I've bought a few different inexpensive pre-wired pickups with volume and tone controls pre-installed.  It's amazing what you can get for under $10!

I'm no trained musician, and I'm just playing a home built guitar through cheap pickup on a battery powered HoneyTone amp, but I don't notice a huge desirable difference with the tone control.  It does something for sure, I'm just not sure it's worth it.  The tone control on the amp seems to have more of an effect and a better effect on controlling the tone.  I like keeping things clean and simple so if I could just go down to a volume control I think that would be great.

For a quick slide guitar I made for myself, I just cut it off and kept the volume control.  I'm currently working on a guitar as a surprise gift for a friend who is a very good guitarist and I'm wondering if I should keep it for him or just ditch it.

What are your opinions?

Thanks in advance for your input,


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Scott, tone controls are hard to get value out of, firstly, most pots used on cbg's are cheap chinese stuff, often not working well to start with, then the value of the capacitor has to match the tone area you are seeking, and there's many variables of type and capacity there, i don't often fit tone controls any more, as it really isn't worth the effort to my mind, more than 1/2 the gits i've fitted them to, they barely make a difference, and sometimes just add a dead spot as you turn them

That makes a lot of sense.  I'm sure these inexpensive pre-wired setups don't have optimized values on the pots and capacitor for the specific pickup, and poor choices here could do far more harm than good.  I've noticed the dead spot you mention.

I think I'll join you in dispensing with the tone control and maybe re-use the pots elsewhere.  I like the volume control for convenience but you've confirmed my feeling that the tone knob isn't adding much to the value.



I just adjust my amplifier...

I saw a video of someone who had a humbucker on a switch. It was wired so you could run it as a humbucker or single coil for really clean sound. I think I’ll be doing that from now on, there was a nice change in tone from that.

On really tiny amps like the Honeytone it's difficult to detect any change in sound when you use the tone control...all you are hearing is distortion thru' a lo-fi little speaker. So if that's all you are playing through, it's fine, but you WILL notice the difference if you play through a bigger, better amp.

Ah! And my friend certainly has much nicer amps, so it might be worth it for his guitar. Thanks!

And it might have been you who had the video of the humbucker wired to a switch.
It was you, posted just yesterday. ZZ Top song :)

I agree with Chickenbone John. The tone control will play a bigger role with a nicer amp.

I don't like to fiddle with my amps all the time. Generally speaking as a player I like to have tone control, but as a builder I often don't add a tone control unless I use 2 pickups where I'll be wiring in a switch too. And for single pickup builds I often use Snake Oils (not the cheapest but better tone than super cheapos) which are not overly bright so don't need the tone rolled off to sound good. I prefer warm tone. 

Good info, thanks. I’m sure using pickups that cost more than $10 would help in many ways.

 I don't use either vol or tone. In my opinion they just muddy the tone. I just dial in my amp, also a pedal or two can get you what you are looking for.

I’ve seen a few demo videos where people showed a pickup run straight to the amp and then the same pickup with volume and/or tone controls added. It’s always clearer and better straight to the amp. I look at the volume control as a convenience, not needing to lean over and adjust the amp.


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