Originally Posted by Lungo
From what I understand, Groove Tubes are just other brands that have been relabeled.
Groove Tubes are not just other brands relabeled. At least not yet, but with Fender in charge anything could happenÖbut back to the point, Groove Tube do buy nearly all their valves from other manufacturers. I say Ďnearlyí because they make the Groove Tube 6L6GE themselves. At the moment all others are bought from elsewhere.
Hoever, GT do more than stick their label on. They test them very extensively, and if they donít meet spec, they get rejected. Quality control in some of the factories is not that flash, and some - even the ones with the best quality control - still get a percentage of rejects. The best manufacturers used to test extensively before shipping, but most of the Eastern European and Chinese manufacturers donít. Testing is pretty perfunctory: like ĎDoes it power up? Yep? Itís good thení type thing.
So Groove Tube mainly provide a premium testing service. If you buy a Groove Tube ECC83, itís a JJ. But itís a JJ thatís been tested for output, gain, noise, gas and whole lot of other ****. The mark up that you pay on a GT valve is to pay for all the rejects from their testing.
But they also sell some valves that are special tube requests (or STR) from particular factories, made specifically for GT on machines that GT owns by factories in China or Russia or Slovakia or wherever. So these might come out of the Reflektor factory in Moscow that makes Sovtek, Svetlana and the new Tung Sol valves, but theyíre not a standard Sovtek, Svet or Tung Sol product. Theyíre made on particular machines to GTís spec.
So GT does a little bit more than re-label.
No, I have nothing to do with Groove Tubes, but I hear the story that they just re-label all the time, and it isnít actually correct.
For the OPís question
, you could do worse than JJs ECC83. The GT ECC83 is the same but tested as I said above. GT also do a 12AX7M, which is their take on the Mullard ECC83. I think that comes out of Russia, but itís not a normal Sovtek.
Another that I like is the new Tung Sol 12AX7. This a New Sensor valve out of the Reflector factory. Itís bloody good. Very warm and musical.
Another option is the Sovtek 12AX7WC. The new (last 12 months or so) 12AX7WCs are excellent. They have good gain as always, but the output (i.e, the current) is also up to spec for the first time since the good old days, so this is the pick of the new crop in many respects, particularly value.