Fender Acquires Groove Tubes

Posted 11 Jun 2008 in Amplifiers, News

Fender, the world famous guitar and amp innovator hopes to solidify their amp offerings through the acquisition of Groove Tubes LLC.  Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) has not only purchased the Groove Tubes brand, they’re also keeping Groove Tubes founder Aspen Pittman around as a consultant.  Says Matt Janopal, President and COO of FMIC:

“FMIC will be a great steward of Groove Tubes going forward as we combine our deep experience in amp design with the service and testing capabilities that Groove Tubes and Aspen Pittman are known for”.



  1. David Buntsma (11 Jun 2008, 23:52)

    It had to happen…..Fender use Groove Tubes as the ‘stock’ valve in their amps (among other manufacturers). I noticed a while back that Groove Tubes valves carried Fender bar-coding or packaging. I always thought it was because they were the ‘stock’ valve in Fender amps, so there was a sort of deal between the two companies. Maybe it was a sign of things to come??

    A lot of people are not aware that Groove Tubes just re-badge other manufacturers valves after screening them, so you are guaranteed a good valve, then sell them at a premium. They are not the only company that does this though. There are only a few companies that actually make valves these days. Find a reputable valve dealer that screens them first and you can save quite a bit of $$$.

  2. Julian Tan (11 Jun 2008, 23:57)

    Thanks for the insightful comment, Dave! Interesting that Matt Janopal himself recognises the “service and testing capabilities” of Groove Tubes – that sort of ties in to the re-badging that you allude to.

  3. Ian Tan (12 Jun 2008, 13:37)

    When I bought my Fender Blues Jr, they came with Fender Groove Tubes. They sounded great and lasted me a few years. Now I’ve got Sovteks installed because the amp tech recommended them. Must resist the urge to splash out on Mullards for my next re-tube…

  4. David Buntsma (12 Jun 2008, 20:18)

    My AC15 is running Groove Tubes (re-badged JJ’s) which the previous owner installed for power tubes and a Sovtek and JJ mix for the preamp. I like the JJ’s better in the power section than the stock Sovteks. I like the Sovtek in the preamp though, although it has to be the 12AX7-WC Sovtek and not the more common 12AX7-WE which comes stock in most amps. The 12AX7-WC is a much better sounding tube than the more common 12AX7-WE.

    A set of NOS (New Old Stock) or even UOS (Used Old Stock) Mullards will last you the lifetime of the amp. From that aspect many people see them as a worthwhile investment, rather than re-tubing with current production valves every couple of years.

  5. Ian Tan (17 Jun 2008, 7:59)

    Thanks for the info Dave! Can you be more specific on why the 12AX7-WC sounds better than the 12AX7-WE?

    And I didn’t realise the lifespan of Mullards were so great!

  6. David Buntsma (18 Jun 2008, 0:53)

    Yeh, the lifespan of NOS tubes if far superior to current production stuff. They don’t make them the same as they used to, even though many new companies use the same factories and manufacture with the same gear. For example, JJ valves are manufactured in the old Tesla plant.

    The reason why, that I’ve heard/read, is that the companies these days don’t vacuum the tubes as much as they used to. This results in a reduction of the lifespan of the valves, as well as a change in the how the valve sounds. I’ve only heard/read this theory, but it makes sense.

    Back in the day everything used valves as it was the only technology around, so they were always in demand. It didn’t matter if they lasted many many years, because there was always a constant demand for them. These days only audiophiles and guitarists use valves, so the market is smaller now. If current production valves had the same lifespan as NOS ones, companies would go broke as people would be buying valves too infrequently. There’s probably other factors involved too, like the materials being used etc, but I did always wonder how current production tubes and NOS tubes sounded so different, when they are supposedly made in the same plant.

    The Sovtek 12AX7-WC has slightly more gain than the other Sovtek variants. Sound wise they are described as being a bit more ‘richer’ in their sound compared to the rest. As with most things it’s all subjective, as it depends on the amp it’s being used in too.

  7. Ian Tan (18 Jun 2008, 12:49)

    So I guess this is one instance when we can actually say “they sure don’t make ’em like they used to”…

    Thanks again for the info Dave!

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