Orange VT1000 Valve Tester
Many a Vintage Guitar reader has a stash of tubes lying about their music room/workshop or in a box in a closet. The problem is knowing which are trash and which are treasure. Orange Amps’ VT1000 valve tester promises to answer that question.
The VT1000 is designed to run an array of tests that tell whether a tube should be used or tossed. It has tube sockets for eight-pin octal power tubes, nine-pin EL84-style tubes, and standard nine-pin 12AX7 preamp style sockets. The unit has three buttons and an included power supply.
The VT1000 was tested on a variety of brand-new, NOS, and crusty old ’60s-era tubes found in a Heathkit amp dug up from a coworker’s closet. The unit proved easy to use – just plug in the tube, set the selector to the correct tube type, and the VT1000 is off and running. It tests for everything from open circuits to short circuits, leakage to amplification power, arc detection to gas ionization. Then its algorithms spit out a rating of “Good,” “Worn,” or “Fail.” Good or Worn tubes receive an additional/numerical rating between 1 and 15 (1 being the lowest); 12AX7 types even get separate rating for the two sides of the tubes – the first side is shown as a solid LED, the second as a flashing one. If the twin sides are perfectly matched on a preamp tube, it will get a single lit LED. Matched sides to a preamp tube are not necessary, but it can certainly be advantageous, especially when deciding which tube to use as a phase inverter.
A pair of Groove Tube 6L6s with marked ratings of 5 each were given Good ratings and a matching ranking of 7. Plugging in the crusty tubes from the non-working museum pieces quickly produced a Fail report on one EL84 and Worn on a second, and Good with an 8 rating for two old big-bottle GE 6L6 tubes. Note that the tubes do get warm in the tester, so use a rag or glove when handling them.
The Orange VT1000 is an excellent tool for repair shops, music stores, or tube amp users to have on hand. The ability to quickly give tubes pass or fail marks, not to mention the additional rankings, are great helps when troubleshooting an ailing tube amp, deciding which tubes to put in that gigging vintage treasure, or just filtering through a stash of old glass.
This article originally appeared in VG November 2013 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.