Does VVT/VBT Wiring Actually Give You More Versatility?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Tom Shand, Mar 12, 2016.

  1. Tom Shand

    Tom Shand

    Mar 12, 2016
    The short story:
    I've found (with my ears and bass at least) that if one pickup is louder than the other (blend pot or VVT) then the quieter pickup is essentially at zero no matter what it's setting is. IE: I perceive no tone difference when say; the Bridge = 100%/Neck = 70% to when the Bridge = 100%/Neck = 0%.

    The long story:
    I'm a big fan of modding guitars/basses, especially the wiring of them. I was thinking about putting a blend or pickup pan pot on my Jazz bass. I thought I'd try out a rudimentary DIY approach before I put any money down for the component. I did this by maxing one pot and zeroing another then putting a rubber band around both with a twist in it's middle. So by tuning up one PU you are turning down another. Turning one dial to 50% sets both pickups to the same volume, identical to some (not all) blend pots.
    However I found that anything away from the 50% mark where both PUs are at the same volume it essentially turns off the PU that is being turned down. I double checked this by removing the rubber band and maxing a single PU and killing another. Then by plucking a string and slowly turning up the PU that was at zero, and listening for a difference in tone. I found that (to me at least) there was no audible difference in tone at all until both PU are maxed (or at the same volume) and thus in parallel. Of course if you kill both pickups and pluck a string and turn one PU up then there is an obvious volume swell, but when one pickup is maxed and you swell the other from zero there's nothing till it's 100%.

    So my questions are:
    1. Has anybody else found this?
    2. If so: why does this happen?

    Ps: I'm assuming with an active system that this is not an issue at all.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2016
  2. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Yes I've noticed similar, and most of the useful stuff happens when the volumes are within about 10% of each other. I think it is simply that the any more difference and the phase cancellation between the two signals becomes too subtle to matter.

    Personally I would stick to VVT simply because with most blend pots you have to have one or the other at 100% in the blend. For example 80/90 is not possible. It is possible to get 70% blend pots but then you can't do 100/100. I prefer to have both rolled back a little which can't be done with BVT. Of course your mileage may vary. :)
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2016
  3. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    I've pretty much given up on passive wiring mods to a JB. And I've probably tried them all by now.

    With two passive single coils, JBs always seem to sound best in a VVT configuration with both volume knobs around 80-85% and the tone up between a third to a little over halfway. At least to my ears. And that seems to be true of every JB I've ever played, no matter the age or what pickups were in it. From that I concluded it is what it is, and other than the voicing changes you get with different pickups, the standard VVT control arrangement just works best for that particular type of bass.

    But that's me and my ears.

    wednesdayagain and SteveCS like this.
  4. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    here's your fix for that.

    the alternative is @SteveCS's and @40Hz's method, essentially the "old school" way of running a traditional V/V/T jazz where all three knobs are off of 10.

    it keeps all three (typically audio taper) pots out of the jumpy, interactive and hard-to-tweak part of their sweep, and introduces a bit of loading between the pickups.

    you lose output and clarity, but gain smooth shading between the pickups.
    wednesdayagain and SteveCS like this.