Western Electric 300b Tubes - Differences

So, sometimes I see these current production tubes for about $900/pair. Then I occasionally see some for around $400/pair. The less expensive ones come in the older style boxes. Was there a period where WE made crappy tubes? If so, when was that? How can you tell by looking at the tubes themselves.




The expensive variety come in sealed boxes, with individual serial numbers for each tube, testing results pamphlets for each tube, all packaged inside an engraved (reads Western Electric, etc.), cherrywood case. They come with a 90-day warranty that becomes 5 years when you register the warranty cards.

The uber-expensive type ($1500/pr+) were packaged this way AND were produced in decades past.

Those you list as cheap, I've never seen them in that type of packaging. You could ask Westrex Corp., but if they do not have individual serial numbers, extendable warranty, etc., I'd be suspect.
I've done a little research on this. Western Electric makes OEM tubes which come in a blue and white box. These are sold to manufacturers of amps which use the 300B's. The specs are the same but they don't come with a warranty. I don't think these are suspect. I'm still trying to get the final word on them.
AFAIK, what Bander says is exactly the case. Major problem is that most of the OEM tubes are not sold as matched pairs. But if your amp biases the tubes independently, that may not be much of a problem.
We paid full pop for the serial numbered/cherry box types. After 8 months or so, we had to warranty one of our tubes, as it was a little microphonic. They replaced the pair with a brand new pair, sealed in their respective boxes, within a week.

You get what you pay for, IMO.
Aha, awesome info. Bander, eagerly awaiting the result of your research!!
Pawlowski, I'll get back as soon as possible.
OK here's the real skinny on the Western Electrics. I just spoke with Charles Whitener at Western Electric. There is no such thing as an OEM tube. It's a term that's being bantered around. If a 300B comes in a blue and white box and there's no seriel number on the tube itself, it hasn't met specs and is a B stock tube. The people at Canary Audio had been buying these tubes from Western Electric. I recently paid big money from a guy who has been getting them from Canary and selling them. Mr. Whitener and Western Electric is no longer providing these inferior tubes to anyone. These are now being discarded. Stay away from any seller who has 300B's without seriel numbers. They are bad news. What an expensive lesson I learned. I'm still nauseous over my loss.
Good info there Bander. Thanks mate. (Sorry for your loss).

Awesome, thanx. Bander, I hope you weren't too badly. Did the tubes you buy sound poor?

I didn't have anything to compare them with. They didn't exhibit any sonic distortion or anything like that. The man at WE told me that the tubes in question do not sound as good as the bonafide 300B's.
Clarification: The Blue and White boxes alone do not translate into inferior tubes. These boxes are indicative of bulk packaging.
Aha. So, if it comes in a blue and white box AND has no serial number. Or, I guess, any tube without a serial number huh? Thanx