Do you use the guitar tone control?

Discussion in 'The Tone Zone' started by BlueX, Apr 27, 2021.

  1. BlueX

    BlueX Well-Known Member Silver Supporting Member

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    My experience of electric guitars has been with Fender Strat and Epiphone LP. For both types I find the tone controls of little use. When turned down with about 20% I think the sound just get dull and uninspiring, so for years I leave the tone nobs on max.

    However, I recently bought a Solar guitar, with active pickups (bridge and neck), a three-way PU selector, one volume nob and one tone nob. With this guitar it's a different story. When I turn down the tone control the treble is reduced, but the bass is increased. Seems like the midrange is kept. Over the full range of the tone control the sound is still rich and really pleasant, for all positions on the PU selector.

    I like the different sounds I can get from all guitars above, just that for the Strat and LP tone controls are always at max.

    Any comments on this? Can it be the active pickups that have influence on how the tone control works?
     
  2. Sapient

    Sapient   Gold Supporting Member

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    Never. Turn them all the way up then pretend they are not even there.

    I don't think it's a good idea to tone the tone of the tone, etc. either.
     
  3. dodona

    dodona Member

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    On fenders I generally turn the tone control at ~8. With gibsons it depends on the style I play.
     
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  4. WellBurnTheSky

    WellBurnTheSky Well-Known Member

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    For years (well, decades really) I've been a "all on 10" guy. Especially playing modern, kinda compressed amps.
    And then, I started using the volume knob more. Especially since I got my Studio Vintage head and wasn't relying on channel switching anymore (but I really started when I got my Ceriatone JTM-45 and stopped using pristine cleans).
    And a couple years ago, I started using the tone knob, while simultaneously dialing my amp brighter and brighter. Allows me to have more brightness and more cut on tap that I can dial in using guitar controls only, so that over long gigs as I get tired I still can hear myself cutting through the mix.
    But getting a pretty touch-sensitive amp and having to work a bit more to get a wider palette from it definitely helped me on that path. Relying less on amp compression and saturation, too. And now I get why all these years I was seeing all those classic players constantly micro-managing guitar controls...
     
  5. geddy

    geddy Active Member

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    I've also used tone controls on all my guitars....More sounds available...any perceived lack of control could be down to a particular guitar (wiring , components etc). I only have active pus on 1 guitar and that gives me treble and bass boost and cut...so it depends, I guess
     
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  6. Dioesque

    Dioesque Active Member

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    I don’t do it very often, but sometimes when playing my Gibson with heavy distortion, I’ll switch to the front/rhythm HB pickup (which I also seldom ever use) and roll its tone control all the way down.

    Surprisingly, with high gain, doing so does not make it sound muffled at all (which is the result if playing clean). Instead, it creates a uniquely sonorous “round” sound, kinda fuzztone like, yet creamy or buttery, almost like a smooth warm violin or cello or something.

    I think Clapton, in his Cream days, referred to it as a “woman tone.” (Think Sunshine of Your Love tone.)
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2021
  7. Ramo

    Ramo Well-Known Member

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    Mine is on all the time, when i finish playing I turn vol and tone off so the dust cant get in.

    So to answer you question no, I never use it :)
     
  8. SmokeyDopey

    SmokeyDopey Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    Yep. Similar to @WellBurnTheSky, when I started using older type circuits, I found myself messing more and more with the guitar's knobs.

    Sometimes I need to accentuate certain highs in an amp because of the way it distorts, but that can make the guitar slightly harsh, so I roll off a bit from the guitar instead of the amp.
    If I need to sound as if I'm "behind" (spatially) the other guitarist, I also roll a little off (besides playing lighter or roll off a bit of volume to clean up a bit for example), to give a couple examples.
     
  9. playloud

    playloud Active Member

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    Absolutely. On the bridge pickup of the strat, it's nigh-on essential
     
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  10. Beltalowda

    Beltalowda Active Member

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    tl;dr: I use my volume control(s) constantly and my tone control(s) on occasion. My tone controls are rarely ever wide open though. Further explanation below.

    I rarely max out my tone controls, but I mostly play Teles which have a rep for being overly bright on the bridge. So I usually roll off about a 1/3 of the tone pot on Teles. Less on LPs.

    Some suggest leaving the tone pot open and adjust treble via amp EQ, but IME, neck pickups can often be muddy or too thick even after lowering and pole height adjustments. They can often benefit from as much treble as you can give them - outside of needing jazzier sounds or woman-tone. So I use the amp treble to dial in my neck pickup tone then roll off bridge tone to reduce the spike. Some amount of fiddling back and forth and some compromise is usually needed though. [Sidenote: And because neck pickups are often hotter than bridges, sometimes you need to roll off the neck volume - but then there's the issue with highs being rolled off too which is a thing common in modern wiring schemes. I prefer 50s wiring because of this as it helps retain the highs when rolling off volume. There are other options to counter that, like treble bleeds and whatnot, but I've never had much luck with those].

    Tone controls are usually 'set and forget' for me if the bridge pickup has it's own dedicated tone. If a dedicated neck tone control is available, that will (usually) stay wide open. But in a traditional Tele setup, I often need to roll the tone back up when switching to neck, depending on the sound I'm aiming for of course.

    I use the tone control most frequently on single pickup guitars like LPJs. It helps produce more tonal variety and you can mimic a neck pickup with the right amount of roll off.

    As far as your solar guitar, maybe its got a different wiring scheme than you're used to or maybe it is something to do with the active pickups, which I know almost nothing about, btw, so I'd only be guessing!
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2021
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  11. TXOldRedRocker

    TXOldRedRocker A Variant of Unknown Origin Gold Supporting Member

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    Absolutely. On LP's it does so much for "tone." And with volume, how sensitive do I want the pickups to be. That's what they are there for. At least, for people like me that play covers of other people songs. I'm trying to match tone. If I played only my songs, maybe I'd have one tone.
     
  12. Old Punker

    Old Punker Well-Known Member

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    For me the tone control is the easiest to manage. On every guitar I set it once, to ten, and leave it there. :D
     
  13. fitz288

    fitz288 Well-Known Yinzer Silver Supporting Member

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    Why not?
    One more option for finding a new tone.
    And it's right at your fingertips.
    I use TMB, presence, resonance, tilt, or what ever is on the amp.
    I use tone controls/EQ on pedals.
    My Hondo has push/pull tone with 2 different cap values.
    If you leave everything set one way, I guess you've found "your tone", good for you.
    I enjoy the quest that has no destination.
     
  14. Cossack

    Cossack Member

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    I use the tone controls a lot more than I used to.
    Clean, almost never, but with a well overdriven tone, I'll do what Dioesque described above for a "Woman Tone."
    And to expand on what playloud said, for a Strat bridge pickup it's extremely useful (of course most Strats don't come wired with a tone control on the bridge pickup). Once I bought a Strat that was wired that way, and discovered that it made all the difference in the world to roll the tone off some when playing overdriven tones on the bridge. Fattened it up and smoothed it out.
     
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  15. RobS

    RobS Well-Known Member

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    always, especially with guitars wired 50's style
     
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  16. Maggot Brain

    Maggot Brain Well-Known Member

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    I definitely try to utilize all controls on the guitar but I find it really depends on the guitar's wiring/circuit. I often find most Strats ive owned or played sound dull and muffled as you roll down the tone and it just isn't very usable. I got a loaded pickgaurd with 50s style wiring and it is extremely usable! I remember stumbling on it, twiddling the knobs out of curiosity and thinking "So these were usable at one time!". With that guitar I am always dialing and tweaking the tone knobs, extremely useful and would love to have all my Strats wires that way.

    My Epi LP is usable and use them frequently also.
     
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  17. mickeydg5

    mickeydg5 Well-Known Member

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    The Tone pretty much stays 100% but may turn it some depending on sound required.
     
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  18. El Gringo

    El Gringo Well-Known Member

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    On my Gibson Les Paul's , when I am playing on the lead channel of my 2555X's I set the bridge pickups tone control on 6.5 . When I am playing clean tone is all the way up on the neck pickup . Same as on the Tele in clean . For the rest of the Tele , it's still a work in progress .
     
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  19. dragonvalve

    dragonvalve Well-Known Member

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    Yes, tone AND volume is always set to mid-way up on the guitar and then the amp is adjusted EQ/GAIN to be able to get the vol and tone on the guitar to become useful.

    Playing wide open is not my go-to setting.

    Otherwise why have knobs at all.

    The more experienced one becomes, the more the knobs on the guitar become useful.

    It's all a matter of balancing things.

    Set your amp up with some dirt and enough gain and with the vol/tone knobs on half way, it creates headroom to overdrive the amp from the guitar to go from "clean" to distortion.
     
  20. Kutt

    Kutt Well-Known Member

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    Yes, especially on a Les Paul's neck pickup position to get a pseudo cocked wah / nasal tone on single note lines from about the 10th fret and higher.
     

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