A little more information

The two main activities in my life: Helping the hungry in the late hours of the night and helping guitar players sound better one amp at a time.

I always try to remember that in order to do good one has to take action and actually do something.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I have watched the city and Southern California change for well over half a century.

I can be found on facebook at www.facebook.com/mylesr or on twitter at www.twitter.com/myles111us or on my own Guitar Amplifier Blueprinting website at www.mylesrose.com

Los Angeles Architectural History

Los Angeles Architectural History
1935 Art Deco at some of its finest: No. 168 - Griffith Observatory- (click on the photo for information)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Aspen Pittman / Groove Tubes - The Legacy Continues

How many times has somebody said to you, "just let it go?"  How many times have you heard the saying that goes something like, evil can only succeed when good men do nothing?

I don't hold onto things. It is more that I take action when I am reminded of certain things which brought to my attention.  Sometimes past subjects are brought back to my attention.

I find it impossible to turn away from certain parts of what I see in my own life.  The homeless.  People taking advantage of others.  Bullies.  Hurt animals in the street.  People who cheat hard working musicians out of their money.  People taking the credit for the work of others.  I am sure you get the picture.



A great amp tech and guitar player is in this shot.  He was one of many folks taken advantage of by the man in the self portrait above who is Aspen Pittman.

More below...

In the last few days I have been participating in a dialogue on a music forum for Guitar Player Magazine where I am a moderator and have a column called "Feel Free to Ask Myles" where there are close to a million views.  The following is copied from the last posts that is one of many pieces of writing on the subjects of Aspen Pittman and his antics.

The initial question seemed simple enough.  It did not initially dawn on me that there was no mention of one of the pieces of information I always provided on these sets, the location where the tube was to be placed.

Myles - I need some guidance please. I own a Marshall HAZE40C. I purchased the SAG MHG pre amp tubes.

Based on the numbers written on the boxes which tubes should go in V1,V2 and V3

They are as follows

94.3-89.4 ecc83s
85-85 ecc83s
MPI 12ax7

I know you are very familar with these laugh 

Are these the gain ratings? Which order should I place in the amp?

Thanks

Mark

...........

Mark,

Put them in the order you have them listed. The one with the highest number generally does best in the first gain stage, V1.

The MPI is the phase inverter and will be the last preamp tube, the one generally farthest from the input jack and most close to the output tubes.

If you have any other questions feel free to contact me.

_________________________
Myles S. Rose

.........

Myles,

I just received another SAG MHG trio with the numbers
85.6-90
89-89
MPI

I know the MPI goes in V3.

Which order do the other two go? The reason I am asking because the 89-89 is the caveat to the generally higher number goes in V1. It always seems that one of the tubes has the same paired number. The one trio I asked previously was 85-85. I guess I am needing to know what the numbers are referring to. Are these tubes double triodes and are the numbers rating each part of the tube? My understanding is that one part of the tube would be for the clean and one for the gain. Is this correct? The one tube with the balance of 89-89 is throwing me. I need to know for this set where the 89-89 should go.

Thanks and Happy Holidays to you
..........
Mark,

These should be marked V1, V2 and MPI on the stickers. They are not? If they were made by me they were.

89-89 just happens to be matched as far as actual gain but the traces may not have matched over the entire range of the tube for other factors so it is not an MPI.

You can use the first two tubes in this case in either position depending on personal taste.

_________________________
Myles S. Rose
.......

Myles,

Thanks for the response. They are Not marked V1,V2,V3 on the stickers. The only one that is marked is the MPI. The other two just have the stickers and the hand written numbers.

Thanks
......

Mark,

If you can take a photo of the stickers so I can see if it is my writing it will tell me if Fender is trying to do this now or if they are my original sets. If Fender is trying to do this all bets are off as it was my system and my test gear that I used to make these sets. It would also be helpful to know what the make/type of tubes are in the set, all three of them.

_________________________
Myles S. Rose

........

Myles,

Tubes are 2 ecc83s and 1 12AX7 MPI

I can't tell the make. They are re labeled Groove tubes. Your original sets would only last so long as stock. At some point after you stopped doing this they would have to continue themselves based on your original blueprinting.


........

Mark,
Does not matter, I did not make these, that is not my writing and I do not know how they are calculating those numbers as it is not simple or fast to calculate.
I also always numbered the tubes V1, V2 and MPI. Looks whoever is making up this stuff has no clue as to what is going on. I would go back to the seller and have the seller give you a technical contact to the maker, ask them for an explanation in writing and post it here. There is way too much smoke and mirror nonsense that goes on these days where big companies find many ways to take money out of the pocket of hard working musicians.
If they cannot explain how they do what they do, the method they use etc., then it is all bogus.
If you take a photo of the tubes out of the box I will be able to tell what they are (your photo here was fine) and see if they are pulling some nonsense in that area too.
Any advice I gave before on this set can be tossed out the window as it was based on me thinking I made up the set and those numbers were my numbers which took into account transconductance, true gain, plate current, plate resistance, rise time and the curve traces of the tube. If they cannot even take the time to put V position on the tube it may indicate that they have no idea what they are trying to accomplish.

Myles

.........

Side note ...

if "85" is supposed to be gain then there is nothing hi gain about this tube at all. 85 is the average gain today of a sub-standard production 12AX7.

From trying to peek through the box window I see the GT sticker on the tube (not my era at all) and what looks like short plates. If those tubes are Sovtek 12AX7WA/B/C then they are contra-indicated and not at all suitable for a high gain kit. I will be able to confirm if you send a photo of the tubes out of the box.

The MPI needs to be a different tube, a long plate tube as another point.

The MHG kits and other SAG kits, including the MPI, were my products that were developed before I went to GT. Aspen Pittman marketed my product but it was my product. When I left GT I did not sell MY product to Fender. Fender has not contacted me in regard to payment for my product as a side note.
_________________________
Myles S. Rose
.....................


The far left tube is labeled the 12AX7 MPI. The two on the right are labeled as ecc83s. These were purchased from Guitar Center and are being marketed as SAG MHG from Groove Tubes.

........

Mark,

The two on the right are JJ ECC83S/12AX7. Three years ago these were the highest gain production tubes. That is no longer the case. They also now have a high percentage of problems such as rattle and low life. They compress quickly and are not a good choice the way they work these days for pedal use as they compress too quickly.

The "mpi" is a short plate Chinese 12AX7C, not a proper design for an MPI.

If you are in the area and would like to bring the MPI to the shop I would be happy to curve trace the tube in front of you and we can discover if you were sold anything of truth for your hard earned money.

Guitar Center is a fine organization. They sell items on the belief that the vendor is providing what was promised. They bought these SAG kits (by the way, SAG (special applications group) was also my name used by GT which they probably copyrighted as they did to so many other folks material) in good faith. To be fair to Fender, they also believed what Aspen Pittman sold to them in good faith. If they would have checked before handing Aspen "the check" with MANY other people things may have turned out differently.

GC is not the one to think bad things about. Fender doesn't know any better either as Aspen probably misrepresented the process and origin of the process to them. It is Aspen Pittman who is the father of these problems which come from his actions such as omissions of the facts when he sold Groove Tubes to Fender.
_________________________
Myles S. Rose

.........

Myles I really appreciate the response. The reason I got the second set was because the first set did have a problem and GC sent me out another without even asking for the first set back. I am in Miami so I could not stop by as much as I would be honored to. I would be willing to send the tube to you in the interest of truth. You could perform any tests necessary and you could send me back the tubes when done. My amp was not liking this set as it was cutting out on the gain channel. Let me know via PM what address I should send the tubes to.

Also could recommend to me or do you sell any high gain sets that I purchase? I will send you info via PM so if you wish to contact me we could discuss. I feel you are acting very responsible and appreciate your candor. I think the results from this will be of particular interest to many people.

.............

Mark,
I really don't take time to ship things back and forth and the point has already been established that these are not the product that I developed or produced. No additional verification is needed to establish that point on my part.
My advice in the future would be to stay away from these sets until Fender takes some sort of action to understand what they are producing and selling.
My shop is in the complex at 65 Amps and I do not sell these kits but if there is enough interest somebody might talk to Dan Boul over at 65 Amps or somebody like Rob Hull at www.tubedepot.com I would be happy to work with either one of them.

Myles
...............


A few other links to posts in my blog where Aspen Pittman is mentioned:


Update:
There have been some interesting comments on some of the social network sites in regard to this post. One person asked me to recall the China Incident.  

When I was at GT we did a lot of business with Shuguang in China.  They were the vendor for the 12AX7M, EL34M, 6L6GE, 6L6HP, 5881C, 5751M, 6CA7GE and perhaps some I have forgotten.

On one occasion Aspen went to China to have a meeting at the Shuguang factory. 

During my evening I received a call from Aspen.  He told me to write down a phone number in China and call him back from my home phone.  I was surprised he did not charge the call to his own home phone, the GT business phone, his credit card or just call from the factory where he was.  He assured me I would be reimbursed.

I called him back immediately.  He was trying to figure out how to program a piece of test gear that I used daily yet he thought he knew how to use which was not at all the case.  To complicate matters, the PC he was using had a Chinese keyboard.  Actually, not a big deal as he was not all that adept on computers anyway.

For the next hour or more I was on the line with him.  Every few minutes he would yell at the Chinese folks, ordering them to get this or that or to do one thing or another.  I  heard slur after slur in reference to the factory folks that were right there.  I thought that perhaps the Chinese would drag him off somewhere and do what might have been fair to do to the man.  No such luck.  He came back to GT a few days later.  Future tubes from Shuguang dropped in quality again.

A few weeks later my hard copy phone bill arrived for hundreds of dollars.  Sigrid Pittman (Sigi), the CFO did not want to pay my bill.  She said the charges were way too high.  I told her to check with Aspen and if I was not paid immediately I was heading out the door directly to the labor relations board.  She paid.

The main issue I am trying to get across here is the disrespectful way in which Aspen treated our vendor.  This was not a one time occurrence and in fact this type of behavior was commonplace at Groove Tubes.

Below is a letter that was written over a period six years.  These are my own opinions based on my own observations.  If you have any doubts about the overall content of the situation here all one has to do is contact a prior Groove Tubes employee, perhaps ANY of them.

My time spent at Groove Tubes generally provided something worth documenting many times each week just in case ....

This post seemed like a good vehicle to include portions of one of the versions of this material.  This piece was never proof read or checked for any spelling or grammar errors.  This piece was just one piece of the notes to myself and shared in the past with a limited number of close friends who were directly effected by Aspen and Sigrid Pittman.  Please excuse grammar, spelling and other errors as most of this was written  quickly in the past.

Regarding the incidents below:  I generally made sure that disagreements or arguments were not behind closed doors.  I would do my best to assure that there were multiple witnesses to the events.  The final showdown was on the last day of GT before it was turned over to Fender on August 15, 2008 where Sigrid Pittman had a total melt down in front of the entire compliment of GT personnel.  


Aspen Pittman and Groove Tubes
My personal thoughts and observations over six years

Well folks … August 15, 2008 was my last day at Groove Tubes.  I started writing this many months ago but I felt there was some new material to include.  

I went to work for Groove Tubes in May of 2002.  I had known some of the people there for many years before that time.  

In the almost six years I have been at Groove tubes I have learned quite a bit about GT’s owner, founder and current President Aspen Pittman and his wife and CFO of GT, Sigrid Pittman.

I would like to state here that these are my personal feelings and observations.  If Aspen Pittman takes offense at any of this and does not like my own personal opinions and wants to take legal steps against me then it may be left to the court system in a civil case to look at the evidence and history at GT.  

If one collects the history from virtually any past employee the court may find a preponderance of the evidence weighing strongly against Groove Tubes.  

I have personally witnessed an employee being scolded for going to the bathroom.  

I have personally witnessed employees being yelled at, swore at, belittled, and treated with a lack of respect in many ways over the years.  

There are literally dozens of people that would be able to confirm this and add their own experiences to the roster of items of employee treatment at Groove Tubes.  This is one of many issues to understand.

Hourly employees are not paid when the factory shuts down.  The factory does not observe any of the more common legal holidays.  If UPS does not work and pick up on a given day the factory may shut down.  On that day these hourly employees are not paid at all.  I believe Christmas, if on a workday is one of the few legal paid GT holidays and may be the only one.  I could be wrong here and there may be as many as two paid holidays per year.  

In my own case:  I can supply thousands of time stamped and dated emails supporting GT customers in my role of their sole tech support person that were written seven days a week at all hours of the day and night.  I was paid for four hours each day, five days a week (unpaid on holidays as everybody else even when I worked) as the agreement I made when I hired on at GT.  

I was to work part time so I would be able to attend to my own business.   For the entire time I worked for GT I exceeded my hours of expected work not only outside of the GT office but even in the GT office.  If you look at my timecards which GT has to keep on hand by law, you will see that virtually every single day my four hours were exceeded yet I was only paid for four hours per day.  

In the first three or more years I would have hours logged on the clock from before 7:30am until as late as 3:00pm or even later.  

On a few occasions where I had in excess of 30 hours on the clock when expected to work 20 hours I had some sort of issue arise where I asked if I could come in a few hours later or leave a few hours early.  I was ALWAYS docked for those hours.  

If I had 28 hours on the clock and left 2 hours early I was only paid for 18 hours for the week, those 2 hours being non-paid on 20 hours of work expected.  

The GT time clock is set as to not accumulate time until exactly 7:30am no matter what time you punch your time card.  If you punch in five minutes early there is no issue other than you are not paid.  If you punch in at 7:31am you may receive a lecture, and probably will receive a lecture if this happened more often than one pay period.  

I used to feel sorry for the two dozen or so employees who would stand in line waiting for 7:30 on the clock face as the last few at the end of the line may not have been able to clock in until 7:31am.  You think this is nothing?  One minute on Sigi’s book was grounds for an employee be lectured in front of others as well as being written up.  

I was originally an employee on salary contracted for 20 hours per week.  At one point Sigi convinced Aspen to make me an hourly employee.  As a side note, a person cannot waive their legal rights even if the sign a document doing so as this is not legal.  I have hundreds if not thousands of hours of unpaid work that will show up on the time clock cards.  

As far as Sigi convincing Aspen to do things, this was commonplace.  Virtually any incident between any employee and Sigi would result in Sigi running … literally running or walking at a very brisk pace, in a direct line to Aspen’s office.  She would close the door in most cases but not in all cased and she would start her yelling at him (the door did little to reduce the ongoing dialogue by the entire sales and office staff).  

When Sigi was done yelling, Aspen would then have the employee that had the issue with Sigi come to his office to talk to them as this was a demand of Sigi.  In a few cases of my own, even after Aspen saw that Sigi was wrong I would be asked to apologize to her.  

The reason I was asked to apologize was because Aspen and I were friends and it was easy to ask this of me while impossible for him to ask Sigi, his wife.  There were numerous occasions over the years where on Monday morning Aspen would tell me of a tortured weekend he suffered because Sigi and I had a difference of some kind on Friday.  

There were other occasions where I was commanded, not asked but ordered to apologize to her.  

Typically when Sigi and I had an issue where others had been called in for assistance to make her understand simple accounting issues or business issues and she did not see the logic and continued on her rampage I would just leave the building.  This would upset her even more and she would take it out on Aspen.  

I have been doing my best to avoid harsh or foul language here but there is an expression that anybody that speaks or understands English as the most basic level will understand no matter what their education, race, or religious belief.  Pu&^y Whipped.  If this was in the dictionary there should be a picture of Aspen Pittman.  I apologize for stepping of some line in these last few thoughts but we all make mistakes and writing this was not was not very professional or considerate but I am sure it made the final point on at least one subject.

On the last the last day at GT business I was talking to Steve Good, the General Manager, in the doorway to his office.  Sigi interrupted (as she was always the most important person in her mind) and was upset about one or more of the hundreds of things that were not addressed in time for GT to close down business on the last day.  

I turned to her and said, “Sigi, don’t panic” with a smile, trying to calm her down.  She turned to me, and in front of Steve and at least four other people told me that the reason I never need to panic is because I have never done anything but stand around and I don’t work and I do nothing and I am worthless.  She did not recall that in six years I took what was basically scrap and sold it for over $975,000 over the time I was at GT, ran their website, was their highest level of support and her husband had countless emails which I had copied him on which I answered questions from customers and others seven days a week in the late afternoons, evenings, and weekends.  She did not take into account that I had been asked to build and answer all questions to the GT Myspace webpage (which was also outside of my duties).  

Somebody once said in a book that Aspen Pittman was something of a cross between P.T. Barnum and Billy Graham the evangelist.  This is an observation that I can see.  P.T. Barnum was a showman and Aspen himself puts on a great act.  Billy Graham is a religious figure and Aspen Pittman touts himself as a Christian.  From my experience, Aspen does not treat other people in a Christian manner but perhaps I do not actually understand what a true Christian manner may be.  I have little religious education or formal training.  Perhaps I should say that Aspen does not treat people nicely in general as one human being should treat another rather than call religion into the picture.

Stepping away from religious education it is notable to mention that Aspen Pittman has no formal education.  Every product that GT has developed may have started as a brief idea in Aspen’s mind but it was the work and sweat of others who brought the product to life.  Technically, Aspen is really little more than a parrot who will repeat what he has heard whether it is right or wrong.  If he is wrong he will blame others more often than not.  I personally cannot think of a single instance where Aspen has admitted something was his fault but I am sure that things cannot be this absolute and I may have missed something.

Aspen is a big Bush fan and feels our presence in the mid east is correct.  Aspen was never in military service.  He has no idea what it is like when a life is lost and how it impacts those left behind who were related to the lost service person.  

There is a wall at GT where Aspen hung framed WWII medals.  The medals are from somebody in his family.  His relative was a PFC and the only medals were ones that were given out to everybody as a matter of course who served in WWII.  

I once had a bit of a discussion on the point of military service and his lack of expertise when it came to understanding what a person in the service experiences.  My short email was replied to in typical Aspen fashion.  I was wrong, he was right and how could I waste time on emails such as this.  The email from me was written on my own time by the way.  What I thought was his final reply was simply that he didn’t have anymore time for my nonsense.  That was followed by three pages of his banter.  I did not reply but I did laugh the next morning at the framed medals outside his office door which he did not earn.

I have to give credit to Aspen for some things.  In 1979 when he founded GT people were not generally aware of the importance of matched tubes in the output stage of music amplifiers.  Aspen brought the importance of this to the public eye and was one of the first people to offer matched tubes.  Back in the late seventies and early eighties GT was one of the few companies matching tubes.  

Today there are many companies that understand the benefit of matched tubes and offer matched sets as standard products at substantially reduced cost to the consumer.  How come GT is so much more pricy than other tube vendors you may ask?  The reason is quite simple.  GT uses a system that was developed in 1979 or so that rates tubes on their distortion rating principle.  This method subjects a given tube under test to conventional voltages and its output is displayed on a scale that has a range of 200 or more points.  This range is broken down into ten more manageable rating numbers, 1 through 10.  A number rating 1 being a tube that will distort earlier and a #10 rating will be the tube that will distort the latest.  If one takes a tube of a #5 or #6 GT rating, which is in the middle of the rating scale one finds it falls right into standard tube design spec for a given tube type.  To be accurate from my point of view, there is little reason to use a tube with anything other than a middle rating.  

Middle ratings are tubes that meet design spec.  Middle spec ratings are what the amp makers expect a tube should do.  Mesa Boogie is a believer in this and they have six color codes that all fall within proper spec ratings and their amplifiers do not have or need an adjustable bias to compensate for tubes that fall outside of spec.

In any case, rather than toss out the weak tubes or the overly strong tubes that would run hotter in most amps without a rebias, GT gives them rating numbers and a purpose in life via Aspen’s P.T. Barnum flair for the dramatic.   In essence, tubes with low or high numbers have a problem.  It may be a slipped grid wire or other things but in all cases they are tubes that did not meet design spec and are just a problem waiting to happen.  As an example, Aspen states that 8-10 rating are great for amps that want high clean headroom; bass amps and hifi amps.  I can supply names and contact info of high end audio folks that had many problems with high ratings and their problems were resolved when they did nothing more than go to a tube that had a plate current that was within design spec.

The GT method of test is very time consuming and therefore costly from a labor standpoint.  This is one reason for the high cost of GT output tubes.  Back in the early eighties this was one of the only methods.  Today there are great test devices made by folks like Maxi-Matcher that do the same matching job in a fraction of the time.  What I am saying here is pretty simple if you did not grasp it:  You can get the same product at the same quality at less cost from other vendors.  Well … not exactly.  To take things one step further, if a given vendor gives you a matched set of tubes within 1mA of each other you may find this is an even better match than the spread of the GT matched tubes, at a lower cost to the consumer.  

If somebody has a concern about where to get tubes that will do the same thing as GT tubes did for them in a specific rating I already have vendors and suppliers that can supply tubes with the same specs and performance at a greatly reduced cost, generally around 50% less cost to the amp builder as well as the end consumer.  During my six plus years as their Tech Support, webmaster, internet sales person and head of the Special Applications Group I did my own testing on tubes for amplifier companies and customers who became personal friends.

When Aspen sold GT to Fender in June of 2008, to me it was like a sale of outdated Boeing 707s and DC8s with gas guzzling engines, “steam” cockpits, primitive avionics, and a four man flight crew requirement being sold to some unknowledgeable party in a day of FADEC controlled engines and glass panel cockpits.  Keeping that old tube test gear was a challenge for the guy that built it and now that he is also GT history only time will tell if Fender will be able to expensively match tubes where the end result is the end user NOT knowing the plate current and the time required to do the matching is ten times more than somebody who needs little if any training using a modern piece of gear … yes … that Boeing 707 versus the current Airbus or Boeing 777 example rears it’s head again as a great example!    

Preamp tubes?  People that know me or who have worked with me know this is my specialty and forte.  Tubes for my personal clients are measured for Transconductance, plate current output, plate resistance and true / actual gain.  I can take a dozen tubes out of GT tested Gold Series Premium stock and have just as much of a spread in quality as I will find from any other vendor.  No better or worse with spec spreads that can easily range 50% away from design spec.  Preamp tubes are a crap shoot no matter where you get them.   If you can’t fathom this I will offer this challenge to anybody:  Go out and buy any three GT Gold Series preamp tubes of the SAME KIND … such as 12AX7R2, ECC83S or whatever.  Bring them to me and I will test them with you watching over my shoulder.  If you have three 12AX7M tubes that test will be even more interesting as they are the most inconsistent tube produced today by a very wide margin.

In regard to Aspen's "Silver Series" ... don't even get me started.  They were a way to sell substandard or rejected tubes and were not matched in any way at all which was nothing short of thoughtless to the user of output tubes which had many problems.

My personal opinion is that Aspen Pittman is an evil person.  Evil?  Yes.  He touts being a Christian but if you talk to ANYBODY that worked at GT and ask them for their story on how he treats people you may find some other details.  You can also ask people about his people skills, management skills and you might ask even others that never worked for GT about his business practices (Tom McNeil at Ruby Tubes / Magic Parts is one of many that can shed light in this area).  

My feelings are based on six plus years of seeing Aspen treat people badly.  Aspen scolds people and talks down to them.   

You might see if Steve Good, the General Manager at GT for the last five plus years has something to say.  Steve was promised that in five years he would be running GT and Aspen would retire.  In the time Steve ran GT he grew the company to over two times its value and income which exceeded the agreement between Aspen and Steve.  Basically Aspen, (who identifies himself as an honest Christian), lied to Steve and went back on his word and agreement.

As much as you may find if you look to dig below the surface of Aspen, his wife Sigi (Sigrid Pittman) makes Aspen look tame.  I realize I have written about Sigi earlier in this bit of writing but other observations come to mind that are interesting.  These also tie into the final day at GT.  

If a single mother needed to come in an hour late due to her child having an emergency Aspen’s wife Sigrid Pittman might just lecture the employee on their return to work telling the mother that a child is not GT’s problem and if a child is going to impact their performance (even if this happened only a single time to an otherwise “perfect” employee) they should seek employment elsewhere.  

Sigrid Pittman was the CFO of Groove Tubes.  One example which was ongoing was when there was an issue between Sigi and myself regarding Pay Pal which GT uses for their Ebay business.  Money had come into the account but before it could be transferred to the bank Aspen purchased something on ebay and this was paid for out of the Pal Pal account without first transferring the paypal balance to the bank to keep the accounting straight.  Even with the simple audit trail of “$100 in - $50 spent – only $50 left to transfer” Sigi balked and requested detailed information from me.  I gave her the Pay Pal audit trail but she could not comprehend it.  (If this is hard to believe I have multiple witnesses).  Sigi became upset with me and started yelling at me so I left the building for the day.  The next day I was commanded, yes, commanded by Aspen to go in and apologize to his wife.  This is also a common GT activity.  At GT the employee is never right.   

On August 15, 2008 at 11:30pm there was a group photo taken of the final employees.   Aspen asked his wife Sigi to sit in the center front row for the photo.  She has been sitting off to one extreme side of the front row and I was at the rear on the other side.  Sigi told Aspen, by yelling to him across the street where the camera was, that she would not move her seat because that would be closer to me and she then went on a diatribe for a while on how much she hated me and continued on with her antics (remember … this is the CFO of a multi million dollar company who just totally lost it in front of everybody) … and Aspen could do little more than stand there dumfounded hoping she would just stop.  If he would have said anything it would have just called even more attention to her.  Upon going into the building after the photo the employees chanted with raised hands …. Myles … Myles … as in that prison movie where the chant was Attica … Attica.  Everybody had just had enough of her over the years and this was a final straw for the employees who could not remain passive any longer.

If there is a lawyer reading this I would say this would be one heck of a slam dunk case compared to most any case of this type you have ever had.  I shy away from using what I call “absolutes” such as always or never but the treatment of employees at GT from the management / owner level is as close to absolute as things get.  The main workload for the lawyer would be to have a low level office worker do little more than subpoena employee names and contacts and contact each one.  Yes, each and every employee past or present.  Just start alphabetically at the top of the list and work your way down.  I would be surprised if you could find a single employee that did not have a number of stories to tell.  Keep in mind that in June the sale of most GT assets and the GT name was sold to Fender.  I do not know the amount but many have said it is millions of dollars.  GT as a company or Fender as a company never hurt anybody.  This was solely done by Aspen Pittman and Sigrid Pittman and there are now some deep pockets there which do not even include a vintage car collection and property.

If Sigrid Pittman were a combat pilot her aircraft would be marked aces high if the count criteria were the amount of employees she has caused to break down and cry.  

If there is a family emergency call that comes into work Sigrid Pittman and Aspen Pittman may talk to them about “doing family business in the workplace”.  These “talks” at times are in front of other employees which is unprofessional on one hand but at least there are a half a dozen witnesses to these all too common events.  

Day to day common consideration of the feelings of others has no place in the Groove Tubes work environment and this is illustrated on a daily basis.  You want to stand up for a moment and stretch?  Don’t make a sound or you will get a lecture about “bodily noises” in the workplace.  I have been scolded by Sigrid for yawning, stretching, or just letting out a sigh when a difficult task had been completed.  There are multiple witnesses to these instances and there are dozens of these instances.  

Sigrid becomes so upset at so many things that nobody would even be able to notice if they were looking hard that she is thought of as something of a joke by most if not all GT employees over all the years she was the company CFO or had anything to do with the company.

To move on to another issue that comes to my mind.   Aspen takes credit for the work of others most of the time.  Yes, he did give me a little credit for the year of work I put into The Tube Amp Book but in five years that may be the only credit I have been given over the years.  I am sure one could find dozens of people at other companies now who developed things at GT where their work, concept or idea was prior to their employment at GT where they were given no credit and GT received the credit and financial gain.  In my own case, the products kits such as the Marshall High Gain kit and Fender kits were my product for my clients long before I came to GT.  If Aspen wants to argue these points perhaps a courtroom in a class action suit would be the proper venue.  Perhaps one partner in a law office could take the personal damage suits and labor relations issues and another partner could take the business issues as there are stories there as well.

My intent here is to let people know a little more about Aspen Pittman and Groove Tubes while they also become more informed as to current testing methods, other vendor thoughts, and want tubes that sound great while having more choices at less expense.  The quality will be equal to or greater than the quality of GT products based on my measurements, testing and comparison over the last years at GT.  With the more modern test equipment available today you may find a better match within one milliamp from other vendors rather than a broad 10 point rating match on the GT scale.  Higher accuracy which is done faster on modern equipment is what other vendors offer while costing the consumer less.  During my time at GT and prior to GT I tested not only GT products but also the offerings of many competitors.  If you have looked at my own personal website you know I have always had an extensive list of great vacuum tube vendors.

My intension is to educate people.  GT was in the forefront of tube design, testing and sales in its heyday a few decades ago.  Today they are nothing more than a common reseller with the exception of a handful of tubes which are made in other factories.  If you are an amp maker, amp user, retail store or just a hobbyist that needs tubes in large or small quantities drop me a note and I will give you a number of options.  I can provide you with multiple options and contacts.

I have been working since I was eight years old.  I have never seen any employer treat their workers so badly.  

In my original draft of this long before the sale of GT to Fender I wrote this:  GT is behind the times by at least a decade in their testing methods, pricing, and use of tools such as the Internet.  It is time for them to regroup or just close the doors.  The employees that would need to find work elsewhere would be happier in the end at virtually any other place of work from my personal point of view and probably the point of view of any employee which has left GT.  

Why did I stick around?  To try to help Steve Good, the general manager and a terrific fellow make a change.  I stayed to stand up for many people who were concerned or worried about their jobs who could not stand up for themselves as they were concerned about loosing their job.  I stayed to document the truth on items such as the 12AX7M Mullard reissue from GT which has gone through more than a dozen re-tooling changes and as of November 2007 was still the least consistent 12AX7 with the lowest gain of any 12AX7 tube made today by anybody.  

If you would like your own GT / Groove Tubes experience added to this piece of writing which may become a growing document please send me what you have to say and I will be happy to include your thoughts.  I would ask for things that can be verified if necessary if they are not your own personal observations or experience.

7/15/13 Update.  Here is something I posted on facebook a day or two ago.  I remembered this incident and it seems to fit well in this piece:

I wonder if Rick Benson or Patrick from Mercury Magnetics remembers the day back in 2006 when the fire department came to Groove Tubes to perform their inspection on the building. 

Five firemen in the lobby / reception / sales area. Sigi Pittman comes out of her office with her typical expression. Sigi asks "what do you want". That got my attention. Not "can I help you?" but "what do you want?"

The fireman explains it is time for building inspection and fire extinguisher checks. He asks, "how many people work here"? Her response .... Less than half.

To me that summed her up 110%.  That is how she felt about all employees. She felt she and Aspen worked, Steve Good was a necessary evil and everybody else was just an annoyance that she had to pay.

Myles S. Rose

The end for the moment ....

8 comments:

  1. The way your comments started out, I thought you might suggest another place to put the tubes. Ouch.

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  2. Just trying to warn others about this sort of nonsense.

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  3. Deeeeeeuuuuummmmm. Myles, you KNOW I respect you, and believe EVERY word you say. NEVER had a clue about ANY of this. Thx so much for the insight!!

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  4. Hallo...do You know about some set for replace SAG-MHG kit another than GT SAG-kit...???...because...I cant buy it here in Europe and when I read this I dont want buy it at all...thanx a lot...bey milos...

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  5. Hi,
    I've been trolling the net for over a year trying to find out a little more about a STPG-1 that picked up.
    My amp has a chrome top chassis that has a silkscreened a partial block diagram of an amp and also the tubes sockets are labeled incorrectly including, a rectifier tube socket and the 6V6 sockets labeled as 6QB5 sockets. I was wondering if this amp could be a prototype or if things like this left the factory routinely.

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    1. I never saw a mis-screened example. My own STP-G was one of the originals that was later modded and the top boost was added. I never saw an EL84 version (6BQ5). Some folks liked to rebias and put EL34 tubes in the 6V6 slots. You may have some sort of prototype that was sold at one of Aspen's parking lot sales. If there is a serial number it may look a bit odd or may be missing completely.

      Things like this never left the factory occasionally let alone routinely. GT was pretty good at serial numbering things and things like this would have been a prototype or experiment.

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  6. Hey Myles, do you know the production numbers of the GT CL1s tube comp? I am researching one of these for a possible buy and I am finding info a tad lean out there. Any info you can share would be appreciated.

    Scott

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  7. Scott,

    I never knew much about the production runs of the CL1 as by the time I was at GT they were no longer produced. Your best bet would probably be to contact Aspen Pittman directly. You can find his contact info at http://www.aspenandassoc.com

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