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Two series pickups with independent volume and tone controls. Two methods.

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by fig, Nov 6, 2019.

  1. The following is for passive series circuits only.

    Parallel pickups aren't part of this post because individual volume and tone controls for parallel pickups are already common knowledge and frequently used.

    Series pickups with individual volume and tone controls are less common and less known. There's still folk who say it can't be done, which prompted me to do this post.

    The circuits themselves are very simple and wiring them is no more complex than other guitar cavity wiring jobs.

    To avoid TL;DR, I'm not cluttering things with theory of operation.

    HOWEVER...Please ask if you want a deeper understanding of circuit operation. Each circuit is distinct and maybe not intuitive as to how they work, especially the Danelectro. I, or someone else, will be happy to explain the theory of operation if asked for.

    Method 1: I call it The WalterW Special. It's based off the following wiring diagram Talk Bass (TB) member walterw posted a long time ago. TB member Killed_by_Death and other members are using this one. (I hope you don't mind having a circuit named after you, walterw). Note only 2 of 3 volume pot lugs are used.:

    Method 2: The Danelectro method. Has been used for decades, especially known for having separate, non-interactive, tone controls for each pickup.:
    diagram Dano.

    Here's a schematic representing the two different volume solutions. For clarity, tone circuits, pickup selects, etc, aren't shown.:
    Dano and WalterW compare.

    That's enough for now. Will post more later. Hope some of you have found this useful.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2019
  2. Can't say I like Dano's method. If you roll back the volume of the neck pickup halfway, you're attenuating the output of the bridge pickup.
    However, you can still solo the bridge pickup if you roll back the neck pickup all the way.
    LetItGrowTone and fig like this.
  3. Yes. The Bridge signal from the top of the Neck pot starts attenuating as you roll back (from 10 towards 0). Look at the bottom of that pot, though, and the Bridge signal is increasing (at the same time as the top is attenuating) as you roll back. The increase from the bottom makes up for the loss from the top. This addition/subraction see-saw balance keeps the Bridge signal the same level at the Output. Until, eventually, like you said, at 0 the Neck pickup is off and the Bridge signal is the only one left (solo'd).
  4. Here's some Danelectro variations.

    Basic two volume:
    Danelectro VV post.

    Two volume, single tone:
    Two volume, two tone. The circuit Danelectro is most known for.:
    Danelectro VTVT.

    Add a pickup selector:
    DanelectroVTVT PU select.

    Add a 'no-load' mod to the tone controls (green dots). When rolled to the 'no-load' area, the tone circuit is disconnected allowing the full audio spectrum out. It's now just a VV Dano circuit (with a pickup selector).:
    Danelectro NoLoad Tone.

    This wasn't all the Danelectro variations, but they show the two pickup series Dano circuit is fairly flexible.
  5. Only after you've gone past the halfway point.
    This reminds me of the time I tried to explain why building a 5-string Precision split-coil pickup set involves some compromises. Crickets.
    I hope some folks will join in, but IME when discussions get this technical, including schematics, people just tune out, which is a shame.

    At least we'll have this thread for future reference when someone just repeats what they read or heard, that you can't have independent volume controls in series.
    fig and Crater like this.
  6. That's the only reason I posted this thread. LOL

    I'm still not clear why you're saying the middle of the Neck pot is an issue for the Bridge signal. Can you explain, please?

    It'd be interesting if any Dano players with this circuit would chime in on any wonkiness around the middle of the Neck pot relating to the Bridge signal, as you suggest.
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  7. As you roll back the neck pickup volume you're also attenuating the bridge pickup, until you get to the halfway point, 50k Ohm on top & 50k Ohm on the bottom (of a 100k Ohm pot).
    Once you get past 50% the bridge pickup's signal will start to increase until you reach the bottom & there's 0 Ohms between the bridge pickups signal & the output jack.

    I do recall finding the controls weird on the Danelectro I had for a day.
    Now I'm understanding why. It would appear you can't really solo the bridge pickup, because there's only 100k Ohms between the neck pickup signal & the output jack if you rolled the volume back fully counterclockwise.

    The bridge pickup can be silenced, since it's connected to ground, but the neck pickup doesn't shunt to ground.
    Obviously all that is solved with a pickup selector switch.

    Note: I'm still commenting about the first schematic of the Dano setup in the OP.
    fig likes this.
  8. So, for the benefit of folk passing through, and so we can move along to the WalterW Special, can you do a quick itemization of the pro's and con's of the Danelectro circuit?

    I've never owned or played a Dano, so I have no input LOL.
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  9. Those 100k Ohm wafers must really dull them down in comparison to 500k Ohms. I wish now I'd held onto that one & re-wired it!
    fig likes this.
  10. Ok, we've covered the Danelectro method. Time tested for decades.

    Next is method 2, The WalterW Special. I can't say most of it's been time tested LOL.

    Here's the schematic from the first post. Just showing the concept of controlling volume for each pickup:

    Below, I've re-drawn it to look like the Danelectro schematics. Should aid in a direct comparison of methods 1 and 2. For those not fully comfortable with schematics, this re-draw is electrically and operationally the same as the Series VV above.:

    Alrighty then, the VV above is the ONLY version I know that works. That's because Talk Bass members are using it.

    The following additions I haven't seen or heard of. These are just me conjecturing and adding Danelectro mods to the WalterW Special. The funny thing is, is they look like they will work.

    So, I'm asking for extra eyes to look these over and see if there's any blatantly obvious, show-stopping errors I overlooked.

    For those with experience in the tech/engineering fields, you know that sometimes things on paper don't pan out when built and tested. Ideally, barring any huge boo-boos on paper, building and testing these would be a great verification. If anyone likes to mod and tinker... :)

    So, here we go with the untested (as far as I know). The additions are direct transfers from the Danelectro circuits:

    Add a single tone control:

    Individual tone controls for each pickup:

    Add a pickup selector:

    Adding 'no-load' mods (green dots). By turning all four controls to the no-load area, you've disconnected any loading by all volume and tone controls. Same as running two series pickups straight to the Output. With no loading, you get full audio spectrum and max volume. You can now say, "My bass goes to 11.". :)

    Again, the only WalterW Special circuit I know that works is the original vol-vol. The rest is just conjecture and should be eyeballed for obvious problems in the schematic and tested. The Danelectro circuits are fine. If all, or even most, of the WalterW mods check good, we'll have two very flexible methods for passive series circuits.

    Ok, I'm done with the postings. I just wanted to get them in here quickly and let others do with them what they want. If anyone knows of other methods of independent volume control (and tone, if applicable) for individual series pickups, post them in here.

    For what it's worth, in the WalterW Special, you can add as many pickups as you like. I'd imagine at some point it'd start sound too bassy and muddy. Not sure if additions can be done with the Danelectro circuit.

    Also concerning the WalterW Special, walterw drew up his basic circuit with a blend knob (I think it was blend), so there's another variation somewhere in the forums. Easter Egg hunt! LOL

    So, if someone says, "You can't control the volume of each pickup connected in series!", send 'em here.
    Matt Liebenau and LetItGrowTone like this.
  11. I don't think any Dano users are going to chime in that their volume control is weird, LOL!
    Most of them are in denial about the neck-dive.

    I'd like to hear a LongHorn with this wiring configuration:
    I think you could take the name WalterW off at this point, it's an amalgamation of Dano's pickup selector & your idea for no-load. Wish I'd thought of that no-load idea when I wired up my Rickenbacker 4004 in series.
    fig likes this.
  12. So, I guess Waltelectro is out?? :)

    Yeah, I'll quit using it. Sounded cool, though LOL. Actually felt a little weird about using his name without asking first.

    Besides, once the circuits bearing his name became internationally renowned, he'd have to deal with paparazzi, endless interviews, and those nasty celebrity fake pictures. I don't wanna be the cause of that. :)

    So, good advice, sir.

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