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Old April 18th, 2007, 03:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Do you use volume and tone knobs?

I just read a related thread on volume knobs, but it was more about technically how a volume pot works. Got me thinkin'...

Do you use volume and tone knobs when you play? How and why?

I used to use the volume knob more just for volume control (duh), as in "Can you turn that down?" but not so much for tonal variations. Then I read how my hero Albert King engaged both pickups, turned the bridge pickup all the way up, then adjusted the neck pickup for tonal variations (can't do this on a standard Tele but I can do it on my 72 Deluxe RI). That's gotten me experimenting more. I also read that Hendrix used to crank his Marshalls all the way up to ten, then control the volume with his guitar.

The tone control has always been a mystery to me.

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Old April 18th, 2007, 03:19 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I always leave my knobs wide open. I use my pick hand for volume level and try for great tone all the time. (playing country)
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Old April 18th, 2007, 03:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I use both to an extent. But it depends on the guitar, and the situation. I have a few guitars without any tone controls, and I'm slowly getting around to putting tone controls back into them. But it just wasn't a priority before, so if I needed another knob for something, I'd use the tone pot.

But I think the Wolfgang guitars are famous for not having a tone control.

Different tecniques. It's no big deal. I find that you can vary the tone plenty without a tone control, but just having them in the circuit changes the sound, which is my main interest in them.

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Old April 18th, 2007, 03:40 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I use tone controls differently depending on the guitar. On a Tele I find rolling back the tone on the back pickup gives a nice vintage "boom" to the attack. On the front pickup it gives a plummy jazz tone and on both pickups it can add a little depth to the chime. On a Strat I'll often turn one tone control all the way down when mixing pickups to simulate a half cocked wah with distorted tones. This only works with heavily mid boosted distortion, a Rat is ideal.
I use the volume control to clean up distorted sounds and sometimes just to back off a little bite from the clean tones.
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Old April 18th, 2007, 03:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I constantly use them. I set my guitar up for a nice ryhthm tone with the guitar volume at 7. Then when I turn it up for leads it gets more volume and grind. Sorta like a boost pedal if you will.

For tone, I strat at about 5 then adjust my amp. Now I can add treble if I need/want to. If you set your amp with the tone on 10 you can't add any treble back in.

I played about 10 years with them wide open before I really figured out how to use them properly.
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Old April 18th, 2007, 03:52 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Old April 18th, 2007, 04:02 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I use both, all the time.

For Volume, I run it about 75% open normally. That way I can get a bump if I need it, and it keeps the sound fairly clean. I use a tube amp, so opening up the volume 100% can introduce some distortion that I don't always care for. I also use a stomp box with multiple pre-sets that I use to boost my signal for solos without having to touch the volume.

For Tone, I run it about 50%. Depending on the song I make minor adjustments. Going to 60% noticably brightens it, while backing off to 40% takes some of the bite out. I rarely venture outside the 40-60 range.

I also play about 90% on my neck pickup (I think I'm in the minority). Even on the neck pickup, with tone at 60%, I can get a nice twang. I'll switch over to the bridge pickup for my more serious country licks. I never use both pickups (mid switch position) at the same time.

FWIW, I play a mix of country (new and old), light classic rock, southern rock, and blues. Nothing heavy or really overdriven.

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Old April 18th, 2007, 04:07 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I didn't used to until I started playing teles and more old school amps. Now I do and I feel my guitar sounds all the better for it. I always wondered why they were there but now I find I can 'fine tune' tone with them for both clean or overdriven sounds. It has sort of become second nature to adjust them for the sound in my head and the feel I'm looking for and accordingly I fiddle with them more than I ever thought I would. I think to a certain extent it would depend on the guitar and the electrics you've got, for instance I don't find my strat is as receptive to these kinds of adjustments as I find the tele, probably owes most to the cap values and the pups themselves rather than the model of guitar per se. On the rare occasions I play Les Pauls I leave them wide open, they just sound like I'm playing through a thick sock to me otherwise, but then after Fenders they often do anyway.
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Old April 18th, 2007, 04:42 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I only recently started backing off the tone at the guitar and leaving it more trebly at the amp. I don't know why I think that sounds better but it seems crisper and less ice picky. Also I've been trying to use my volume as an old school channel switch. Down for clean, up for dirty.
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Old April 18th, 2007, 05:28 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I use the volume controls to reduce/increase distortion, and I attempt volume swells and violining techniques (and fail =]).

I never really used tone controls on my Strats or other guitars till I got my 60's Classic, something about the sound of Tele pickups reacts much better to use of a tone control than Strats (IMHO).
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Old April 18th, 2007, 05:32 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I use them both.
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Old April 18th, 2007, 05:36 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Use em all the time; I usually turn the volume pot slightly down for rhythm playing and up for solos; and I always turn down the tone pot a bit when switching to the bridge pickup - it just sounds fuller that way...
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Old April 18th, 2007, 06:02 PM   #13 (permalink)
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i play the Tele's controls in addition to playing the leaving the pots full on, one can miss out on so much of the Tele's nuance and capabilities......

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Old April 18th, 2007, 06:11 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I usually adjust the amp controls with the Tele vol. and tone control
up ~3/4. There is room for adjustments as needed with that.
On one Tele with hotter pickups I leave the tone all the
way up as it has a bleeder that brightens up and thins the
mids as the volume controls is lowered about 1/4.

Otherwise just use the occasional volume knob "swell" effect or tone knob
"sweep" of wha effect.
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Old April 18th, 2007, 06:53 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I tend to leave the volume wide, but roll the tone back (on my tele, that's the way to get that distinctive tele bridge pickup tone). My neck pickup's disconnected from the tone circuit though, because it sounded wooly with the tone rolled back.
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Old April 18th, 2007, 06:53 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Take also a look at this thread of mine:
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Old April 18th, 2007, 07:19 PM   #17 (permalink)
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"I also read that Hendrix used to crank his Marshalls all the way up to ten, then control the volume with his guitar."

Thats what the Three Kings did too, if i'm not mistaken.
I do it too. But with a Blues Junior... and they go to twelve.

Any one here ever put the reverb on 12? I can still here the power chord I played ringing in my ears now...
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Old April 18th, 2007, 07:30 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I NEVER used to touch them. I then watched a country guitar tuition DVD where a technique was shown getting wah wah from playing with the tone. i also found that if I roll back the tone a little with texas specials, it gives a better sound. The volume I play with less so.
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Old April 18th, 2007, 07:48 PM   #19 (permalink)
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i play the volume at 7 or 8 tone at half tweak from there
seems teles more than other guitars work best using the vol and tone
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Old April 18th, 2007, 07:48 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Cheesehead View Post

Do you use volume and tone knobs when you play?
Is this a trick question?

Some others have told me to crank 'em both wide open and get your volume and one with the amp.

That might work for them.

It doesn't work for me.

I tend to set the guitar knogs on the "fives," set the amp for the volume and tone I want, and then use the guitar knobs to take it from there.

I have the Buck Owens' Ranch videos. Don Rich is constantly on those knobs. (At least in the segments recorded "live.")

Good enough for Don Rich...good enough for me.


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