By Natalie Wallis. Guitar Electric. Published at Friday, August 31st, 2018 - 05:17:18 AM.
The only true small bottle 5881 currently in production is the Tung Sol 5881 reissue that is also made by Sovtek. Like the Sovtek 5881WXT, the Tung Sol has lower output than most 6l6's. But when it comes to tone, there is no comparison. The tone of the Tung Sol is head and shoulders above the 5881WXT. The problem is, unlike the Sovtek, the Tung Sol apparently cannot handle the high voltage of most modern tube amps. As a result, most people looking to upgrade the standard Sovtek 5881WXT will do better with a 6l6 tall bottle or one of the new clear tops. In addition to the Tung Sol, Sovtek also has a premium tall bottle 6l6 called the Sovtek 5881WXT+ (not the 5881WXT, the 588WXT"+", which is a very different animal) and the Electro-Harmonix 6l6EH (near as I can tell, the WXT+ and the 6l6EH are the same). Both the 5881WXT+ and the 6l6EH have longer plates, more volume and a much nicer tone - with more harmonic complexity - than the Sovtek 5881WXT.
Sovtek is the primary OEM supplier of preamp tubes today. Sovtek tubes are made in Russia. As you can see above, they have a spacer below the short, fat plates, a gap between the plates and the second upper spacer, and a "dimple" getter over the top. If you see a tube that looks like this, it's a Sovtek, regardless of the label. Sometimes they are marked as Sovtek 12AX7's but you also see them marked as Groove Tubes 12AX7-R's and Fender 12AX7's. You will also see them marked 12AX7 WA, WB or WC. I'm told the WB version has a little more gain and the WC version is a little quieter. Regardless, these tubes all have an edgy (bright) tone that is popular with Fender amp owners.
Guitar Wiring Explored – Switches Part 1. Now that we’re comfortable with the basic wiring of a guitar, we can look at some of the more popular mods. This article introduces mini toggle switches and pushpull pots, and shows how we can use these to modify a Strat in such a way as to allow use to add the neck pickup to any selection. This expands the number of available pickup combinations to 7. Guitar Wiring Explored – Humbucker Internals. In this article, we take a break from wiring pickups, switches and pots, and get to grips with the internal structure of a humbucker. This allows us to demystify four-conductor cable and understand how we can split coils or wire a humbucker in parallel instead of series.
The second common OEM tube out there is the Chinese Shuguang 12AX7 (Groove Tubes also sells this tube as the 12AX7C; Tube Amp Doctor has also sold this tube as a TAD 7025; and it has also been sold by Mesa Boogie). The Chinese 12ax7's are constructed with short, fat plates, like the Sovteks, but they have an extra spacer above the tubes, a big nickel colored brace connecting the plates, and a "halo" getter on top. Again, if you see a tube made like this, it's a Chinese tube, regardless of whether it has Groove Tubes or Mesa Boogie or TAD written on the glass. These tubes have a warmer tone than the Sovteks and more gain (volume). As a result, they work well in high gain amps.
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