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Stacking my pots? yes or no. Blend or tone or volume?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by KayXero, Oct 30, 2010.

  1. KayXero

    KayXero Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2007
    So I am currently rebuilding my first bass into a lil P bass special to have fun with. I have settled on keeping 500k values for the pots I buy, but cant figure out what to do with the 3 pot spots I have.

    I wanted to be able to independently control both pickups own tone, so that takes care of two spots. But then I thought hmmm what if I ever want a separate volume coming out of each pickup. My best friend suggested stacking tone/volume for each pickup and then using the third hole for something else.....but what? master volume? blend? I am kinda lost...

    Plus does blend not just phase between the volumes of both pickups, where they are both full blast in the middle, and the more i go left or right, each pickup is louder or quieter?

    thus eliminating the need for separate volumes or even a master volume?

    Please give me your advice and enlighten me on what I can go with my pots. Also when I started to look at push and pull pots I got even more confused out of what was best to have....hehe im indecisive
  2. KayXero

    KayXero Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2007
    bump, because I am about to go take my stuff to the music store for them to install everything since I need my bass working for next weekend.

    I could really use some insight. Thanks
  3. If you use two tone controls, they won't be independant, they will interact.

    Seperate volumes and then a master volume or a blend would be a bit redundant.

    IMO, the two most useful setups:

    Vol/Vol/Tone (with one being a push/pull series-parallel switch)
    Vol/Blend/Tone (with one being a push/pull series-parallel switch)

    You could also look at going down the line of using a preamp, but that would be a bit more work, some more expense and time too.
  4. +1 to all of this.
  5. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    In keeping passive, I'd stack a vol/vol, keep a tone, and use the third for a sweet switch, like the S/P or even a 3-way selector switch.
  6. KayXero

    KayXero Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2007
    Wait so having a tone control for each pickup wont work?

    I do plan on doing 2 volumes though. I am unsure about everything else as I still dont understand really what blend and tone really do on their own. And I figure with to volumes I dont need a master volume right?

    Im coming off an active bass and am used to an eq with low mid and treble...so sorry for my noobery
  7. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Passive tone controls work by passing part of your signal through a capacitor (in parallel) and to the ground. In essence, it's a treble cut. When you have a tone pot on each pickup, it does the exact same thing, putting the entire signal chain in parallel with the capacitor. Your tone pot used on one pickup will affect the tone from the other pickup as well.

    With 2 volumes, you don't need the master volume - correct. Similarly, with a blend, you only need a master volume.

    Active basses and passive basses are ultimately the same in their circuitry: pickup -> volume -> preamp/passive tone -> output. There are variations, but that's the norm. In general, the only difference is that one requires a battery.
  8. grrrr!!!!


    Jan 5, 2009
    Stack! Stack! Stack! You'll end up with with knobs that look like Scooby sandwiches.


    Yabadabadoo !! :eyebrow:
  9. KayXero

    KayXero Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2007
    thanks for the input funk...I have some thinking to do tonight before I order tomorrow.

    and LMAO @ grrrr!

    I needed that laugh bro with all the studying ive been doing at school tonight. Thank god I am 2 semesters away from my degree.

    And isnt yabba dabba doo from....

    oh nvm xD
  10. plangentmusic

    plangentmusic Banned

    Jun 30, 2010
    I personally don't like stacked pots. On stage , live, loud, lights in your eyes. It's a little too "fine-tuny."

    I also hate separate volume controls. I want to be able to quickly and simply shut off, turn on, swell or lower the sound with one twist.
  11. KayXero

    KayXero Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2007
    Thank you for your input. Though I was looking for input on how I could maximize my tonal versatility while also not using redundant knobs seeing as I am a noob to pots and such.

    I could still use advice on the best route to go, Im still trying to figure out my best bet. Having options makes it hard to choose =P
  12. Honestly, your best advantage taking all things under consideration, would be vol/blend/ (stacked) tone. Adding the switch may end up adding to confusion when making on the fly changes, but if you can handle that, go for it.
  13. KayXero

    KayXero Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2007
    @Rip. Do you mean a singular master volume?

    And what is better in your opinion. Two volumes for varying levels out of each pickup. Like 100% P...with only 50% Jazz.

    or a blend? But isnt the blend the same tonally as having two volumes?

    Like in the middle indent I am 100% both pups. But as I turn towards the P pup I gradually lose J pup tone? Or are they both 50% on while in the middle indent?

    One more thing, I agree about the switch, because as far as I can understand, doesnt a switch just act like an all or nothing blend pot, but allows less pin pointing?
  14. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    Vol, vol, stacked tone would be my first pick.
    Stacked Vol's, stacked tone's, 3 way pup selector switch as 2nd choice.
  15. KayXero

    KayXero Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2007
    So I talked to the bass guy at the guitar store today and then the tech. After I came home and did a bit more research I have settled on 2 stacked concentrics of Volume/tone (1 vt for each pickup) and a 3 way switch. Answers these 3 things for me guys if you can?

    1. The way I understood things here and in the store is that I dont need a blend because volumes allows for more pin pointy control in mixing both pickups.

    2. "i mean you could use two tones, but you risk losing treble...but its workable" I figure with 500k pots that having the versatility of independently handling each pots tone would be handy.

    3. with a three way switch although I could "switch" by just using the two volumes on or off, doesnt the switch allow for a truly independent tone that cuts out interference from the other pickup when its off? For example, I get more of a true P tone when I switch towards the neck vs just rolling the jazz completely off?

    Anyways thank you mightily for your help guys. After the advice I recieve now I should be def ready to go.


    PS - If you guys approve of this setup, could someone point me in the direction of a bass similar to this on the fender site. Like if you could drop a name so I can look up the diagram to give the tech. I am sure he knows what hes doing and could figure it out by himself, but I wanna be extra sure I get what I want.
  16. This is nonsense!
    The problem with having two tone controls is not with the pot values or treble loss, it's with the fact that you have two controls placed parallel to each other when both volumes are up.
    However, they will be much more useful since you are planning to add a 3 way pickup selector switch. This is how Les Paul guitars are traditionally wired. The tone controls work per-pickup when soloed, so you can switch between them quickly, but they will still interact when you play both pickups together at full volume.

    What you want is Les Paul wiring.
  17. KayXero

    KayXero Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2007
    Yeah I wasnt understanding too well what was being said to me by the bass dude at the store. But the whole signal loss thing with redundant pots sounded like it made sense to me. Thats why i figured to myself 500k would remember that since its brighter.
    My noobery knows no bounds, you could tell me anything and id nod in agreement.

    Moving on....so is this diagram good for me to bring to him even though Im doing two stacked V/T's and a switch. Like the Lessies's have 4 pot spaces and I have 3. Can I give him this diagram and be fine even though im stacking tones over volumes with one less pot space?
  18. Think of the two layers of your concentric pots as individual pots.
    The top layer of three terminals is one pot, the bottom layer of three terminals is a separate pot.
  19. KayXero

    KayXero Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2007
    Ok thanks for all your help.

    Update though.

    I just got home from the guitar store and I told the tech of my V/t, V/T, 3 way switch idea. And he said at first in his opinion with the two volumes I didnt need the switch, but then I told him how I wanted the switch mainly for the options I would get when going solo and he understood it more. I referenced how its basically a stacked gibson setup

    Then when I asked if stacking a volume over a tone was doable, he said yeah, and then mentioned something about roll off or something. Hes seems like a primarily guitarist type dude, or like hes never really encountered stacks in repair work as the store didnt even have stack pots in stock. Then I told him that I was ordering those since I figured they might not have those on hand without needing to order them.

    BTW this isnt a mom and pop joint. Its a chain that services the 3 different counties where I live. Basically I just got the vibe that he may run into trouble since he seems unfamiliar with the routing I wanted to do and that I had to semi-explain why Id want the switch and two volumes.

    Do you think the gibson diagram is sufficient, or should I find another. Also, would a tech get offended if I offered him a diagram when I brought my stuff in?

    Thanks for everything so far guys
  20. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    You do get more precise blending control with seperate volumes imo. But blend and vol can work fine if the blend has good travel range. I was thinking of two tones aka bass and treble from the preamp rather then 2 passive tones. Ive owned guitars with the seperate tone controls but in use the sound tweak expansion over single master passive tone is very small. For passive Id go with single master tone and seperate volumes. Not haveing seperate volumes or master volume and blend just robs you of significant tonal tweak ability imo. If the tone control is very wide range and useful in that, a single volume and tone can work ok for me. But most passive tone controls havent given me enough useful variety to take the place of seperate volumes. If your going to wire it seperate volumes and tones then the gibson diagram like SG or LP guitar is great.

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