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creative tone control ideas - would this work?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Nathanvleugels, May 8, 2018.


  1. Nathanvleugels

    Nathanvleugels

    Jan 24, 2014
    Belgium
    would this wiring diagram work?
    I've bought a bunch of electronic parts and I have a couple of basses to work on. Since I'm new to electronics, love messing around with (preferably very large) tone changes, and have a lot of time, I want to try some cool stuff.
    goal is to learn, have fun, and if at all possible, have some cool stuff to gig or practise with afterwards.

    in case it's not clear or I messed up; supposed to be 3 push pull switches; neck pickup tone bypass, bridge pickup tone bypass, and change from a 0.047cap to a 0.047 combined with a 0.1

    If anyone else has cool ideas I could try, or has done similar things, let me know. 3 push pull switches.jpg
     
  2. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    Scotland.
    I think your diagram is making some assumptions about how those push/pull switches are configured. In my experience those push/pull pots have two banks of three terminals. The middle terminal is the common terminal, and the outer ones are switched between. The two banks of terminals are not connected together, so in effect you have two switches ganged to a single push/pull operation.

    At the moment I don't see how either the .1 uF or .048 uF capacitor is ever brought into the circuit, as the wire from the center lug of the tone pot never seems to be jumped over to the other side of the switch.

    I'm guessing that you want this switch to select between a .047 uF capacitor that is always in the circuit (if the tone control is switched in from the middle push/pull switch), and then a .1 uF capacitor is switched in parallel with the .047 cap to combine their capacitor, for a much darker and more muffled tone when they are both selected?

    Edit: You also need to ground the neck pickup and tone control pots.
     
  3. Nathanvleugels

    Nathanvleugels

    Jan 24, 2014
    Belgium
    I think I know what you mean, would the push pull switches work as I intended if I connected the middle 2 of all of them?
    and yes what you said about the capacitors is exactly what I wanted.
    Not sure what you ment with the grounding, the grey wires were supposed to be the grounds, so the neck and bridge pu both have their grounds going to their volume (they're both single coils) I did indeed forget to ground the tone pot.

    so I think this diagram should be correct now?

    thanks for your help
    3 push pull switches.jpg
     
  4. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    Scotland.
    The switch on the tone pot looks like it would work correctly. However the switch on the middle control now either routes your signal to the tone control or to the output jack. The output jack needs to always be in the circuit, so wiring it to the center lug of the switch would work.
     
    Nathanvleugels and lz4005 like this.
  5. Nathanvleugels

    Nathanvleugels

    Jan 24, 2014
    Belgium
    wow, can't believe I forgot that, I guess it's pretty clear I'm new at this. I also just realized that the tone control is not in the circuit when the bridge tone bypass is active, wich is a problem, since I wanna be able to have the bridge pu without the tone circuit (wich is pretty much the same as 100% right?) and then have the neck pu connected to the tone to set it to 0% or the other way around... I guess it might be better with a 3 way switch between having both pu's connected to the tone, then only the bridge, and then only the neck (no point in having a 4th option with neither)
     
  6. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    You only two push/pulls, since you're only using one pole on each of them:

    series-parallel-wiring-diagram-for-4conductor-humbucker-pickups-4-638-jpg.jpg

    1 = treble cut center lug
    2 = either volume lug 3 + jack tip
    3 = empty (when the switch is down the treble cut will be disengaged)

    2nd push/pull:

    4 = 48 nF cap
    5 = treble cut lug 1
    6 = 100 nF cap

    Bypassing the treble cut for just one pickup won't work, because their signals are combined at the jack.

    pot3.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2018
    ELynx, nbsipics and Axstar like this.
  7. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    Scotland.
    Yeah, in a passive circuit you can’t isolate the tone control per pickup.
     
    ELynx likes this.
  8. Nathanvleugels

    Nathanvleugels

    Jan 24, 2014
    Belgium
    man that's too bad, it seemed like such a cool thing to do, but I'll definately be installing the capacitor switch on at least one of my basses, seems relatively easy and harmless.

    I tried out a couple of basses with one tone for each pickup, like the fender coronado, fender starcaster, warwick starbass... and I just love the sound of a neck pu with the tone all down, combined with the bridge pu tone all up.
     
  9. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    Scotland.
    In that situation all you are hearing is the effect of one tone control in the circuit. If you turned down the bridge pickup tone control the bass would sound darker, as you're bringing another capacitor in parallel with the first. So, say, you have a .022 uF capacitor on each tone control. When you turn down both controls on a Coronado (etc) you are hearing the equivalent of a single tone control with a .044 uF capacitor. If you turned down the bridge tone control, and turned up the neck pickup control, then you would hear the exact same thing, trusting that the same value capacitors were used on each tone control.

    Things might be a bit more involved if you consider the resistance of the pots themselves. This is something I don't fully understand.

    You can isolate passive tone controls if you use an active circuit with buffers for each pickup. Apparently. Your capacitor control does sound good though. You could have it set up so that by default your bass has a single .022 uF capacitor on the tone control, and the switch adds a second .022 uF capacitor in parallel with the first.
     
    ELynx and Killed_by_Death like this.
  10. Nathanvleugels

    Nathanvleugels

    Jan 24, 2014
    Belgium
    Interresting stuff. I don't fully understand a lot of it, but I guess the 3 basses I mentioned are all 3 amazing basses either way, no matter what tone you dial in..
     
  11. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    Scotland.
    I've owned a Starcaster, and I just sold my Coronado. The Starbass looks cool as well. I think they all are wired the same way, which is the way Les Paul guitars are wired. On both my Starcaster and Coronado the pickups were wired to the volume controls, each of which has a corresponding tone control. Each pair of controls ran to one half of the 3-way pickup switch. The output of the pickup switch ran to the output jack. When you selected both pickups on the switch each volume control acts as a master volume. There is a way of fixing this, which I did to both basses!
     
  12. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    Two treble cut controls are good for basically one situation, when you have a 3-way pickup selector.
    Then you can solo the bridge pickup with the treble cut rolled back & switch quickly to the neck pickup with the treble cut fully clockwise.
    (or any variation of that)
    With both pickups selected, both treble cut controls are in play & get summed.


    Whew, I thought I was the only one who noticed this.
    I've seen demos of pros suggesting that they're blending on a LP, but they're not.
    I've made a diagram that solves the problem, & gives the treble cut controls some independency as well, but only if one or both pickup volumes are dialed back (blended).
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2018
    Axstar likes this.
  13. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    Scotland.
    I spotted a couple of issues. In line with my other chat about Coronado/Starcaster tone controls, I revised one corner of your wiring scheme. When the switch is set to the 'yellow' setting then a single 0.022 uF capacitor is switched in series between the middle lug of the tone control and the casing of the tone pot, which serves as ground. When the switch is set to 'green' then the second 0.022 uF capacitor is switched in parallel with the first. Capacitance increases when extra capacitance is introduced in parallel, so you would get the same results as though you were using a 0.044 uF capacitor in the bass:

    KrNNshE.jpg
    The biggest issue I saw with your diagram was that you were connecting one of the outer lugs of the tone pot to the pot casing. This would make the pot work as a volume control, trusting that the pot is grounded. As a tone control it was also wired backwards (though the wire to the pot casing makes this a moot point). The legs of the capacitors, leading to the pot case, don't need to be this long! I would twist them together (at the black dot in my diagram) and snip them as short as necessary to get the job done. You also don't ground the pot casing to the ground lug on the output jack in your schematic.
     
    Nathanvleugels likes this.
  14. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    Scotland.
    The Les Paul crowd swear by '50s wiring, which does exactly this. '50s Les Paul wiring has a fearsome level of interaction between the controls, and in the middle setting you can mute the guitar with either control. You can blend the pickups to some degree, but it is always a subtractive process. I suppose it is governed by the sweep of the pots. If you have volume pots with all the sweep happening between 8 and 10 then you won't get a lot of blending going on.

    Jimmy Page was fond of the middle setting on his various Les Pauls in a live setting. He rarely ever ran the volumes on 10 which, as a technique, is still something of a matter of pride for the older Les Paul crowd. Prior to master volume controls on amps this was pretty much a requirement, as the player would set up a good rhythm tone with the volume controls on 8, and then roll up to 10 for solos. Dimarzio Super Distortions, aftermarket Master Volume mods and early EQ and drive pedals made this style somewhat obsolete, but Page and company were all at it back in the day. Players preferred to be hitting the front end of their amps by the late '70s.

    So, so far so good, but the 'blending' really is just all about what is going on between 5 and 8 on the two volume controls, which doesn't really afford you that much tonal diversity. You can get a bit more neck pickup than bridge, and a bit more bridge than neck, but it is always in the context of a guitar that is being turned down as you turn down one pickup! It isn't the sort of blending you could achieve with an active setup, or even an ungrounded blend pot in all likelihood.

    This 'blending' works with mild, open-voiced PAF-style humbuckers, where you notice a lot of detail in the treble resonse and you can detect subtle changes in tone somewhat easily. However, if you listened to the Les Paulers you would imagine that they had a fully active, filter-based 2-band EQ at their disposal. On Led Zeppelin live cuts this translates into those thin, between-setting Strat-like tones Jimmy was fond of, which at times sound astonishingly frail and raggedy. Page also, by accident more than design, ended up with a couple of Les Pauls with hotter neck pickups than bridge pickups.

    And Les Paul players are deaf anyway.
     
    nbsipics likes this.
  15. Nathanvleugels

    Nathanvleugels

    Jan 24, 2014
    Belgium
    I see, I was worries the capacitors might somehow connect in both positions. I feel stupid saying this now but I guess both ends of the cap. need you be connected somehow in order to be active.. (I never got good graden on electricity when I was still in school)
    I just opened up a bass and looked inside for the first time 2 weeks ago.
    But I'm enjoying the learning process. :)
    Really thankful for all the help!
     
  16. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    Scotland.
    No need to fret. I have only a working knowledge of instrument electronics. Like all things, I get fuzzier about it all when I'm out of practice. It is good that you are trying to make sense of what is going on inside your instruments. As far as the two guitarists in my band are concerned, the insides of their instruments might as well be carved with ancient runes. They just aren't interested in how these things work! They just want gear that works when you plug it in.
     
  17. Nathanvleugels

    Nathanvleugels

    Jan 24, 2014
    Belgium
    Yeah a lot of musicians seem to be like that. To some extent I used to be the same, mainly out of fear of messing up my bass. But things tend to change when you have a couple of low value basses and way too much free time.
     
    sigterm and Axstar like this.
  18. AngelCrusher

    AngelCrusher

    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    I shouldn't be posting here since I have zero skills at wiring, but I do like the concept of having a passive P/J with tone controls for each pickup.
     
  19. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    I wouldn't do two treble cut knobs w/o a 3-way switch.

    There is one thing that 50's wiring accomplishes, which is some degree of independence of the treble cut controls, which is how they're able to seemingly blend. However, they're not blending the volume, because we both know either volume can completely shut down both pickups. Say for instance you do turn down one pickup & adjust the treble cut on that pickup, now it's at least partially independent from the treble cut of the other pickup.

    The wiring diagram I made for bass (probably similar to the volume fix you mentioned) gives you indepence of both volume & treble cut, but it won't work for guitars, because as soon as you dial back the volume on either pickup the highs disappear.
     
  20. alder

    alder Inactive

    Feb 17, 2012
    If you are looking for a large change in tone, fiddling with the capacitor values is not going to do much, and bypassing the tone controls will do even less. Try series/parallel switching. You can do that between any two pickups, and with 4-wire humbuckers, you can do it internally as well. I've built basses that do both. Monster.

    Or try an active circuit that can boost or cut.
     
    Axstar, ELynx and Nathanvleugels like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

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    Apr 18, 2021

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