By Sarah Broughton. Guitar Electric. Published at Friday, August 31st, 2018 - 06:06:49 AM.
Here are some suggested combinations of strings pickups amplifiers speakers that I think work well: Roundwound Strings Humbucker Pickups Tube Amp. (6l6 tubes) 15" JBL Speaker (clean sound). Rollerwound Strings Single Coil Pickups Tube Amp. (6l6 tubes) 10" Jensen Speakers (blues tone). Roundwound Strings Humbucker Pickups Tube Amp (el34 tubes) 12" Celestion Speakers (distorted rock and roll sound). Flatwound Strings Humbucker Pickups Solid State Amp. Eminence Woofer (jazz tone).
Keep in mind the market for vacum tubes is constantly changing. It used to be that the JJ ECC83's and SED "Winged C" 6l6's were the best tubes available. But then Sovtek was bought out by New Sensor and started working with Electro Harmonix to develop new tube designs. Chinese tubes were notoriously cheap, but then Tube Amp Doctor and Groove Tubes started working with them to develop some top quality glass. It also used to be that you needed to get tubes from a reseller who tested them thoroughly because they were notoriously unreliable from the factory. But now Sovtek, for example, seems to be testing their own tubes more and selling the good ones under brand names like "Tung Sol" or "Mullard." The other thing the tube manufacturers are doing now is selling "gold pin" versions of their tubes (often for twice the price of the regular versions). I think it's worth it to buy the brand name versions, especially if you are buying direct from the manufacturer, but I don't think the gold pins are worth twice the price.
Electric Guitar Tone: Speakers. There are basically three types of vintage speakers: Jensen speakers, JBL and Electrovoice drivers, and Celestion speakers. Jensen Speakers, alnico Jensen speakers came standard in Fender tweed amplifiers in the 50's, including the famous Tweed Bassman, which had four (4) Jensen P10R speakers (Jensen labeled alnico speakers with a "P" and ceramic speakers with a "C"; the "10" refers to the speaker size (10") and "R" means the speaker is low powered, while "N" would refer to a higher powered speaker). Ceramic Jensen speakers are sometimes associated with the later Fender tolex years, but the alnico speakers were included in those amps too. If you have ever heard anyone talk of an "American" sounding speaker, it's probably the tone of Fender (i.e. the tone of Jensen speakers in an amp powered by 6l6 or 6v6 tubes) that they are referring to. Jensens are generally bright sounding speakers (they have smaller voice coils and resonance frequencies around 100 Hz), and they have a very clear tone with great sensitivity. As a result, they work especially well with single coil pickups, like those found in a Fender Stratocaster. The original Jensen speakers were made in the United States, but the current re-issues that Fender is putting in its vintage reissue amplifiers now are made in Italy. Excellent Jensen clones are also made by Weber and Eminence. The Webers are called the "Vintage Series" and the Eminence speakers include the 10" alnico Legend 102, as well as the higher powered "Patriot Series" speakers. To my ear, the Italian reissues sound good at low volume, but the Webers sound better at full volume, and they handle overdrive better as well.
This effect is very sharp, with a distinct on-off sound. It is very different than trying to turn the volume knob quickly. You just won't get this effect that way. You need the help of the switch to get that sharp cut in and out of the sound. Eddie Van Halen was always cutting up and customizing guitars in the early Van Halen days (when this track was recorded). It's likely that he had only one pickup active at all: the bridge pickup. At the tail end of the guitar trick (at 1:42-1:43), he's switching the sound out very quickly. My guess is that he wired the "three way" pickup switch to be two-way. So he only had to flick the switch up one level rather than two to get the sound to completely cut out.
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