Relationship volume and tone controls

Discussion in 'Technical Side of Things' started by lectric, Oct 23, 2020.

  1. lectric

    lectric Electromatic

    51
    Apr 7, 2020
    Belgium
    Hi all,

    My situation is as follows, a few months ago I purchased my first electric guitar, a single cut Gibson LP-style model, more specific a Harley Benton SC-550. I had it modded like this: , and as far as I know, the volume controls are linear pots. I don 't have an amp yet, and don't intend to buy one in the very near future. I did however purchase a second hand Boss GT-10, the point is/was to be able to use the GT-10 with headphones.

    Things I noticed:
    • when I have the volume control on e.g. level 2 and the tone control on level 10, I get a sound I would expect. However, when I keep the volume control on level 2 and put the tone control on a lower level, not only does the sound decrease as expected, but also my volume decreases. Even more, when I keep the volume control on level 2 and the tone control on level 0, I no longer have a signal, all is silent...
    • when raising the volume on the guitar, I only get an increase in volume. I would expect that I would not only get an increase in volume, but also a less clean signal, more gain/distortion.
    Regarding the first point, is that normal? Regarding the second point, am I misinformed that gain/distortion should rise when I raise the volume? I was expecting something like this: . Or does this only apply when using a tube amp and not with a solid state amp/multi effects pedal?

    Thanks for the info!


    Lectric
     
  2. lathoto

    lathoto Gretschie

    376
    Apr 23, 2020
    Ohio
    Pick up a used Fender Champ.
     
    michelb and GHook like this.
  3. lectric

    lectric Electromatic

    51
    Apr 7, 2020
    Belgium
    What would that do to my volume decreasing when I lower the tone control? Or not getting a distorted sound when opening up the volume knob?

    In first instance, I'm looking on getting my questions answered and to understand why what is happening, not spending money... I specifically bought a GT-10 to be able to save on buying an amp and having all effects I would need (in the future of course, not right now since I'm still learning).
     
  4. TW4990

    TW4990 Gretschie

    241
    Aug 20, 2016
    Sydney Australia
    Regarding the first point , no that doesn't sound normal.
    Regarding the second point, you haven't really supplied enough info for anybody to answer with any certainty. What sort of preamp settings? What amp simulator settings? Are you talking wide open on the volume control? there are lots of variables. I wouldn't expect that sort of result ( the same as the video) out of a boss unit at headphone level.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
  5. jarrodtaylor

    jarrodtaylor Gretschie

    394
    Mar 14, 2019
    Delray Beach, FL
  6. lathoto

    lathoto Gretschie

    376
    Apr 23, 2020
    Ohio
    1. When you turn down the tone control (roll off high frequencies) your guitar may sound not as loud (especially at lower volumes). Try setting the tone control at 5 and leaving it there for awhile.
    2. When you turn up the volume on your guitar it may or may not distort the signal chain and affect the tone. The Boss GT-10 has settings that digitally distort your guitar. This will not react in the same manner as a preamp tube (eg. Fender Champ).
    3. If you are a beginner, after the initial thrills of having so many effects (distortion, delay, etc.) wear off you may learn to use your hands (vibrato, muting, etc.) to produce desirable tones.
    4. Have fun.
     
  7. lectric

    lectric Electromatic

    51
    Apr 7, 2020
    Belgium
    First of all, thanks for the additional questions, this is all new to me, so I provided what I thought was necessar. Still learning here...

    OK, I feel dumb now... I was playing on with a Boss Clean preamp at that time, so I guess it was normal?

    Nonetheless... I checked again some things now, with 2 different preamp settings, I had a MS 1959 with Gain= 75, Bass 50 and Treble 46, and another one I didn't write the settings down. However, with both I could play clean sounds (with my fingers, not a pick) with the volume up until 7 and the tone all the way down. If I raise the tone to +/- 1,5 or 2, gain kicks in. So it seems that my tone know has way more influence on the gain than the volume know, where as I would expect it to be vice versa. Is this normal? I don't have an amp at this point, didn't check it with headphones, but with my computer's (don't laugh... ;)) Logitech speakers - not ideal either, I know.
     
  8. lectric

    lectric Electromatic

    51
    Apr 7, 2020
    Belgium
    Wired like a '50s Gibson - yes, as far as I know. Thanks for the link, I learned quite a bit on it regarding the CONS. It seems normal to me that a drop in volume shouldn't have an effect on high frequencies. I was told that reducing volume on the SC-550 doesn't have an effect on the high frequencies, so as far as I'm concerned --> 50's wiring.

    Linear pot: yes. I assumed it would have been an audio pot instead, but when I asked - again, this is alll new to me, so I heard about series/parallel/split coil wiring and I wanted a parallel wiring on my guitar. Only afterwards I was aware of the diffences pots (linear and logarythmic), I assumed they would've installed logarthmic pots, but they told me linear pots were installed because those are normally used for volume. The installed pots for volume control are these: https://www.thomann.de/de/allparts_500k_lineartaper_push_pull_pot.htm.

    Are these pots not good in your opinion? How would you have wired the guitar?
     
  9. lectric

    lectric Electromatic

    51
    Apr 7, 2020
    Belgium
    OK, thanks for the tip and explanations! Regarding point 3, I'm actually mostly playing on the acoustic guitar, just to avoid distraction of all the rest. Having fun anyway!
     
  10. jarrodtaylor

    jarrodtaylor Gretschie

    394
    Mar 14, 2019
    Delray Beach, FL
    Usually audio taper pots tend to sound smoother as you roll them off. You don’t hear volume changes linearly. Some Les Pauls come with linear pots because they’re easier to blend pickups with, though I’ve never personally found that to be the case.

    Do you use the push/pull?

    I kinda like 50’s wiring, but I’m a big Jimmy Page fan. If it were me, I’d get some Emerson Pro CTS pots, 500k with long shafts to fit a Les Paul, for both volumes and both tones. And I’d get some .022 caps. While I was in there I’d also get a Switchcraft pickup selector and input jack and some 22 gauge shielded wire. I’d wire it with the 50’s wiring scheme first and if I didn’t like that I’d switch it to modern since the change is as simple and moving the tone cap over to the next lug on the pot.

    Since it’s your first electric guitar and if you’re interested in how this stuff works then you may as well put some good electronics in and see firsthand how much of a difference it can make. Plus it’s not that expensive of an upgrade. Then if you want to play with other stuff later, like pickups and bridge, you’ll already have a good starting point.
     
  11. lectric

    lectric Electromatic

    51
    Apr 7, 2020
    Belgium
    What do you mean by "blending pickups with"?

    Currently I don't really use the push/pull, I'm still learning guitar so primarily focussing on playing rather than on sound - I even play the acoustic guitar most of the time, it's more within reach (literally). I finished a first book some time ago, and mostly playing fingerstyle currently, hence the acoustic (not a classic one BTW). What would be the reason for the .22 cap? To keep the high frequencies when rolling of the volume?

    Thanks!
     
  12. GHook

    GHook Gretschie

    132
    Sep 3, 2010
    wnc
    I have done a lot of DI home recording. It's great to want to understand how your guitars electronics work but to hear what you have learned will require an old fashioned amp. Digital listening just can't duplicate "pushing air". By the way, great looking LP.
     
  13. sgarnett

    sgarnett Synchromatic

    513
    Apr 14, 2020
    Kentucky
    Btw, linear and audio pots sound exactly the same. Assuming they are the same value on 10, the only difference is how much you have to turn the knob to get a certain change in the sound.

    Passive controls are inherently interactive, and that’s ignoring amp response and your hearing (both non-linear). Unless you have a guitar with active electronics, the volume knob will always affect tone, and vice-versa.

    Sometimes we play with that to good effect. Some people like the tone to get thicker and bluesier as the volume is turned down slightly. Others like it to get brighter and (on a hollow body) more acoustic-sounding. I use this on my 6120 Smoke. On the neck pickup, turning the master volume down a bit is great for playing an “acoustic” song without changing guitars. Not exactly of course, but usable.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
  14. jarrodtaylor

    jarrodtaylor Gretschie

    394
    Mar 14, 2019
    Delray Beach, FL
    Pickup selector in the middle so both pickups are on, then adjust the volumes so you get different amounts of each pickup.

    Granted most of us here are tone junkies, that’ll make you sound better than any of this electronic voodoo any day of the week.

    Tone controls are usually to roll the highs down, actually. The cap value determines which frequencies get rolled off. I tend to like either .015 or .022 for humbuckers, but you may end up liking something else.

    You could also wire a bass cut to focus some of the gain.

    Or if you really want to keep the highs, look into a treble bleed for the volume pot. It’ll roll off some bass frequencies to try and keep it balanced when the highs roll off. Sometimes they work, sometimes not. I don’t like them in combination with 50’s wiring, too much highs.

    50’s wiring keeps your highs when you roll down the volume because it changes the resistance, not because of any specific tone cap value. We can get into the math on that if you want, but the important thing is that it changes how your tone pots and volumes pots interact, not what they do on their own.

    And I’ll second everything @sgarnett said above. Good stuff. I also like coil splitting the neck to get that sound.
     
    sgarnett likes this.
  15. lectric

    lectric Electromatic

    51
    Apr 7, 2020
    Belgium
    By old fashioned you mean a tube amp? Or also solid state?
     
  16. lectric

    lectric Electromatic

    51
    Apr 7, 2020
    Belgium
    The "problem" I have is that my tone controls seem to influence how much gain/distortion I have, where as I would've thought/prefered that that would be influence by the volume know as in the video I showed... So if anyone has an idea why on my guitar the tone knob influences the gain a lot more than the volume knob, I'd be very interested to know.
     
  17. lectric

    lectric Electromatic

    51
    Apr 7, 2020
    Belgium
    OK, I see what you mean by blending... sorry, English isn't my mother tongue...

    Yes, I want to keep the treble, that's why I have the guitar wired in the way it's wired in that first video.
     
  18. michelb

    michelb Gretschie

    Age:
    30
    433
    Mar 27, 2020
    Belgium
    At the risk of repeating what the rest is saying, simulation software isn't representative of what an actual amp sounds like if you don't use proper speakers. Chances are you get a distorted sound with your tone knob, because the speakers can't handle that frequency, same with it sounding quieter, they can't properly play the frequency.

    When playing electric guitar you really need an amp to properly figure out how it works. If you want natural amp overdrive that you can dial in with your guitar volume, you need a tube amp. Or a clean solid state amp with a pedal in front of it that can simulate dynamic tube overdrive.
     
  19. flip

    flip Electromatic

    95
    Jun 22, 2020
    Manchester UK
    In an article in the November issue of UK Guitarist magazine an article on rewiring guitars states '...the way they did it in the 50's instead of linking the tone control from the input of the volume control it's from the output. This affects the high-end less so there's a bit less of that roll-off and the sweep on the tone control is actually slightly nicer, more usable, ' he (Matt Gleeson of Monty's Guitars) adds. The only downside of to this older way of wiring up Les Pauls - if you call it a downside - is that the controls are a bit more interactive with each other. So if you back the tone control off, the volume may change a little bit, depending on the kind of pickups you're using...'

    This isn't entirely what lectric's video was describing though it does refer to the same system of writing.
     
    michelb likes this.
  20. lectric

    lectric Electromatic

    51
    Apr 7, 2020
    Belgium
    OK, that's clear, thanks michelb! Can you give an example of such a pedal? Should my Boss GT 10 should be able to to that? Or do you need an analogue pedal?

    Just out of curiousity... in some amps, the possibility exists to switch between e.g. 0.5, 20 and 50 Watts (Katana). I assume this is so you can have the amp to go into overdrive by e.g. using your guitar volume knob without going very loud on the amp. If one were to buy an e.g. BluGuitar amp, would this mean that you can 't get the BluGuitar go into gain without a high volume, since it's a 100 Watt amp, and that therefore it would not be suitable for home use?

    Edit: Typo
     
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