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Volume control on Strat

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Volume control on Strat

Postby Richard Graham » Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:52 pm

Does turning the volume down on a Strat also effect the sound (other than making it quieter)?

I ask because my USB guitar lead distorts when played with the volume full up, which is my default setting (I'd turn it up to 11 if I could).

Any advice welcome!
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Re: Volume control on Strat

Postby matt keen » Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:23 pm

Yes is the short answer
You will loose treble

Simplest way to solve the prob is to do the 50's wiring (google it or "fezz parka wiring") as that involves moving one solder joint and there is little downside. Though it does tend to make the tone control act a bit like a volume knob on my telecasters.
I have done this simple mod on all my teles. I play an old school style where I tend to run my amps very high and turn vol & tone knobs to clean up the sound so losing treble is a big deal to me.

Then there is also the treble bleed mod, which I personally don't like the sound of - seems harsh to me
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Re: Volume control on Strat

Postby mick.n » Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:25 pm

On every strat I have owned over the years (all copies,mind) turning the pot below max has always reduced the amount of top end & "bite". Not so sure about my new-ish American de lux strat with N3 pickups though. Must try it & see.
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Re: Volume control on Strat

Postby Richard Graham » Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:58 pm

Thanks guys.

I was afraid this would be the case. Is a volume pedal the simplest solution or will this damage the tone too? Is there such a thing as a guitar extension lead with a "pad" on it? -6 dB should do it!

I don't really want to mod the guitar. A simple switched passive volume attenuator would be best... I see electro harmonix do a pedal... Would it be hard to make one?
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Re: Volume control on Strat

Postby zenguitar » Mon Jan 06, 2014 1:10 am

How about just trying turning the guitar volume down first and seeing how you get on with that?

You can always add a little air with your DAW/sim EQ and see how that goes.

And I don't know what guitar > USB lead you are using, but there is a possibility that it doesn't offer a high enough input impedance anyway and is compromising your tone far more that turning down the guitar volume.

It's only a problem if it is actually a problem in real life. And if it does turn out to be a problem in real life, a proper audio interface with a Hi-Z instrument input will be a far better solution.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Volume control on Strat

Postby Richard Graham » Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:23 am

zenguitar wrote:How about just trying turning the guitar volume down first and seeing how you get on with that?

You can always add a little air with your DAW/sim EQ and see how that goes.

And I don't know what guitar > USB lead you are using, but there is a possibility that it doesn't offer a high enough input impedance anyway and is compromising your tone far more that turning down the guitar volume.

It's only a problem if it is actually a problem in real life. And if it does turn out to be a problem in real life, a proper audio interface with a Hi-Z instrument input will be a far better solution.

Andy :beamup:


Fair comment Andy. After all, the reason I bought the cable was for the convenience of being able to plug straight in (I've got audio interfaces but they are bulky and more fiddly to set up). I will continue to knock the level down using the volume pot, and give it some boost on the "amp" to compensate of needs be.

That ElectroHarmonix pedal does look nice and would double as a lead/rhythm switch though!
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Re: Volume control on Strat

Postby Tim Gillett » Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:23 am

I'm with Zen on this one. Loss of treble with increased volume knob, plus distortion, sure sounds like your USB pre hasnt a high enough input impedance and is expecting a lower voltage/ lower impedance input. Why not try an interface with higher input impedance/ higher input voltage before clipping?
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Re: Volume control on Strat

Postby CS70 » Mon Jan 06, 2014 10:45 am

Couple things besides the excellent responses you got already. "It affects the sound" depends a bit on the sound in question. I'm sure you know already, but distorted sounds created by pushing the amp (tube amps at least) clean up easily when you lower the volume via the pot (or a volume pedal, for that). Also, with higher gain sounds, backing the strat volume to 9 or 8 can give a sound which is more fluid (for leads) or "fat" (for crunch). Don't know the sound jargon for the effect - but it changes the sound quite a bit, and in a pleasant way! Surely due to the loss of top-end described by the gentlemen above. It's one of the "guitarist secret tricks" :) - lowering a bit either tone and volume pots (or both) on a strat brings usually great results when you have from some to serious gain. I recorded one of my band's songs on a nearly maxed-out AC30 where the only way to get the exact chunky sound is to do exactly that - no guitarist which leaves the volume and tone control at 10 can get the same sound, but if you know it's easy. In conclusion, while using the pots changes the tone, it's not by any means only damage.
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Re: Volume control on Strat

Postby Richard Graham » Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:14 pm

Thanks all. I will continue to back the volume off, safe in the knowledge that if it changes the sound, it will be likely to be in a good way. And if I need more treble, I will get it from the "amp".
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Re: Volume control on Strat

Postby matt keen » Sun Feb 16, 2014 11:27 am

CS70 wrote:Couple things besides the excellent responses you got already. "It affects the sound" depends a bit on the sound in question. I'm sure you know already, but distorted sounds created by pushing the amp (tube amps at least) clean up easily when you lower the volume via the pot (or a volume pedal, for that). Also, with higher gain sounds, backing the strat volume to 9 or 8 can give a sound which is more fluid (for leads) or "fat" (for crunch). Don't know the sound jargon for the effect - but it changes the sound quite a bit, and in a pleasant way! Surely due to the loss of top-end described by the gentlemen above. It's one of the "guitarist secret tricks" :) - lowering a bit either tone and volume pots (or both) on a strat brings usually great results when you have from some to serious gain. I recorded one of my band's songs on a nearly maxed-out AC30 where the only way to get the exact chunky sound is to do exactly that - no guitarist which leaves the volume and tone control at 10 can get the same sound, but if you know it's easy. In conclusion, while using the pots changes the tone, it's not by any means only damage.

I agree that it is all part of tone adjustment
As you say
Many if not the majority of chunky chord sounds cant be got any other way
I cant see how I could use my tele bridge pickups for single note playing with backing the tone off.
I am surprised that players still habitually run volume and tone flat out.
I should say that the practise of constantly varying the vol and tone pot especially applies to codgers like me who tend to plug directly into a valve amp or use very few pedals
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Re: Volume control on Strat

Postby ef37a » Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:35 pm

As with most things electronically audio, the pickup,pot, lead,input Z setup is not that simple or even intuitive!

Yes, with the pot at max the input loading will cause some loss of HF because you have an inductive source from the pup and the lower Zin, the greater the attenuation.
However, as soon as you insert some series resistance from the pot the situation changes to more of a "current feed" and a LOWER load resistance will actually result in MORE HF (this is the principle of the all but forgotten DIN signal exchange system which worked well when properly implemented but rarely was!) Of course things are much more complex than this. The actual response at the input of the AI will depend on the pup inductance, winding resistance, pot value (and how much is inserted) cable capacitance and AI input Z.
There is a Spice simulation on the web that shows some of these interactions in what is a very complex, resonant system.

The bleep capacitor (hot to wiper) should work fine but it can only compensate for ONE value of cable capacitance. For a lower than optimal C cable it will give a boost at intermediate settings.

Best solution is a 10dB attenuator at the AI jack end (680k +390k would be close enough for jazz or even rock and roll) A wee tin, two jacks and a very short, 300mm max, cable to the AI.

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Re: Volume control on Strat

Postby RegressiveRock » Sun Feb 16, 2014 11:52 pm

zenguitar wrote:How about just trying turning the guitar volume down first and seeing how you get on with that?

You can always add a little air with your DAW/sim EQ and see how that goes.

And I don't know what guitar > USB lead you are using, but there is a possibility that it doesn't offer a high enough input impedance anyway and is compromising your tone far more that turning down the guitar volume.

It's only a problem if it is actually a problem in real life. And if it does turn out to be a problem in real life, a proper audio interface with a Hi-Z instrument input will be a far better solution.

Andy :beamup:

I quite like to turn the volume down on a strat: it is a straightforward root to a more 60/70s tone. ;)

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Re: Volume control on Strat

Postby The Pig » Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:30 am

So, can someone explain why the value of the volume pot (being straight resistance) effects tone output?
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Re: Volume control on Strat

Postby Martin Walker » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:25 pm

The Pig wrote:So, can someone explain why the value of the volume pot (being straight resistance) effects tone output?

Hi The Pig, and welcome to the SOS Forums! 8-)

As it happens, Dave (ef37a) has already explained in detail why the volume pot affects pickup tone - here are the highlights of his answer:

ef37a wrote:Yes, with the pot at max the input loading will cause some loss of HF because you have an inductive source from the pickup and the lower input impedance (Zin), the greater the attenuation.

However, as soon as you insert some series resistance from the volume pot the situation changes to more of a "current feed" and a LOWER load resistance will actually result in MORE HF.

The actual response at the input of the audio interface (AI) will depend on the pickup inductance, winding resistance, pot value (and how much is inserted) cable capacitance and interface input impedance.

The bleed capacitor (hot to wiper) should work fine but it can only compensate for ONE value of cable capacitance. For a lower than optimal capacitance cable it will give a boost at intermediate settings.

Hope this helps!


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Re: Volume control on Strat

Postby Wonks » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:53 pm

It is a resistance, but it is not the only thing in the circuit, and along with the pickup's inductance, capacitance and impedance, plus the guitar cable's resistance and capacitance and the input impedance of the amp, and also the tone pot and capacitor, it forms a fairly complex resonant low pass filter circuit.

Just arrange a resistor and a capacitor in the correct way and you can get a high pass or low pass filter. Change the value of the resistor and the circuit behaviour changes. So add in inductance and more parallel capacitance and resistance paths and you end up with a more complex filter with a resonant peak around the start of the filter's cut-off slope. The volume pot resistance affects that cut-off point and the position of the resonant peak where frequencies are boosted.
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Re: Volume control on Strat

Postby ef37a » Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:28 pm

I refer OP to the attenuator solution I mentioned a while ago.

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Re: Volume control on Strat

Postby Wonks » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:05 pm

ef37a wrote:I refer OP to the attenuator solution I mentioned a while ago.

Dave.

But that's a 4 year old question, Dave.
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Re: Volume control on Strat

Postby Martin Walker » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:49 pm

...and I've already pointed out Dave's excellent 4-year-old answer :headbang:


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Re: Volume control on Strat

Postby The Pig » Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:43 pm

Martin Walker wrote:
The Pig wrote:So, can someone explain why the value of the volume pot (being straight resistance) effects tone output?

Hi The Pig, and welcome to the SOS Forums! 8-)

As it happens, Dave (ef37a) has already explained in detail why the volume pot affects pickup tone - here are the highlights of his answer:

ef37a wrote:Yes, with the pot at max the input loading will cause some loss of HF because you have an inductive source from the pickup and the lower input impedance (Zin), the greater the attenuation.

However, as soon as you insert some series resistance from the volume pot the situation changes to more of a "current feed" and a LOWER load resistance will actually result in MORE HF.

The actual response at the input of the audio interface (AI) will depend on the pickup inductance, winding resistance, pot value (and how much is inserted) cable capacitance and interface input impedance.

The bleed capacitor (hot to wiper) should work fine but it can only compensate for ONE value of cable capacitance. For a lower than optimal capacitance cable it will give a boost at intermediate settings.

Hope this helps!


Martin

Thanks for that.
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Re: Volume control on Strat

Postby Wonks » Wed Jun 20, 2018 8:54 am

Martin Walker wrote:...and I've already pointed out Dave's excellent 4-year-old answer :headbang:


Martin

Dave's answer refers to an in-line pad solution for the OP (a series resistance), and not how the volume pot itself affects the tone (a parallel resistance to ground).
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