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Knobless? Wha...?


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Not sure if is the correct forum, but how simple would the electronics be without volume or tone controls? Not even sure its practical at all...

I ask because (1) I've no experience in electronics and am about to do it first time and (2) I like simplicity.

This occurred to me because my friend's band has a new album coming out and watching the new song video today I noticed the lead guitarist's guitar has zero knobs. Here's a screen-shot from video:


not the greatest pic and the video moves so fast hard to really tell what's going on, so I found this pic online:


I did research on this and found an interview that answers why:



You don’t have tone and volume knobs on your custom guitar, right?

EC: You know about that?


EC: No, I don’t. I got rid of all that stuff. I don’t have knobs, because when I use to play I’d hit the knobs and then wonder why the tone sounded so bad [laughs]. And, I’d hit the volume and it’d go down and I’d have to turn it back up. The first time I could finally get my own guitars made, I didn’t want the knobs. That’s really what rock n roll is anyway – on and off – there’s no in-between [laughs].

I love that!

EC: That’s the way our music is, it’s on and off! There’s a song we’re playing loud, then there’s a brief space and then other song we’re playing loud. That’s what rock n roll is, I don’t know where people got all these different pickups—there’s just loud, with a little taste to it when you hear the notes.


It does a switch, but only one pick-up...I guess it's an ON/OFF switch? Does it make any sense to want to build a guitar like this?

Either way, interesting I thought


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Personally I wouldn’t go for that option.  As a one pickup guitar it’s already limited in tones and versatility.  Removing the tone and volume control makes it a one trick pony altogether.

i have a one pickup guitar with only a volume control.  I miss the tone control and additional pickups. Even though I only use it for van halen stuff and have a few other guitars, I still miss versatility on it. 

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It's been done every once in a while, either by just taking them off and soldering the pickup(s with a switch) directly to the jack or by adding a resistor in between as the pot has some resistance as well. If it were the Holy Grail of guitar amplification everyone would do that. Since it's a rarity despite lowering the manufacturing costs it may not be that good.

A volume pot alone adds a lot of versatility, lowering the output by just one can turn a banshee to a murmur.

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you can certainly wire straight to the jack... and in fact it will have a small benefit to your full vol.

but I'd suggest you at least add a kill switch... because on stage you do not want to unplug your guitar at stage volume.  even if you don't care about your amp... you are likely mic'd by the house and I bet they will not appreciate the sound of you unplugging at full volume going through the house setup.  you could have one of those planet waves disconnect cables and that will accomplish the sm. 

if this was the task for me... I'd probably try and get more creative about it.  Honestly a volume control is a useful item to have so I'd wire one up and hide it.  page had some cool flat potentiometers under his lp pickguard on a guitar... that's a idea.  or you can just have them hidden in back. 2 cents

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1 hour ago, JayT said:

is there a link to this? sounds interesting

welp... some on rall guitars that are 500k but the forum logic is catching it- keep getting 'forbidden'.  just do a google search for "flat potentiometer" or "thumbwheel potentiometer".  I actually have a couple at home, not even sure why I bought them.  you could simply cut a nice 5 way switch opening in a guitar and mount this on an l bracket or something.  that'd be pretty hidden. 

doh, wasn't logged in... here we are:









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  • 2 weeks later...

I was also thinking of doing a simple 5-way switch / killswitch configuration with only hidden trimpots to control bridge+neck pickup balance on one switch position.

In the age of midi controllable pedals and effect/amp modellers you would not need either tone/volume knobs on a guitar. You could control the input tone/filters and signal volume by making a preset to control the sweet spot of both. If you are in a punk/hardcore band you would go full volume all the time. 😂 This will of course depend on your needs and the set of devices you work with.

Edited by JouniK
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