By Alison Shell. Guitar Electric. Published at Friday, August 31st, 2018 - 05:06:38 AM.
Another thing to consider is the wiring harness (i.e. the tone and volume controls, and the pickup selector) inside the guitar. You can swap out cheap pickups to improve the tone of your guitar, but you won't be able to get the most out of the change if you have a cheap, low quality wiring harness connecting the pickups to the output jack. The harness consists of two or four potentiometers, one or two capacitors, a switch and the wiring connecting them all together (and any shielding inside the control cavity or around the wires). The best components are US-made CTS pots, Sprague caps, Switchcraft switches and jacks, etc. The controls reduce volume or treble by introducing resistance and capacitance into the circuit. If the quality isn't there, the tone will be negatively affected even when the controls are turned all the way up; and the pickups may hum more or less depending upon how well the harness is shielded. So if you are replacing your pickups to improve the sound, it usually makes sense to also check the wiring and see if it needs to be upgraded or additional shielding needs to be added. And, last but not least, any effect pedals you use between the guitar and the amplifier will also tend to dominate the final tone. Some pedals are more transparent than others, but obviously if you rely heavily on pedals for the tone you want, then the type of pickups and strings you use will have less of an effect.
Guitarists have a lot of fun toys...stomp boxes, effects racks, the list is endless. However, your tone can suffer if your cables get out of control. This article will give you some quick tips to help you preserve your sound. Let's look at a somewhat elaborate setup, and let's pretend it's a live playing situation. It will help point out some strategies. Suppose your rig looks like this:
The other primary factor in determining the tone of an electric guitar is the strings. Electric guitar strings are made of nickel and steel. The more nickel, the warmer the sound; the more steel, the brighter and louder the strings sound. Also, the thicker the strings the more volume they will produce. That's why some players like to use heavy strings; they have more tone. If you try them and find they are too hard to play, you can always tune down a half step or more to compensate.
JBL and Electro Voice speakers were both made in the United States. The Electro Voice speakers are still available, but the JBL's are no longer being made. Fortunately, Eminence makes a speaker called the "Commonwealth," which is an excellent copy of the JBL e120 (12") and e130 (15") speakers (those are the ceramic magnet versions of the d120 and d130 speakers). Weber also makes a speaker called the "California," that sounds similar to a JBL, and another called the "Michigan," that sounds similar to the Electro Voice. If you want bullet proof reliability at high volume, you cannot go wrong with a JBL or EV speaker. They weigh a ton but they can handle a lot of power. Also, they handle bass sounds well and produce a smooth treble tone that is especially well suited for guitars with humbuckers, like the Gibson Les Paul and Es-335.
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