What tubed preamp that is not too fussy ?

Would like to experiment to see if it is for me. Will go to
a Rotel amplifier (200wx5) with 33k input impedence. It will be fed by an Audio Aero Prima CD player. Would prefer
$500 or less new or used. Would like something that wouldn't take a lot of tweeking, easily acquired and easy to resell. It would be used with JM Lab Electra 926 speakers with rock and blues music.
How about the Transcendant Grounded Grid?
Contact Dan Wright at www.modwright.com and ask about his tube linestage (preamp). Basic two line inputs. Cost <$500 as I recall. May be a good opportunity to see what a tube preamp is all about.
Audio Research LS7 or Conrad Johnson PV10 would be good for a few reasons:
- relatively many out there, so not too tough to find
- well known widely distributed, thus easier to resell
- good sound for the price
- easy to use, easy to roll tubes if you like
- companies that will be around
Neither of these is the ultimate pre, but given your constraints, IMHO they are safe choices...

Cheers, Spencer
Get a Sonic Frontiers SFL-1. One tube, ultra-long life, wonderful sound and build quality. $350-450 USD used.
audio note m1 is an excellent value and sounds very good at its price point...used audible illusions modulus 3a.....used VTL Ultimate ....
transcendent grounded grid.
Second the c-j PV10. I've had a PV-11 since 1991 with zero problems. A friend has had a PV-10 for 6+ years with similar success. Should you ever need it, c-j's support is topnotch even if you bought it used.
Another vote for either the LS-7 or PV-10. The LS 1 or 3 are closer to your price range however and they are good line stages for the price.:)
audible illusions....IID or 3 whatever your budget permits. the only drawback to the units, it is a little hard on the tubes.

if you can stretch, the bat 3vki is a killer and upgradeable/remoteable/phono stage...

I have been through several preamps in the last couple of years looking for the ultimate " non fussy pre".
One that I could just sit back and enjoy the music without analyzing or wasting time looking for nth degree all of the time.
What I ended up with shocked even me. I am now using a AES/Ae-1 that I bought just as a hold over until I could determine what the ultimat pre would be for me.
I just love it. I am not rolling tubes every other week anymore. I am not repositioning stuff trying to find that extra little "nnnth" degree of resolution. It just works.
I will never sell it, that is for sure.
Let me just add on more comment. We all need to be very careful of the answers we receive when we ask questions like this.
I have asked questions like "what is the best rock speaker for $1500".
When we read reviews or ask for answers from others, what we need to realize is, they are not using our equipment, they do not have our same room. Are they listening to 90's rock or are they listening to 60's rock. It all means heck of a lot.
When I started my quest for MY ultimate system that I could afford, I went be reviews and what other people thought was the best you can get at that price. I spent $15,000 on that system used. That was almost 2 years ago. What I found was that the system was revealing, had wonderfull soundstage, music flowed like I hadn't heard in a long time. But, it didn't work with certain recordings. I found I had to listen to limited material to make it sound like I spent $15,000 on it.
So in the last 6 months I have been selling of my equipment. I have been trying to buy things at a reasonable price that if I didn't enjoy it, I could resell it and recoupe most of my money back to try again. Let me ad that I have not traveled to stereo shops to audition theirs and buy here.
I have been through each component at least twice looking for the ideal for "me" piece that works for "me".
The only piece I have left that was original is my CD player that I am selling simply because I don't use it at all. It just sits there.
My quest has been to find and build a system thast works well with all of the music that "I" enjoy.
For speakers, I have been through; Magnepan,because they are supposed to be so awesome. Proac, ditto. And Theil, the Theils I will keep. But I am using Meadowlark Shearwaters because that is what works for me. They were cheaper than any of the others I had before.
For preamp I had; Rogue Magnum 99, Blue Circle BC3. And now using the AES. Less than 1/3 the price of the other 2 before it.
So what started out as a $15,000 system has ended up as a $6,000 system and sounds better to "me" than what I started out with.
Sorry, I just wanted to point that out.
Good luck, Scott