Where to buy Tubes (valves)
Here is a listing of suppliers selling tubes and tube accessories, with whom I've had good dealings and can therefore recommend to others. Please note that these are personal recommendations only. Your Mileage May Vary.

Antique Electronic Supply A reputable company offering a wide selection of valves, sockets, books, transformers, speakers, and just about anything else you're likely to need for your tube projects. They also offer a beautiful printed catalog free for the asking. Definitely a top resource for valve enthusiasts.
Radio Electric Supply An excellent source of tubes at reasonable prices, large number of new and NOS types in stock. Also transmitting and other tubes intended originally for the amateur market, but can also be real treasures for audio enthusiasts. Fast and professional service.
Triode Electronics Reasonable prices, good personal service in spite of a certain Chicagoan gruffness, and nice selection of different variants on the more common tube types. Also good buys on capacitors, sockets, et al. Good online support, a nice history section, and other amenities such as conversance with international shipping details. One of the principals frequently gives excellent advice on rec.audio.tubes, unlike some others who are only there to blow their horns.
The Tube Store Another excellent Yahoo store, fast delivery, good online resources, and very accomodating to personal preferences. They make a point that international orders are welcome, and, like Triode, have obvious international shipping expertise. Power tubes are sold as matched pairs by default.
Jim McShane A private operator, and another consistent and knowledgable contributor to rec.audio.tubes. Jim specialises in HK Citation amplifiers, and is a storehouse of expertise on these units. He also offers a good stock of primarily audiophile and collector tube types, at reasonable prices.
Demostenes Arnold Goksøyr provides a terrific resource, especially for European residents. (Click on the little British flag for English version). Another steadfast and helpful contributor to rec.audio.tubes, if you're looking for data on that obscure bottle, ask Arnold. Excellent prices, and stock on some pretty esoteric valves, transformers, and other wonderful stuff.
tanex (ebay.com) While I'm not myself very keen on ebay (see caveats section below), one fellow with whom I've had excellent dealings deserves mention here. John Smith in New Zealand also sells directly, and has an excellent track record with other customers also, judging by his ebay feedback profile.

Where NOT to buy Tubes

In my experience, most valve fanciers are a straightforward, honest bunch. However, it only takes a few "bad actors" to spoil the show. Here are a few things I can suggest to watch out for:
  • Ebay.com can be an excellent source of "stuff", but you can also get seriously burned. Be sure you read the descriptions carefully, and have a look at the seller's other auctions and feedback profile before even considering placing a bid.

  • Watch out for self-appointed "experts" making outrageous claims (at equally outrageous prices). These characters sometimes operate under pseudonyms, such as preposterous claims to royal titles.

  • Beware of rebrands. If you see descriptions of "Official [brand of amplifier] replacements" or some such, you can safely bet that they're cheap Chinese valves rebranded and repriced. (Nothing against Chinese tubes, I use them myself mainly for guitar amp projects, but I sure wouldn't pay more for a bit of brand-name silkscreen.)

  • Look carefully at the seller's return/refund policy. Valves are generally quite tough, and most of them survive the harsh shipping environment very well. But what if you happen to get one of the few that's DOA? Will the seller replace it or offer a full refund?

  • Does the seller post on any of the audio or tube-related newsgroups? Read through his contributions; if he comes across as someone from whom you wouldn't buy a used car, think twice about buying tubes.

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