Do we have to worry about a vacuum tube shortage?


If you are planning to purchase tube electronics, stocks may run out in the coming weeks and so you probably need to act fast. Due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, some brands have sounded the alarm that there may be a global tube shortage. Tube hi-fi amplifiers, phono preamplifiers, hi-fi preamplifiers, power amplifiers and headphone amplifiers could therefore face shortages.

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The factories that supply the majority of major vacuum tube brands are located in Russia. The tubes of the Electro Harmonix, EH Gold, Sovtek, Svetlana, Tung Sol, Gold Lion and Mullard are therefore impacted by these new measures.

The cessation of exports will have a significant impact on supply. This is not likely to affect the availability of tubes for sale in the short term as sellers usually have enough stock on hand. Consequently, it will still be possible to replace the tubes of your electronics. However, the production of new vacuum tube equipment will be affected as it will be more difficult to source new tubes to equip these devices.

Tubes made in Russia
Electro Harmonix, EH Gold, Sovtek, Svetlana, Tung Sol, Gold Lion and Mullard, seven of the most popular tube brands, are affected by these measures.

Mike Matthews, founder and president of Electro Harmonix, whose tubes are used in Jadis amplifiers, said on March 12:

“On March 11, 2022, Russia imposed a ban on the export of some 200 goods in response to the sanctions imposed on it over the current conflict in Ukraine. We have confirmed that the ban applies to our seven brands of Russian tubes. Currently, the ban is set to remain in effect until the end of the calendar year.”

On March 16, the brand went back on its statement, this time announcing a “solution” without offering more details, except that a price increase of at least 35% is to be expected.

Jadis Orchestra Black Silver
The Jadis Orchestra Black Silver hi-fi amplifier is equipped with 4 EL34 power tubes and 2 ECC83 preamplification tubes all made in Russia. The production of new models could well be affected.

Of course, there are still factories located in other countries, including the brands Groove Tube (USA) and JJ (Slovakia). However, the vast majority of tubes do come from Russian factories and it will be difficult for other manufacturers to meet demand. Manufacturers of tube electronics are now turning to Chinese factories, which could lead to a return of a steady supply.

Cayin CS-55A KT88
The Cayin CS-55A KT88 tube amplifier is equipped with PSVANE power tubes (China) and JJ preamplification tubes (Slovakia).

Vacuum tube electronics from brands such as McIntosh, Jadis, Pathos, Magnat and even Taga Harmony are directly affected by this possible shortage.

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