Dismiss Notice

Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, get alerts, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Creative tone controls

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Dogbertday, Apr 3, 2014.

  1. Dogbertday


    Jul 10, 2007
    SE Wisconsin
    I'm looking to customize my mim p-bass. I've never been overly happy with the stock tone control on it, so I'm wondering what creative options there are. I want to stay passive, and I'd love something that bassically does what the VLE knob on my littleMark III does.

    Bassically what I want it s to not change my wide open tone much but to have the tone knob progressively take off everything except the smooth low end pillow at the bottom of my signal.

    Thanks in advance!!!
  2. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    You want something like the VariTone switch on the old Gibson basses. It switched different combinations of capacitors and inductors to give that effect. Since you want to be all passive, you must use inductors as well as capacitors to get that kind of effect. Do some searching here and on the Web for the VariTone and you should turn up some schematics.

    Be aware that because it is passive, you can only cut frequencies, you cannot boost, and there will be a drop in level.
  3. Register_To_Disable

  4. Dogbertday


    Jul 10, 2007
    SE Wisconsin
    I'll check it out! I'm open to other options too.

    Cut only it what I'm looking for. Even a sweeping mid cut might be fun.
  5. bass_case

    bass_case Maintain low tones. Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2013
    Miami, FL
    There are several threads on the Tonestyler, you may want to do a search. Have been wanting to try one.
  6. Technotitclan

    Technotitclan Lurking TB from work

    Mar 1, 2012
    Rochester, NY
    Passive I would say VeriTone or the ToneStyler. An easier solution would be to try different capacitors. I tried a couple and was much happier using a lower value cap. sounds like you might like the other way around.
  7. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    The easiest thing you can do that will make a significant difference is swapping out the cap from the stock .047 to a .1, which was the original capacitor value Fender used on Precisions until about the mid-60's. It's a simple, cheap mod and it will make your rolled off signal slightly warmer and more "pillowy". The switch to a .1 won't "add" anything to your signal but it will seem that way because more highs are being shunted to ground, making the rolled off tone sound fairly deeper than the stock circuit. A .1 cap can be bought at Radio Shack for about 50 cents. A true varitone is actually a notch filter that uses resistors to scoop some mid frequencies, so you could actually go deeper and retain the all important mids just by switching to a .1 cap instead. Plus, its much cheaper.
  8. azwipe


    Jul 9, 2013
    Washington, DC
    I've got my jazz bass with an on/on/on cap selector switch - goes from a .1 cap to a .047 cap to a Bill Lawrence Q-filter. The Q-filter is a notch filter that scoops out the mids while retaining highs, killer for slapping without getting super loud.

    All 3 setting sound different and great.

  9. Dogbertday


    Jul 10, 2007
    SE Wisconsin
    Ok this sounds awesome.. can someone elaborate? Is how does this look on the bass, does it take up all the knob spots? Is there an all in on purchase?
  10. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    When I had a cap selector on my Precision, I had a mini toggle between the tone and volume knobs. It didn't get in the way at all. I wasn't using a module aside from the two caps and toggle, so I'm not sure how it would look with the Bill Lawrence. A regular varitone takes the place of the existing tone pot.
  11. azwipe


    Jul 9, 2013
    Washington, DC
    Here's how it looks on my J - it's the switch between the tone and the output. The other one is a series/parallel switch.

    If I were to do it again I'd put the switches closer to the pickup side of the control plate, as now they're hidden behind the knobs when I'm playing.

    The Q-filter is about a 1" cube on 2 wires, wired exactly like a capacitor.

    Attached Files:

  12. Dogbertday


    Jul 10, 2007
    SE Wisconsin
    So resolution for the sake of if anyone ever searches this thread. I found exactly what I was looking for in switching to a .1 cap. I had it professionally done but cost under $40. Since its been installed I've gotten a lot of tone compliments.
    AlarmClock314 likes this.
  13. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    Awesome! It may be worthwhile to invest in a RadioShack 40w soldering iron, some solder and cheap components to practice on. You can save yourself a bit of money in the long run, have fun and learn a new skill in the process. There are lots of resources online to guide you. Learning to solder was one of the best investments I ever made when it comes to instrument maintenance.
  14. eddododo

    eddododo Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2010
    Search multi capacitor tone control on talkbass. There's a great thread