Treble-Bleed Networks

For the longest time I was a single-axe player: my beloved red 80’s super-stray was all I needed. A few years ago I acquired a Les Paul (the fulfillment of a longtime ambition to imitate Jimmy Page). When I plugged that into a cranked up amp with a healthy amount of gain, twiddling the volume knob on the Les Paul offered a whole new palette of tones I couldn't get with the Strat. If I turned down the volume on the Strat, the tone just got weak and muffled. Suck-o-rama.

What I later realized is that the tone circuit in a Les Paul (and other Gibsons like an ES-335) is wired differently than a typical super-Strat circuit. Due to the interaction of resistance and the tone and volume pots, the Strat wiring causes the high-end to roll-off as you dial the volume back. Gibsons include an additional capacitor which helps keep the top-end on your tone as you turn the volume down.  

The solution to this issue on a super-Strat is to install a treble-bleed circuit. This is nothing more than a tiny parallel circuit hanging off of the volume knob that includes a capacitor and a resistor.  

I live in Seattle, a tech town to be sure, but I'll be damned if I could find the two tiny parts I needed to wire this together myself. So I ended up buying a 3-pack of pre-made treble-bleed circuits and wired those in. They were definitely more expensive than just sourcing the individual parts, but they were very easy to wire in and the workmanship is excellent.

One distinct advantage of these pre-made circuits is a small control to vary the resistance.  Typically, when installing a treble-bleed circuit, you would try out several different resistors until you got the tone you liked which meant soldering some kind of hacked-together temporary circuit with alligator-clips. For a Stratocaster style guitar this is kind of pain because you have to loosen strings, remove the pickguard, etc. etc. These kits provide a small Phillips-head control to vary the resistance. No need to get your soldering iron out if you change your mind!

And the tone? Finally, after all these years, I can adjust the volume knob on the ol' super-Strat (or EVH Wolfgang for that matter) and find a whole new world of tones.