By Helene Brinson. Guitar Electric. Published at Friday, August 31st, 2018 - 13:56:15 PM.
Recently, the bridge pickup on one of my favorite guitars stopped working. The guitar is a Yamaha semi-hollow body electric guitar in the style of a Gibson 335. Upon visual inspection of the wires through the f-hole, I quickly discovered that a single wire had broken off at the point where it was soldered to the volume pot. Under normal circumstances this would have been a snap to fix, but the difficulty in working on this style of guitar is that the only way to access the wiring is through the f-hole. There is no back access panel that makes it easy to get at the guts of the guitar, like there is on a Les Paul.
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.
As for the copper wire, "overwound" pickups tend to sound louder and have more midrange and bass; pickups with less windings tend to sound softer and brighter. One of the reasons humbuckers sound the way they do is because it takes more wire to wrap the two coils. The thickness of the wiring and the type of insulation that is used are additional factors that affect the sound (e.g. Fender's early Strat pickups had Formvar insulation instead of enamel; insulating them that way gave them a clearer tone). Today most humbuckers are also wax potted so they won't squeal at high gain, but the wax potting hurts the clarity a little too (Gibson's modern Burstbucker pickups and Seymour Duncan's Seth Lovers attempt to reproduce the clearer tone of early humbuckers by eliminating the wax potting).
If you have a guitar with single coil pickups, you can't go wrong with Jensen style speakers. Single coils have an extended treble response and great clarity; and Jensen's are perfect for capturing that tone. If your guitar has humbuckers and you want a smooth, jazzy clean tone or a speaker that has a big bass sound for heavy metal distortion, then JBL or Electrovoice speakers will make you happy. Any of those American speakers will work well with American power tubes, like 6l6 or 6v6's. If you don't like the sound of American speakers, either because the Jensens are too bright or the JBL's and EV's are too bassy, then Celestion likely has a speaker you'll like. Celestions have the best midrange response; the tone of Britain is less "scooped" (i.e. more even in the treble, bass and midrange) than American style speakers. Not surprisingly, British speakers will pair well with British tubes, like El34's or El84's.
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