EVENTS / NEWS

EF86 – A 70th Anniversary

26/05/2024

Happy birthday dear EF86! It was a beautiful and sunny morning in the early summer of 1954 when this beauty saw the light of day in a robe of glass and expanded metal. This would be one way to start this story but here’s come the twist of the plot, the small signal pentode was simply introduced to the market back in 1954 to provide high quality, highly efficient yet cheap amplification. This tube was manufactured in lots of varieties in terms of mechanical design and construction, and has been used in quite legendary audio gear. For this 70th aniversary, I would like to share some examples from my tube collection with you, and maybe also a bit of history and technical background. Let’s start with the Valvo EF86. You might notice the outer shield that is build from a metal mesh. Some call it potato grater, however we’ll see on other examples there’s actually two kinds of mesh… Now here’s one produced by Rundfunk- und Fernmelde-Technik (RFT) in the GDR. It has a long, grey shield, no mesh. It looks indeed very similar to early units labeled Telefunken that I have seen on the internet at jogis-roehrenbude.de which is a great page btw.! However it should have been produced in East Germany, not in West Germany and also not in Russia. The main reasons to use the EF86 was the large amplification factor (or should I just say “tons of gain”) along with a very low noise (hum, hiss) and low microphonics. Microphonics is the (mainly undesired) situation, when a tube is stimulated to vibrate by external factors. It is causing the mechanical parts of the tube to generate noise. But to maintain low microphonics, it is really important how the tube is wired and in what kind of environment it is operated. Basically we can say, the more vibration and the more gain that is squeezed out of the tube, the more prone it can be to microphonics. This is an EF86 from TAD. The mesh looks a bit different, it is rather like the one on some russian derivates. Looking at the EF86 that had been produced by Svetlana resp. Sovtek I can’t spot any diference. One other reason why the EF86 was very cost effective was its heater design, so “AC heating” could be used which reduced cost for the otherwiese quite large capacitors needed to get a smooth DC voltage. Capacitors in that dimension where very expensive at that time, not talking about the rectifier (diodes) needed… Here’s the small signal pentode labeled Siemens. It has very likely been made by Valvo respectively Philips. Why is the shield metal actually done as a mesh? Remember, it is is not the anode, it is a shield to protect the system from outer interference. It is the most prominent thing on this tube, “the face” so to speak. Having a mesh will definetely increase production cost to make the tube, so someone must have been convinced this is a good thing. But other manufacturers, like Telefunken, never used a mesh type shield. I was not able to find any explanation in literature or the internet. Does any one of you know or has any ideas?? The EF806S was eventually introduced in the very early 1960s by Telefunken as a more reliable and even better sounding EF86. Shown here is an EF806S made by Tesla in former Czechoslovakia. So I would expect this tube to be produced somewhere before 1992. It has a smooth shield like any Telefunken, wether it is an EF86 or EF806S. One of the most famous devices where the EF86 or EF806S is working in, is the legendary Neumann U67 microphone that was introduced in 1960. It is one of the most used and most sought after microphones and it has been used on countless records and hits. And it is still produced by Neumann using an EF86. Coming back to the buzzword “microphonics” that is often used with the EF86, those large diaphragm condenser microphones are placed in shock mounts while operated in recording studios which is a relatively “safe” environment. And probably the studio itself is also shock mounted like the legendary Galaxy Studios in Belgium. In fact the EF86 is running in triode mode in the U67 with moderate amplification which makes microphonics even less of an issue. There’s a handful of schematics (also published in the tube’s data sheets) that intended the EF86 to be used in a microphone preamplifier, with high amplification factors. Those circuits have been picked up by amp manufacturers since decades and have been used more or less 1:1 in various guitar amps and combos. Shown here is a recent production from JJ Electonics in Slovakia. JJ is probably using the machines from Tesla for making these EF806S and in fact the Tesla and the JJ look pretty identical. Happy 70th birthday EF86! Part 7 – Telefunken just hits different, well at least it hits me with some instant vintage vibe just looking at the logo. The Telefunken is considered to be one of the best sounding if not THE best sounding EF86. It would only by topped by the original EF806S but these got very expensive over the last decades. So I was lucky being at the right place at the right time to get at least some TFK EF86 for a good price. To be honest, I mean I have put 2 or 3 in demo amplifiers that are out there, but in my opinion those EF86 (and definetely the EF806S) are best spared for a tube microphone or preamp. With one of those tubes, I would rather be recording Natasha Shneider’s vocals than using them in a guitar amplifier. Sorry guitar amps, I love you, but there are limits. 🙂 In the majority of the guitar amp designs I have seen, it is tried to squeeze a lot of gain out of a single EF86. The pentode is then used in the first […]

Read More

Galaktopus Review in “Gitarre & Bass”

22/12/2023

Here’s an extract from the review in “Gitarre & Bass” magazine issued January 2024. The full article is available here. You can purchase the printed or digital magazine here. “Let’s start with the clean channel. And even after the first few sounds, it’s clear: it delivers! Outstanding, very clear sounds with plenty of headroom and articulation ring out of my speaker. Pearly, snappy or sweetish if desired and with assertiveness. The rectifier tube is also fun to use as it provides a hint of “sag”. It is also immediately apparent how much influence you can have with the tone control: Even a slight turn of the treble and/or bass changes the sound significantly. The three preset mid-range parameters are suitably selected. […] Paired with the different Bright settings on the corresponding toggle switch, any guitar, whether it is equipped with humbuckers or single coils, really harmonizes with the Galaktopus. […] In short: the clean channel is convincing across the board. From warm to high-resolution to extra crisp: everything is possible here. Tonally, it’s in the top league and extraordinarily flexible. Great! Quite a few players also like to use such a clean channel as a platform for overdrive or distortion pedals. So we instantly connected various floor pedals in front of it. This works very well, the amp offers an excellent tonal platform and even different distortion pedals always work harmoniously with the flexibly adjustable clean channel. With a good high-gain pedal, for example with the simultaneous “Punch” setting in the power amp’s reactivity circuit, a powerful sound can be produced immediately. At the same time, the Galaktopus always retains its dynamic and percussive articulation. In short: a true recommendation as a pedal platform. We continue with the drive channel. The percussive and pronounced articulation is immediately confirmed here too. […] Low gain settings deliver beautiful breakup sounds right up to a powerful overdrive at maximum. This is not high-gain, definitely not metal, rather a beefy classic rock chunk. With the very effective three-band tone control, a wide range of tone shaping can also be achieved in the drive channel: In combination with the different Reactivity settings from bluesy, sweet and soft to tight and punchy basses. Compliments for these extensive nuances that can be elicited from the Galaktopus. All in all, Three Bananas has achieved a visually appealing design here. If you unscrew the bottom-mounted chassis from the housing, you can take a look at the workmanship: It is flawless, tidy and absolutely top quality, the NASA-standard turret hybrid design using components of the highest quality is beyond all doubt. With the 50-watt version of the Galaktopus all-tube head, Three Bananas Amplification presents a successful design, high build quality and exceptional tonal flexibility from two channels. Its goal of developing an independent sounding amp with a “wall of sound” appearance has been accomplished. The Clean channel reveals tonal culture at its best, while the Drive channel offers extensive sound shaping possibilities, from bluesy sweet to powerful classic rock overdrive, thanks to its very effective tone control and the excellent Reactivity circuit. Both channels love to be driven with pedals. Three Bananas’ very own sound DNA can also be discovered – clearly articulated, with a percussive attack. The player is nevertheless challenged, as the amp is not very forgiving. The reward is a great sound and excellent dynamics.” The original german article has been translated to english with DeepL.

Read More

Beausonic Deluxe reviewed in “Guitar & Guitar Acoustic”

14/12/2023

Here’s an extract from the review in “Guitar & Guitar Acoustic” magazine issued January 2024. Download a pdf of the article here. “The objective of Three Bananas was to create an original design and this has been accomplished. The Beausonic Deluxe simply doesn’t sound like any great role model, not even like one using an EL34 power amp. The basic character of the amplifier is mid-range, but the distortion doesn’t just come from the mids à la Plexi, but rather from the upper range – there’s a lot of presence and clarity involved here! Incidentally, this applies to both channels, which only share the equalizer. Bite, gain and master (both post phase inverter) are adjustable for each channel. The advantage of such a rather unconventional design is that you can use the same basic sound marginally adapted for two different situations. This can mean, for example, that you use channel one for rhythm and channel two for solos or channel one for the Strat and channel two for a Paula in order to compensate for the difference in level. This often works even better than two different channels or even two amplifiers, because the guitar stays in the same place in the band mix. The boost control pushes the phase inverter tube so that it does not act like a conventional overdrive pedal, but adds a juicy compression in the output stage. If you need more sustain, then this is the right thing for you. There is a “second” channel for the solo volume, which can be used almost independently as a solo channel thanks to its own gain, bite and master controls – one of the absolute highlights of this amp for me! Another special highlight of the Beausonic is the adjustable dynamics via a toggle switch. Like the best single-channel amps, the Beausonic Deluxe interacts really so well with the guitar that anything from crystal clear to classic rock overdrive can be played via the volume pot and the strength of the pickup hand. That’s the limit, the Beausonic doesn’t want to be a high-gain monster […]. Until then, the Beausonic Deluxe is a real playground for anyone who wants an organic sound. The amp doesn’t sugarcoat, even the compression remains restrained, it mercilessly exposes playful shortcomings – but then rewards you with a cultivated sound with its own character, which is simply a lot of fun! With the Beausonic Deluxe, Three Bananas offer an amplifier that delivers as promised. A new design, a unique sound, traditionally designed, without semiconductors or digital features. This requires a lot of product development, which, like the production, took place entirely in Germany. The price of 2750 euros is absolutely reasonable! If you are looking for a special boutique item, this is the one to buy.” The original german article has been translated to english with DeepL.

Read More

This Was Guitar Summit 2023

01/11/2023

Over a month has past since Guitar Summit and I did not find the time to post anything here until now. However, I had such a great time and it was so good to meet familiar faces once again and to get to know so many new great people from all over the planet. We presented the new Beausonic amplifier that will extend the product range next to the existing Beausonic Deluxe with a more compact Head and also a 1×12″ Combo version. We will publish more details on this website soon. Three Bananas Amps had also been included into the “Ampworld” by Musik Produktiv where you had the chance to play our amps loud* and compare with many other amps through (likely) the world’s largest amp switching system. *Guitar Summit is actually a silent guitar show. So, thanks to all the visitors for playing, testing and enjoying playing guitar with us. It means so much to us that you love our amps. See you all soon, latest next year! ❤️ Here’s a video by Jonathan from The Tone Lounge. This is a great Youtube channel, please subscribe if you like! “Best guitar amp I tried there”. Now that’s music to my ears… Thanks Jonathan!

Read More

New Video from Kris Barocsi + Discount in our shop

31/08/2023

Thanks Kris for this great video! We could not be happier, you did such a great job here, as always! Hi everyone, we hope you love good gear as much as we do. There’s lots of blood, sweat and tears in our products and we want them to get played and enjoyed. Now let me get to the point, here’s your chance to SAFE BIG. You will get a 10% DISCOUNT on the net purchase price using the coupon code KRIS10 in our online shop at www.threebananasamps.com. The coupon code is valid until 31st October 2023 and will only apply to guitar amplifiers. On top of that, on guitar amps and cabinets, we grant another 5% discount on the net purchase price for advance payment by bank transfer.

Read More

New Payment Methods

21/06/2023

Hi there, we have extended our list of payment methods in our online shop. You can now also pay during checkout using Giropay (Germany), Sofort (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain), iDEAL (Netherlands), P24 (Poland), Bancontact (Belgium) and EPS (Austria). As in the past, you can also pay via Credit Cards and Debit Cards. Please find more information HERE.

Read More

Youtube Channel

28/04/2023

Our Youtube Channel has now officially been launched. For the start, we are uploading a couple of demo videos of our Beausonic amplifier. Please come by and leave a comment if you like! Would be great if you also subscribed to our Youtube Channel so you don’t miss any new content.

Read More

Guitar Summit 2023 Announcement

15/02/2023

YES! We’ll be there. It’ll be fun! Guitar Summit 2023: September 22 – 24 2023, Mannheim – Germany

Read More

Grand Opening

12/12/2022

It’s been an honor to be part of the Grand Opening at the newest local music store Musik Brödel in Bottrop, Germany. Musik Brödel has our amplifier models BEAUSONIC and GALAKTOPUS and CABINETS in the show room! Come by and give them a try! We have this little video for you from the opening party, hope you enjoy it

Read More

This Was Guitar Summit 2022

19/09/2022

Thanks everyone, all the visitors and also exhibitors for the overwhelmingly positive feedback on our new amp models BEAUSONIC and GALAKTOPUS. IT MEANS THE WORLD TO US! Please watch also this phenomenal video made by KRIS BAROCSI, asking the guitar industry if guitar shows still had a future. Our answer here is definitely “YES”. It was so much fun meeting everyone, we are already excited for next year. While Kris was playing both of our guitar amplifiers in the test area, our model GALAKTOPUS is featured through the entire video. We strongly recommend watching this video till the end! 😉

Read More

Proud Exhibitor Announcement

01/06/2022

The time has come! We are very happy to be part of the Guitar Summit family in Mannheim this year! From September 9th to 11th we will present our new all-tube guitar amps “BEAUSONIC” and “GALAKTOPUS” and the corresponding guitar cabinets at our booth as well as in the newly designed Ampfinity Test Area. You will find us at booth 321 on level -1 directly opposite the Randy Rhoads exhibition. You can also play our products directly and loud on site! In a specially designed test area you can really turn up the volume on the amps set up there, away from the “silent concept” of the Guitar Summit. Come by! We are looking forward to seeing you!

Read More