Posts Tagged ‘groove tubes’

If you read this blog with regularity, you know that I love NOS tubes. Who knows? Maybe I’m being a cork-sniffer, but the significant impact NOS tubes have had on my amps has led me to preferring them over new production tubes. Unfortunately, NOS tubes are getting scarcer and scarcer, so I suppose that eventually I’llĀ  have to get new production tubes.

Now a company that I’ve tended to steer away from is Groove Tubes, mainly because they’re just re-labeler of various OEM tubes. They just measure voltage, match ’em up, relabel them and sell them as their brand. Nothing wrong with that, but I haven’t met a Groove Tubes tube that I’ve liked, until I discovered the Groove Tubes GT-6L6GE Re-issues.

Before I go on, I should clarify that I’m not talking about the current production 6L6GE’s, which are assembled overseas. The tubes I’m talking about were made in the USA up until about 2003, as far as I can tell.

What makes these tubes special is that they’re constructed of NOS materials (except the glass), and to the same specs as the original GE 6L6’s of old. Plus they were constructed in Southern California, so the quality is incredible. These tubes rock! To be honest, I’m not sure of all the details of their production, but I got the information from Brent Jesse @ audiotubes.com who recommended them to me.

I bought two sets so I could have a spare set, and have been in tonal heaven with my Hot Rod Deluxe! The cleans are lush and deep, and the overdrive is creamy smooth. I have other GE power tubes, and I’ve gotten used to their smooth distortion. These GT-6L6GE’s are no exception! In addition to their smooth breakup, they also don’t compress much, which is another thing I just dig. I prefer a more open distortion.

I compared these to both JJ’s and regular Groove Tube 6L6GT’s, and these just blow them away. The JJ’s and GT’s have nice, clear cleans, but forget about their tone when cranked up. The tone is harsh and gritty, even if I bias them a little hotter than spec; whereas the 6L6GE’s remind me of the breakup I get from my Plexi clone – without hot biasing! Amazing!

As these are no longer in production (don’t confuse these with the new 6L6GE’s), they’re a bit more expensive than the new production 6L6GE’s; $80 per pair as opposed to $55-$58 a pair. And because they have the same labeling as the new ones, it’s hard to tell them apart. So I recommend that if you want to get a pair, get them from a source you trust. As I mentioned, I get them from Brent Jesse Recording and Audio, and having purchased several tubes from him, I trust him implicitly.

All that said, I will be getting a set of the new production tubes to make a comparison, as they are also made with NOS materials, though assembled overseas. Who knows? They may just sound killer as well!

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I broke the guide post on one of the 6L6 tubes in my trust Fender Hot Rod Deluxe awhile back, and even though the tube still worked just fine, I used it as an excuse to get a new set of power tubes. So after doing a search around the Internet for a new set of 6L6’s, I found myself on Brent Jesse Recording’s (audiotubes.com) site, looking for some NOS replacements for the JJ’s I had in there.

Not knowing what to purchase, I called Brent up, and asked for his recommendation. Surprisingly enough, he recommended a set of Groove Tubes. I said, “Groove Tubes? I can’t stand ’em.” But Brent explained that these particular Groove Tubes were not the imported, relabeled stuff from Russia or China. They’re re-issues of RCA and GE black plates made from NOS materials and constructed here in the US. Intriguing. I’ve purchase a few sets of tubes from Brent in the past, and he has never steered me wrong, so I decided to take a chance and get a pair.

The tubes arrived yesterday so of course, I just had to install them. What’s the verdict? They sound absolutely KILLER! The big test for me – especially with NOS tubes – is to run them full out to see how they break up. The problem I’ve had with late model power tubes in general (but especially with 6L6’s) is that they feel stiff and the breakup can be a bit harsh.

To me, NOS tubes have always felt much more smooth and dynamic. These Groove Tubes tubes are a huge exception to late model tubes. I can’t believe just how nicely these re-issues break up! The distortion is creamy smooth and slightly compressed with nice bloom and sustain without being too squishy – just how I like it! Caveat: They’re not cheap. These tubes are $80 for a matched pair, but they’re worth every penny! I just ordered a second set for spares since these tubes are limited quantity. They may not necessarily be NOS tubes, but as they’re made with NOS materials, there is definitely a limit. So if you’re looking for new production tubes that sound absolutely fantastic, you gotta check these out!

A word on the Fender Hot Rod Deluxe

It’s my contention that the Fender Hot Rod Deluxe is one of the most underrated amps on the market. Okay, I admit it: Stock it doesn’t sound all that good. But with the right tubes and the right speaker, it can sound incredible! Granted, a year or two ago, I wouldn’t have even considered buying this amp because of the huge price hike. I got mine on special for something like $550 in a blowout sale a few years ago. But the prices aren’t all that bad now. They’ve come down significantly from their nearly $900 price tag, and you can find them for around $649. Admittedly, it’ll probably cost $300-$400 more in tubes and replacement speaker, but what you get is an AWESOME amp. I’ll have clips in a few days.

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