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Two volumes or blend?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Siseon, Aug 28, 2005.

  1. Siseon


    Aug 28, 2005
    I'm in the process of ordering a new bass (J style 5 string). I will have an Aguilar OBP-3 on-board preamp installed on it. Now, I can opt for two configurations:
    1) two volume pots, for each p/up one
    2) one volume pot and one blend pot

    I would appreciate comments on the following questions: what's the difference (if any) between the two options in terms of sound and what's your experience in terms of practical, on stage, usage?

    I've always had basses with a blend pot, so I'm least familiar with the two volume controls.
  2. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    I've never been able to tell any noticeable difference between vol/vol and vol/blend in terms of sound.
    I have basses with both configurations, and I've never really felt any issue with either. For practicality, I personally prefer a blend for quick onstage changes.

    As I think Ken Smith said, when you want more sound in your right speaker it's more intuitive to use a balance knob than to turn left speaker down and right speaker up.

    But even with vol/vol, you're still not talking about large time to change between sounds so it's really down to personal preference.
  3. Aerolithe


    Jan 23, 2005
    Columbia, MO
    I've never used a Vol/Blend so I can't comment on the differences in tone (if they exist, which is unlikely), but I can say that it would be ever so slightly more convenient for me to have Vol/Balance so when I need to worry about volumes at night I can keep the bass turned down and switch pickups faster, but if I were looking at a new bass I wouldn't care at all which type it has. In your case where you get to choose, I'd just go with what you're used to unless you aren't happy with it.
  4. I like the master volume and master blend. It's just easier.
  5. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Some people will tell you that a balance pot never allows both pickups to be fully on. They are wrong and this can be demonstrated with a multimeter.

    I prefer a blend control and generally recommend that unless your brain is more comfortable with individual volumes. You can get the exact same sounds either way, pick what feels right to you.
  6. DavePlaysBass


    Mar 31, 2004
    A small detail which may not be discernable. A 250K blend pot used with a 250K volume pot is three 250K loads in parallel. This is more of a load then 250K volume volume and may take a few highes. If you want to emulate a 250K volume volume arrangement when things are wide open, use a 500K blend with a 250K volume. This places a 250K in parallel with two 500Ks when everything is wide open which is the same as volume volume 250K.

  7. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Just where do you get this stuff Dave? When everything is wide open it's about 0k.

    Do you know how a potentiometer works and what it is? On a 250k pot what does the 250k mean?
  8. jz0h4d


    Apr 26, 2005
    Bad Moo Bad!
  9. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    I've always been on the fence about this. For convenience sake, I'm used to and prefer a balance. But for tradition sake and the slight difference I can personally tell and how it actually makes me feel better, I prefer the two volumes.
  10. tadawson


    Aug 24, 2005
    Lewisville, TX
    I have to agree with Dave on this one. Yes, the load from the pickup to the output terminal on a pot is 0 when it is turned up all the way, but that does not deny that the overall resistance of the pot (250K or 500K in this case) is still loading the pickup to ground, and can affect tone.

    - Tim
  11. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    I wish I had a master volume and blend...as well as a bypassed tone pot.....just a wish. :D
  12. DavePlaysBass


    Mar 31, 2004
    I have completed 6 years of higher education with honor grades leading to a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering. The MS comes from this little school in Atlanta many refer to as Georgia Tech. I have 13 years of professional experience designing analog circuits. I have passed the Professional Engineering exam first try with flying colors (only 25% did on that round). I use circuit simulation tools all the time and have contemplated many hours on how to apply them to bass pickup response. I am fallable like anyone else and I have learned in my time that you never insult one's intelligence because in some cases someone knows something that you do not. Just because you don't get it first time does not mean there is not merrit. Once the insults start flying, their is no room for open, logical disucssion. And you end up missing out on something you do not understand.

    I can see that you are a bit confused from your comments. If you were not such a tool, I would take the time to explain why you are confused.

  13. jz0h4d


    Apr 26, 2005
    Dave is correct again!

  14. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    Not that he needs it, but I want to back Dave up. He's absolutely correct in every regard.

    If you read my sticky in this forum's FAQ about shielding a Jazz, notice that I used a 500K blend and 250K volume and 250K tone, which sounds exactly like using two 250K volume pots and a 250K tone.

    And to answer the original question, I much prefer the Blend Volume Tone layout to stock VVT. It sounds the same, is faster, and sounds are more repeatable.
  15. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Don't insult their intelligence, go straight to name calling

  16. FunkSlap89


    Apr 26, 2005
    Albany, NY
    I have the dual volume control on my old Yamaha bass and the master volume/master blend (stacked) on my Warwick Fortress.

    I must say, I'm diggin' the blend knob. You can get the same combinations as with the dual volume, but its so much easier. It rocks! go with it!
  17. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Another vote for the blend. Sometimes I want to turn the volume up or down during a passage (or all the way down at the end of a track... or all the way back up when I forgot I did that at the end of the last track :D ) and having one knob to control that parameter makes things easier.

  18. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    The only mod I immediately make to jazz basses is vol/bal/tone. One knob for volume.
  19. CetiAlphaVI


    May 27, 2005
    I prefer 1 master volume because it allows you to do volume swells without a volume pedal.
  20. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    We paid a hefty tooling Charge in 1980 to design and make the first Balance control with a center detent from Pot maker 'Claristat' that supplied the pots for our first circuits.

    As mentioned earlier here, we used them for mainly conveince and common sense. Another gent mentioned Volume swells with a single knob.. Good point! In my line of work back then as a Bass Player sweels were not used but quick adjustmens were needed on live gigs.. Studio work was always 100% up on full.

    I believe if Fender of Gibson had used a Stacked Balance control and Master Volume mixture from the 50s, Vol-Vol would be frowned upon now.. The fact remains that in mass produced Guitars and Basses, cost savings add up when you make thousands and millions of products. In the Custom/handmade or even low production business, Quality and special features mean more than saving a few dollars. Customers at that point want convienance as well as top quality so the Balance control of a high quality beats Vol-vol hands down from a musical standpoint.

    One of the problems exhisting currently is the lower cost instruments now using these features with cheaper components. One Korean company offered us a Circuit for less than the cost of our Balance control alone.. I think I like things as they are and so do our customers.