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Tone Control only works when volumes on full

Discussion in 'Technical Side of Things' started by Mapleleaf, Apr 3, 2016.

  1. Mapleleaf

    Mapleleaf Electromatic

    27
    Dec 20, 2013
    Ontario
    I have a gretsch electromatic 5120.

    When I put the master and bridge and neck volumes on full, the tone control works flawlessly.

    As soon as I turn any one of them down, the tone stops working as tone and starts working more like a volume control.

    Any ideas as to what might be wrong? I replaced the tone cap, but the problem is the same.
     
  2. wildeman

    wildeman Friend of Fred

    May 10, 2015
    norcal
    Unfortunately they didn't use the best pots in the 5120, not sure about your problem but theres not much else to change. My 5120 has a bum volume pot, it only works half way and wont turn the vol. off.
     
    T simmons likes this.
  3. T simmons

    T simmons Friend of Fred

    Age:
    56
    Jun 5, 2013
    California
    Electronics are not the greatest on the 5120,They usually need a complete upgrade.
     
  4. Mapleleaf

    Mapleleaf Electromatic

    27
    Dec 20, 2013
    Ontario
    The thing i find confusing is that the tone control works fine if the volumes are all turned up. Absolutely no issues. However as soon as I turn any one of the volumes down, by tone control starts acting as more of a volume.

    The fact that it works when on full volume, makes me think it's not the tone pot itself. Am I missing something?
     
  5. Mapleleaf

    Mapleleaf Electromatic

    27
    Dec 20, 2013
    Ontario
    I'm thinking of swapping the tone cap from the 0.47 to a .22 or whatever the numbers are.

    Upon further inspection the tone does still work when volumes are lowered it just significantly reduces the volume as well as the tone. Hoping the 0.22 will make it less so. Anyone agree or disagree?
     
  6. j.s.c

    j.s.c Country Gent

    Aug 19, 2008
    france
    What your described seems strange to me. Tone should be tone even if it's interact in differents ways with both individual and master vol.

    In the normal world, it depends if the tone control is before or after the master vol in the circuit !
    For instance with traditional Gretsch circuit you have a tone pot + 3 vols : the tone action will depend from the volume pot you play with... If you roll off some tone then :
    1/ lower the individual vol (which is before the tone pot), will smooth the tone cut => brighten your sound by lowering volume
    2/ lower the master vol, will increase the tone cut => darken your sound very quick with a lower volume too!

    This is a bit complex but allows a lot of mixed sounds which is great.
     
  7. Mapleleaf

    Mapleleaf Electromatic

    27
    Dec 20, 2013
    Ontario
    Thanks for the additional thoughts.

    Upon further review I think my tone control is always working. It's just that it works as much or more as a volume as it does a tone. Ie. Turning the tone down does make it darker but also significantly reduces the volume.

    I'm starting to wonder if his is just standard gretsch fare for guitars with the multiple volume knobs.

    Anyway maybe I'll try and do a video recording this weekend to demonstrate. I'll be curious to see what others think.

    Thanks for your thoughts this far.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2016
  8. emitex

    emitex Gretschie

    465
    Aug 21, 2014
    NYC
    Don't know if this will help, but I put a .022 in my 5120 last year and posted the results up on YouTube. I plan to update the video when I get a chance as I don't think it's as helpful as it should be. But here it is anyway.
     
  9. Mapleleaf

    Mapleleaf Electromatic

    27
    Dec 20, 2013
    Ontario
    That video was actually very helpful in setting my expectations. It would appear to me that you also have some significant volume change with tone change.

    Can you comment on how the change in tone cap affected things. Ie did it make the volume change less dramatic or give you a little more tone precision? Any other benefits? Just trying to decide if I'd be wise to do the same thing.
     
  10. stevo

    stevo Country Gent

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    This could be a treble issue. Do you have treble bleed circuits on your volume pots? Try that before anything else.

    All these tone pots do is lower treble. So if your treble is already depleted somewhat, then what little is being attenuated with your tone knob is being perceived as volume drop.
     
  11. Mapleleaf

    Mapleleaf Electromatic

    27
    Dec 20, 2013
    Ontario
    That sounds reasonable. The guitar definitely isn't over trebly but then again I'm used to playing a telecaster.

    I'm pretty sure I don't have treble bleeds as the volume pots are stock. Sounds like s good place to start.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  12. stevo

    stevo Country Gent

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    The tone cap is also a good place to start and perhaps easier as a first step. Always do the easy first. It's not out of the question that your tone cap is significantly out of spec and therefore darkening your tone too much. Keep in mind, all passive tone controls will reduce volume. This is what they do - they chop off the high part of your sound. If that cap has too high of a value, it will cut off way too much - more than just highs. And you will perceive that as a significant volume drop.

    But also, you could be looking at a pot that is way out of spec as well and that can seriously mess with your volume even though it's a tone pot. Treble bleeds will help counteract that, but if the pots are already far out of spec, you'll only be covering up the real issue.

    So if you're going in there to change the tone cap, you'll be pulling the tone pot as well. Might as well replace both. And if you still think it needs more work, do treble bleeds and replace the volume pots at the same time.
     
  13. Mapleleaf

    Mapleleaf Electromatic

    27
    Dec 20, 2013
    Ontario
    Sounds like some solid advice. I'm going to start with the tone cap. Hopefully I can get at I through the f hole to keep things easy.

    I'll report back my findings but looking at my schedule it will probably be a couple weeks.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  14. Hammerhands

    Hammerhands Country Gent

    Aug 26, 2011
    Winnipeg
    Maybe it's your hearing?
     
  15. Mapleleaf

    Mapleleaf Electromatic

    27
    Dec 20, 2013
    Ontario
    What did you say? Can you speak up?
     
  16. OldCowHand

    OldCowHand Country Gent

    Sep 24, 2015
    Kent, England.
    Half-past three.
     
    MTurner likes this.
  17. antonspon

    antonspon Newbie

    1
    Jul 17, 2017
    South Africa
    I have the same problem with my Gretsch 5440. It is caused by what is basically a design flaw - the tone control has been placed AFTER the master volume control, not before it: the result is that, except when volume is set on max, the tone circuit loads the output and cuts the volume drastically when the treble is rolled off. The fix is to rewire it so the tone is connected to the top of the master volume pot (i.e. where the wire coming from the selector switch is attached) rather than to the middle (wiper) lug.

    I think the reason Gretsch wired it this way is simply to reduce the amount of cabling needed - the fix requires an additional length of shielded cable running from the master volume (positioned in the treble cutaway) to the tone pot near the output jack. Although that makes sense (you don't really want long cable runs reducing you signal before it even leaves the guitar!), it does render the tone control basically unuseable, as you have discovered. Maybe that's why the tone switch, where fitted, is usually next to the selector switch.

    If you don't use the tone control, the simplest solution is to snip the connection between the tone cap and earth/ground, thus cutting the control out of the circuit: this will also brighten your overall tone slightly.