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No Tone Or Volume Knobs A Bad Idea?


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Hi. I'm at the body stage of my current build, and I am (heavily) considering no control knobs at all to keep with the minimalist look of the guitar I have so far (single bridge hum, string-through-body TOM, natural finish).

Obviously I need to have some resistors in the back of the guitar from the pickup to the output, I'm ok with that. But I want to know your thoughts on the functionality of this idea. I've looked around, and can't find many guitars with no knobs.

what do you think?

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Its not a bad idea, but you do not need resistors from the pickup to the output unless you want to decrease the output of the pickups.

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It's totally functional, but I don't think it's a good idea. At absolute minimum, there should be a kill switch somewhere. There are a couple dozen reasons that could probably be thought of why, but the main thing is there WILL be a time when you'll need to "turn it off". A simple push button or mini-toggle by the jack would keep it looking bare of controls.

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Different amps have different input sensitivity, so I wouldn't go sans volume unless the pickup were a very low output one.

If you want it to look clean, why not just hide a volume control? You could drill a 3/4" diameter cavity right next to the jack and put a shallow 1/2" knob there. It's make your guitar more versatile.

Todd

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I was thinking you could recess it in the side. Initially I though you could route a flute or narrow recess in the side and use a slide potentiometer. But then you get into parts supply, how long the slide is, and it getting bumped.

So I figured you just drill a 1/2" forstner bit 3/4" or so into the side next to the jack. Use your round-over bit in a drill press to give yourself someplace to grip then knob, and choose one that doesn't extend past the guitar's edge. Carvin sells mini knobs, I'm sure some others do to, or you could make one to match the guitar.

I would just have it control a standard 500k pot with a push on split stem.

If you get into push pull pots, you'll wind up having to worry about being able to get a good grip on it or having it get pushed down if it extends past the edge when you pull it up.

The other thing I'd make sure of is that you don't put your bridge HB too close to the saddles since this is a one PUP.

Edited by ToddW
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Hey screamin...The last idea of the recessed knob got me thinking. There´s a guitar David Myka built last year and made GOTM (though I don´t remember the month). All the controls were hidden to a side of the guitar. All the front was completely clean except for two pick ups. I´m fairly sure there are pics of it in his site.

Edited by MexNoob
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That is certainly the one, Todd. B) And screamin...David Myka´s handle is Myka Guitars. Actually saw him logged in a couple hours ago. I love everyone of his guitars :D, plus from what I´ve read he´s a very nice and helpful guy (like everyone here). Sorry my memory didn´t serve, I was so sure it had been last year. My bad :D

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I recently rewired my (passive) strat and found that the simple removal of a tone control was VERY audible. I'd say that on a passive guitar, having no tone or volume would give a more immediate, ballsy sound. And, I think anyone could hear the difference.

Because my friend was one of Ned's first employees in Brooklyn, I have what is probably the only custom Steinbereger L2 bass. It has only one pickup, but it's mounted in the bridge position of the two pickup pickguard and has no tone or volume control. Pickup is wired directly to the output. I usually play it with a volume pedal but of course it is absolutely silent when you're not playing any way. I knew the 'berger wouldn't suffer from the potentiometers because it has active circuitry, but I still went for it because I liked the clean look.

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I never use the tone controls on my guitars, but I like a bright sound. And for some reason, I never have any luck with volume knobs, the ones I wire just never seem to work right. So I leave them on full.

Although my understanding is that the simple fact that there's a pot on the chain adds to the resistance (i.e., the pots are resistors), the result being a reduction in the extreme high end of the signal. I had a guitar wired without any pots at one point and the result was actually quite nasty -- there are frequencies that you really don't want to transmit to the amp. So I think you should have least one, and possibly both a volume and tone in there.

However, you can easily wire the pickup to mini-pots that get hidden within the pickup cavity. Just be careful it nothing gets grounded out.

If it's a humbucker, it'll be really easy -- you can build a recess into the wall of the cavity large enough to house the pots. You could also just hide them in a cavity in the back of the guitar.

A killswitch is useful. I'm using a very hot, very noisy chain right now, running into two noisy tube amps -- so on my pedalboard, I have a dual-looper pedal.

The first switch serves as a bypass to the tuner (but doesn't cut the signal to the amps). The second switch functions as the kill switch -- instead of using the normal output jack, I run a Y connector from the output of the second switch's send jack. (This also leaves me with an option to add a third amp--I'm planning to add a bass amp pretty soon). (I don't use the tuner as a bypass because the looper has no leds...so sometimes I get confused by what's on and what isn't!)

The looper I have takes up much less room than a volume pedal. And it means you'll get to build the guitar the way you really want it. (Although I like Myka's option too). But then, you'll always have to have the looper with you. If you don't use a pedalboard, then that's not very convenient.

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Although my understanding is that the simple fact that there's a pot on the chain adds to the resistance (i.e., the pots are resistors), the result being a reduction in the extreme high end of the signal. I had a guitar wired without any pots at one point and the result was actually quite nasty -- there are frequencies that you really don't want to transmit to the amp. So I think you should have least one, and possibly both a volume and tone in there.

you definately get more top end but it isnt always in a nasty way - that depends on all the other things like the pickups. i know some people that swear by it for certain styles of music.

the best way to find out it is to try it

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For what it's worth, I say no volume, no tone. I've thought about doing this myself, and working with one of those new Fender tone/volume combo pedals. I recently read something in Guitar World about a guitar that had a bypass switch that completely bypassed the pots. It led me to believe that the pots may be sucking a little tone, but I guess whatever you'd gain would be lost in a pedal that does the same job anyway. I don't know. But from the standpoint of playability, I can see no reason why not to go with your original idea.

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If he's only concerned about the tone being too shrill, then a tiny cap to ground or even an RC filter could be wired at the jack. That's easy and there'd be not reason to start adding a pot in as a resitor. Still, I think a hidden volume control adds a huge amount of versatility to the guitar.

Todd

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bad idea? no! it's ridiculous, therefore it's a good idea! I saw a thread about a guy who was making a permanently wireless bass, great idea for the same reasons But if this is going to be a very used/gigged guitar, I would killswitch it.

Paintjobs are a great way to hide just about anything, you could have a black mini toggle on a black pinstripe for instance. Some paint jobs will hide the whole guitar! lol

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