By Helene Brinson. Guitar Electric. Published at Friday, August 31st, 2018 - 13:25:55 PM.
It's all about the combination and the way the components work together. If you put flatwounds on a Gibson and plug in to a Polytone, you'll see why so many jazzers love those amps. But if you try the same amp with a Stratocaster and a set of roundwounds, you'll wonder why anyone would ever buy a Polytone. An amp that sounds good with one guitar may sound terrible with another guitar. And the reason may have nothing to do with the amp. The pickups and strings on the guitar may just not be a good match for the components of the amp.
Three (3) of the five tube types have a short, fat plate structure where the two plates are so close together you can't see the space in between them. The other two (2) tubes are made more like the way the RCA 12ax7's and Mullard ECC83's were constructed in the 60's. They have two thin plates that are separated, so you can see the space between them, and the plates have a ribbed imprint on them that looks like a ladder.
Keep in mind though the nickel is only on the wound strings. The thinner, higher pitch strings are all steel. Also, with the wound strings, it's not just the nickel content that determines the tone, it's also the shape of the windings. Roundwound strings are brighter, but flatwound strings have much more bass response, and so- called "rollerwound" strings, like GHS popular "Nickel Rockers," have a tone that is somewhere in between the two (i.e. they sound darker than roundwounds).
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.
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