The following list is a model count of the most popularly made current manufactured valves (only counting valves made by manufacturers and outsourcers, but not re-badgers).
Rectifiers: 274B (12), 274A (6), 5AR4 (6), 5U4G (6), 5Y3 (3)
Dual Triode: 12AX7 (33 including similar valves), 12AT7 (14), 12AU7 (14), 6DJ8/6922 (7), 6SN7 (12), 6SL7 (5), 12BH7 (5)
Power triodes: 300B (51 including similar valves), 2A3 (23 including similar valves), 845 (15), 211 (9), 805 (9), 572B (7), 811 (5), 45 (5)
Beam Power & Pentodes: KT88 (41 including similar valves), 6L6GC (29 including similar valves ), EL34 (25 including similar valves), EL84 (13), 6V6GT (6 including similar valves)
Electron Tube Brands The number of electron tube brands in the market today fluctuates wildly with new brands popping up and older ones disappearing. All current production thermionic electron valve brands are owned by companies using one (or more) of the following business models:
Manufacturer: The brand owner maintains the plant or factory where the valves are made and also owns or has production & marketing rights to the design of the manufactured the valves.
Outsourcer: The brand owner also owns the design, and contacts a manufacturer to manufacture the valves at their plant. Some parts may or may not be made by brand owner, but the final assembly of the valves is always done by the manufacturer. Distribution and marketing is left solely to the brand owner. The manufacturer may or may not be allowed to sell valves with this design under their own brand.
Re-badger: The brand owner simply sticks their brand on to valves they distribute or sell. This type of brand is usually a manufacturer who uses electron valves as a part, such as a hifi or guitar manufacturer, or a valves re-seller who buys tubes from several brands, badges valves they recommend.
Current production manufacturers of glass thermionic valves This is a list of manufacturers who currently make AC rectifying, receiving, voltage amplifying, low frequency amplifying, glass transmitting electron valves (ie the valves normally used in hifi). This is not a list of brands but a list of manufacturers.
The Big Three These three companies make and sell the most current production tubes currently. Numerous amp makers, both guitar and hifi, offer their valves as stock and many rebadge companies, pick their recommended valves from almost exclusively from their tubes.
New Sensor Corp (US owned, made in Russian) http:www.svetlana.com/
Brands & trademarks Electro-Harmonix: Ram's (man’s?) head in red, yellow or gold Genalex: Cursive "Gold Lion" in gold, lion holding plaque with valve designation Mullard: "Mullard" in rectangle on a heater shield Sovtek: Amalgamated bird & star in red in red Svetlana: White "S" on top red, bottom black field, or clear “S” on solid white field Tung-Sol: White “TUNG-SOL” in caps
New Sensor Corpbegan with Mike Matthew’s
Electro-Harmonixwhich made some of the best known guitar effects pedals in the 70s and 90s. In the 90s they first began selling
Sovtek-branded valves and they currently manufacture valves in the
Reflektor) factory in Saratov, Russia, under the
Sovtekbrands (the Sovtek range still has some rebadged NOS tubes made by other factories). They also manufactured are the
Mullard and Tung-Solreissues in the same facilities. Svetlana are current production valves made by other Russian factories and distributed through New Sensor distribution channels. This used to include valves from the original St. Petersburg/Leningrad Svetlana factory although they have since gone their separate ways. The number of brands and their various price points can make
New Sensorvalves a bit confusing.
New Sensorbranded valves are generally priced fairly higher than
JJand have a better reputation for consistent quality and reliability from audiophiles and manufacturers. Their sonic signature is described as balanced with good detail and slightly dark and they are the stock valves of choice for many guitar amp makers and hifi amps with audiophile/high-end aspirations.
Unique tubes: Many former Soviet valves with and without western equivalents - 6D22SSV, 6A3, 6B4G, 6C19Pi, 6CW4, 6C33C-B, 6C41C, 6C45Pi, GM-70, 6EU7, 6H30Pi; and some unusual older valves 6J5, 6CG7
Shuguang Electron Group (China) http://www.tube.com.cn/ Brands & trademarks Shuguang (export): Stylized circular ""SG" (looks somewhat like a bird?) in white 曙光 (domestic): “曙光” above 5 point star and orbit in red Shuguang is one of the older valve manufacturers and originated as the 770 Chinese state-owned factory in Changsha, China in founded in 1958. They manufacture most of the Chinese exported valves, either under their own brand or rebadged by others (it seems if you place a large enough order, they will happily silk screen whatever you want on the tube). They also produce valves for the Chinese domestic market. Shuguang produces both very cheap valves (I believe they make cheapest current productions), but also some very premium valves so it is difficult to generalize their valves. Their cheaper valves have a reputation for poor consistent quality which seems to have been improving with recent years. Their premium valves are among the priciest Chinese valves and have been well received by the audiophile/high-end community. Shuguang’s sonic signature has been associated with being lushness and warmth with increasing detail in more premium models and well regarded by amp manufacturers and valves get rebadged, looking to impart a slightly vintage signature in their products. Specifically, their rectifiers and power valves are generally well liked, while their 12A-something-7 series do not receive a much favour.
JJ Electronic (Slovakia) http://www.jj-electronic.com/ Brands & trademarks JJ: Two “J”s diagonally on an AC voltage symbol in red In 1994 Jan Jorgo purchased the audio tube production machinery from TESLA and set up a JJ Electronics in Čadca, Slovakia. The smallest and newest of the “Big Three”, JJ has a much smaller catalog of valves compared to New Sensor and Shuguang and focus heavily on but has a complete range of all the most popular guitar and hifi power, preamp and rectifier valves. JJ however produces no transmitting valves of any kind. Aside from a few premium valves, most of JJ’s valves are fairly cheap and comparable or slightly higher compared to Shuguang’s prices in many regions. Like the cheap Chinese valve, JJ has been constantly plagued with a history of poor quality consistency, and worse, poor reliability consistency - to a point where some guitar amp manufacturers specifically state that using JJ tubes will void warranty (in particular, their octal based valves, both rectifiers and beam power tubes, seem to have a very bad reputation). Despite this reputation, JJ valves are extremely popular with both guitar amp and hifi amp 'valve rollers' due to their sonic signature which which is often described as dynamic and extended, and many rebadge distributors pick the best JJ valves to resell under their own brand.
Unique tubes: Various Chinese tubes with and without western equivalents - 5Z4P, 6E2, 6N1, 6N2, 6P1, 6P12P, 6P13P, 807/FU-7, 811/FU-811, 813/FU-13, KT94; and some unusual older tubes 6BK4C, 50CA10, 7092/6T50, 350B, EL156, 6SA7GT
Unique tubes: 2A3-40, 6386 LGP, EL844, EL509-S, 7591S
Hifi Specialists These manufacturers primarily or solely manufacture valves for hifi use generally favouring triodes to other types of valves. These manufacturers do not make budget valves and their prices range from premium to very high.
Manufacturers from left to right; MELZ, Polaron, Svetlana, Reflector and Ulyanov, lower NEVZ (Novosibirsk city), Gazotron (Rovno City, Ukrane).