By Anastasia Mace. Guitar Electric. Published at Friday, August 31st, 2018 - 09:06:33 AM.
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.
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.
Here's how you can get this effect: Set the neck pickup volume knob all the way down to zero. Set the bridge pickup volume knob all the way to maximum. Keep all tone controls on maximum. Then you do the following: Set your pickup selector switch to Treble (the bridge position). Play a note or a chord and let it ring out. While it's ringing out, flick the pickup selector switch back and forth between Rhythm and Treble. You will hear the sound cut in and out crisply. This is because when you switch to the Rhythm pickup, there is "no sound there" because its volume knob is all the way down to zero. When you switch the pickup switch back to Treble, the sound instantly goes back to full volume.
You can spend all the money in the world on the best guitar and amp, but you won't get the best of your gear if you use a poor quality guitar lead. The same too if you use cheap patch cables. The low quality cables lead to signal loss and interference which makes for poor tone. I am going to tell you how by simply changing to better cables you can improve your tone.
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