By Anastasia Mace. Guitar Electric. Published at Friday, August 31st, 2018 - 03:55:15 AM.
Another cheap and easy mod is to shield the control cavity. This helps eliminate noise and interference and is especially useful for dampening the inherent 60 cycle hum of single coils. There are a few ways to do this, such as copper shielding tape or conductive shielding paint. While not necessarily a tone upgrade, the shielding will eliminate a lot of noise if done properly, but is necessary for a single-coil equipped guitar used in conjunction with a lot of overdrive or distortion in the studio.
The third OEM tube is the European JJ ECC83 (ECC83 is the British name for a 12AX7; JJ's are made in the Slovak Republic). They are constructed with short, fat plates and a halo getter, like the Shuguangs, but they have only two spacers and a metal disk above the plates that is connected to the getter. You may see these sold as Groove Tubes ECC83's but the label doesn't matter; they are still JJ ECC83's. As for the sound, they have a more linear tone than the Sovteks or the Shuguangs, and a more prominent midrange. Personally, I think they sound best with Marshall or Vox amps that run EL34 or EL84 power tubes.
6l6 Tubes. 6l6 power tubes not only have different size plates, they also come in different size bottles. There are basically three (3) types. The small bottle "stubbies" modeled after the original Tung Sol 5881, the tall bottles based on the original Sylvania 6l6GC STR, and the clear tops that have the side getter construction of the famous black plate RCA 6l6GC. The most common OEM 6l6 is the Sovtek 5881WXT, which is sort of an anomaly. The Sovtek is a short plate tube in a tall bottle. It's called a 5881 but it's really a 6l6. It can handle high voltages like the other 6l6's but it has the lower output of a 5881. And you will see it branded both ways. Sovtek calls it the 5881WXT but Groove Tubes sells it as a 6l6GC, Fender calls it a 6l6GC, and a Mesa Boogie sells it as a 6l6GC STR. Regardless of the name, the Sovtek is a very reliable, inexpensive tube, but it doesn't have the best tone.
Electronics play a large part in the overall tone of an electric guitar and, as such, are the most commonly upgraded parts on the instrument. Pickups, potentiometers (pots), and tone capacitors (caps) can make a large difference in both tone and noise. If the guitar has mini potentiometers, upgrading for full size premium pots can lead to improved usability and audio quality. This will allow quicker and easier settings for a smoother taper of the volume and tone to achieve the desired sound – a reward worthy of the change.
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