Well, the tubes are never free. They can be cost a little bit of money, and only a few factories still make them. But, as infatuated as musicians are with their tonal properties, they still remain prized components of amplifiers around the world. Which is why it's tough to hear about tube manufacturers going through problems with their production.
The folks at Electro-Harmonix posted a fun story on their blog about the problems they've been having with their factory and how they finally won the fight to keep their tubes in production. Fans of "warm" music can now rest easy.