No love for Groove Tubes Mullard 12ax7m on the board?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by JJBluegrasser, Dec 18, 2005.

  1. JJBluegrasser

    JJBluegrasser Wannabe Snazzy Dresser

    Apr 17, 2003
    USA, Raleigh, NC
    Hi all,
    There's a lot of discussion on the board about tubes and it seems like the only time people mention Groove Tubes is to say that they're crap. I've read good reviews of the GT Mullard tubes, and I actually own 2 that I'm using in my Mesa Walkabout. I really like them. I'm trying out some JJ's and I've run through some EH's as well, and I'm beginning to think I like the GTs the most.

    I know GT doesn't really make tubes (testing and rebranding and all that), which is a little strange, but as far as quality, I think my money was well spent on these 12ax7Ms. Who else agrees? If you really don't agree, care to say why? I'm wondering if my ears aren't calibrated properly...

  2. westland

    westland Supporting Member

    My biggest problem with GT is their price. $20 for a Chinese 12AX7 which over here in HK sells for around $4.50. I'm still trying to evaluate how good these tubes are. Reviews seem to indicate that they are mediocre and less than reliable... but the Chinese output keeps getting better (they are now up to 9th generation) so this may have changed.

    I only this week purchased both a GT Brick and an Aguilar DB659, both with GTs. The Brick is actually quite nice, and seems appropriately priced for the quality. I think the sound gets a bit 'fuzzy' and less 'warm / hi-fi' on both than I would like ... but I need to A/B them with other tubes. Fortunately, HK is the NOS tube Mecca of the world ... I may also try the JJ's which have gotten good reviews
  3. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Paging Psycho Bass Guy for a (well deserved) anti GT rant.
  4. JJBluegrasser

    JJBluegrasser Wannabe Snazzy Dresser

    Apr 17, 2003
    USA, Raleigh, NC
    Excuse me?
  5. Kelly Lee

    Kelly Lee Yeah, I'm a guy! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    ;) :D
  6. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    You'll find out JJ when PBG shows up. YOU don't deserve the rant, GT does. No offense at all meant to you or your like for the tubes.
  7. I didn't realize that I was being that much of a rabid anti-GT guy! Anyway my primary beef with GT is that they lie. There's no need to sugar-coat it; GT does sell some good tubes, BUT in order to sell the same tubes that you can get from nearly ANY other tube dealer they use some advertising rhetoric to justify their higher prices. MOST of that rhetoric is removed from the truth, often by a large degree.

    Concerning their "Mullard" copy: like westland said, it's nothing more than the latest generation Chinese 12AX7. It may very well be derived using old Mullard designs but the quality and consistency that Mullard had in their old tubes is nonexistent with GT's tube. MOST of the positive "rave reviews" are just GT employees or dealers shilling or neophytes ignorantly repeated ad copy. Actual reviews from people who actually use the tubes are few and far between and most of THOSE have been overwhelmingly negative.

    That's not to say they're all bad tubes, BUT when you can get the SAME tube type made in the SAME factory withe same warranty but imported by Ruby (Magic Parts) for half of of what GT sells it for, you have to wonder what justifies the markup. On another board I frequent, a repair guy had to go through three NEW GT 12AX7M's just to find one that worked! When he posted comparison photos of the new tubes and real Mullards, the design similarity ended.

    Here's the link to that thread. Unfortunately, everything but the first post was lost to EZBoard being hacked in March, but the pictures are still there.

    I also have MAJOR issues with their supposed "US Made" power tubes and so-called "distortion matching" but that's another thread.
  8. westland

    westland Supporting Member

    Exactly (we don't even have to import ... :D gloat).

    I actually opened up my new DB659 and found two GT12ax7R ... basically old soviet tubes ... and they do sound awful. I'm going down to Central today to visit WiWi and see if I can pick up some NOS US tubes ... stay tuned.
  9. westland

    westland Supporting Member

    OK ... I'm back from the store, and bought a selection of NOS 12ax7 tubes (the V1 tube in the DB659 is the most important for tone). Pictures of the store are below ... the first picture shows three shelves of just 12ax7s, each different (the stocks are in back, this is just the menu). I popped a pair of GE-JAN 5751's in first, and the sound is exactly what I expect of a tube preamp ... warm, tuby, well defined, precise ... plus the gain is significantly higher (the GT 12zx7R has around 80 gain according to specs; these are around 110).

    Perhaps the GT quasi-Mullard is better, but the GT 12ax7R soviet tube is really pretty bad. I'll report as I do more substitutions

    Attached Files:

  10. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    GT's main spiel is that the quality of tubes is repeatable, not that they're superior in and of themselves. I've never had any problems with a Groove Tube, ever, as far as reliability, although not all of their models sound good in my amps. I'll also personally vouch, having been on the factory floor, that their USA made tubes are, in fact, USA made, right here in the US of A.

    Can you get Chinese-made 12ax7s from somewhere else for half price? Yup, and if you like the way they sound and respond, you can order 20 of them trying to get the same results when next you retube, or you can pay GT a premium on a cheap tube to get an identical set of parameters, including how quickly they go nonlinear on you. That's the point of the 1 to 10 scale, and it's been a good barometer for me.

    Every piece of Groove Tubes equipment in my studio has the original tubes in them, and they all compete easily with the UA and Urei gear we have there. Absolutely zero complaints, and plenty of love here for the ViPre and Glory comp in particular.

    Just my .02, of course, but I don't like to see GT bashed for lying or misleading the public. I speak with the company's founder and CEO a few times a year, and though he'll do lots of things for a buck, lying about a tube's origins, putting out a product claiming to be something it isn't, or preying on a consumer's lack of education aren't on the list. The guy truly loves tubes and tube circuitry, and deserves better than the slander I frequently see pointed his direction on the internet.

    Oh yeah, I haven't checked into the Mullard reproductions yet, and this post is admittedly a Groove Tubes anti-rant :)
  11. I'll be even more blunt than usual. I don't believe you. I have seen the Chinese factory who adverstised that they made the tubes until I posted about it and suddenly they changed their story. I'd also like to know how GT managed to buy the old Ken-Rad/GE tooling when Richardson sold it to the Chinese and had to clear it through the State Department. I have linked to pictures of the tubes being made in China. I invite you to post pictures of the tubes being made here in the US.

    Then they shouldn't do it.

    You mean like the supposedly "exclusive designs" with JJ and Sovtek that are loudly refuted by Bob Pletka, not to mention the fact that anyone with a cursory knowledge of tube construction can easily see that GT's "designs" are NO different than the stock JJ and Sovtek models?

    You mean like the "6V6"HD, the out of tolerance 6L6 sold as a 6V6?

    Maybe the "US made" power tubes? No they don't mislead anybody about any of that. :rolleyes:

    I don't care what he loves. He should be honest, period. If there is so much "slander," why doesn't he put a stop to it? It wasn't THAT long ago that as a rep for Acoustic he used to spin the advantages of their soild state amps over the SVT.

    I guess there wasn't that much money in transistors. :rollno:
  12. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Oh man, talk about a kid in a candy shop! That would be a dangerous place for me to visit.

  13. thejohnkim


    Sep 30, 2003
    yes, small, shiny, expensive, slightly different, useful(?!), fun things all lined up pretty like that is very dangerous.

    pop a few in your basket and you're up a benjamin very quickly.....
  14. westland

    westland Supporting Member

    You have a point, and I need to clarify my statement. I can get these Chinese tubes much cheaper in Hong Kong, and with good consistent quality, because I go to the little audio shops in Central, ApLiu street and MongKok with direct access to the factories, and who do their own testing. I couldn't do this in the states ... cost and quality are just better in HK for tubes.

    Also, the tubes I am complaining about ... the 12AX7R's .... are Soviet ... here is what Groove tubes has to say about their most recent batch of Russian tubes (esp. vs. Chinese)

    Groove Tubes has very extensive reporting on what they do to test, and what their results are at and I suggest that it is worthwhile to reference that site if there are questions about what they actually are selling.

    Also, I believe there are around 5 Chinese factories (I may be wrong) ... that seems to be the number of sources that the retailers here have ... with names like National, ShanLing, etc. Most of these are probably PLA (military) to civilian conversions. Anyway, the Chinese continue to innovate and improve (everywhere)

    High-end tube audio is a big big business here, both consumption and innovation. It makes sense ... it is a high markup, low investment, labor intensive, anal-obsessive business ... exactly what China is good at.
  15. westland

    westland Supporting Member

    No doubt ... the owner is a really nice old guy too ... he came out to greet me in bare feet, slippers, and a jacket. He knows his inventory inside out. Apparently he makes a lot of money off web sales to guitarists. He certainly knew what was and was not in demand for guitar and bass amp.
  16. ashtray9


    Aug 1, 2002
    Tempe Arizona
    Hmm, anybody have a link to that website? Jeez, those pics are great.
  17. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    4 year old thread...