Tone Pot Acting like a Volume Control

skeeterbuck

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I have a Tele with an issue that I can seem to figure out. I've looked at the wiring several times and everything looks correct, but somehow I'm over looking the obvious. FYI: It's your normal run of the mill tele with 2 single coil pickups and it has a treble bleed circuit installed.

Here's the symptoms: With the switch in the #1 position (bridge p/u) and the #2 position, the tone and volume work OK. In the #3 position the neck pickup volume works OK, but as you back off the tone knob, it just seems to cut the volume down. It doesn't cut the highs and when it at the minimum the pickup is still on but at a much lower volume.
 

skeeterbuck

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IMG_0247.jpg
IMG_0246.jpg
 

skeeterbuck

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Gonna need pix, but my first thought is to remove the treble bleed, then re-flow all the solder joints.
That was my first thought too about the treble bleed. I had already tested it with the TB removed and it made no difference.
 

skeeterbuck

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Is it possible that you've got your pickups out of phase?
I doubt it because the problem is only when the neck pickup is engaged. I would think that an out of phase would be noticeable when both pickups are in use, which is not the case. The pickups are hum cancelling in the middle position, so one I guess is reverse wound.
 

Swirling Snow

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...your capacitor has failed.... and now doesn't affect the frequencies of the neck pickup...?

This makes no sense. The tone control is on the "other side" of the volume pot from the switch. There's only one wire from the switch. Mistress of the Obvious, I know, but dang.

Did this come on suddenly? Have you made any changes recently?
 

skeeterbuck

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...your capacitor has failed.... and now doesn't affect the frequencies of the neck pickup...?

This makes no sense. The tone control is on the "other side" of the volume pot from the switch. There's only one wire from the switch. Mistress of the Obvious, I know, but dang.

Did this come on suddenly? Have you made any changes recently?
I replaced the pickups about 2 years ago. After doing the change, I tested the guitar and it seemed fine. However, I can't say that I checked the neck pickup with the tone pot turned completely counterclockwise. I checked the wiring against my other tele that has a treble bleed factory installed and the wiring is identical. FYI: The pickups I installed were a set from the same winder.
 

Peegoo

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@skeeterbuck

It's difficult to see in your pic...but if the lead from the cap is soldered to the tone pot's tab 2 and the pot case, that's your problem. Clip out that little jumper between tab 2 and the case, and everything should work fine.
 

skeeterbuck

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@skeeterbuck

It's difficult to see in your pic...but if the lead from the cap is soldered to the tone pot's tab 2 and the pot case, that's your problem. Clip out that little jumper between tab 2 and the case, and everything should work fine.
The only wire going to the middle tab on the volume pot is the hot from the output jack. The tone cap lead is soldered to tab 3 on the volume pot and then to ground on the pot's case.
 

Peegoo

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The only wire going to the middle tab on the volume pot is the hot from the output jack. The tone cap lead is soldered to tab 3 on the volume pot and then to ground on the pot's case.

Not tab 2 of the volume pot. Look at the tone pot.

Is the lead from the cap going through tab 2 of the tone pot and soldered to the tone pot case?
 

JohnnyCrash

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Where does that black wire on the case of the tone pot go?

I’m only seeing three black wires. I’m assuming the two on the volume pot are the grounds for the bridge and neck pickups?

The ground on the tone pot comes from the jack? The bridge ground wire?

In any case, I suspect that you may have fried your capacitor with the soldering iron. The larger old style capacitor’s body is very very close to the solder points. Your soldering iron may have fried it (especially at the volume pot end where it has two solder points, and soldering to the pot’s case for ground often requires a bit more heating time with the soldering iron).

What wattage iron you have? Might be too hot for guitar work. I have an adjustable one I can dial hotter or colder for either amp or guitar work.

The tone pot is dumping signal to ground rather than filtering through the cap. Could be a fried cap, a missing ground connection, or a short (for instance, I usually use jacketed wire for the switch jumpers since bare wires might get pushed against other contacts when re-installing the control plate).

If you have a decent iron, try subbing the capacitor with a new one. Those vintage caps don’t add any “tone.” We’re dealing with a few milliamps in a guitar circuit, a cheap ceramic or polypropylene cap will sound the same as an overpriced oil and paper cap, so you can sub it with whatever capacitor you can get your hands on — as long as it is your preferred capacitance value.
 

skeeterbuck

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Where does that black wire on the case of the tone pot go?

I’m only seeing three black wires. I’m assuming the two on the volume pot are the grounds for the bridge and neck pickups?

The ground on the tone pot comes from the jack? The bridge ground wire?

In any case, I suspect that you may have fried your capacitor with the soldering iron. The larger old style capacitor’s body is very very close to the solder points. Your soldering iron may have fried it (especially at the volume pot end where it has two solder points, and soldering to the pot’s case for ground often requires a bit more heating time with the soldering iron).

What wattage iron you have? Might be too hot for guitar work. I have an adjustable one I can dial hotter or colder for either amp or guitar work.

The tone pot is dumping signal to ground rather than filtering through the cap. Could be a fried cap, a missing ground connection, or a short (for instance, I usually use jacketed wire for the switch jumpers since bare wires might get pushed against other contacts when re-installing the control plate).

If you have a decent iron, try subbing the capacitor with a new one. Those vintage caps don’t add any “tone.” We’re dealing with a few milliamps in a guitar circuit, a cheap ceramic or polypropylene cap will sound the same as an overpriced oil and paper cap, so you can sub it with whatever capacitor you can get your hands on — as long as it is your preferred capacitance value.
The black wire from the tone pot case is the ground from the output jack.

Yes the two black wires on the volume pot are from the two pickups.

If the cap is "fried" them why does it work fine when I use both pickups together or just the bridge pickup? The cap is not old, it's a new cap designed to look old. I think it may be one from Luxe. I'm using a Hakko soldering station with an adjustable temp.
 

Boreas

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I have a Tele with an issue that I can seem to figure out. I've looked at the wiring several times and everything looks correct, but somehow I'm over looking the obvious. FYI: It's your normal run of the mill tele with 2 single coil pickups and it has a treble bleed circuit installed.

Here's the symptoms: With the switch in the #1 position (bridge p/u) and the #2 position, the tone and volume work OK. In the #3 position the neck pickup volume works OK, but as you back off the tone knob, it just seems to cut the volume down. It doesn't cut the highs and when it at the minimum the pickup is still on but at a much lower volume.
Hmm.... If the switch position is indeed where the difference lies, we should be suspecting the switch or switch connections, not the components. Try cleaning all of the contacts and inspect to make sure all positions are getting throughput. Sometimes a contact will get bent and not make a good connection. An errant wire strand can really create chaos. Another common SNAFU that is not obvious is the new switch knob. Sometimes they can keep a switch from making full contact in position 1 or 3. The knob hits the plate and the switch can go no further. So make sure the switch is unimpeded in its throw.

Try an easy clean - run the switch through its full range of motion a few dozen times then re-test for the malfunction.

Also, if you have metal shielding inside the cavity, make sure no components are touching it.
 
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Boreas

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The black wire from the tone pot case is the ground from the output jack.

Yes the two black wires on the volume pot are from the two pickups.

If the cap is "fried" them why does it work fine when I use both pickups together or just the bridge pickup? The cap is not old, it's a new cap designed to look old. I think it may be one from Luxe. I'm using a Hakko soldering station with an adjustable temp.
I agree. Look at #17 above.
 

Peegoo

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@skeeterbuck

The switch looks like it's wired correctly, and the fact that the tone control works okay in one switch position but not in another leads me to believe one or both of the switch wipers are either damaged, or some solder has run down into the switch causing signal to go places where it's not intended to go.

Use a bright light and some magnification and inspect both sides of the switch.
 




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