guitar, bass and other amplifiers often use very old power technology. As transistors began to take over the market in the 1960s and 1970s, the sound coming from them simply did not have the same “warmth” as the tubes.

A little primer for you: Tubes, or “valves” as some call them, vary in type, size and more. The sound you received from the guitarists and players at the height of the rock and roll era came from raising the amplifier high. This pushed the power pipes to their limits. Think of the sound from a guitar or an instrument gradually: the signal goes to the “preamplifier” stage, which then goes to a phase converter and then to the power amplifier section. If the intensity is high, the signal is also high … pushing higher voltage through these amplifiers. This trend is distorting – the kind you hear in something like, say, Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” or the famous AC / DC tone in “Back in Black” or almost anything by Eddie Van Halen.

tubes hanging down inside a Marshall amplifier

Dave Manoucher

Tubes at the back of a Marshall JCM 800 amplifier

Even as technology became smaller, more solid state, these solid state electrical components could not receive the compression, tone, and often response of a tube. Hence, even today, aid companies such as the UK builder Marshall. California Fender and Mesa / Boogie (now owned by Gibson). and boutique manufacturers tend to lean towards tube / valve boosters. As amplifiers evolved and could create sections in the amplifier that deformed into lower volumes – even these sections used tubes.

As the world turned solid and the 1980s and 1990s raged, pipe construction took a hit. Fewer and fewer companies made them.

A flashback was Russia, then still the USSR. Much of Russia’s military communications – and, it must be said, the United States – continued to use pipes for one simple fact: if a nuclear bomb exploded, all solid-state electronics would die. The static and an electromagnetic pulse from the explosion of the bomb would make the silicon-based transistors disappear. The tubes, however, were immune. As a result, Russian manufacturers with names such as Sovtek and Tung-Sol were quickly used to supply pipes.

Now, as these sanctions and export bans are lifted, the music market is hit. Initially the company Electro-Harmonix, which distributes many pipes under different brand names, was without commission. The company’s founder, Mike Matthews, announced on the website last week that Russia had banned the export of vacuum tubes. At that time, the Russian-based New Sensor plant could not place orders.

Since then, online retailer Reverb announced that tube sales on their site had increased dramatically. “A wave of purchases has started as amplifier manufacturers, repair shops and owners have been supplied with the available offer,” they said. The only non-Russian major supplier is Slovakia-based JJ Electronics. There are smaller manufacturers, but their prices go up even more.

Since then, Matthews and Electro-Harmonix have announced that export restrictions have now been resolved. However, prices have still risen dramatically.

Although small compared to global events right now, this increase is another blow to an industry that has had a difficult two years. As the pandemic struck, more and more musicians lost their jobs and could not play.

As musicians start playing again, the fee for the show may not be equal to the fee for maintaining their equipment – between inflation, supply chain problems and now the lack of vacuum tubes that will hit musicians’ pockets.

Russian export ban hitting an unexpected market — guitarists Source link Russian export ban hitting an unexpected market — guitarists

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