How often do you use the tone knob on your guitar?
If never you might want to just get rid of it. Why? Well, I like to follow the KISS (Keep it simple, stupid!) philosophy of making things only as complicated as they need to be, but no more. More parts are more things to go wrong, and believe it or not, every potentiometer (usually referred to as a pot) on your guitar has the possibility of affecting your signal, whether you are actively using it or not. If the pot is in your circuit, it’s in your signal. But hey, that’s a discussion for another day.
Personally, I NEVER use the tone knob on my bridge pickup, but I often like, love even, the sound of the neck pickup with the tone knob all the way down, especially on the higher frets.
Here’s an example of the tone knob in its full clockwise position
And here is a similar lick played with the tone knob in the full counter clockwise position
In my case, I wanted the tone knob available to the neck pickup, but out of the circuit of the bridge pickup, so how can this be accomplished?
We need to make changes to the guitar’s wiring. Chances are, if you have two humbuckers, one volume and one tone control, your wiring looks something like this:
In the diagram above, the tone control shares a terminal with the middle pole of the pickup selector switch, and the signal input terminal of the volume control. No Matter which pickup or combination of pickups is selected, the tone control is always active. Since I only want my tone control to affect the neck pickup, I am going to move its input to the neck pickup pole of the pickup selector switch.
In the picture above, the wire for the tone control is sharing a terminal of the pickup selector with the neck pickup’s output wire.
One caveat here is that, when using this arrangement, the tone control is still in the circuit when both pickups are selected, but ideally is out of the circuit when only the neck pickup is selected.
I say ideally, because when I actually measured the pickup selector switch out of the circuit, the terminals only had 1.5 MΩ of resistance between them. That might sound like a lot, but as we’ll get to in a future article, that is only 3 times the resistance of many of the pots used in guitars!