Monday, January 26, 2015

Bass Cut Tone Pot. Get Some Clarity out of Those Heavy Riffs!

For the years I've been around heavy music and the metal scene back in Portland, one thing rules above all.  Heavy riff-age.  Down tuning has become more and more common in the heavy music.  Hell, Drop D is the basically the common vernacular of metal music.  I've been using multiple tunings even a drop G tuning with a bass string for years now.    One thing I do see less of, is the usage of the Treble Cut tone knob that is on basically every passive guitar.  I do use it here and there and I have my secret tricks with it, but it seems to be in less use these days, compared to the days before dirty boxes. 

After searching the internet for some easy cure to my Drop G cheapo guitar with muddy pick-ups.  (Even more accentuated by the low tuning.)  I came across a wiring that was standard on a lot of G & L guitars and Reverend guitars.  A BASS CUT TONE POT!  This was the answer, and super easy and cheap to do.  Seems like a really good option with all my guitars.  I usually just use a master, or global tone pot for the treble cut, so why not put a bass cut for the other tone pot on my Les Paul styled guitar?  I don't like resetting my EQ for every different guitar I use on stage, and this gives me a lot of control to make my guitar dialed in.  Also, as many know, especially in a studio, bass on a guitar can just add a lot of clutter in the mix.  When I down tune in a band setting, I'm encroaching on the kick and bass territory.  And I lose some of my definition.  Instead of using a boost pedal to push some other high-end or mid, I can simply cut the low-end and get a similar effect.      

Wring #1 The Simple Bass Cut Tone Pot
I came across a few different wirings for this tone pot.  The basic idea is the same as the input cap in almost all guitar pedals. Depending on the value, we can use the cap, in-line, to filter out bass frequencies.  The simplest wiring, is just this.  A cap between the middle lug  receiving the hot signal, and the top lug that goes to the output jack.  (wiring chart #1)
Wiring #2 Another Variation
The other wiring I found ended up in my guitar.  The cap is in-line, just wiring a little differently, and there is a 1M resistor going to ground after the cap.  The BIGGEST difference in the behavior of the tone pot was the cap value.  I found a good medium with a .0022uF cap.  However I tested it with a .001uF cap and got even more bass cut.  I didn't try the .0047uF cap other suggested as well, but it should cut less bass.  Those caps seem to work in a good range. 

Les Paul wiring with Neck Volume, Bridge Volume, Master Treble cut, and Master Bass Cut.
Lastly, I haven't seen a wiring diagram for a Les Paul styled guitar.  So here we are.  This diagram will give you a Neck Volume, Bridge Volume, and a Master Treble and Bass Cut Tone Knobs.  (As a side note, I recommend adding a "Treble Bleed Mod"  on both the Volume Pots)  The only re-wiring you should have to do, is the change the order of where the pickups get routed to the 3-way switch.  Run the pickups to the volume pots first, then to the 3-way switch, and from the middle lung of the 3-way switch, you go to the treble cut pot, to the bass cut pot, to the output jack.

Hope that helps some people.  It's brought new life to a few cheap guitars with bad pickups and it's improved the versatility of my nicer guitars.  I'm feeling like this should be the new tone law for guitar makers. 


  1. rad man, i'll try it with my basswood shelter les paul with seymour duncan pickups

  2. Hi. This is very helpful at least for the LP neck HB. What if I want to leave the bridge tone alone and do the Bass Cut for the neck tone only. What I mean is, instead of having global tone controls, have the usual low pass for bridge only and a high pass for neck only? The guitar is a LP with 50s wiring. Should I do the same as per the Wiring #2 schematic but run the lug 3 on the tone pot to the switch instead of the output jack? Obviously, that will mean that I need to remove the connection between lug 2 of the volume pot and the switch (as per the 50's wiring). Will that work? Thanks!

    1. Yeah you got it. Also keep you bridge tone pot as you have it wired currently.

  3. What is the functional difference in wiring #1 and wiring #2? I have a Epiphone EB 0 bass (mudbucker) that needs the bass frequencies tamed a little. Would you suggest one wiring over another for this application? Thank you, and thanks for posting this too!

    1. I don't really have the right tools to tell you the difference in frequencies. So, try them both. Yeah most people have that problem with that bass. Give it a try!