Les Paul Volume Control Strangeness

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by SixStringSlinger, Aug 12, 2020.

  1. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    3,684
    Joined:
    May 21, 2006
    Location:
    Space
    So this weekend I picked up my first Les Paul, and it's really cool. It's different and familiar and and fun and challenging and I'm still working out what it likes to do and what I can coax out of it, but it's fun.

    Pics and the like here: https://www.tdpri.com/threads/ngd-im-a-lawyer-now.1041485/#post-10025873

    Anyway, aside from being my first Les Paul, it's also my first guitar with a dedicated volume and tone control for each pickup, and I've noticed that in the middle position, things don't work the way I figured they would.

    I thought that, with both pickups engaged, the pickups' respective volume controls would let me blend the two pickups however I liked; I could keep them even, say, or have the neck on full and brighten just a touch with a dash of bridge. I thought that engaging the middle position with, say, the bridge volume on 10 and the neck on 0 would sound just like the bridge position (alone) on 10.

    Turns out it doesn't work that way on my LP (relative volume changes between the pickups are not smooth, turning one pickup all the way down cuts out everything...), and turns out that's actually normal. A little Googling brought up this article, which details the what and the why and the how to change that: https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/21106-mod-garage-decouple-your-les-pauls-volume-controls

    Long story short, you can rewire an LP-like layout so that it works the way I thought it would, though this causes major treble loss when playing at less-than-full volume, necessitating a treble bleed if you're not into that.

    Has anyone tried this? Did you like it? Do you not see a point to it at all?
     
    Telecaster88 and Jakedog like this.
  2. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    18,863
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2003
    Location:
    The North Coast
    I don’t see a point to it. But it might be cool to you, so go for it. You can always put it back stock if you don’t like it.

    I just wired one of mine with no tone controls (I don’t ever use them. On any guitar.) and no switch. Now it just has two volume knobs. That I can blend in or out as much as I want.


    There really aren’t any rules. You can set it up however you want.
     
  3. Wallaby

    Wallaby Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Age:
    56
    Posts:
    1,220
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2018
    Location:
    Midwest
    Hard to answer this without sounding like a grump... but at least I'm sincere! :)

    I'd leave it alone and learn how all the controls interact as they are now instead of worrying about how to make them work the way you *think* they should work.

    You already have the three way switch that will give you an all-bridge or all-neck tone if you want it.

    I find a lot of possible combinations in the middle position just by nudging the volumes slightly between 8 - 10 on their dials and listening - you can hear it when they start interacting and changing, where the "woman tone" starts, where the quack starts, the chiming, etc. and it's pretty cool, it's a very versatile configuration once you learn how it works.

    I think the key is exploring very slight changes in the dials and listening.
     
  4. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    10,482
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2005
    Location:
    Nueces Strip
    I understand completely what the OP is saying about the interaction of the pickups.
    I kept changing and upgrading the switch and pots...
     
    Jakedog likes this.
  5. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    68
    Posts:
    12,749
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2017
    Location:
    Foat Wuth, Texas
    This is why I, when I have a Les Paul or ES 335-type guitar, I "disconnect" one set of volume and tone controls, and wire both pickups to one "master" volume and one "master" tone controls. This just works best for me. ;)
     
    AAT65, Jakedog and Dismalhead like this.
  6. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,831
    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2014
    Location:
    UK
    This just not the standard 50’s wiring behaviour? I rewired my Les Paul that way.

    It’s a minute’s solder job to move a couple of connections to the tone pots.
     
  7. OlDefGuy

    OlDefGuy TDPRI Member

    Age:
    58
    Posts:
    15
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2018
    Location:
    Kansas
    My main guitars are Lesters and this is a feature that I truly like. I run dissimilar pu’s in neck and bridge and run in the middle position almost exclusively. You can vary tone,volume,clean and dirt from the controls on the guitar. Most of my LP’s are ‘bucker bridge P-90 neck and the different tones from tweaking the volume knobs is where it’s at for me. Wallaby’s absolutely right!
     
  8. Wallaby

    Wallaby Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Age:
    56
    Posts:
    1,220
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2018
    Location:
    Midwest
    Another thing that has made me crazy several times is when I switch between a Gibson and a Tele is the differences in their sounds. You'd think it would be the scale length, but I'm okay with that, it's the differences in the sounds.

    When I move from a Tele to a Gibson I immediately start thinking about that clear, metalic "clunk" and clean pure Tele twang I love and how different the thick, meaty and crispy Gibson sound is.

    When I move from a Gibson to a Tele I start thinking about how it sounds "thin" and doesn't drive the preamp the same way, the same chords don't grunt the way I like, etc.

    There are so many ways to adjust pickups, especially with humbuckers, I can spent HUGE amounts of screwdriver time getting it "just right" and then realize I've completely neutered what I like about the guitar.

    So I try to relax and play in a way that exploits the differences and what it is about each guitar that inspires me and catches my ear. And utilize the controls on the amp instead of fiddling with the guitar.

    Just rambling about it, I thought I'd mention that.
     
  9. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    57
    Posts:
    7,813
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2014
    Location:
    Antelope, California
    I've recently picked up an Epi 339 and a Gibson SG after playing just Fenders for half a dozen years.

    I have found that the best way for me to use the controls on my Gibsons is to set the tone controls in one place and only mess with the neck volume and the switch when I'm playing; I leave the bridge pickup volume dimed. My Strats and Teles I'm constantly tweaking everything, Gibsons not so much.
     
    mexicanyella and OlDefGuy like this.
  10. Paul G.

    Paul G. Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,290
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    This.

    The Gibson control scheme has been used for 70 years, and yields the player who is willing to learn it with a wide variety of tonal colors. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, spend the time to learn the instrument. Good starting point: Neck pickup: Volume -- 8, Tone -- 10. Bridge pickup: Volume -- 8, tone 6. Now varying the volumes and switch position gives you a wide and unique array of colors, instantly available.

    If you can't be bothered, then probably wire it up like an Explorer with 2 volumes and one tone and put fuzzy dice in the other hole.
     
    richey88, Mad Kiwi and OlDefGuy like this.
  11. OlDefGuy

    OlDefGuy TDPRI Member

    Age:
    58
    Posts:
    15
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2018
    Location:
    Kansas
    My favorite Tele is a Custom, control layout just like a Les Paul ;).
     
  12. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    57
    Posts:
    7,813
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2014
    Location:
    Antelope, California
    Interesting. I may try that on one of my dual HB guitars.
     
    nojazzhere likes this.
  13. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    68
    Posts:
    12,749
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2017
    Location:
    Foat Wuth, Texas
    Maybe we'll start a "movement".....I sold a DeArmond guitar to a guy once that I had done that to. I explained what I did, and that if he didn't like it I'd wire it back to original for him. He LOVED it that way.
     
    Dismalhead likes this.
  14. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    18,863
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2003
    Location:
    The North Coast
    I have another dual HB guitar with a three way blade switch and single volume knob. That’s it.

    I have an aversion to tone knobs. I’ve never found a use for them.
     
    Doctorx33 and Dismalhead like this.
  15. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    11,238
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2013
    Location:
    near Arnold's
    I may be missing something.

    In the middle position you can use volumes to shade tone.

    But if you turn one of them off, you get the kill switch. Which is cool too. See, Rage Against The Machine.

    As someone else noted, you can get either pickup by itself in that switch position. Why would you also want that in the middle?
     
    OlDefGuy and Jakedog like this.
  16. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    18,863
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2003
    Location:
    The North Coast
    The “infinite blend” option is cool. I’ve done two pickup guitars with a volume pot and a pan pot. It’s a really fun option.

    Like my current LP Spc with two volumes, and no switch or tone. I steal stuff from bass wiring and stick it in guitars because they’re great ideas.

    the kill switch is cool, too. I used that a lot back in the day playing BIG Marshalls. You could have your volume full up on the bridge, off at the neck, and mute with the pickup switch. Avoided unwanted feedback problems at extreme volumes.
     
    OlDefGuy and MilwMark like this.
  17. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    3,684
    Joined:
    May 21, 2006
    Location:
    Space
    Fair enough. I should try to meet the guitar on its terms and go from there. I can always change things later if I want to.

    :lol:

    I've actually thought of changing to tone controls to a master treble cut and a master bass cut. I have that on both my Strat and my Reverend and it's really useful. I can only imagine it would be more so with these big ol' humbuckers.

    Anyway, I do see the two tone controls as kind of redundant, but I can see the attraction in each pickup having its own volume.

    I think a lot about using a particular guitar for what it's best at, or what it "wants" to do vs. making it do what I want. It's a balance. I probably lean toward using the guitar for what it wants while pushing and expanding that a bit.

    Anyway, yeah, I should probably spend some time getting to know the LP as it is.

    It's not that I want one pickup in the middle position, it's just an extreme example to illustrate how I thought the volume controls in that position would work.
     
  18. AAT65

    AAT65 Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,570
    Joined:
    May 29, 2016
    Location:
    West Lothian, Scotland
    It’s what I’ve done to my PRS SE245 (& moved the switch down south too).
    19EA7F9B-E576-4739-9BBB-4F09DC0CAFBD.jpeg
    One day I will cover the empty holes...
     
    Jakedog and nojazzhere like this.
  19. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,212
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2015
    Location:
    europe
    The thing about Les Pauls is that the tone controls with the vintage wiring are counter-intuitive.

    If you have, say the tone on zero on the neck pickup and just want to add bass with the neck volume control, the tone control will be on max no matter where you set the volume. With the modern wiring, the tone control will be proportional to the volume control.
     
  20. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    11,813
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2003
    Location:
    northwest
    The Gibson control scheme has always been a mystery to me, just because the various schemes are different a bit. But OP's sounds normal. I think you learn to use it without turning either pickup to 0. It blends pretty well.
    There was something about the 50's wiring that I didn't like as well as Modern wiring, but what it was evades me now...
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.