“Uchida” Bronze 50 amplifier by Steve Berger – Picture by Dave Slagle
Great indtroduction to the exact replica of the 50 true mesh plate tube/valve!! These tubes made their debut in custom Tektron-Italia Mono bloc amps at the NY HiFi show in November. The current batch has very limited quantity
Instead of typical tech talk about a new tube launch, this time we have a story to tell about the type 50 replica tube’s birth… by Steve Berger, a long time audiophile and music lover resides in NY.
In the early 1990s I got a call from Vincent Gallo. He had seen an ad for a Gibson GA-50 guitar amplifier that I was selling.
When I walked into his apartment, performing delivery of the goods, Chet Baker’s “Happy Little Sunbeam” was playing on a system consisting of a Western Electric 91A 300B amplifier and a lone Western 757 speaker mounted on the wall.
I had never experienced such sound before: Chet’s trumpet was right there in the room!
This was my first introduction to directly heated triodes and my life would never be quite the same after that day.
Chasing the sound I had heard at Vinny’s, I walked into the now legendary “Fi” audio store located at 30 Watt Street in New York City – what an address! Walking through the door I looked behind the counter only to see the father of my boyhood best friend – Pere – Don Garber. “Stephen, is that you?” Don said and once I acquiesced and he kindly let me peek into the secret vault of New York’s most extreme underground audio society. There, I heard Noriasu Komuro’s three stage, direct-coupled 300B amplifiers, J.C. Morrison’s three stage, split RIAA phono preamplifier, playing through J.C.’s Focal-based speaker system. I was floored. Never had I heard such truth, honesty and such coherent clarity. “Waltz for Debbie”. I was at the Village Vanguard!
I was hooked but the price of Don’s wonderful amps was out of reach, even for the committed and hard working jazz guitar player I was. However, being a plucky kid from Brooklyn had me develop the thought that I could learn how to build such a machine. J.C. walked in, ever most charming and kind, and asked, “can you read a schematic?” to which I replied with utmost confidence:“Sure!” (not that I really could actually). I left the premises with two chassis, a complete set of power transformers and output transformers and the rest is history.
I built my first amp from J.C.’s schematic. It was glorious! Life, continued study, hard work, and luck, brought me to Tadataka Uchida and my first “50” amplifier.
Uchida was a magician, an accomplished cook, an audio aesthete of the most supreme sophistication. He also happened to be the importer of some of the finest and most esoteric Japanese audio components including Tango, Tamura and Denon cartridges, all at a time that many would qualify as America’s darkest of audio ages.
He welcomed me into his home and into his life. We became very close friends, ending many evenings at his place enjoying his wonderful food and listening to his RCA phono stage into a two stage WE 205D amplifier playing into vintage Altec Valencia’s.
One evening in 1995 , Uchida gave me a pair of un-marked Globe “50s” and said, “Build an amp with these”. I just about cried. It was like he had given me the key to the kingdom.
I immediately went to work on it. I showed Uchida each and every drawing. By this time, Uchida had been diagnosed with very late stage 4 cancer, and we spent many many hours together. I became his caregiver in his last days. He wanted me to build this amp. It was my mission to finish it for HIM and so I did!
“It looks like a city” he proclaimed and he loved it.As a final step to my “induction”, he gave me the “precious of precious”: a pair of ultra rare, never seen before mesh plate 50s!
Those who saw The Wizard of Ozwill without doubt remember Dorothy walking out from the cabin, when the picture went from black and white to Technicolor! The depth, color, vibrancy was heretofore, unheard.
For the last 21 years, I’ve been playing these magical devices to all in my circle to much applause and adulation, leading to this courageous attempt to revive the best audio tube to ever have been produced.
These ARE better than the originals!
So, after all this time, we now have access to a new production, genuine replica of a pre-1929 mesh plate 50. While we made every possible attempt to accurately replicate the original tubes – making use of many non-working samples, manufacturing processes allow us to produce a tube with better vacuum and better quality materials. We went so far to source some of the critical parts in the US, so as to ensure the highest possible quality and consistency.
We hope to provide many years of the most vibrant audio listening experience.
CAUTION – PLEASE READ!
These tubes must be treated with special care.
The “original” 50 specifications explicitly state that a grid resistor value of no more than 10K should be used.
This precludes the use of “capacitor coupling”, leaving “direct coupling” or “transformer coupling” as the only ways to guarantee the longevity of these wonderful devices. If you are unsure about the compatibility of your amplifier, please reach out to the manufacturer.
Please note that our warranty will not cover tubes that would have been improperly handled.