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Russian Sanctions: Will EHX Vacuum Tubes Be a Scarce Commodity?

The war in Ukraine will not only affect the global economy, but as it turns out, the Russian retaliatory sanctions will also partially affect the technical segment of the music industry. The tubes produced by Electro Harmonix, which has a factory on Russian territory, have also been included among the two hundred products that the Russian side will most likely stop exporting, at least temporarily, to most Western countries. This move could cause the market to face a shortage of tubes and a likely increase in the price of amps, vintage studio compressors, and other tube components.

The Russian plant is one of the world's largest manufacturers of vacuum tubes. In spite of the fact that there are Slovakian JJ, several Chinese companies and a few other brands, the absence of Russian production will probably shake the whole market. Electro-Harmonix bought the Russian tube factory in 1998 and their current offer consists of the popular brands Tung-Sol, Electro-Harmonix, EH Gold, Genalex Gold Lion, Mullard, Svetlana and Sovtek in EL84, EL34, 6L6, 6550, 12AX7, 12AU7, 12AT7 etc.

Two statements by Mike Matthews, owner of Electro-Harmonix, have appeared on the Internet, stating, among other things: A myriad of pressures – including continued strains on the supply chain, escalating internal expenses, mounting inflation, and an ever-evolving legal landscape (particularly in light of the Ukraine conflict) – have created a very fluid and ambiguous environment.

The situation preventing the importing of Russian vacuum tubes has been resolved for now but considering the various economic pressures mentioned, we will be forced to raise our wholesale prices on these tubes. This price increase, which will be announced separately, will apply to all new orders and backorders. 

Also, there will likely be a further price increase imposed on shipments received after the U.S. government, following Canada’s lead (of imposing 35% tariffs), implements its own heightened tariffs. You can cancel any backorder if you wish, but we do not recommend this, as there is a tremendous shortage of tubes. 

If you are interested in this topic, check out the attached videos demonstrating the differences between different brands and types of preamp and power tubes. An overview of the complete range of tubes from the Electro-Harmonix factory can be found here (in Specifications).

Tagy Electro Harmonix Tung-Sol EH Gold Genalex Gold Lion Mullard Svetlana Sovtek

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For Insounder, I am mainly responsible for the news section and articles covering the gear of well-known musicians. I have been playing guitar in various bands for years and I also teach this beautiful instrument.