EL84 VS 6V6

EL84 VS 6V6: Which One Is Best For You?

El84 or 6V6, who gives a better sound quality? Better sound means better music.

We’ve discussed a detailed comparison of this to help you choose the right one!

So, let’s see the comparison of El84 Vs 6V6- 

It depends on your genre and your playing style. You have to choose which one suits your music more. Jazz, Blues, Funk, etc suit the 6V6. But hard rock and anthem songs require the EL84 for their super distortions. Durability and tonal differences also matter while choosing one.

This was only a gist of the difference between EL84 and 6v6. Got a minute? Let’s see more details to find out which one’s better!

Tube Amps: Basics You Need To Know

First, let’s see some basics about tube amps.

Tube Amps are vacuum-used electrical amplifiers. Tubes are fragile and they must be well maintained and replaced.

If you don’t take care of your tube amp, you will face some serious problems with it. You can’t use a tube amp until the problem is solved. 

Tube amps were heavy and the circuit designs were old. But still, a lot of people recommend tube amps. It has a bright tone with natural overdrives and a warmer sound. 

There are a lot of varieties when it comes to tube amps. There are different kinds of pumps as well. For example- 

  • EL84
  • EL86
  • 6L6
  • 6V6 etc 

EL84 VS 6V6 Quick Difference 

Comparing EL84 against 6V6 could ve just as confusing as comparing between 6L6 and EL34.

First, let’s see a quick difference between EL84 VS 6V6 pumps. This will help you to understand the similarity and dissimilarities between both pumps.

FeatureEL846V6
AmpsMarshallFender
ToneStraighter tone Vintage
Damping factorsHigherAlso higher
AvailabilityAvailableLess available
Durability5 Years5 Years
GainHigher FrequencyLower Frequency 
DistortionHarshSmooth
Heater voltage6.3 watts6.3 volts
Cost$16-30$50+
BiasingNeeds BiasingNeeds Biasing

Apart from this, we’ve also created a visual representation based on our ratings of the two pumps-

el84 vs 6v6 graphical comparision

Now you know the little differences between the pumps. Let’s jump into the details!

El84 vs 6v6: Head To Head Comparison

Well, there are some significant differences between An EL84 pump and a 6V6 pump. Although both pumps are very popular still now. 

However, you have to choose which sound suits your music! Now the question is, how will you decide which one is right for you?

Don’t worry! We’ll try to help you by showing you the differences. You can choose between these two great amps after reading the article!  

Here are the differences that will help you choose- 

Electrical Differences

EL84 pumps are smaller tube pumps that have a 6 pin socket. It’s much smaller than a 6V6 pump. And requires less power when you play it.

It runs on 6.3 watts heater voltage. It also gives a higher frequency because of the circuit.

6V6 pumps are bigger pumps that have an 8 pin adapter.

That means it uses more power to run. But, the heater runs on 6.3 volts. It has a complicated circuit board and it’s old technology. 

Well, EL84 and 6V6 tubes are almost identical in electrical specifications. But the sizes of the power tubes make the difference as the 6V6 tube is larger than EL84.

That’s why 6V6 needs more power to run. The pin layout and sockets are also different. EL84 requires a 6 pin socket and 6v6 requires an 8 pin adapter. 

Tonal Differences

EL84 is usually used in smaller watts of power amps. It gives a solid crunchy sound. 

Distortions and riff tunes suit very well in the EL84 pump. This tube basically goes with British design amps which provide a harsh and straight tone. 

It also provides a strongly distorted sound which is used in hard rock songs. It gives a bright tone and more distortion than the 6V6.

6V6 pumps provide less distorted and brighter tones. It gives a smooth sound. But, it’s also a well-balanced sound.

You’ll get a flow, a dreamy vibe in the tones. A genre like Funk, blues, jazz, rock suits this pump very well.

This is the graph of the frequency of the El84 pumps.

Frequency of EL84
Frequency of EL84

Source: https://www.augustica.com/

This is the graph of the frequency of the 6v6 pumps.

Frequency of 6v6
Frequency of 6v6

Source: www.researchgate.net

Availability

Tube amps are rarely used these days. As you know, time amps were used in the 60s-90s. But the good news is, many musicians still recommend tube amps. 

But, 6V6 pumps are hard to find in the market.

On the other hand, EL84 is more available than 6V6. You’ll get the EL84 pump in Marshall tube amps. Fender uses  6V6 pumps in their tube amps.

You can also get these two pumps separately. 

It’s a good idea to purchase pedals if you want the tones of these pumps. It’ll be a smart decision if you don’t get tube amps. The pedals give you the closest tone of EL84 or 6V6.   

Fixability

When it comes to fixing an EL84 pump and a 6V6 pump, the EL84 wins here. It’s because 6V6 pumps are older pumps. It has an 8 pin adapter which is rare to find these days.

It’s also a bit complicated to replace the 6V6 pump.

Now, El84 pumps are easier to fix. It is available and easy to replace. You just need to unscrew the tube and replace it with a new one. 

Durability 

Considering the durability of the pumps are very important before you buy. EL84 and 6V6 last up to 5 years or more.

However, there are cases that 6V6 pumps tone changes after 2-3 years. It also gets a bit hot as it draws more electricity. 

On the other hand, you won’t notice any tonal changes in EL84 after using it for 2-3 years. It draws less electricity, that’s why it doesn’t get hot.

So, comparing the EL84 and 6V6 pumps, El84 is more durable than the 6v6 pump.  

After using the pumps for 5 years, the tone of the pumps changes, which is a normal thing. You will not get the exact tone you want.

You have to replace the tubes after using them in this amount of time. 

If you want more durability, you have to take good care of your tube amps.

For example, you have to keep it clean, change the power tubes. Also keeping it at a warm temperature etc.  

Cost       

Now it’s time to know how much it costs to buy a pump?

If you buy an EL84 Marshall Amp, it will cost around 1000$-3000$. If you buy an El84 pump separately, you will have to pay 16$-30$. Now, the cost of buying a Fender 6V6 amp is around 1100$-2800$. However, a 6V6 pump costs 50$ or more than that.

As these pumps are rare in the market, you have to pay more money for them. Also, It’s hard to find the pump separately.

If you’re looking for the best El84 and 6V6 pumps, we have some suggestions for you.

Now you have your pump, start playing like a rockstar! 

Distortion Battle

Using distortion in modern rock music is very common these days. If you want to use distortions using these pumps, it’s a tough choice to decide. 

On one hand, EL84 creates more distorted sound.

However, 6V6 gives the distortion a dreamy texture. If you’re going to play hard rock tunes, you should consider EL84 pumps. 

But remember, you can get even better-distorted sound in a solid-state amp. So if you want to play heavy tunes, you must be aware of the difference between solid-state amps and tube amps. 

Usability 

El84 and 6V6 pumps both have bright tones. But when you’re home you might get confused about which one you should use.

So that brings us to the question, Which pump is better for home use?

It really depends on you. If you want a louder and straight sound, you can use the EL84. But on the other hand, 6V6 gives you a more soothing sound rather than El84. You can set the gain level as your preference and you can use both at home. 

Stage Preferences      

When it comes to stages, you want the best sound for you!

So let’s see, which tube amp pumps are the best for stages? EL84 or 6V6?

You should use what is best for you. If you play funk, jazz, soft rock or groovy music, you should use a 6v6 pump. But, hard rock songs suit EL84. El84 allows more distorted sound where 6V6 gives you more clarity in the tones. So it’s best you choose your preferred pumps. 

Biasing

Well, there’s a process called biasing. But, most of the single pump tube amps do not need biasing.

But if you have more than one pump, you might wanna try this process to make sure it’s working perfectly. 

Now the question is, what is biasing?

Biasing is a process to ensure the pumps are working at their desired capacity. Biasing gives the best possible tone for guitars. It ensures the tubes run in the correct voltage through the circuit. 

Now comes the question, do El84 and 6V6 pumps need biasing?

If your tube amp has a single valve El84 or 6V6, it doesn’t need biasing. You’ll get the proper headroom and volume for this. If the tube amp has two valves, it’ll have cathode biasing already. So you don’t need biasing either. But, if you want to add more pumps to your amp, it’ll need biasing.

You have to make sure the proper amount of energy flows through the circuit. For that, it might be helpful to learn how tube dampers work.

These are all the features that can help you choose between El84 and 6v6 amps.

El84 Vs 6v6: What We Think?

If you play hard rock songs, you need distortions. An El84 pump is the best choice for this.

On the other hand, if you play jazz, blues, funk, soft rock songs, 6V6 is the ideal choice for you. Now it’s up to you. 

Are 6V6 And El84 Interchangeable?

Musicians love to experiment. Sometimes, they try to interchange tube amps valves.

For example, they try to use a 6V6 pump in El84 pump amps. Sometimes they try to use an EL84 pump in a fender 6v6 tube amp.

But you have to match the power tubes to do that. Even if you follow these steps, there’s no chance you will get better tone quality.  

Now, should I Interchange between EL84 and 6V6? 

The answer is no. You should not interchange between EL84 and 6V6 pumps. Both amps circuit boards are different. 6v6 draws more power rather than the El84 pump. You will not get the proper frequency level of sound. So the tones get affected. You don’t want that, do you? 

As you can’t interchange between the pumps, you have to set the desired pumps for the amps.

Now the question is, how will you ensure your new pumps are working properly?

So that’s it. Make sure the pumps are working properly. You will get the perfect sound out of the amps that will make your music stronger.

FAQs

What is the lifespan of tube amps and solid-state amps?

Both Tube amps and Solid State amps last for 20-25 years. You must service the amps every 10 years. Make sure you have spare tubes. You also should change the tubes of the amps 3-5 years after using them. Aged pumps will not provide the best sound quality. 

Why do amplifiers have high input impedance?

High impedance makes sure the amps current flow is low. Amplifiers convert the low energy to a higher voltage output. It’s dangerous if amps don’t have high input impedance. It’s because of the higher current draw that they produce that can lead to dangerous situations. 

Why are Tube amps so expensive? 

Tube amps have large cases, expensive components and complex circuit systems. Also, it’s old tech. That’s why tube amps are expensive.

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