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Western Electric 300B Vacuum Tube Production
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Western Electric 300B Vacuum Tube Production - RF Cafe Cool Product

Western Electric's 300B vacuum tube manufacturing line in 1942 (Hawthorne Works) and in 2020 (Rossville Works).

Western Electric 91E Audio Power Amplifier using 300B Vacuum Tube - RF Cafe

Western Electric 91E Audio Power Amplifier using 300B Vacuum Tube. (nickel colored version shown)

Western Electric Products for Purchase - RF Cafe

Western Electric Products for Purchase

Whilst doing some research on vacuum tubes, I ran across the Western Electric website, showing that they are still building tubes today. In particular, their historic 300B vacuum tube, available newly manufactured at Western Electric's Rossville Works plant, for $699 apiece, or $1,499 as a matched pair (they are typically used in a push-pull configuration).

A fair amount of vintage amplifier gear used by musicians is still in service, and many use the 300B amplifier tube. You might ask why anyone would spend $700 on a vacuum tube when he could simply buy one on eBay. A search of recently sold (don't judge by unsold listing prices) 300B tube shows even the new old stock (NOS) tubes are selling for $1,500 and up. At those prices, Western Electric is doing equipment owners a favor by providing brand new tubes using modern materials and production techniques for about half the cost.

You might also wonder why Western Electric is manufacturing 300B vacuum tubes today. The answer is that they are used in Western Electric 91E audio amplifiers also being produced, it being the modern version of their famous predecessor, the WE 91A. "A never before realized level of performance has been achieved with a completely new approach to SE amplifier design. Developed over five years, the 91E's circuitry intelligently steers the parallel feed constant current source (SCCS), allowing the tubes to deliver more than double their previously rated output of 7-8 watts. You've never heard the 300B like this before." You can be a proud owner of one for a mere $14,999 for the Black or Champagne color, or $15,499 for the Nickel color version.

Western Electric is also selling other related equipment and support components like hookup wire and gold-plated RCA plugs, speaker cones, audio preamplifiers, a CD player, and Western Electric T-shirts and an authentic vintage theater plaque. Oh, they will also be glad to sell you a matched pair of 97A Monoblock Amplifiers for just $124,999 (the sales tax on that here in North Carolina would be $844).

By the way, Western Electric began as the manufacturing arm of Bell Telephone and later American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T). If you look at the bottom of your telephone from the 1980's and earlier, you will most likely see their name on it. See "The Vacuum Tube Saga," "Western Electric Advertisement," "Bell Telephone Laboratories Ad - Coaxial Electron Tube."






Posted August 9, 2022

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