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Controlling distortion with volume knob?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by I-IV-V, Feb 15, 2009.

  1. I-IV-V

    I-IV-V Member

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    The basic question is - in a strat, if I want to control my distortion with my guitar's volume knob; which will clean up better, a higher output pickup or a lower output?

    I have a very good treble bleed on the volume pot, so I'm not necessarily worried about it getting muddy when turned down, but I want to be able to get good clean sounds and then be able to turn up to get more distortion.

    I'm trying to decide on pickups and it seems like hotter pickups can drive my amp into more distortion when turned up, but there is still good volume when turned down.

    I had always heard that lower output pickups were better for this?
     
  2. JiMB

    JiMB Member

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    I'm guessing here, but I think you'd like the higher output pickups better. Something in the 7k-7.5k range will give you a bit more push without losing clarity.
    When you roll back the volume, it'll still clean up nicely.
    Depends on your amp and gain pedals being sensitive to pick attack and volume adjustments also.

    Jim
     
  3. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    lower output for that. At least for me. Can always add more gain through amp/pedals. When you have hot pickups, they usually have more mids, and less highs, so when you roll down, it can get muddier on a stock strat wiring.
     
  4. dazco

    dazco Member

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    It totally depends on the amp setting. If the amp's drive is set at a level that allows a high output pickup to clean up beautifully with the guitar at say 5, a much lower output pickup will sound too weak with the volume on 5 and may hardly have any distortion even on 20. In short, all your're talking about here is signal strength. The bigger the signal at your amp's input, the more likely it is to overdrive the amp. It doesn't much matter how you achieve that hotter signal, be it hotter pickups or a clean boost pedal. So *generally* either may clean up great. After the level issue then it's all about the pickup's frequency curve, and some will just clean up nicer because they have a freq curve that lends itself to cleaner sounds better. But as far as which will clean up better, either, just depends on how the amp is set. If it's set for a lot of drive, a hot pickup will not clean up well. If it's set for too little, a low output pickup will sound too weak when turned down and a hot one will clean up nice. It all about the pickup strength verses how much distortion the amp is set for.
     
  5. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

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    I don't use high output pups and often plug-in without pedals. I get my grit with the volume control, no problem.
     
  6. dazco

    dazco Member

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    In case you were referring to my post, i didn't say low output pickups can't drive an amp. I just said they will drive it less, possibly a lot less. But there are amps that have enough drive to take the weakest pickups on earth to metal levels of drive. Like i said, it depends on the amp. One thing to mention tho is that a high output pickup may sound fatter/fuller as you clean up. so that may be good for some situations, bad for others depending on how much sparkle or darness you want as you clean up.
     
  7. teletran1175

    teletran1175 Member

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    There is no need to change pups if you're happy with the sound.
    Just set the gain on your setup to your desired lead tone and use the knob to control the distortion.
    With this in mind, it's tougher to clean up a hot pickup.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  8. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

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    Since you metion it, no, I wasn't referring to your post. I was just saying I use low output pups and am very happy with the results of getting my dirt with the guitars volume control.

    tubaman5150 made an excellent point, if blues4me is happy with his current rig he doesn't need to change a thing. Try it first.

    blues4me,

    My strat has underwound pups and sounds quite nice, to me, when I use the volume to control dirt.

    I'm not familiar with hot pups, as I've never had reason to use them.

    Let us know what works for you.
     
  9. I-IV-V

    I-IV-V Member

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    Thanks for all of the help, guys!

    Very good explanation, Dazco. With the hot pickups, the clean at lower volume did seem to be fatter.

    I need to get a good fuzz that cleans up good. Maybe that will keep my cleans sounding fatter with volume rolled off?

    Thanks for all of the help. I'll keep you posted on how this works out.
     

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