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Is a tube shortage imminent? Mike Matthews confirms Electro-Harmonix brands are subject to Russian export ban

Electro-Harmonix vacuum tubes
(Image credit: Electro-Harmonix)

Electro-Harmonix founder Mike Matthews has confirmed that the effects brand’s Russian-made vacuum tubes are among the 200 products subjected to recent export bans by Russia.

The components have been banned from export in retaliation to the sanctions imposed on Russia by the international community, following its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

As EHX owns and operates a factory in Russia which manufactures tube brands – including Tung-Sol, Electro-Harmonix, EH Gold, Genalex Gold Lion, Mullard, Svetlana and Sovtek – it says supplies to its tube customers will be halted for the foreseeable future. The move will likely lead to shortages across the guitar industry. 

In a statement entitled “Attention All EHX Tube Customers” (opens in new tab), Matthews said the ban was currently set to last until the end 2022 but the situation remains “ambiguous”.

Here is Mike Matthew’s full statement:

Yesterday, Russia imposed a ban on the export of some 200 goods in response to the sanctions imposed on it over the current conflict in Ukraine. We have confirmed that the ban applies to our seven brands of Russian tubes. Currently, the ban is set to remain in effect until the end of the calendar year.

Given this export ban, we will not be receiving any further tube inventory for these brands. 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. 

Until we can properly assess the impact of these factors, we will not honor any new orders or ship any more Russian tubes on back order.

Rock & Roll,

Mike Matthews
Founder & President

While the situation remains unpredictable, it’s reasonable to expect that a shortage of tubes will cause significant disruptions in the production and pricing of some analog gear.

For instance, the resulting demand on non-Russian tube suppliers could lead to increased component costs, which in turn will be likely to result in higher street prices for tube amps and other valve-based gear, at least over time. 

The used market, meanwhile, could be similarly impacted as more buyers turn to second-hand alternatives, due to price pressures or limited availability.

Keep an eye on EHX’s website (opens in new tab) for further information.

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Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.