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Tone Wiring Question

8/20/1996 5:25 PM
Raol Morales Tone Wiring Question
I'm trying to take the tone knob out of an inexspensive guitar I have. It has two single coils and a humbucker in the bridge position. There is one volume and one tone control along with a five-way switch. Can you help me?  
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8/20/1996 5:27 PM
Joe Jasniewski

Most I've seen are pretty easy -  
1. Identify Capacitor connected to tone control.  
2. Cut opposite lead of capacitor to one connected to tone control, keeping the wire at the place it was connected to as short as possible.  
3. Identify ground wire to tone control.  
4. Cut/remove it in the same manner.  
5. Pull knob off, unbolt control from guitar body.  
6. Remove both capacitor and control from guitar.  
Hope this helps.  
8/20/1996 5:30 PM
Duane Waller

The tone controls on most passive guitars are pretty simple. Most of the time you have a pot with one rail connected to the pickups, while the other end goes to a capacitor which shorts higher tones to ground. The pot movement decreases the resistance from the guitar signal to the cap, thus shorting more of the higher tones to ground. You may wish to leave the pot control there for something else, or take it out completely. The cap is probably soldered directly to the outer case of the pot as its ground connection.  
Hope this helps. best, Duane
4/29/1997 9:24 AM
Mark Hammer

I'm not sure why you want to take the tone control out, but in most cases people wish to remove their tone control because it "sucks" tone (primarily high end and midrange bite), or because it only seems to function as a "mute" control, rolling off more high-end than is desired.  
Consider the following:  
1) If it truly IS a cheap guitar, there is a good possibility that the tone control values are simply wrong. Either the tone pot value is too low (e.g., 100-250k), in which case the tone control is effectively "on" all the time, losing all the sheen and sparkle from your single coils, or the tone capacitor value is too high, resulting in a tone control whose action is too extreme and offers only a choice of normal or muffled.  
2) Increasing the value of the Tone control pot to 500k (or even more) can sometimes help to preserve a bit more high end when the tone control is rotated to minimum cut. It won't work miracles, but it can often preserve a bit more bite, and it will be there for you should you wish to roll back the highs (which it wouldn't be if you remove it).  
3) Decreasing the value of the tone capacitor allows you to use the tone control as a "voicing" control, rather than a "muffle on/off" control. For reasons that probably have more to do with mindless adherence to precedence than to good design, many manufacturers continue to use tone caps with values between .02 and .05uf. What's worse is that they assume the same tone-control parameters should apply to both neck and bridge pickups, when in fact they each receive different combinations of harmonics (which is, of course, why we use more than one pickup). You may find that replacing your stock tone cap with something between 1500pf-.01uf will give you a more desirable type of control - effectively a control that "rounds" the tone instead of gutting it. On my own guitar, I find that smaller values of tone caps help to produce a more Gibson-ny tone from Fender-ish pickups when the tone control is used.  
4) I've also toyed with a "dual-action" tone control and installed one on a friend's Tele to great success. Replace your existing tone control pot with a 1meg linear pot. Solder two different caps to it (e.g., .0022 and .015uf), one lead from each cap to each side lug, and the free leads to the housing of the pot. The centre lug of the control now goes to the hot lug on your volume control. What you have here is a tone control that gives a milder rounding effect as you rotate it in one direction, and a steeper muting-like rolloff as you rotate it in the other direction. One may be better for your neck pickups, while the other may be better for smoothing out a bridge pickups sound. Because the control is a high resistance value, moving it to the centre-position of its rotation places it essentially out of circuit (equivalent to two 500k tone controls set to minimum rolloff).  
5) If you want the option to achieve the pristine sound of pickups that are not loaded down by your tone control, but maintain the option of using a tone control, you might consider removing the pot and replacing it with a rotary switch (e.g., the 6 or 12 position ones that Radio Shack sells). One of the positions would remove the tone cap from the circuit entirely, and the other positions would engage different cap values, just like the Varitone on the Gibson ES-345. On my own guitar, I have a 3-position toggle control with no tone-cut (centre-position), and two different preset rolloffs (round and mute). I love it because it's simple, does the job in a predictable manner and affords me the brightest sound possible when I want it. Since you have the space for a rotary switch, why not splurge and try different options. Check out Craig Anderton's projects books for ideas about what you could do with such a rotary switch (e.g., different midrange cuts).

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