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Master Volume/Blend vs. Volume/Volume (pros & cons)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Boombass76, May 5, 2010.

  1. Boombass76

    Boombass76 Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2008
    BassCollect Blog & Shop (founder)
    Hi guys,

    I have mostly owned classic designed jazz basses with one volume knob controlling the neck pickup and another for the bridge pickup.

    Recently, I have also got my hands on a Lakland 55-02 and a Sadowsky Tokyo, and they both have a master volume and a blend knob.

    First, I have sometimes been frustrated that if I wanted another tone than both pickups at max on my classic J-basses, I could no longer turn down the master volume on the fly as I would have to cut both knobs, which would totally change the tone as well in 9 out of 10 cases, which means that i need to turn to adjust the master voume of my amp instead. You don't have that probem with a blend knob and a master volume.

    So, why is it that so many seems to prefer the classic V/V design?

    I have read threads here about loss of volume when the blend knob is dead center, but I have never experienced that on any of my basses with blend option...

    That being said, it is not a big issue for me as a play with both pickups at full voume 99% of the time - it just made me wonder...

    Oh, and we shouldn't forget that with a master volume, you can make some nice 'whale song' too...! ;)
  2. because blending works much better with an active preamp than passive, so if you like passive basses you are better off with VV or a switch, also in the electronics section people have been debating this for a long time :)
  3. For each volume-controlling element in the signal path (volume, blend, even tone), you load the pickup a little more and roll off more highend. For passive basses, the V/V arrangement minimizes loading, giving a brighter sound.

    Also, blend pots lose some resolution, making it difficult to blend as precisely as v/v setups.

    Active basses are a little different in that the preamp input impedance is usually high and the connections are very short, minimizing resistive and capacitive loading effects and making the blend work better overall.

    I just built a Vol/Blend/Tone jazz plate for another TB'er and he was very happy with it. I used a 500k blend to minimize pickup loading. It worked really well, but he was after a little darker sound than his previous vol/vol/tone setup, so it was to his advantage.

    It really depends on your needs - if you need to make singing whale songs, then use a single master volume. If you like more precise control over each pickup and don't mind the inconvenience, use a v/v/t arrangement.
  4. Boombass76

    Boombass76 Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2008
    BassCollect Blog & Shop (founder)
    Thanks a lot for the info guys. I knew there was a simple answer to this question - it's just that I'm not very technically minded. It makes sense that an active circuit can compensate...
  5. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    I dunno. I LIKE a blend pot better on any dual PUP bass than separate volume controls. Probably goes to having played Precisions and StingRays since 1976.

  6. dj5


    Sep 17, 2009
    There is also the point that some/most blend pots only give I think, 75% of full output on centre position. I always thought the centre position was quieter than just off centre and that's why. I changed it for a pot with a special taper that gives 100%, and couldn't be more pleased with the results, although I still prefer the multiplicity of tones I can get from my passive vol/vol bass.
  7. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Well said! I am a vol/vol lover, myself. :cool:
  8. Boombass76

    Boombass76 Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2008
    BassCollect Blog & Shop (founder)
    Well, I see pros and cons either way, and as I said earlier, it's not a major issue for me. It will never be a deal breaker for me. I love my old Fender and my Celinder update with V/V. But I am also very happy with both my Sadowsky and Lakland with blend. They are all great for different stuff :)
  9. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I've always preferred V/V, personally. I dislike the center position of most blends, but in the long run I don't think it's as big a deal as some make it out to be.

    My '70s Ibanez basses have master volume and a p'up selector and I always craved separate control (and modified the '79 Studio with V/V because I liked what I was able to get out of a Jazz) but when I started playing G&L L2000s a couple of years ago I found that the master volume and p'up selector was just fine on those basses. I guess it just depends on whether or not you're happy with the versatility you're getting from a particular instrument, which could depend upon a lot of factors.
  10. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    I have always been a proponent of keeping the vol controls on my basses all the way up, set for a healthy volume on the amp, and adjusting playing volume with touch. I know some people like J settings on the v/v where there is some variation of vol levels on both pickups, but it must be too subtle for my hearing so I just lower the vol on one or the other to get a tone I like, leaving the other all the way up.

    One of my habits is turning the vol off at the end of a tune, to avoid any unwanted noises, and the v/v thing is not the best in that regard. I just received an American Jazz Deluxe, with the pan and single vol, and I must say I prefer it. I had a 55-01 a few years back and liked that too, although it didn't sound like a Jazz.

    All in all, one setup or the other isn't a dealbreaker.
  11. I have basses with both systems. I hear no difference, and it doesn't matter to me at all. On a more vintage bass, the VV is more 'period correct'. However, having a master volume is pretty nice, and blending slightly to either pickup sounds the same to me as dialing back one of the V"s slightly.

    Regarding the extra cap and the top end, that would be about the same as playing a new set of strings for an hour versus right out of the box... we are in the 1% range.

    I would suggest using the circuit that makes the most sense to you from a usage perspective... you will never hear the difference IMO, passive or active.

    The only circuit that sounds totally different is an active blend or active VV, since you get a true 'infinite' blend between pickups, versus the more 'on/off' thing of the passive blend or VV. However, very few basses have this (I think some of the Audere models and the Celinder Greengrove). It is pretty cool to have the entire travel of the blend control or the VV ratio to be usable and even, but what you give up is the ability to have a preamp bypass.
  12. Forgive me for heading off-topic for a minute...

    I really like the idea of individually buffered coils (not a new idea - Alembic was doing it in the 70's, Bartolini has some preamps setup that way, I believe Lane Poor's buffer could be run that way, etc.), but it does eliminate the electro-mechanical effects of adding the coils in parallel (which is adding complex impedance - think imaginary numbers...). Conceptually it is similar, but mathematically (and tonally) it is very different.

    That does not mean it's a bad thing in any way, in fact, it's probably preferable in many ways. The same concept can also be used to add a dummy coil for noise cancellation, providing the truest noise-free singlecoil sound (a la Alembic).

    This is certainly a case where there is no "right" way to do it - it's all individual preference based on individual needs and individual concepts of one's personal sound.

    So... Do it the way you like it. Personally, my L2500 went from "nice, pretty good" to "YOYZA!!" when I rewired it for vol/vol with no tone control and fairly comprehensive pickup switching. I often have to roll back the lows at my amp, but I'm ok with that.
  13. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    While not a deal breaker almost every V/V bass I've owned (and liked) I've converted to V/B without noticing any detriment to the volume output of the bass.

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