Installing a blend control
I have recently purchased a Fender Aerodyne Jazz from a friend with the intention of using it as my first real customised bass. I'll be stripping it and refinishing it (I have a friend who builds guitars from scratch so I will be getting some assistance with this part).
However, when I reassemble it I want to change it from the standard, volume/volume/tone setup to a volume/blend/tone situation.
Since I'm new to this, I'm not sure exactly what I'll need. I noticed that the blend control is not the same as the volume/tone pots (obviously). What is the volume control pictured called and can I just pick one up at a local electronics store?
The blend control pot is called just that, a blend potentiometer. It has six lugs instead of three like a regular volume or tone pot, because a blend pot is effectively two volume pots stacked on top of each other, with one layer changing in the opposite direction.
What you will need is a pot that has a 500k value, which is standard for a blend pot, and an M/N taper. The M/N taper describes the behavior of the pot as you turn it from left to right - in this case, if you're sliding from full left to the center, pickup number 1 stays fully on while pickup number 2 gradually (and linearly) goes from off to on. At the center detent, both pickups are fully on. Then as you move from center to full right, pickup number 1 goes linearly from on to off while pickup number 2 stays fully on. If you see a 500k A/C pot for sale, I wouldn't advise buying it as it doesn't behave as smoothly.
Another two things you should check - make sure you get a pot that has a similar width as your existing volume pot so it can fit into the same spot (it will be higher, but that's no concern in most cases) and make sure it has the same type of shaft as your volume pot, so you don't have to buy a different knob.
Excellent, thanks so much for your help. Had a look around and found this from fender, I assume this is the pot that I would need:
would this work?
I was thinking of doing the same thing with my J, but rewiring the whole thing just to learn about soldering and how my bass works.
I found this wiring kit online. Would this work?
It says it's only a 250k pot, but describes the center position as both pups being full on.
I don't know of Fender sticks to the terminology. Your best bet is to check out webshops for what I usually call the ABCs - Alpha, Bourns or CTS pots that are 500K M/N blends. Fender has been known to use CTSes in particular, but if you buy from webshops that sell electronics or your local electronic store you're likely to get decent pots for a lower price.
There's also the issue of the Orange Drop capacitor that is "known for tone" because that's a common marketing ploy that has been around shops for ages. A capacitor is a capacitor is a capacitor, any ceramic or film/foil capacitor with the same value will work just fine. Orange Drops aren't manufactured to any higher degree of quality than most of the available capacitors. The only reason to buy an Orange Drop capacitor is if you can find one for the same price any other cap (and those cost as little as $0.13).
I have an old '68 Gibson EB0 that I bought in 1974. Someone had installed a Jazz bass pickup at the bridge and a 3-way toggle switch. In the switch's center position the J-bass pup came through more than the mudbucker, which I thought was odd considering the higher output of the mudbucker. I think the mudbucker is working properly.
Just yesterday I had my luthier install a Bourne 500K M/N blend pot. Now, in the center detent position it sounds exactly like it did with the old 3-way switch centered, but the only differences in tone adjustment I can detect occur just a few degrees off the center position. I have a temporary 1-10 volume knob on the Bourne. The center detent is set for "5". Not any detectible difference in tone beyond the "4" to "6" positions in either direction.
Does this sound normal? The blend pot is better than the 3-way switch but it seems really sensitive to very slight rotation of the knob. I think my luthier installed the pot correctly but I was expecting a more gradual blend than what I'm getting.
OK, a few things here:
+1 on being sure you get "M/N" and not "A/C". i think fender's blends usually are M/N, even though they're the company that also called their amp tremolo "vibrato" :p
while you're at it, search for blend pot posts here, you'll get lots of stuff; specifically, search "ungrounded blend" or "unloaded blend" for a cool TB trick that ensures zero tone loss and a smoother sweep from a 250k M/N pot; leaving the grounds unconnected.
finally, if that SG bass sounds like you're only hearing the bridge J pickup in the middle setting, as in it sounds thin and twangy, and the sound really jumps when you roll off of dead-center, check that the pickups aren't "out of phase" with each other.
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