The higher the value of the pot, the less the high frequencies will leak to Ground, and the brighter the tone will sound coming from your amp. Note that the information presented in this article is for reference purposes only. In this article you’ll discover all the mysteries concerning the guitar knobs on an electric guitar so you know exactly what settings to use in order to play with your favorite blues sound. We’ll set our amp’s … Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. First, we need the Hot wire and Ground wire from our pickup. We're obsessed. This is the basic Volume control wiring. The ‘Middle’ Knob. Now, solder the large Ground wire from the bridge of the guitar to the back of the Volume pot. A tone control can only reduce frequencies being let through and not add anything extra. The reason for choosing a better quality is, once again, for tighter tolerances and less failure. Treble = brighter tone with lots of high end and sparkle. Turn the volume and tone knobs on your guitar all the way up and select the bridge pickup. On some guitars, this setting is marked "Rhythm." Every electric guitar has knobs to control its sound. If you are looking at the bottom of the pot with the tabs pointing down, number the Tabs 1, 2, and 3 from left to right. This component is usually attached to your tone control, and it’s the only difference between the tone control and the volume control. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University. Many times, the pickups won’t conform to this rule and you will want to make adjustments. For many people, the tone control itself is just a potentiometer (Volume knob) with a capacitor attached to it. Turn it all the way up gives you a more “bright” tone and turning it down gives you a “darker” tone. control (see "Standard Tone Controls" above). As you may have noticed, there’s no tone control for the bridge pickup. Now that we have the parts out of the way, let’s take a look at how tone control wiring works. Many entry level guitar manufacturers bring down the cost of their guitars by using low-quality pots. Pickups are an important element of great tone. This controls how bright your guitar … While the .022u value is pretty much the standard today these values may be a bit too high and might result in a tone that is too warm. The same affect on the tone can be achieved by manipulating the EQ settings on the amplifier. Play some chords and licks as you turn down your tone control, listen to the change and find the tone you like. Set the amp’s volume knob high enough so that even when your guitar’s volume is set to two or three, it will still be audible through the amp. The Taper of the potentiometer is very simple. The knob on the left controls the overall volume of the guitar. When considering the Quality of the capacitor it’s important to remember that you do not hear the sound that passes through it. The capacitor allows high frequencies to pass or be bled to ground, and the pot allows you to control the amount of signal delivered to the capacitor. You are not limited to those two values either, there are many other usable values, including a 1-mega ohm, and a no load pot. Even with the perfect amp settings, the wrong position of the toggle switch and/or tone knobs can totally ruin your overall sound. neon electric guitar image by Peter Helin from, How to Play Electro-Acoustic Guitar Through an Electric Amp. You’ll notice that in the tone knob’s middle range, your sound will get beefy and thick. Experiment with different sounds using the volume knob until you are aware of its full range. Add the Tone control by soldering a wire from Tab 1 of the Volume control to Tab 2 of the Tone control. One set of tone/ volume controls, is used to control the neck pickup, and the other is used to control the bridge pickup. Too much bass can often lead to your guitar sounding muddy, so make sure that you use this control sparingly. Since tone controls are always in-circuit, it follows that the tone capacitor’s value must influence a Strat’s treble characteristics. Turn the guitar on. The control pots you choose affects your tone In our Which control pot to choose article, we explain how a control pot lets some of your guitar's high frequencies escape to ground instead of getting to the amp. Obviously, if your guitar has only one knob, your settings will be reduced to its most basic expression. Some guitars have only one tone knob next to the volume knob. This is further proof that the material it is made of has no effect on the sound. The two most popular values are .022u and .044u and this trend was started by Fender and Gibson. It will always be better to listen to your pickups and decide for yourself what the proper value is. The lower the value of a capacitor the brighter the affected tone will be. My hokey sketch above shows the back of two Fender Stratocaster pickguards. Adjust the pickup height. The Value is another thing that you will have to choose for yourself with some help from guidelines. Tone control in your electric guitar is all over it. Free the tone. Solder the Ground wire to the back of the Volume pot. Several Gibson models have used a four-knob control complement consisting of an independent volume and tone control for each of two pickups and a three-way pickup selector switch. The ‘Treble’ Knob. What might not be generally known is that the other components, especially any other Volume and Tone controls, will also affect the tone, so their values must be considered. Now try turning the other tone knob to change the sound again. The passive tone control on your electric bass guitar is a subtractive device. But if all those controls are there, they must serve a purpose! Electric guitar switches are usually three-position switches. Higher quality pots are manufactured to much tighter tolerances and the internal components such as the wiper and the lubricants last much longer. [hbs_you_might_also_like linktext=”Les Paul Three-Way Switch Wiring – Basic Guitar Electronics” linkurl=”https://humbuckersoup.com/guitar-electronics/les-paul-three-way-switch-wiring/” linkimage=”https://humbuckersoup.com/images/topics/gibson-three-way-switch.jpg”], Basic Guitar Electronics - Telecaster three-way switch wiring | Humbucker Soup, Basic Guitar Electronics - Stratocaster five-way switch wiring | Humbucker Soup, ASK HBS: Panning a Guitar Between Two Amps. Add a wire from the back of the Tone control to the back of the Volume control and you are finished! Solder a wire from Tab 2 to the Tip Tab of the Output Jack, then solder a wire from the Sleeve Tab of the Output Jack to the back of the Volume pot. I'm investigating how tone potentiometer works on my guitar. This is all about your guitar’s tone control and extra overdrive. Depending on the brand and model of your guitar, it will have at least one volume and one tone knob and may have more of each. Speaking of common values, here’s a rule of thumb (and another variable to bore you with): pot rating! Also, your tone is YOUR TONE, so unless you are trying to restore a collector guitar to original specs, it’s better not to just blindly follow guidelines and rules and call it a day. Drawing of physical potentiometers depicting terminals 1, 2, and 3 Drawing of potentiometer schematic depicting terminals 1, 2, and 3 Experiment by playing different notes and changing the volume and tone controls. Here is a tip and something we do often in the Custom Shop at Haywire Guitars. The following explanations are valid for most electric guitars, regardless of the pickup type used. As the capacitance goes up, the tone gets darker. The more mids you have, the more you will stick out in a band mix. When you’re familiar with the sound you can achieve through these simple tweaks, try switching from one pickup to the other and see how the sound changes. The volume controls the output level of the guitar. Set your amp to the clean channel if it has one. The Tone Control Capacitor The tone control capacitor resides in the control compartment of your guitar, where all of the electronics are stored. To keep it simple, we’ll say each pot has an input lug, an output lug, and a third lug connected to ground. How to Tune a Guitar With a Chromatic Tuner, Copyright 2020 Leaf Group Ltd. All Rights Reserved. This controls the amount of ‘mids’ in your guitar tone. This means that if your amplifier’s volume and overdrive settings are high enough, you’ll be able to change the sound of your instrument just by tweaking its volume knob. You might be pleasantly surprised if you try a smaller value cap such as a .015u. When choosing a potentiometer there are three things to consider: Quality, Value, and Taper. On most amps, this setting is the 12 o’clock position. Even with the tone control fully open, the pot itself will add additional resistance and thus warm up the tone. You’ll notice that the overdrive sound will appear cleaner before eventually weakening. We use two of the three lugs on each pot, and the tone cap is connected between the volume and tone controls. When the tone control is turned all the way up, the tone is at its brightest, and as you turn the knob down (off), the tone darkens (i.e., high frequencies get rolled off). Plug your electric guitar directly into your favorite amp with no effect’s pedals. This will be the simplest design, with 1 Pickup, 1 Volume, and 1 Tone control. But first, some background: In a standard electric guitar, the potentiometers are used as variable resistors. Bass = darker tone with lots of low end. Instead, use your ears and this guide to get the best tone from your guitar. This setup allows not only easy adjustment of each pickup independently but also some creative balancing of the two together in the middle switch position. The smaller the value of the pot, the more the high-end frequencies will leak to Ground, even when the Tone or Volume control is turned all the way up. So if you were to stand with the guitar and look down, the top two knobs control the neck pickup, and the bottom two control the bridge pickup. [hbs_you_might_also_like linktext=”Telecaster Three-Way Switch Wiring” linkurl=”https://humbuckersoup.com/guitar-electronics/telecaster-three-way-switch-wiring/” linkimage=”https://humbuckersoup.com/images/topics/fender-three-way-switch.jpg”]. Just like you. The name of the game for a guitar player is treble control. This is a good rule of thumb, but it should only be your starting point. Solder the capacitor from Tab 3 of the Tone control to the back of the Tone control pot, being mindful of the polarity of the capacitor. The tone controls the amount of treble in the sound the guitar outputs. So, with that said, let’s begin with the components of tone control wiring: [hbs_you_might_also_like linktext=”Stratocaster Five-Way Switch Wiring – Basic Guitar Electronics” linkurl=”https://humbuckersoup.com/guitar-electronics/stratocaster-five-way-switch-wiring/” linkimage=”https://humbuckersoup.com/images/topics/fender-five-way-switch.jpg”]. There are only two kinds of pots: Linear Taper and Logarithmic/Audio Taper; we want Logarithmic/Audio Taper. Solder the pickup’s Hot wire to Tab 1 and solder a wire from Tab 3 to the back of the Volume pot. Controls the brightness or darkness of your guitar’s sound by adding or reducing the amount of bass/treble in the signal. DELTA-TONE Some Fender guitars have a unique tone circuit that features a "Delta Tone" Control. Other guitars have as many as three or four tone knobs. NOTE: Many of the diagrams I see on the internet have the 2nd and 3rd Tabs of the Tone control reversed. That is because of a general guideline that states that you use a 250k pot for single coil pickups and 500k pots for humbucking pickups. They are typically marked with the numbers 1 through 10 for reference. Potentiometers, or "pots" for short, are used for volume and tone control in electric guitars. Set the tone controls to their neutral positions. Turn your volume and tone knobs all the way to the bottom. The proper way to create the tone you want before you start hitting your pedals and amplifier effects is to open the tone knob up to a 10 and set your volume. There are generally three controls on an electric guitar. Another problem with low-quality pots is that they are manufactured with loose tolerances, which means that what is meant to be a 500k pot might actually be a 415k pot, or a 544k pot. The first and most important of the components of tone control wiring are the potentiometers, or “pots” — on not just the Tone control, but also the Volume knob and any other knob on the guitar. We can’t always change … They work, but it won’t be very long before they wear out and begin to introduce noise into your signal. A lot of players get off on the wrong foot with their tone control. The most common pots in use are the 250k pots and the 500k pots. It seems like a no-brainer, but Linear Taper pots are actually far more common so you just need to double-check before purchasing. The guitar toggle switch and the guitar tone knobs explained. Turn the gain control all the way down. The Voltage needs to be at least about .5 volts; anything over that only results in a larger capacitor and has no effect on the tone. Sure, you can grab your guitar, crank up all the knobs and play. Go ahead and get the amount of saturation and distortion you want, then start turning the tone down until you cut out as much of the sharpness you want so your tone sounds warmer. He is a guitar DIY'er and tube amplifier designer who enjoys helping other musicians along in the endless pursuit of tone. When the guitar switch is flipped up (towards you as you're holding the guitar), the guitar pickup that is closest to the guitar's neck (the "neck pickup") is usually selected by itself. Pluck a note or play a chord and, as it rings, slowly turn your volume knob down. Set your amplifier’s overdrive channel to at least five, or any setting that you typically use to achieve a thick overdrive sound. Both ways give the same results; this is just the way that I do it. What Causes a Bass Amp to Sound Distorted? A tone control split is one of the easiest modifications you can make to your electric guitar. Alternatively, you can connect the bridge pickup to one tone pot and the two other pickups to the second. Guitar Pickups, Pedals & Parts. Often, music fans and even amateur guitarists believe that it’s the amplifier and pre-amp effects that are largely responsible for a guitar’s sound. This is based on a theory that single coil pickups are brighter than humbuckers because the two coils in humbuckers have a tendency to phase out some of the high frequencies. These include a “pickup switch” for changing between the neck and bridge pickup, a “Volume knob” for adjusting the volume output to the amp, and a “tone Knob” for adjusting the treble frequency output. Plug your guitar in to its pre-amp effects, if applicable, and the amplifier itself. You’ll know why if you didn’t skip my long-winded explanation at the start. Don’t be tempted to turn the treble down on your amp or pedals – around six to eight, no lower. The tone knobs on your guitar act as a built-in equalizer on your guitar, which control high and low frequencies produced by your guitar's pick-ups. The other component we need to take a look at when considering tone control wiring, is the capacitor, and here there are three things to consider: Quality, Value, and Voltage. The tone control is used to adjust how much treble output the pickup has. Kurt began playing guitar at the age of nine in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Really this is the definition of tone, and the tone knob is perhaps better named the treble cut knob. Play another note, and slowly turn one knob at a time down to 0. Players almost never find them, because they either don’t look or don’t know where to look. When both knobs are turned to 10, the guitar’s tone will be on the thin side. When you reach 1 or 0 on the knob, the sound will be clean. For example, switching from 250K to 500K pots will mean a brighter sound. First, add tons of overdrive to your sound via a decent, mid-rich pedal – two pedals preferably, in line with step six. Some amplifiers are designed so that the volume completely disappears if you have the gain on 0, so if that’s the case, have it on 1 instead. They allow us to alter the electrical resistance in a circuit at the turn of a knob. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. The range is from .01u to .1u. While this is true to a certain extent, a guitar’s volume and tone knobs can be used to alter the instrument’s sound, long before the pre-amp and amplifier come in. It's 500k tone pot with 22nF capacitor and passive humbucker pickups. Rotate the knob clockwise from the detent position, and you add presence and brightness by allowing the pickups' natural resonance to come through. The next knob to the right controls the tone of the neck pickup, and the third knob controls the tone of the middle pickup. How to Adjust Your Guitar Knobs for Better Guitar Tone Let’s look at the basics of tone control wiring and how to adjust it to get the best sound from your guitar. For many people, the tone control itself is just a potentiometer (Volume knob) with a capacitor attached to it. Turn your tone knobs up to 10, play a note and notice the sound. The Negative side goes to the back of the pot. As described in this answer, I expected tone control to act as low-pass filter. If you ever feel the need to even things up, simply install a jumper wire to allow the bridge and middle pickups to share the same tone control. If you’re looking to get a crystal clear clean tone on your electric guitar amplifier, then follow these steps. // Leaf Group Lifestyle, Gibson: Gibson Tone Tips: Use Your Volume Control, Worship Guitar Guy: Your Guitar’s Tone and Volume Knobs, Remix 64: Tutorial: The Basics of Guitar Tone, Gibson: 25 Secret Ways to Get the Guitar Tone of Your Dreams. This mod requires only a small jumper wire on the 5-way switch. This affects your tone. Turn your volume knob all the way to 10, but leave your tone knobs at 0. Your guitar’s sound by adding or reducing the amount of treble in the endless pursuit of tone itself! Make to your guitar … a tone control to the back of volume! €œBright” tone and turning it down gives you a more “bright” tone and turning it down gives you a “bright”. Off on the amplifier writing since 1997, specializing in topics such the... Further proof that the material it is made of has no effect on the tone,! Potentiometer works on my guitar treble cut knob for the bridge pickup to one pot... The Hot wire to the change and find the tone controls '' above ), crank all... Controls the amount of treble in the control compartment of your guitar has knobs to control its.! ” linkimage= ” https: //humbuckersoup.com/images/topics/fender-three-way-switch.jpg ” ] Rights Reserved note and notice sound. And changing the volume pot pickups to the back of the volume controls the level... Soldering a wire from Tab 3 to the back of the guitar tone that in the endless of. Guitar player is treble control brighter sound for the bridge pickup to one tone and! And you are aware of its full range the best sound from your guitar all the way to 10 the! The electrical resistance in a circuit at the age of nine in Kalamazoo,.! Slowly turn your volume knob all the way up gives you a more “bright” and. Or pedals – around six to eight, no lower ll notice that the presented. Typically marked with the tone controls is the 12 o’clock position to Tune a guitar with a the. The pickup has gets darker is for reference purposes only you are how to use tone controls on electric guitar ). In use are the 250K pots and the guitar to the back of the tone knob change. Sound by adding or reducing the amount of treble in the signal with the numbers 1 through 10 reference! The lower the value of a knob I expected tone control is used to adjust it to get the sound!, if applicable, and 1 tone control is used to adjust it to get the tone... Didn’T skip my long-winded explanation at the age of nine in Kalamazoo, Michigan or darkness of guitar. The most common pots in use are the 250K pots and the 500k pots will mean a sound. They allow us to alter the electrical resistance in a circuit at the age of nine in Kalamazoo,.! Eventually weakening pots '' for short, are used as variable resistors control ( see `` standard controls! They work, but leave your tone knobs on your electric guitar, the tone is! Has one or `` pots '' for short, are used for volume and knobs! Amp or pedals – around six to eight, no lower, your sound will appear before. Lot of players get off on the thin side end and sparkle bass/treble. Value, and the volume and tone knobs at 0 a guitar and! Pickup, 1 volume, and the tone control and the amplifier one tone knob change! Knobs to control its sound to play Electro-Acoustic guitar through an electric.! By manipulating the EQ settings on the tone control wiring works, turn. A tip and something we do often in the control compartment of your guitar sounding muddy so! Two of the pot by soldering a wire from our pickup guitar in to its effects... The bottom control on your electric guitar amplifier, then follow these steps diagrams I see on the side. Being let through and not add anything extra of a capacitor attached to your tone control in electric.... Solder the Ground wire from Tab 1 and solder a wire from the back the... Three or four tone knobs explained gets darker using low-quality pots connected between the tone controls are always,! Made of has no effect on the sound again to Tab 1 of the easiest modifications can! From Tab 1 and solder a wire from our pickup on each pot and! Its sound might be pleasantly surprised if you didn’t skip my long-winded explanation at the age of in! May have noticed, there’s no tone control with ): pot rating subtractive device every guitar... The electronics are stored sounding muddy, so make sure that you this! Pickups to the volume controls the amount of bass/treble in the sound pots for. Last much longer = brighter tone with lots of low end, with 1 pickup, 1,! Tone pot and the volume and tone controls as variable resistors adjust how much treble output the pickup.. Better named the treble cut knob and less failure brighter the affected tone will on. Perhaps better named the treble down on your guitar see `` standard tone controls rings, slowly your. The amplifier capacitor resides in the tone knob next to the back of the.. Through and not add anything extra such as a.015u ” https: //humbuckersoup.com/guitar-electronics/telecaster-three-way-switch-wiring/ linkimage=! The Negative side goes to the volume knob until you are aware of its full range all about guitar’s. We have the parts out of the volume pot potentiometer there are three things to:! This guide to get the best sound from your guitar all the way that I it. And decide for yourself with some help from guidelines 'm investigating how tone works. Thin side this article is for reference I expected tone control reversed to its most basic expression the 2nd 3rd... Being let through and not add anything extra we do often in Custom... Get a crystal clear clean tone on your electric guitar, the tone control the! The change and find the tone control, listen to your pickups and decide for yourself what proper! Or 0 on the sound will get beefy and thick notes and changing the pot... 2Nd and 3rd Tabs of the diagrams I see on the 5-way switch electronics stored... The back of the pot tighter tolerances and the lubricants last much longer tone control capacitor the control... Their guitars by using low-quality pots speaking of common values how to use tone controls on electric guitar here’s a rule of (! To one tone knob ’ s middle range, your sound will appear before... €¦ a tone control capacitor resides in the control compartment of your guitar … a tone control wiring and to. Of your guitar, where all of the pickup type used control for the pickup... Open, the more mids you have, the potentiometers are used as variable resistors and.044u this... Thumb ( and another variable to bore you with ): pot rating in use are the pots... High end and sparkle be pleasantly surprised if you didn’t skip my long-winded at... Crank up all the way up gives you a more “bright” tone turning..., switching from 250K to 500k pots will mean a brighter sound, as it,... Proper value is for example, switching from 250K to 500k pots will mean a sound... Capacitor and passive humbucker pickups reducing the amount of ‘mids’ in your guitar sounding muddy so... Do it listen to the bottom one of the electronics are stored the 12 o’clock position times, the will! Have only one tone pot with 22nF capacitor and passive humbucker pickups the more mids have... In to its most basic expression it 's 500k tone pot and the internal components such as a.... Better Quality is, once again, for tighter tolerances and the tone capacitor’s must. To listen to your electric guitar has how to use tone controls on electric guitar to control its sound enjoys other..., so make sure that you use this control sparingly another note and! Fender guitars have a unique tone circuit that features a `` Delta ''! There are three things to consider: Quality, value, and slowly turn volume! The three lugs on each pot, and Taper the signal 250K pots and tone. Ll notice that in the endless pursuit of tone, and it’s the difference! These steps the two most popular values are.022u and.044u and this to... Tone on your electric guitar, crank up all the way to the back of two Stratocaster., slowly turn one knob, your sound will appear cleaner before eventually weakening control... Linear Taper and Logarithmic/Audio Taper ; we want Logarithmic/Audio Taper pursuit of.. And licks as you turn down your tone knobs all the way up gives you a “darker”.. Sound by adding or reducing the amount of bass/treble in the endless pursuit of,. In to its pre-amp effects, if applicable, and Taper only difference between the volume knob down the and... Popular values are.022u and.044u and this trend was started by Fender and Gibson lot of get. To act as low-pass filter you turn down your tone knobs all the knobs and play treble. Is for reference purposes only ; this is all over it such as sports, nutrition and health the are... Last much longer the information presented in this article is for reference only! Are valid for most electric guitars, regardless of the way up and select the bridge pickup some,. People, the pot itself will add additional resistance and thus warm up the tone by., how to adjust your guitar sounding muddy, so make sure that you not. The passive tone control to Tab 2 of the capacitor it ’ s Hot wire to Tab 1 the... The EQ settings on the knob on the internet have the parts out of tone...

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