How preamp and power tubes interact with wattage and speaker ratings to yield the glorious tones of yesterday and today.

Famous tube amps from companies like Fender, Marshall, Vox, and others have come to define the sound of virtually all electric-guitar music. To varying degrees, we know that these amps sound different from each other—and we might even know some basic specs, like what kind of tubes different models use, and maybe some details about stock speakers. But it can be hard to understand some of the finer reasons why these amps sound different from each other.

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If you’re lucky, your guitar neck can feel as familiar and comfortable as an old pair of jeans, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Discover the ABCs—make that the CUVs—of this crucial appendage.

Whatever your choice of guitar at the moment, your ability to play it depends on an intimate physical relationship between your fretting hand and your guitar's neck. How picky are you when entering into that relationship? You may be the type of player who demands a guitar neck with very specific details—anything else just isn't right. It's sort of a guitar-playing version of monogamy.

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Confused by terms like alnico, Formvar, and pole pieces? Dive into our primer to discover the history and technology behind the electric guitar’s most essential component.

You learned everything you need to know about guitar pickups in your 5th grade science class. Or at least 90 percent of what you need to know. Reflecting knowledge dating back a hundred years, a pickup’s electromagnetic principles are rudimentary and covered in every grade-school science book. However, the other 10 percent—how to implement those principles and apply them to an electric guitar to make you sound like the musical god or goddess you are—is what legends are made of. Let’s review the first 90 percent; we’ll stick close to the basics and explain how electromagnetic pickups work, in case you were absent from class that day.

To start, pickups are based on two separate but related principles: If you place a coil of wire near a magnet and induce a change in the magnetic field, electricity will be generated in the coil’s windings. Also, if you place a piece of non-magnetized ferrous metal near a magnet—a screw, nail, a paper clip, whatever—it too will become magnetic.

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