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The tone knob...

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(@chuckster)
Prominent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 938
Topic starter  

... on my Yamaha Pacifica never moves off 10. What am I missing out on? I'm going to spend the next week or so playing with this as yet unloved component of my guitar and see what it does under different conditions.

Does anybody else here not use the tone knobs, if so why/why not? If you do use it how and when? Or is it one of those things you set and forget once you're happy with your overall tone?

Curious.

8)

I've had a lot of sobering thoughts in my time.
It was them that turned me to drink.


   
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(@embrace_the_darkness)
Honorable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 539
 

I dont play around with the tone knobs on my Yamaha, for one thing I never hear much difference when I change them about :lol:

On a more serious note, I have them where I like them, and I use my Amp's settings to adjust for the sound I want. I find that the 'tone' knob on the amp does far more than the one on the guitar.

Pete

ETD - Formerly "10141748 - Reincarnate"


   
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(@citizennoir)
Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1247
 

I find the tone knob on my guitars (Fenders, Gibsons) to be very vital.
I change them often.
On the bridge/middle pups (depending on what years and models you have, you may or may not be able to affect one or the other), I find that 10 can be very cutting, almost too harsh at times.
You can 'cut' out that harshness by lowering the tone knob.

Also - if you were say playing Cream's 'Sunshine of Your Love' or most other Cream songs,
you would switch to the neck pup and roll the tone knob all the way off to zero.
This provides the famed Clapton 'Woman' tone from that era.
Works especially well w/Gibbo SG's.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPx3pUayCkA

Ken

ps - I don't know what a Yamaha Pacifica is????

"The man who has begun to live more seriously within
begins to live more simply without"
-Ernest Hemingway

"A genuine individual is an outright nuisance in a factory"
-Orson Welles


   
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(@diceman)
Reputable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 407
 

I definitely use the tone knobs on my LP . The active pick-ups can significantly alter my tone and I use them more than the tone knobs on my amp . My back-up guitar (in case I break a string) doesn't have a tone knob and I find I really miss having one on it .

If I claim to be a wise man , it surely means that I don't know .


   
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 Nuno
(@nuno)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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I definitely use the tone knobs on my LP.
Me too. With the tone knobs on the amp you can change or adjust the general sound, but the knobs on the guitar (at least in the LP) you can achieve new ones by modifying each pickup tone. As Ken said, it is the way to get the "woman tone".


   
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(@chris-c)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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Does anybody else here not use the tone knobs, if so why/why not? If you do use it how and when? Or is it one of those things you set and forget once you're happy with your overall tone?

By coincidence, my very first electric was a Yamaha Pacifica (Ken, it's Yamaha's Strat knock-off range, made in several models). My experience may not be relevant, as you may already be a lot more advanced than I was. But here's how it panned out for me.

When I fiddled with the tone knob it seemed to make almost no difference at all. In fact the guitar seemed to have only two settings - LB (Loud & Bad ) and QB (Quieter & Bad). So I set it on 5 and left it like that for months.

But as I improved, and developed the beginnings of some technique and skill I found that I could start to hear differences - particularly when playing in certain styles. (The Pacifica is a nice guitar - the badness was all from me.. :wink: )

I now adjust the tone knobs on all my guitars, depending on how I'm playing (picking, rhythm strumming, lead or whatever) and what blend of sound I'm trying for. But until I developed a reasonable ear, and a half way decent right hand, it usually didn't matter all that much. There was also a stage where I could clearly hear the difference, but I still really didn't know how to make use of it. But like everything with guitar, it slowly fell into place with practice and experience. :)

So I'd say enjoy the messing around, and find what setting suits for now. But check back at regular intervals (especially when you're moving across playing or song styles) and see if you can squeeze any more benefit out of it.

Cheers,

Chris


   
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(@anonymous)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 8184
 

I find the tone knob makes the guitar bright as you turn it up. I normally leave the tone knob for the lead circuit up and the tone knob for the rhythm circuit down and when I want to change sounds I just change circuits or on occasion pickups. Though changing pickups isn't as easy mid song, I have to switch one off then flick the other on.


   
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(@iliketheguitar)
Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 124
 

I turn the tone knobs down on my strat to get a more warmer softer sound. When i want a more twangy sound I turn them up.

(I hope I got it the right way around)


   
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(@embrace_the_darkness)
Honorable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 539
 

Hmm, well from the combination of Chuckster, Chris C and my experience, we could say that perhaps Yamaha just are a bit rubbish when it comes to Tone knobs! :lol:

I don't have a pacifica (I have an SGV300), so its nothing to do with that model in my case - the tone knob does change the sound a little, but not enough to make it worth playing around with - certainly not enough to warrent any wanted change in sound with altering the amp as well.

Pete

Note; I have just remembered, however, that I have two tonal knobs with very different abilities; it seems one if set to change the "warmness" of the sound, the other is set to change the "crunchiness" of the sound - the "crunchy" knob does in fact change the sound quite a bit - the "warmness" one does very little.

As I got my guitar pre-owned, it could always be that this is caused by an electrical problem.

I still keep them pre-set though - changing the Amp to the settings I know and love is a far easier task than faffing around with the knobs on the guitar :lol:

ETD - Formerly "10141748 - Reincarnate"


   
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(@citizennoir)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1247
 

I like the Guitar - Yes, you got that right.
A good way to put it - Twang Tamers.

This might seem a bit obvious....
On a Strat there are 2 tone knobs and one master volume knob.
The tone knob has to be for the correct pup.
And depending on what year you have, they could work for different ones.
The middle knob is pretty much for the (neck) pup.
The knob closest to the bottom of the guitar could be for the mid pup OR the bridge pup.
If you have one that has a mid pup tone knob, the bridge pups tone is unchangeable.
So - sometimes you may be turning a knob that WILL do nothing to change the tone.
Because it's not meant to on that pup.

I hope that makes sense????

Ken

EDIT - And I think that older Teles have the one tone knob that only works on the neck pup.
Or maybe that's for the Esquire????

EDIT - Sorry all - I should find time to proof read my stuff right away. :)
In parenthses I have neck, which is correct. Changed from my original incorrect: bridge

* Chris, thankx for understanding, and clarifying that. :D

"The man who has begun to live more seriously within
begins to live more simply without"
-Ernest Hemingway

"A genuine individual is an outright nuisance in a factory"
-Orson Welles


   
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(@chris-c)
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Hmm, well from the combination of Chuckster, Chris C and my experience, we could say that perhaps Yamaha just are a bit rubbish when it comes to Tone knobs! :lol:

:D :D

Well, in defence of Yamaha, the knob on mine did make quite a noticeable difference once I got the hang of playing it. :wink: My Pacifica has only one tone knob. As OneWingedAngle said, it gets 'brighter' when turned up to 10, and back at 0 it's altogether softer. Almost like it's been filtered through a blanket, or evened out in some way. Each position has its uses.

As Ken says, it can vary between guitars though.

I have another Strat shaped guitar (made by Johnson) which has 2 humbuckers and 1 single coil pickup, and 2 tone pots. Depending on which of the five settings the switch is on, the tone knobs work in a variety of ways.

On that guitar, each tone knob works on a specific pickup. One handles the humbucker nearest the neck, and the other the single coil in the centre. So what difference they make depends on whether you're set on one pickup alone, or split between two. And because the pickup nearest the bridge has no tone pot, if you set the switch for that one alone then neither knob makes any difference - it's always bright (can't say the same for the player.... :wink: ).

Cheers,

Chris


   
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(@chuckster)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 938
Topic starter  

Some great replies so far. Many thanks.

@ Ken: A Yamaha Pacifica:

As Chris C says it's a Strat clone but with only one tone knob. Great guitar for the money. I love it.

This thread wasn't so much about the Pacifica specifically, but more about the tone knobs on guitars and if/how people use them. Some great replies so far and it's interesting to hear the different ways you guys use the knob on differing instruments.

Early knob twiddling experimentation does indeed prove the tone knob has a function and I can see why it's there now. Depending on the amp settings and the selection of pickups the knob behaves differently and can be quite noticeable. As for finding the right setting for a differing circumstances I think that could take years. As Chris said it will probably take time to develop an ear as well as an improvement in technique for it to really come into it's own.

I guess different guitars react differently and it's all down to experimentation to find the sweet spot. Just another thing to throw into the equation in the quest for the perfect tone.

I'll keep on trying different things over the coming weeks now I know how much difference it can make.

Many thanks once again guys.

8)

I've had a lot of sobering thoughts in my time.
It was them that turned me to drink.


   
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(@chris-c)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 3454
 

Hi again,

To add to the points made above about different ways of arranging the tone. These 5 guitars all do it differently.


  • The bass has 2 Volume knobs (one for each pickup) but only 1 Tone knob. No pickup selector switch.

    The Pacifica (same colour as in Chuckster's pic :) ) has 1 of each. Plus a 5 way selector switch. I'd agree with Chuckster that it's a great guitar for the money.

    The Johnston 'Strat' has the reverse of the bass - 2 Tone knobs and 1 Volume. It also has a 5 way switch. As mentioned above, the jobs done by the Tone knobs vary depending on which pickups are being used.

    The hollow body archtop has 2 Tone and 2 Volume, with one of each per pickup. The switch has 3 positions - either pickup singly or both together.

    The Seagull acoustic on the bed has a sort of battery driven pre-amp thingy which uses 3 sliders for Low, Mid and High range. It also has two different internal pickups which can be used separately or balanced together (I think that one's a bridge pickup and the other is some kind of mic.).

  • The tone settings all have different characteristics, depending on what you're doing at the time, and what they're being played through.... Add that lot to the settings on the amp and you can fiddle away for hours without ever getting around to playing a song... :shock: :? 8)

    When I started playing I couldn't really see all that much difference between the 5 different switch positions either. But that became a lot clearer over time as well, although I must admit that I'm not yet a full bottle on exactly which setting suits which music best.

    Unfortunately, none of them seem to have an 'Instant Talent' switch so I'm having to fall back on practice and experimentation. :wink: Maybe I should have bought something more expensive..... :roll:


       
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    (@citizennoir)
    Noble Member
    Joined: 17 years ago
    Posts: 1247
     

    Thanks guys for letting me know what a Pacifica is.
    Looks like a nice guitar. :)

    And Thankx Chris for again sharing so much with us, and for your "gentle good humor".
    I don't know what you do for a living. I do know that if you had been one of my teachers, I might have actually liked school.
    :D

    And yeah, I can remember starting out. The tone knobs seemed to be either ON, or OFF.
    I still have the same Strat that I started with - and the tone knobs seem to work a whole lot better now. :wink:

    The thing is, that really from 0 - 4 is where they actually change the sound.
    From 4 - 10 they pretty much do nothing.

    Yeah though, TONE is an ear training thing that comes with time.

    Ken

    "The man who has begun to live more seriously within
    begins to live more simply without"
    -Ernest Hemingway

    "A genuine individual is an outright nuisance in a factory"
    -Orson Welles


       
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    (@clazon)
    Honorable Member
    Joined: 18 years ago
    Posts: 502
     

    Sorry to hijack the thread for a second, but I've always wondered how during lead runs guitarists sort of "stunt" the notes- particularly when you're repeating a simple 4 note riff.

    It's quite common in bluesier stuff and that Eric Clapton video uses it on occassion, so it reminded me. Do you remove your fretting finger or is it to do with the picking hand?

    "Today is what it means to be young..."

    (Radiohead, RHCP, Jimi Hendrix - the big 3)


       
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