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SGs / Les Pauls - why two vols AND a pickup selector?



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#1 M-Bass-M

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 08:38 AM

I currently have my guitarist's Epi SG on loan. It has a pick-up selector, yet also has individual volume and tone controls for each pickup. Why is this? All it does is make it damn confusing to get a tone I like from it!

I mean, a Jazz has no pickup selector and only one tone control. Easy. Even a Telecaster has only a pickup switch and a master volume. Likewise for MM Sterlings I guess.

So...any enlightenment from out there?
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#2 Lozz196

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 09:09 AM

For me, the best tone on a Les Paul when using both pickups, for rhythm, was bridge pickup on full volume, neck pickup on about 7 on volume, anything more would become "sludgy" - bear in mind I`m talking for rock music here. then, switch to just the neck for more biting passages. For really soulful soloing, a blend of bridge pickups volume and tome on full, with neck pickup volume on about 7, with tone fully off, sounds great - think Slash sortof tones.
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#3 Jerry_B

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 09:18 AM

T-40 basses also have a volume and tone control for each pickup. Rather than see this as a challenge, try to see it as a way of dialling up a wider variety of tones ;) At least, this is the case for the T-40 (which also has a phase switch) - I can't vouch for the efficacy it may have for the SG ;)

#4 mcgraham

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 09:36 AM

I used to wonder the same thing, but if you are running into a dirty amp then you have the ability to set your neck pickup to a chimey clean or bluesy sizzle and bridge pickup to roaring crunch and to easily switch between the two with the toggle switch. Clean and dirty sounds without a dirt pedal - et voila! Without that combination of vols AND selectors you can't do that.

Another one is to set the neck volume to 'off', bridge to 'full' then get a faux stuttering trem 'cut-off' sound by toggling the switch back and forth. Loads of famous records with that on (brain isn't giving me any names right now tho!).

If you were so inclined you could also put a treble bleed on just one of the pickup's volume controls to retain high end on one of them and still toggle between them easily if you like. Not possible with single volume control setups.
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#5 simon1964

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 10:00 AM

Ric basses have the same.

I guess the benefit is that the knobs allow you to blend the pickups, but the pickup selector then allows you to toggle quickly between pickups mid song. Personally I just set everything on the Ric to full and leave well alone!

#6 essexbasscat

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 10:19 AM

Can also use the pickup selector as a rhythm / instrumental quick sound change switch
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#7 mike257

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 11:01 AM

I've used one pickup backed off to switch from dirty to clean (well, to 'a bit less dirty'!) on a single channel amp. A lot of overdrive/distortion boxes for guitar will also clean up nicely and give a range of useable tones with adjustment to the volume knob, so it's worth having that versatility.

Of course, you can just put everything on 11 and forget about it, that works just fine too!

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#8 LukeFRC

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 01:40 PM

so guitarists can spend the first half of practice trying to dial 'their tone'

stuff and things


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#9 Lozz196

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 02:25 PM

View PostLukeFRC, on 09 February 2012 - 01:40 PM, said:

so guitarists can spend the first half of practice trying to dial 'their tone'

The most accurate response so far!
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Posted 09 February 2012 - 02:26 PM

View Postmcgraham, on 09 February 2012 - 09:36 AM, said:


Another one is to set the neck volume to 'off', bridge to 'full' then get a faux stuttering trem 'cut-off' sound by toggling the switch back and forth. Loads of famous records with that on (brain isn't giving me any names right now tho!).



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#11 blind pilot

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 02:29 PM

Also can act as effective mute - roll one volume down etc! our guitarist uses this feature a lot
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Posted 09 February 2012 - 02:32 PM

The neck pickup sounds better for clean tones whereas the bridge gives you a better distortion sound I find. It's good to be able to switch between the 2 and keep your volume settings for each pickup. I don't find it confusing at all, in fact I think it's easier that way. Having said that, I am not so keen on tone controls, I never really use them.

The other advantage of this type of setup is you can have one pickup turned all the way down on the volume and you've got an instant killswitch :D
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#13 mike257

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 03:18 PM

Of course, plenty of guitarists share your point of view, and I've seen a good few Les Paul style guitars where the owner has whipped out everything except one volume pot and wired it all through that - could always give it a go!

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#14 woodyratm

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 03:51 PM

View Postmcgraham, on 09 February 2012 - 09:36 AM, said:


Another one is to set the neck volume to 'off', bridge to 'full' then get a faux stuttering trem 'cut-off' sound by toggling the switch back and forth. Loads of famous records with that on (brain isn't giving me any names right now tho!).

Tom Morello and Jonny Greenwood also. :)
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#15 M-Bass-M

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 09:03 PM

View PostEdwardHimself, on 09 February 2012 - 02:32 PM, said:

The neck pickup sounds better for clean tones whereas the bridge gives you a better distortion sound I find. It's good to be able to switch between the 2 and keep your volume settings for each pickup. I don't find it confusing at all, in fact I think it's easier that way. Having said that, I am not so keen on tone controls, I never really use them.
Ah, this makes a lot of sense, but also assumes a certain style of playing - i.e. having two separate tones set for each pickup and switching between the two. What I'm finding difficult to do on the SG is to use the volume as an overdrive gain control, gets a bit confusing with two volume controls and a few tone controls in the way!
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#16 EdwardHimself

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 10:14 PM

View PostM-Bass-M, on 09 February 2012 - 09:03 PM, said:

Ah, this makes a lot of sense, but also assumes a certain style of playing - i.e. having two separate tones set for each pickup and switching between the two. What I'm finding difficult to do on the SG is to use the volume as an overdrive gain control, gets a bit confusing with two volume controls and a few tone controls in the way!

I see what you mean, I guess it's one of those things. Maybe you could think about getting a volume pedal?
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#17 molan

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 11:35 PM

My '86 Fodera Monarch has volume control for each pickup and master bass/treble controls.

I use it in a soul / disco band set up to simply flick the switch forward for neck pickup only on the old solu/funk stuff for a P bass sound & then to both pickups, with the bridge pulled back a shade for the more 'modern' disco material.

Works really well for me :)
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#18 mcgraham

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 09:05 AM

View Postmolan, on 09 February 2012 - 11:35 PM, said:

My '86 Fodera Monarch has volume control for each pickup and master bass/treble controls.

I use it in a soul / disco band set up to simply flick the switch forward for neck pickup only on the old solu/funk stuff for a P bass sound & then to both pickups, with the bridge pulled back a shade for the more 'modern' disco material.

Works really well for me :)

Well that has convinced me I need a Fodera, if only to be able to do that.

;)
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#19 molan

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 09:14 AM

View Postmcgraham, on 10 February 2012 - 09:05 AM, said:



Well that has convinced me I need a Fodera, if only to be able to do that.

;)

You'll need to find an old one then as they don't do this any more ;)
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#20 mcgraham

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 09:40 AM

Brilliant. I'll let the wife know that I need to find an old Fodera.

She's been saying since day one 'Mark, your basses are nice but they are not anywhere near as well made as the new Fodera that Matt Garrison plays on his Shapeshifter album - you should get one of them... definitely spring for the horse chestnut top'

Clearly she has no idea what she's talking about. Vintage Fodera is where it's at.

Women eh? ;)
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#21 EdwardHimself

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 10:39 AM

Or you could just... y'know... wire in a master volume pot? :lol:
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#22 mcgraham

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 11:07 AM

On a Fodera?

...

...

...

bwahahahahahhahaha, you crack me up you do...
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#23 Ancient Mariner

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 01:15 PM

I remember asking this question in reverse on here (why doesn't the Jazz have a pickup switch) and being told that bass players find one tone and use it all night.

;)

It's not just for clean & dirty, but for tonal variety between different songs and within the same song. I like the neck pickup for big fat clean lead tones and sometimes for picked arpeggios, and the bridge works well for either strumming or more complex chords. The in between setting can be good for some twang/quack sounds (not very quacky by strat standards, but even so) or for a more hollow tone with sparkle and depth.

Conversely I owned a Godin Radiator for a while, and that has the same control arrangement as a 3 knob jazz: frankly it was frustrating, because often a different song would need a different tone and it would require fiddling during the first verse or so to get the right settings. Much easier to think "bright tone for this, so use bridge PU, dark tone for this, so neck PU" etc.
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#24 EdwardHimself

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 01:49 PM

View Postmcgraham, on 10 February 2012 - 11:07 AM, said:

On a Fodera?

...

...

...

bwahahahahahhahaha, you crack me up you do...

What I meant was you can spend £1.50 on a new pot instead of spending loadsamoney on a fodera, if you're that bothered about it.

Edited by EdwardHimself, 10 February 2012 - 01:50 PM.

EH

#25 MoonBassAlpha

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 10:50 PM

Another fun thing to do is to turn the neck tone right down with the bridge tone full on and use the switch as a kind of wah effect.
As previously mentioned though, setting a rhythm and lead sound on a non-master volume valve amp, it's totally the way to go.
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Posted 20 February 2012 - 06:38 PM

IMO the best results with Gibbo-type controls are had when you dial in the soloing sound you want with the front (neck) pickup on full bore (nice fat sound), then you roll off the back (bridge) pickup for a non-muddy-still-cutting-through rhythm sound. You might find that because the front pickup is often quite dark, your back pickup might require a little tone rolloff as well to avoid it slicing like a cut-throat razor.

Then there's the mix of the two: blend the back pickup (with the tone rolled right off) with the front pickup (with the tone all the way up), use a fair bit of overdrive. You get that sustained flute-y Andrew Latimer Camel-y sound that's smooth but it's still got some treble in it.

I find Gibbo type controls on a guitar are so useful (and so much second nature to use) that I find operating things like Strats is just, well, inconvenient.
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