Monthly Archives: February 2020

Simple guitar mod for more tone

Simple guitar mod for more tone

The loss of high end when you roll down your guitar’s volume control is caused by the pickups interacting with the potentiometers, the capacitance build-up combined with the capacitance of your cables is forming a low pass filter. 

How to FIX that?

It’s a common problem that everybody faces at some point in our playing and then recording process. Losing the high end or simply wanting more tone varietes in our hands using just one instrument.

Why should we care about it? Why should something be fixed?

Well, this mod is used by many recording and touring artists and its is old as the electric guitar itself.

I’ve discovered this simple modification probably 15 years ago reading over the forums how to make my old Ibanez RG450 sounding more focused and not flabby on the low end while rolling my volume control at 50% or even more.

It’s a common “issue” on most of the standard stock guitars, picked up from the shelf.

The loss of high end when you roll down your guitar’s volume control is caused by the pickup interacting with the potentiometer changing the combined capacitance between them and your guitar cable.

Preserving the high frequencies when rolling down the volume knob on your guitar, is a great way to achieve clarity and tightness and even “emulating” some single-coil character from a humbucker pickup and works great with guitar amp simulators and VST guitar pedal plugins!

The solution 

Add a “Treble Bleed Mod” to your guitar and have more possibilities. 

Keep in mind some high-end guitars are stock equipped with it and here are some examples of different mods variations used in some brands and some mods made by famous guitar builders and luthiers for theirs instruments:

PRS – 180 pF cap 

G&L – 200 pF 

Bill Lawrence – 330 pF capacitor & 80 kΩ resistor

Ibanez Prestige – J Custom – 330 pF

DiMarzio – 560 pF capacitor & 300 kΩ resistor

John Suhr – 680 pF capacitor & 150kΩ resistor

Fender – 1.2 nF capacitor & 150 kΩ resistors in parallel, plus a 20 kΩ resistor in series

Seymour Duncan – 1 nF capacitor & 100 kΩ resistor

A few notes:

Note 1:

The capacitor values do not just adjust only the amount of treble that goes through the volume but also changes the spectrum of the frequencies that are passing through the full bandwidth. Everything depends on the value of the cap itself.

Note 2:

  • Adding a resistor in parallel with the capacitor will give you a more natural and even level of the volume potentiometer taper curve and this leads to smooth transition without big jumps from 0 to 10.
  • The capacitor with a resistor in parallel also brings another behavior when turning down the volume potentiometer, the higher frequencies will not dominate on overall tone balance. 
  • The tone is more bright and shrill when using only a capacitor, but in my experience, it’s a personal choice.

I suggest trying the well-established examples up above.

Some example values:
For a 250K pot: 100K resistor. For a 500K pot:  250k resistor. 

Note 3:

  • The treble bleed mod doesn’t affect your guitar tone when the volume pot is on a full 10 position as the capacitor is short-circuited.
  • You can do it!

The hard part :

Having some simple soldering skills

This simple modification requires soldering a single capacitor, or a capacitor and a resistor, between pickup hot – the lug wired to the switch and the lug wired to the output jack

To consider the value of the cap I strongly suggest experimenting and trying different values, before deciding the final value for your instrument and your personal taste.

It’s up to you to find the sweetest spot for your pickups.

Just solder the single Cap or the combined capacitor and resistor shown on the diagram here:

And here is my personal guitar mod:

I’ve experimented a lot on my Ibanez with the stock pickups and due to the different behavior I couldn’t settle down just with one Capacitor, so I decided to add a simple 3 way dpdt switch and settled down to 470pF and 330pF

The middle position is unaffected – the original NO modded potentiometer.

Position 1: 471 pF
Position 3: 330 pF

People are talking about some bad sides of this mod making the guitar too shrill and unpleasant.

But in my personal taste it really helps getting a really  tight and crunchy rhythm tone from my Ibanez. Also in split mode of the humbuckers it gives me that Strat Glassy Tone.

Oh and the Guitar amp simulators are accepting this like no brainer! The interaction between the guitar and as an example Kuassa Caliburn and Matchlock is unbelievably good.

As a final word. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your instrument. Explore it and give yourself more freedom with the instrument, this simple modification works wonders with amp simulators.

As they react and behave like real amplifiers. Using Matchlock when volume is rolled down with the combination of the Treble `bleed mod and humbuckers: sweet and shimmery tone!

Almost Fenderish sounding!

Do it now! Solder a simple 330p on volume lugs and try with Matchlock Master on max.

Lower the volume at 50% and be amazed!