pros and cons of stacked jazz knobs?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by kkaarrll, May 7, 2017.

  1. Nickweissmusic

    Nickweissmusic Knows all intervals from one Fred, to Juan octave Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2014
    San Diego, CA
    I teach lessons and perform live music in and around San Diego CA. Sometimes I even make money doing it!
    VT VT does allow more tonal shading. On my Frankenstein bass that I do almost all my recording with, I do actually find it useful. I want as many diverse tones as I can get out of that thing, but for an instrument I was going to use primarily for live performance, I probably wouldn't bother with a mod.
  2. jaybones

    jaybones Inactive

    Mar 4, 2015
    Kelleys Island, Ohio
    Since I went with an 18V Bartolini system, I had no real choice. Either the concentric knobs, or figure out how to add 2 more pots.

    Concentric knobs keeps the classic jazz bass look. And unless you're close enough to read the pup covers (or see that the magnets are covered) you won't really know what I've got under the hood.

    At first glance they look like covered pickup covers.
    Mantis Tobaggan likes this.
  3. Nickweissmusic

    Nickweissmusic Knows all intervals from one Fred, to Juan octave Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2014
    San Diego, CA
    I teach lessons and perform live music in and around San Diego CA. Sometimes I even make money doing it!
    That's an oversimplification, it's not the same as just having one tone knob. It's subtle, but it is different. I'm not so sure if it's purely due to the circuit being "interactive" in that one tone knob affects the other pickup. I'm not denying circuit interaction has a part to play, but I think the main thing is there's only so much frequency bandwidth that can get through, so it's hard to say what part of the signal is coming from which pick up/tone knob.

    If I have one pick up soloed, the opposite tone knob doesn't affect it. If I crank both volumes, and turn down one tone knob, it's definitely different than turning down both, and turning down the bridge tone sounds different than turning down the neck tone. I do a fair amount of reggae projects and recordings, one of my favorite sounds, or starting points at least, is to back off the tone knob on the neck all the way. I back off the bridge volume a bit, but I keep the bridge tone cranked, so I still get some click from the bridge. I find VT VT useful, but understand those who don't, and I only own one bass with that setup (I also have a series parallel and phase switch on that one, so all kinds of fun to be had).
  4. DavC


    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    i even like to use 2 different caps values when going VT VT .. mostly for home studio work ...

    playing out ... VBT for fastest adjustments ...

    some type of humbuckers - always ... bass = no buzz , bass player = buzz away
    Jinobass1, nomeX and Nickweissmusic like this.
  5. Ghastly


    Oct 18, 2015
    Mill Valley
    Looks cool. Is different. :cool:
    Jinobass1 and Mantis Tobaggan like this.
  6. bigtone23


    Dec 10, 2014
    Denver, CO
    I do like the look and theory behind the stack knobs, but gotta stick with the VVT or VBT.
    Fender did switch to VVT from stacks pretty quickly, so there's that.
    marchone and Jinobass1 like this.
  7. Since owning my stack knob RI Jazz since 1987, I kinda always wanted to change to VVT, as I like the look better. And over time, I found myself turning both tone pots together anyway. Well, it took over 20 years for me to get around to it, but a couple of years ago I finally had a VVT harness wired up for me (somebody here in fact), and I couldn't be happier. It's quicker and easier to deal with, gives me what I need, and for me, I think it looks better too.

    Think I will likely sell my stack pot setup, as I see no time I'd ever drop it in again. And I'll never sell the bass, so don't need it for resale.
  8. InhumanResource


    Dec 28, 2012

    That sounds cool. I'd love to play around with it some time.
  9. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    I built up a stack knob plate using Fender parts and CTS pots. I'm no fan. Adjusting one knob in the stack could end up adjusting the other, and both knobs had a stiff, gritty feel. Stack knob plates look cool, but the notion that you can adjust the tone for each pickup separately is a myth, which came about because people misinterpreted the role of the two fixed resistors in Leo's original circuit (which have been deleted from the reissues anyway). Those resistors are in series with the output of each volume pot, in a crude bid to stop one volume control from acting as the master. After this Leo Fender discovered that if you tied the pickups to the wipers of the volume pots then the resistance of the pot itself was sufficient to stop the other pot acting as a volume control, as per standard 3-control Jazz wiring ever since. There is no mythical stack-only tone combinations out there with, say, the tone rolled off on the neck but wide open on the bridge. The original stackers only sound 'sweeter' or whatever because those resistors cut the output.
  10. For me it works. In reality of live playing, it's a Jazz Bass so I better keep both pickups fully open to avoid hum and have full smooth sound, no matter what kind of controls I have. And that's it, with Concentric setup I have more controls on full volume and brighter .033 uF bridge pup tone control.

    When I want sharper bridge sound I play harder and closer to the bridge, fat neck sound comes out of a decent touch closer to the neck, that's my fastest controls
    marchone, Plake and kkaarrll like this.
  11. Mantis Tobaggan

    Mantis Tobaggan Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2015
    Tampa, FL
    I love stacked knobs. I played both and really enjoy the sound of closing off the bridge tone and opening up the neck tone, with more volume on the neck pickup. Also I like the look of concentric knobs. When I decided to get a jazz bass, I knew I wanted stacked knobs.

  12. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    My fretless J has a comically complicated stack knob with five position varitone for each.

    I have thought about trading it for something more traditional, but it has a routed body and it balances pretty well now. Taking out that two pound weight of knobs and wire would probably lead to some neck dice.
    Anyway, it's probably fun and intriguing more so than useful.
    But since it makes pretty sounds I'm not in any hurry to mess with it.
  13. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Funny thing about a JB for me is that over time I've discovered I really only use one basic setting anyway. I've got both volumes up around 80-85% and the tone between 30-50% depending on the room, and usually closer to the darker side. I use that for everything when I play a jazz. It's literally a pick up and play bass.

    I can get just about any tone I want out of it by my right hand position and technique. And I'm no super talented player. It's just a JB is so responsive you can pull all sorts of different tones out of it just by the way you play it.

    That (IMO) is the real beauty of a jazz bass. It just is what it is. You really don't need to fuss with it to get a sound unless you want to.

    Or so I think anyway. YMMV. :thumbsup:
  14. My knobs are stacked in both my jazzes. But, I have Audere preamps. Vol/Blend, Hi-Mid/Lo-Mid, Treble/Bass works wonders for me.
  15. kkaarrll


    Jun 1, 2014
    I am intrigued by them, but I can dial these in quick
    and the right hand position.......

    yet I am similar to @40Hz

    I use 4 main settings
    volumes both up---tone all the way
    volumes both up--toned down to taste--somewhere near%50
    neck 100% bridge 75%--tone to taste---somewhere near%50
    neck 100% bridge 10%--tone to taste somewhere around off and %10
    40Hz and HEADbass like this.
  16. Wow! That is a real beauty of a jazz bass!
    Mantis Tobaggan likes this.
  17. pbassnut

    pbassnut Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2004
    Falls Church, VA
    I had a pre-CBS 1960 stack knobs J back in the late 70's/early 80's when I was playing full time. It was a killer sounding bass, to be sure. However, I think the extra tone pot added to the loading effect on the pickups causing the stack pot Js to be a bit lower gain on average than their VVT counterparts. Just a theory. I used to run mine with "everything on 11" for the most part so the added tonal variety of the dual tone controls wasn't all that relevant to me.
  18. Nickweissmusic

    Nickweissmusic Knows all intervals from one Fred, to Juan octave Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2014
    San Diego, CA
    I teach lessons and perform live music in and around San Diego CA. Sometimes I even make money doing it!
    This would be a good case for NOT using VTVT. In fact, plenty of people take the tone control out of the circuit entirely. Passive tone controls do roll off a little treble even when wide open. I use 500k pots to preserve more treble on my VTVT bass. I'm curious what the difference would be if I wired straight to the Jack. Not curious enough to actually try it, but if anything breaks and I need to change a pot or Jack or something, I think I'll try just to see how different it is.
    Jinobass1 likes this.
  19. bigtone23


    Dec 10, 2014
    Denver, CO
    That is the other side of my approach to J basses, too and why VVT is best for me: I use somewhat limited settings. Mostly use both PUs and tone on 10, sometimes I may roll the bridge pickup off, rarely roll the neck PU off. Very little time spent in blend mode. Very little time is spent with tone control manipulations.
    kkaarrll likes this.
  20. I think the VT/VT setup would completely trump a VVT setup if you added a three way pickup selector switch like some guitars (and basses). That way you could run independent tone for solo bridge or neck and still get the interactive tone when in middle position.
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