Separate tone controls NOT possible on Strat?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by scotchtape800, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. scotchtape800

    scotchtape800 Member

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    Ok, so I've been doing tons of reading on this for the past few days.
    I am a total noob at this, so help is appreciated!

    I'm planning on rewiring my strat (lonestar edition, HSS).

    From what I understand, THERE IS NO WAY TO HAVE SEPARATE TONE CONTROLS for pickups. If there are two tone pots engaged, they will essentially both be loading the entire circuit and not just an individual pickup, therefore you are not getting separate tone controls, but two tone controls.

    This seems to be the case for the regular 5 way AND the super switch.

    Is this correct?

    I'm confused because some people state that it IS possible, but others say it is not. From looking at the diagrams, unless you run your pickups in series, there is absolutely no way to do this, since the pickups are always running in parallel and share a common + and - eventually. This is from every diagram I've seen, whenever there are two tone pots engaged you can trace the + or - to a common point (volume), even on the super switches.

    Although it "seems" like on a super switch you can isolate the tone controls based on the diagram, if you think it through, it's not possible - right?

    Again, I am a total noob so if someone can explain this, it would help a lot.

    I wanted to run the HB off of a 500K volume, but then hook up a 250K resistor to the SC tone pots so it would see 250K. From the above, it just won't work in position 2 (HB + SC), since in position 2 there would be two tones engaged. If so, I guess what I CAN do is use a super switch so that on position 2, the middle pickup has no tone control...
     
  2. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    Stock Strat wiring has the upper tone control wired to the neck pickup and the lower tone control wired to the middle pickup. With the neck only pickup switched on (position 5) the lower tone control is out of the circuit and has no effect if turned while in position 5. When the middle pickup only is switched on (position 3), the upper tone control is out of the circuit and has no effect if turned while in position 3. However, in position 4 (neck+middle), both tone controls would be active...and position 2 (bridge+middle) only the lower tone control would be active.

    However, even if you wired a 250k to the tone controls, the main 500k volume control would still be connected making the total 166k. If there are enough contacts on a superswitch it might be possible to isolate everything but you'd sacrifice having a volume control for the single coil pickups. However, depending on the number of contacts available, you might be able to sacrifice one tone control and convert it to a 250k volume for the single coil pickups only, and convert the remaining tone control to a master tone control.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2012
  3. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    Yep, if you have two pickups on in parallel, any tone control will affect both.

    Now, there is a trick for somewhat isolating the tones with resistors in line with the pickups, as used in early stacked-knob jazz basses. The price you pay is a bunch of output loss from those same resistors.
     
  4. scotchtape800

    scotchtape800 Member

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    Thanks! That answered my question...

    It's confusing because most threads seem to suggest that you can assign a tone control to a particular pickup when two pickups and tone pots are active...

    I guess I'll just got master tone, and put a 1M or 750K resistor in there somewhere...
     
  5. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    Just look up the suhr SSH diagram; with the superswitch, you can totally do all of what you're talking about, mixing the bucker and the singles, and having each pickup get the right load for the right sound. The key is to use one tone pot for every single coil setting (including the M+split bridge), and the other for just the bridge by itself. With the superswitch, they won't double up on the M+B setting.
     
  6. Rockledge

    Rockledge Member

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    You could solve the problem by moving the middle tone control to the bridge pickup.
    I always move the neck tone to the bridge, I never seen the purpose of a neck tone control on a strat and the lack of one on the bridge.
     
  7. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    again, with the superswitch you don't have to do any of that; the first tone can be a 250k, set to all of the switch settings except the bridge humbucker by itself; the second tone can be a 500k that only hits the bridge by itself.

    here it is.
     
  8. fumbler

    fumbler Member

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    Well, first of all, on a "normal" strat there are two tone controls and three pickups. So you're out of luck; unless you want to lose the master volume or install another pot or stacked knob.

    Second, strats are not like les pauls: the outputs from the pickups go to the switch FIRST and the tone and volume controls ALWAYS work on the OVERALL output signal. It's just that the OTHER side of the switch is used to swap the tone controls in and out.

    Walter has good advice, as always. But Rockledge's simple fix is also a good one for a standard 5-way switch. You can also use two different value pots and caps if you like (as in this thread)
     
  9. scotchtape800

    scotchtape800 Member

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    That is "right" but I was thinking of mixing the full HB + M... that's where things get funny.

    In the case you described, for position 2, you are tapping one coil from the HB and running it in parallel with the middle, but only using one tone control. In this case, the tapped coil from the HB is running through the 250K tone pot (also what Walter said, thanks for the diagram btw).

    I was wondering if you could mix the full HB going through it's "own" tone control mixed with the middle SC going through it's own tone control... which apparently can't be done since both tone pots would be in the circuit. This is the stock lonestar wiring, at least one mine... in pos 2, both tones are engaged with the full HB and the mid pup (unless I'm wrong).


    Thank you for the explanations and diagrams, it's really helping me understand this stuff better :) Unfortunately still can't do what I "planned" but that's ok!


    I was going to do the superswitch and just forget about pos 2 since I rarely use that one, BUT I wanted to experiment with NECK + BRIDGE. Since this would then activate two tones anyways, I THINK I'm going to do the following:

    Master Vol @ 300K (500K plus resistor)
    Master tone pot @ 300K (500K plus resistor)
    Extra tone pot

    I'm also going to make all of them push pull with the following:
    Master Vol switch: 50's wiring switch
    Master Tone switch: Engage Neck pickup
    Tone switch: HB Coil tap

    For the 50's wiring, all I have to do is switch the hot signal from the input lug of the volume to the output lug of the volume right? So I can just connect a switch there...
     
  10. RvChevron

    RvChevron Member

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    How many tone controls do you want?

    With a 4-pole-5 way super switch, you can have at least 5 "independent" tone controls (three concentric stack pots in place of the stock tone controls and master volume), each dedicated to be used for any position(s) you want on the 5-way.

    One for bridge pickup only, one for neck pickup only, one for mid pu, and one for the neck/mid and one for mid/bridge positions, totally up to how you wire it.

    Just use one pot from the first Stack pots for volume control.
     
  11. Husky

    Husky Gold Supporting Member

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    Having independent tones would not be possible in any situation where the volume pots are on 10 both since tone pots would have to be in play with a standard switch. In other words you can not have an independent tone control for each pickup while two pickups are on full volume UNLESS it is an active mix on the circuit so tones come before the active mix. Now what you CAN do on the 4 pole 5way switch is not hook up the tone control to the pickup but choose the tone control for every position. IF that makes sense. I would recommend bypassing the tones in the combo position anyway for extra sparkle.
     
  12. scotchtape800

    scotchtape800 Member

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    Yup, thanks! Wanted to confirm that :)
    Lots of misinformation out there :)

    Another question: does wiring the TONE control backwards (independent volume style) make a difference in tone? / would make independent tone control possible? (on a super switch)

    I am noob so thinking about hurts my brain a bit... But if it works for Volume control, why wouldn't it work for Tone control as well???? (super switch) Am I a genius, or did I miss something? Or would it NOT work because LP style, the selector is used POST volume but on a strat, the selector is before the volume control...
     
  13. Husky

    Husky Gold Supporting Member

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    The tone pot is wired as a resistor so it doesn't matter which lug you use for cap or wire except for the direction the pot turns being audio taper. Now wiring Volume controls as independent (pickup in the middle lug wiper and out the element ala JBass) DOES change the tone quite a bit as you roll down the volume since you are driving the pickups in to a hard load. Also when both volumes are on 0 you will still have some noise because your cable is not terminated and floating in the air a bit. Gain and pickups will all have an effect as well on the noise.

    If you want independent tone control so that the one tone does not affect the other pickup when the 2 volumes are on 10 the ONLY way possible would be to use an active mix in the guitar so the pickups are isolated from each other at all times. Volume and Tones first, then in to mixer that adds the two pickups. Otherwise they will be in passive parallel and will work together as well as have double the capacitance when both pickups are on. That why I recommend bypassing the tones in the combo. It can make up for using a hot bridge pickup and looking for the ultimate quack at the same time.


     
  14. scotchtape800

    scotchtape800 Member

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    People on here are so smart, THANKS!
     
  15. Rockledge

    Rockledge Member

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    Hmmm not that I think there is a solution in this, but this got my wheels turning.
    What if you took say a 1 meg pot with a center detent, and wired a different pickup to each of the outside lugs, and the cap from the center lug to ground.... hmmmmm .....
     
  16. gushtone

    gushtone Silver Supporting Member

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    Hi folks, for someone less technically gifted in Strat wiring, what if I prefer a three way switch (I personally cannot stand the in between sounds on a strat, and always have my tech yank out the 5 way) and I want to have the bridge on one tone control and the neck and middle on the other? Is this a simple task? I had read that just flipping the wires can cause an odd load on the signal and you need to add a resistor or something to balance things out (please pardon my ignorance as this is most assuredly incorrectly stated). Is that hogwash or is this simply a matter of flipping a few wires?
    Thanks in advance.
    Peace...
    If anyone has, or can point me to a schematic for this, I would greatly appreciate it.
    FWIW, I would be planning to use the exisiting vintage correct guts unless otherwise necessary.
     
  17. Husky

    Husky Gold Supporting Member

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    There is no difference between a standard 3way and standard 5way. With the 5way you just are sticking it in the between positions putting the pickups in parallel and the 5way has indents for that. Yes you can put the tone on the bridge pickup and have the switch select the tone for the neck or middle with the other tone. It is NOT independent tones since if you did have the selector stuck in the bridge middle combo (old world style) you would have a double tone load and both tones would working in parallel not independent. Send me an email and I will scribble it for you. Pretty easy though. I dont know what you are talking about with the odd load unless you are talking about a volume control. The tone controls can not be wired backwards, there is no advantage to doing that.
     
  18. Husky

    Husky Gold Supporting Member

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    It would not make them independent, you would also only be able to use a linear pot (freaky taper). You cant fight the laws of physics here. With your idea it wouldn't change anything I'm afraid:hiP
     

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