Mod Garage: Three Ways to Wire a Tone Pot

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by warrent, Aug 3, 2019.

  1. warrent

    warrent Friend of Leo's

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    As the question arises from time to time here's a recent article

    There are three different ways to configure the volume and tone controls in an electric guitar. Typically referred to as “modern,” “’60s,” and “’50s wiring,” they perform differently and are a subject of great debate amongst tone fanatics. These wirings are often discussed in the context of a Les Paul, but the schemes apply to any guitar with a volume and tone control—whether it’s a master-volume-plus-master-tone configuration, as with a Telecaster, or a guitar with individual volume and tone controls for each pickup, such as a Les Paul, ES-335, SG, and so on.

    More:
    https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/29161-mod-garage-three-ways-to-wire-a-tone-pot


    Mod-Garage-WEB.jpg
     
  2. Andy B

    Andy B Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Nice illustration.
     
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  3. omlove

    omlove Tele-Meister

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    Damn! I was just going to post questions about this article I just read. I thoguht I understand volume and tone pot until I read it. I lost at the very beginning...

    1. "Modern wiring. As shown in Image 1, in this wiring scheme the tone cap is connected between the volume pot’s input and the tone pot’s middle lug (aka wiper), which in this case is also the output. This configuration yields the behavior we’ve come to expect from a passive guitar. When you turn down the volume (even just a bit), the treble loss is disproportionate to the drop in volume. In other words, a small cut in volume creates a far greater loss in your guitar’s treble response."

    Why is that? Is it because now the signal has two paths to go, one through variable volume pot resistor, one through variable tone pot resistor? And as volume resitor gets more resistance, more signal (treble) goes to tone pot, to ground?

    2. "When electromagnetic interferences enter a guitar, they will also stray into the tone pot’s unused pin and therefore into the middle lug (the wiper) in both wirings. With the wiper connected to ground, as in the ’60s wiring, the interferences will stop at this point. But with the tone cap connected to the middle lug, like in the modern wiring, electromagnetic interferences will find their way through the cap and carry on."

    Will electromagnetic interference stray into the other two lugs and their connected resistor parts? Only wiper is affected?

    3. "The magic starts when you turn down the volume. With the modern wiring, the tone circuit is still directly connected to the pickup, but with the ’50s wiring, the tone circuit is uncoupled from the volume, which is now electrically located between the pickup and the tone circuit. Because the tone circuit can no longer react directly to the inductance of the pickup, no resonance superelevation and no resonance shift can happen at this point. "

    I have zero knowledge of what this means...$%$*^%*&^(
    :(

    4. "the ’50s wiring...... With the tone pot almost closed, the bass frequencies will be relatively raised—perfect for creating the “woman tone” that’s often associated with Cream-era Eric Clapton."

    That "more bass" means more treble is lost to the ground. It just said modern wiring can cause treble loss and in 50s wiring "The typical treble loss that occurs when rolling back the volume is greatly reduced". But here why does 50s wiring bleed more treble when tone pot is almost closed?

    5. "The tone and volume controls interact with each other—something you may know from certain early Fender tube amps. When you change the volume, the tone also changes a little bit and vice versa. Such interaction may feel strange at first, but it only takes a few minutes to get used to."

    Again I have no way to explain or understand this...

    I feel so dumb now. Any explaination of any above or pointing to any online resources with details are greatly appreciated...
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2019
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  4. preactor

    preactor Tele-Holic

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    Does anyone have a "Cliff Note" version of this?o_O
     
  5. warrent

    warrent Friend of Leo's

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    without being to technical
    1) With respect to the volume pot the higher the resistance the brighter the pickup will sound. That's why generally we use 500k pots with humbuckers and 250k pots with single coils. By themselves humbuckers tend to be less bright than single coils. As you turn down the volume pot the resistance the pickup sees is lower and the pickup loses some high end. Because an audio taper pot reduces the resistance at a higher rate than a straight line it tends to lose some treble very quickly compared to the overall volume drop.

    2)it's just a shorter route to ground for the emi with the wiper grounded.
    3)Look back at the answer for 1 above. Changing those resistance values changes the resonant peak of the pickup. The tone circuit comprises a resistance and capacitance value that also affects the resonant peak. Placing the tone circuit after the volume control which the 50's wiring does reduces the affect the tone control circuit has on the resonant peak.
    4) Dirk has an interesting writing style, all he's saying is the "50's" wiring sounds better as you roll off the treble.
    5)I'm not sure that the reference to fender amps was a good one. On some amps the tone controls although passive do affect the actual gain structure of the amp depending on settings. But getting back to a guitar think of it this way treble rolloff occurs in both the volume control (by changing the resistance the pickup sees) and in the tone control (by the capacitor) so changing the level on one will change the amount of effect the other has on the overall tone of the output.
     
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  6. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Poster Extraordinaire

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    Don't forget passive bass cut, one of the most useful, yet least used, ways to wire a tone pot.
     
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  7. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's

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    I just came here to post about the same thing subject - interesting to find a thread already started. My question is for the "smart about how pots work" folks here.
    What Dirk shows as "Standard Modern Wiring" Looks a lot different than what I am used to. This:
    Standard Modern Wiring.png
    Versus This - the more common Tele wiring:
    Tele Std Wiring.jpg
    I've only been doing this a few years, but I don't recall ever seeing it the first way. So what's the story - do those two wiring schemes end up doing exactly the same thing? And if it isn't too complicated to explain...why?

    Thanks,
    Rex
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019
  8. jackal

    jackal Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    I love the 50's wiring. The trick to avoid the tone pot affecting the volume is to go with a much smaller cap. I see no reason for the tone knob to get into the total "mud" sound. I use a .01 instead of a .022.
     
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  9. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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    I like the sound of the center connection on the V. Treble loss w no cap. On one guitar I just have one 1 mega ohm pot. The pick ups and output go to the center lug. One outside lug goes to ground. The other goes thru a cap to ground. If its set in the middle, no load. Turned away from the cap, it's just a Volume resistance load filter, the Tone side is like it's not there.Toward the Cap it's like the V on full w the Tone turned down. This seems a much better tone shaper than standard for home or studio use. Of course you can t tone shape and lower volume at the same time, so not so good for stage use.
     
  10. tubelectron

    tubelectron Tele-Afflicted

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    I do the wiring a bit differently, but with similar results to what you call "Modern" or "60s" :

    [​IMG]

    In my case : pot at the min = treble cut, pot at the max = full treble.

    The min side of the pot is the LOG region (slow increase of value).

    Min to Max rotation is from Left to Right turn (conventional HiFi pot sense).

    In fact, I never really monkeyed with tone correction wiring arrangement, always doing the same circuit, just worked on pot taper, pot value and cap values. I should...

    -tbln
     
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  11. warrent

    warrent Friend of Leo's

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    the pot is wired as a variable resistor between the signal, the cap and ground. It doesn't mater electrically whether the cap is wired before or after the pot so both diagrams are equivalent. Think of water through a hose a tap at either end of the hose still controls the water flow.
     
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  12. Andy B

    Andy B Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Honestly the best way to understand the differences is to try 50's vs. 60's or modern and see which way you like better. Personally my current favorite is Fender's greasebucket tone control wired 50's style.
     
  13. Ben Bishop

    Ben Bishop Tele-Meister

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    In an "uncorrected" circuit as you turn down the volume you lose more treble. The wiper path not only offers resistance to the signal but also adds capacitance to the signal path so up full, when the wiper arm sits at the output lug the wiper path is out of the circuit. Dialing in resistance also dials in capacitance, cutting progressively more treble. The diagram doesn't include any "treble bleed" device, a high-pass filter that allows some treble through regardless of wiper position.
     
  14. knockeduptele

    knockeduptele Tele-Holic

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    Found this variant courtesy of the Bill Lawrence notebooks and works well in some instances




    Bill Lawrence Tele Wiring.jpg
     
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  15. Wallaby

    Wallaby Friend of Leo's

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    Maybe I missed this in searching, there are SO MANY wiring threads ...

    Are there good clean audio examples of these wiring schemes by any chance?

    Thanks
     
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  16. basher

    basher Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    This is a really good demo of modern v. 50s wiring, fwiw.

     
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  17. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    When I read this article over the weekend it left me befuddled because he didn't show the rest of the connections.. makes it confusing to tell what is going on. If you leave off the rest of the connections to the pots you can't tell much since the pot will let electricity flow through in different directions if you reverse the lugs you use.

    It made me wonder if I had inadvertently wired mine for 50s wiring when I thought it was modern!

    I used this diagram from Stewmac when I redid my guitar in fall '17.


    [​IMG]

    I recently cut the treble bleed off but didn't change anything else. Stewmac's diagram just shows you connecting the tone pot to a lug and then bridging it to ground via an extra piece of wire to the shell of the pot. I'm not sure if that actually makes any difference. Now that I look at the diagram Trex posted mine is no different other than it's connected a lug of the volume pot to the ground as well as the shell.

    I mentioned in my other thread the amount of treble rolloff I get with my setup now that I cut the treble bleed cap out is really subtle to the point I like it much better than the treble bleed.

    I had another diagram of the same modern wiring from Lollar that came with my pickups and you look at that one and you'd think it was different too, so many of these are just laid out confusingly to the shade tree solderer.
     
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  18. Wallaby

    Wallaby Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks, Basher.

     
  19. warrent

    warrent Friend of Leo's

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    The video Basher posted is the best explanation for what the differences are and how the volume and tone controls interact.
    As for the differences in wiring diagrams for a given wiring scheme they are electricaly equivalent but the actual placement of the capacitor and how it's wired to ground has to do with the physical size of the cap and the space available. Wiring the cap between the volume and tone and having the one leg of the cap connect the volume pot and itself to ground is just the most efficient way to wire it not the only way.
     
  20. NilsZippo

    NilsZippo TDPRI Member

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    Thanks beninma for saying this:



    For me probably the single most frustrating thing about this is the multitude of wiring diagrams available and having to spend a bunch of time deciphering them. I recall my first attempt at doing a FP Blender to my strat. I had 3 different diagrams each labeled as such (FB Blend) but each looked completely different to me. After about 20-30 minutes of comparing and trying making heads or tales of them and feeling more confused I decided to just go with diagram that looked visually the closest to my electronics. I made the soldering changes, and everything worked perfect. I will admit it wasn't until I was in there doing it that everything in the one diagram I was going by finally made sense. But to this day, dealing with number of diagram variations for the same mod perplexing and can leave me exactly the same — befuddled — one of my all time favorite adjectives.
     
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