[869] Max Your Guitar Volume

Date: January 25th, 2011 | Comments : [8] | Categories: DIY.

Players obsess over IC chip types, or film vs. electrolytic capacitors, when the easiest way to improve your guitar sound is to set your guitar volume on 10 and leave it there.

There are several good reasons for doing this. First, the signal from guitar pickups is low to begin with, and to maximize signal-to-noise ratio, all available voltage from the pickups should be allowed through. This reduces noise. It also reduces the potential for hum.

Second, when the volume is on its max setting, the high frequency loss from long guitar cables is minimized. As you turn down the volume control, the added resistance that is placed in the signal path by the volume potentiometer will react with the cable capacitance to dull your high frequencies.

Finally, letting the full signal through also promotes better functioning of amplitude dependent devices, such as compressors and auto-wah filters. There is more signal for their detectors, and that signal is proportionally higher than the residual noise that might interfere with proper operation if the volume is reduced.

Get the full tonal range and performance from your rig; set your guitar volume on 10.

 

8 Responses to “Max Your Guitar Volume”

[2039] Frederick Says: 9:38 am, January 25th, 2011

So do you then recommend a volume pedal in front of an amp to clean up the sound when needed as opposed to rolling off the volume knob on the guitar?


[2040] Dave Says: 10:34 am, January 25th, 2011

Hey! So does that mean that high frequency response will necessarily be better with higher output pickups (humbuckers, “high output”, active PUs, etc.)?

Also – does having a buffer (either in the guitar or on the floor) mitigate resistance caused by lowering your volume pot?

Thanks!

Dave


[2041] Kerry Maxwell Says: 11:30 am, January 25th, 2011

For clean sounds I’d agree, but many players like to set their amp for a nice lead sound, and then use the guitar volume to dynamically move from clean to dirty ( Granted most of these players don’t ever really play “clean” ๐Ÿ˜‰ Also, sometimes the high frequency loss is desirable to trim some of the “hair” from a distorted sound. Tom Scholz was famous for almost never running his guitar volumes at full. I’m I big fan of using the guitar controls, both tone and volume. Most of my favorite players can usually be seen adjusting both during a performance, especially the ones that play telecasters!


[2042] admin Says: 1:30 pm, January 25th, 2011

>>So does that mean that high frequency response will necessarily be better with higher output pickups (humbuckers, โ€œhigh outputโ€, active PUs, etc.)?<<

No, but it does mean that the signal-to-noise ratio will be better and there will be less hiss in a boosted signal.

Buffering will negate the volume pot problem, to a large extent.


[2044] Gordy Power Says: 2:50 pm, January 25th, 2011

1 on using the pots as effects. Even with a clean rig and pedals I tend to use the volume pot(s) to work my way in and out of a mix or vary the way a pedal works. An extreme example is playing a Fuzz Face. My rig last weekend was a strat into a fuzz face (left on full time) into a clean amp and the range of sounds was insane. Made me nervous not having anything to do with my feet ๐Ÿ™‚


[2109] pinkjimiphoton Says: 5:04 pm, March 23rd, 2011

sorry jack, but in this case ya drop the ball…yes, you may get more output with the guitar pegged…but there are literally myriad tones that exist at various points as a guitar’s volume pot is adjusted, and i would venture to say that most of them just plain do not exist with the guitar cranked. i can get way more tones, and way more control over not only the guitar but it’s interactions with any effects i may use than you, me, or anyone will get with the guitar full blast. if you’re a shredder, fine…if you’re a guitar player, not so fine. sorry to be a buzzkill…do what works for you, brother musician…but i respectfully and completely disagree with your postulation!
further…autowahs? you can literally adjust their sensitivity and find the sweet spot with your volume pot as well…it’s all about control, it’s all about tone, and just cuz something may be “right” from an engineer’s perspective, that doesn’t mean in practice it will work as well as in theory.
ok…rant done…thanks for all you’ve done for the internet music community~! rock on, man…
jimi


[2238] Min Says: 1:38 pm, July 6th, 2011

sure there are tons of tones available depending on where you set your volume pot…

but why not do it right and build a stepped attenuator instead of a simple dinky pot that has all the problems mentioned.

the tones you’re getting has almost nothing to do with the actual output signal of the pickup and almost everything to do with the variable impedance bridge created by the series resistance and resistance to ground of the pot.


[2402] pinkjimiphoton Says: 4:10 pm, November 6th, 2011

cuz, that’s kinda inconvenient, don’t you think? a stepped attenuator is a switch, it’s not as easy or as versatile as a simple pot..

you’re right about the tones, but think about it.. who cares, as long as it sounds good? ๐Ÿ˜‰

i mean, if every single note you play is rehearsed and all, attenuators may be worth it..but again, they don’t afford the versatility of a lowly pot…just being devil’s advocate here!

i mean, i could misquote you:

“the tones youโ€™re getting has almost nothing to do with the actual output signal of the pickup and almost everything to do with the variable impedance bridge created by the series resistance and resistance to ground of the steps of the attenuator.”

in the end, they would both equal the same thing, maybe…if you had enough degree of control over the attenuators..but again, a pot’s easier, and does indeed have an effect on the tone and response of the guitar, doesn’t it?

personally, i rarely care for the tone of a pickup straight into an amp, usually way too brite to my ear to be useable.
๐Ÿ˜‰

peace!
๐Ÿ˜‰




 

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