2 volumes & 2 tones --> master volume + other stuff modding

parek

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Hi,

I just recently bought my first PRS (ZM) and this is my first guitar ever without strat/tele type of master volume solution. As we know it, ZM has two humbuckers with vol and tone for each pickup in Les Paul style. I have to say that I'm not loving the separate volume controls. I like the simplicity of 3 different pickup positions (I don't have the need to adjust the mid position sound with separate volumes) and just using one knob for controlling the overall volume. I am thinking of replacing the electronics with something, but I'm not yet sure what exactly... Here are couple of ideas:

1. master volume, master tone AND separate volumes for each pickup
2. master volume, tone for each pickup and one remaining pot is going to be _________


I am little bit tempted to buy bright humbuckers (eg. Dimarzio EJ customs) and do the option 2 and replace the unused pot with "sweet switch" (but using capacitors) to simulate a long cable (and to have a instant "cut" for highs). If I go to option one, what value would the pots need to be? The guitar will loose too much of top end If I just add another pot to the current signal chain.

Any other ideas how to have one master vol + 1-2 tone pots + something else?
 
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parek

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Another question I forgot to ask:

How do ZM's SE 245 pickups compare to "others" in terms of treble, middle, bass and general output? I have no previous experience in humbuckers and it's quite difficult to try to find "a little brighter" pickup since I have no idea how these current ones are compared to others...(bright? bassy?)
 

vchizzle

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I haven't seen anything like choice 1 where you'd have 2 knobs controlling volume on the same pickup. The SE 245 pickups are fairly middle of the road. Not super hot but not vintage PAF. I think I've heard people say they can be muddy but I haven't played them enough to say. The stock model in a store that I tried seemed fine, I didn't think, "these pickups suck!" or "these pickups are great!"
 

gball

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My recommendation is to give it time and get used to the separate volume controls - there are tones in there with both pickups on that are impossible to get with a master volume, and those sounds are one of the things that make a twin humbucker guitar with "G" style wiring so great. Once you get used to it, like most things, adjusting vol becomes intuitive and no problem to switch back and forth between different style guitars.

I agree with what vchizzle says about the SE245 pickups: very middle of the road, both in output and sound. I removed them from my SE245 and replaced them with, first, a set of PRS USA pickups and currently a set of DiMarzios, both of which are vast improvements and both of which respond better to vol and tone control. I don't think the 245's lack brightness as much as complexity, which I think we often hear as upper-mids.
 

garrett

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I used to feel the same until I got an SE Tremonti. Give it some time and tweak the volumes. Just a tad will do to change the balance of the pickups.

If you decide to go with master volume, here are some ideas on what to do with the extra hole:

If the pickups are four-conductor, you could replace one volume with a mini switch for coil split, or even series/split/parallel. If you want to keep the stock look, you could do a spin-a-split.

Other ideas: phase switch; rewire the extra pot for bass cut; kill switch; or just leave the extra pot as a dummy.

Here's a diagram for your option 1:

gretschstyle.png
 

parek

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I haven't seen anything like choice 1 where you'd have 2 knobs controlling volume on the same pickup.

If you google "The Master Volume Mod - Deaf Eddie" that will give the schematic PDF to that kind of wiring.

The SE 245 pickups are fairly middle of the road. I think I've heard people say they can be muddy but I haven't played them enough to say.

"Muddy" is also the word I would use. I did cut the bass down with some caps wired to the hot leads, but still I don't hear the articulation I'd like to hear.
 

parek

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Thanks gball and garrett! I will give some time to these LP style controls. I've had the guitar only for a week now, so no hurry yet.
 

alantig

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If you do the master volume, I'd leave the unused pot there and get a decal that says AWESOMENESS with an arrow to point to that knob. Then point it out to the cute girls in the crowd as you turn it up just before your solo.
 

gball

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If you do the master volume, I'd leave the unused pot there and get a decal that says AWESOMENESS with an arrow to point to that knob. Then point it out to the cute girls in the crowd as you turn it up just before your solo.

Dude, that is funny. My bandmate has a Reverend Double Agent (awesome guitar, BTW) that came with a "bass contour" knob on the upper bout. We referred to it as the "tone suck device" and ultimately disconnected it from the circuit. Now there is a knob that doesn't do anything, but people will pick it up, turn that knob and be like "oh yeah, now THAT sounds good!"
 

Dusty Chalk

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I agree with the advice of give the extant interface a chance.

But if you do change it, I love the idea of a sweetness knob. I would love a knob that tamed the mid/bass bloom and accentuated the presence/airiness/extension all at the same time.

Another thought is to separate out the tone controls into treble and bass, perhaps even leaving some space in the middle for a midband reference level. But that would require active circuitry, I think, to do it right.

PS My Parker Fly Deluxe has volume controls in front of volume controls and separate tone controls.
 

swede71

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If you check out an original Les Paul toggle switch it says rhythm and treble,not bass and treble.That gives you a clue how they thought about 2 volumes .With 2 volumes you can pre set neck pickup for cleaner tones and use treble for more crunchier sounds.Plus the middle position gives you more tonal options.I have my DGT neck pickup always set on 5 basically and use only bridge volume to control sound in bridge and middle position.Check out some bonamassa vids where he talks about using the vol and tone controls on a Les Paul.Yes,I recommend you keep controls as they are. :)
 
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vchizzle

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I agree with most everyone. Give 2 volumes a chance. For me at least, it's far more useful than dual tone knobs. Hell, the guitars I use live, if there's only 2 knobs, I get rid of the tone knob so I can have 2 volumes. I often have my neck pickup around 4-5, bridge pickup wide open, then switch between the 3 toggle positions for different levels of gain.
 

parek

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Check out some bonamassa vids where he talks about using the vol and tone controls on a Les Paul.Yes,I recommend you keep controls as they are. :)

I've seen that, it's a great demo :) Only bad thing is that most of the setting work only if one is able to keep the amp very loud. I play 95% of the time with home volume levels... If I turn either of the volumes under 8 or so, the sound does not just clean up, but gets drastically quieter and completely muffled (tried .001 treble bleed, didn't like it. I will try 180pf later). IMO, those tricks do not work in my situation.

With strat and tele i'm used to use vol knob between 7-10 to control the gain (my default position is 9, not 10). I use pickup selector switch to get different tones, not to get different preset volume levels.

But I'm not giving up yet :)
 
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alantig

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If you check out an original Les Paul toggle switch it says rhythm and treble,not bass and treble.That gives you a clue how they thought about 2 volumes .With 2 volumes you can pre set neck pickup for cleaner tones and use treble for more crunchier sounds.Plus the middle position gives you more tonal options.I have my DGT neck pickup always set on 5 basically and use only bridge volume to control sound in bridge and middle position.Check out some bonamassa vids where he talks about using the vol and tone controls on a Les Paul.Yes,I recommend you keep controls as they are. :)

I'd also suggest living w/the two volumes for a while to see how you like it (didn't say that before).

To amplify on swede's comment, after observing some other guys doing this, I've found myself using the 'treble' side of the switch for rhythm and flipping to the 'rhythm' setting for a smoother, creamier lead tone. Not all the time, but every now and then. On my Tremonti, it is a really gorgeous tone.
 

parek

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OK, it didn't take too long to get used to LP style wiring :) Actually, that 2 volumes is brilliant. I'm keeping the wiring stock... Thanks for help!
 

ChunkyB

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I'm the exact opposite. Having 2 volume controls is VERY useful when playing live. You can roll the volume off on the neck, and you basically have a built-in boost switch just by switching from neck to bridge.

It's actually the thing I like least about PRS's in general. I know they do the 245 and artist models with two tone controls, but I'll never understand why they've stuck with a single volume on the customs. It's a very clear advantage of a les paul in my mind.
 
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