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  explain why PSG don't have volume & tone knobs

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Author Topic:   explain why PSG don't have volume & tone knobs
Del Ray Grace

From: Toledo, Ohio, USA

posted 07 December 2004 07:04 PM     profile     
I have always played a non pedal style of steel guitar but now I am learning the pedal steel and I am getting the hang of this rather quickly.I still have much to learn about the pedal steel guitar itself and have a few questions.I've often wondered why pedal steel guitars don't usually have volume and tone controls made on the guitar itself. Can some one explain why that is?

Also if I have pots installed on the guitar will it effect the sound and possibly destroy the integity of the wood? Please be patient with me,i am a new at this.

The Sho-Bud ProII Custom Dbl Neck

Bill C. Buntin

From: back at home in Cleburne, TX

posted 07 December 2004 07:37 PM     profile     
For me, I dont use a tone circuit because I want the full pickup straight into the input of the amp. However, My S10 Push pull had a tone circuit that I actually would work with from time to time. Matter of taste I guess. Good question. And I've often wondered the same. Be interesting to see everyone else's thoughts and opinions.
Michael Haselman

From: St. Paul Park, Minnesota, USA

posted 07 December 2004 07:42 PM     profile     
Well, I don't know about the tone pot, but the lack of volume is fairly many pedal steel players have you seen without a volume pedal?

Marrs D-10, Webb 6-14E

Donny Hinson

From: Balto., Md. U.S.A.

posted 07 December 2004 07:52 PM     profile     
Steelers routinely stay real close to their amps, so extra controls are unnecessary. Lead players, on the other hand, are known to be quite motive and animated, so they need controls on their guitar.
Howard Tate

From: Leesville, Louisiana, USA

posted 07 December 2004 08:04 PM     profile     
My Zum universal 12 has a switch to change from E9 tone to C6, and also has a tone pot, which is rarely used.

Howard, 'Les Paul Recording, Zum S12U, Vegas 400, Boss ME-5, Boss DM-3

Michael Haselman

From: St. Paul Park, Minnesota, USA

posted 07 December 2004 08:17 PM     profile     
Steel players also like as pristine a signal path as possible. Another volume pot and tone pot would add more signal clutter and I believe we like the pure tones of our expensive instruments!

Marrs D-10, Webb 6-14E

Scott Henderson

From: Eldon, Missouri, USA

posted 07 December 2004 09:27 PM     profile     
they do! Volume is on the floor and the tone is in the hands hehehehehehe
sorry couldn't resist

Steelin' away in the ozarks and life,

Jim Palenscar

From: Oceanside, Calif, USA

posted 07 December 2004 10:03 PM     profile     
Don't you think that your hands are busy enough just playing?
Tom Gorr

From: Three Hills, Alberta

posted 07 December 2004 10:13 PM     profile     
To emphasize a point above -

My MSA S12 has a tone pot, volume pot, distortion circuit, etc. etc. built into the frame.

However, the pickup is hardwired directly to the 1/4" jack, and I've never had the inclination to rewire it to original.

Given the sensitivity of steel guitar tone to cable quality, length as well as the complaints of tone quality from passive volume pedal users - if the signal had to go through all of the other passive circuits noted above - there would be no tone left to hit the amp with.

All these considerations may be good arguments to find some suitable active pickups. Does anyone manufacture an active PSG pickup?

[This message was edited by Tom Gorr on 07 December 2004 at 10:15 PM.]

Bobby Lee

From: Cloverdale, North California, USA

posted 07 December 2004 10:56 PM     profile     
My new 2004 Williams has a tone control.
Larry Chung

From: San Francisco, CA, USA

posted 07 December 2004 11:14 PM     profile     
Most of the ZBs I've seen and played (all that I own) have both a volume and a tone pot with a switch that activates them, or bypasses them. Very smart design for a preset tone option.

Hats off to Zane Beck... again!


Del Ray Grace

From: Toledo, Ohio, USA

posted 08 December 2004 03:02 AM     profile     
Thanks gang,good to see some of you were wondering the same thing (now I don't feel so silly) but thanks for the clarification your knowledge on the subject is appreciated.

Sho-Bud Pro II Custom Dbl.
Fender Twin

Ray Minich

From: Limestone, New York, USA

posted 08 December 2004 05:12 AM     profile     
Volume and tone controls on the steel always kinda reminded me of the tone controls on mid-60's transistor radios. It's like "why bother?". Turn the controls full on & go. I got enough knobs on the down-cable toys, why torture the signal before it leaves the endplate.
Rick Garrett

From: Tyler, Texas

posted 08 December 2004 07:02 AM     profile     
My 1968 D10 ZB has tone and volume knobs and as lousy as I am at the present time with my right foot, its a good thing.


Erv Niehaus

From: Litchfield, MN, USA

posted 08 December 2004 07:51 AM     profile     
The Emmons LeGrande has a tone control and also a swith so you can disable it. I never use mine.
Grant Johnson

From: Nashville TN

posted 08 December 2004 07:57 AM     profile     
My MSA Classic has a volume and tone pot, but I am going to re-wire it to bypass as they are both kept wide open...
Greg Simmons

From: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

posted 08 December 2004 08:17 AM     profile     
Check out what's on board Sneaky Pete's Fender sometime

Greg Simmons
Former custodian of the Unofficial Sho~Bud Pedal Steel Guitar Website

Joe Alterio

From: Fishers, Indiana

posted 08 December 2004 08:48 AM     profile     
I personally think that all steel guitars should have tone controls.

Imagine playing a Strat, Tele, LP, etc. without being able to change tone....I certainly couldn't do it. I need to have some control over my sound.

To me, it seems that many pedal steels have just one *sound*....not that it's a bad sound, but in a 2+ hour show, it would be nice to change the sound a bit without having to mess with the amp. Or, be able to make the steel sound more mellow for slower songs, then immediately brighten it up for a chicken pickin song.


Rick Collins

From: Claremont , CA USA

posted 08 December 2004 09:03 AM     profile     
I have restored a Fender 1000 (polished frame, slim chrome pedals, original pickups) and I have installed another female plug right beside the original one.

I wired the new plug to bypass the tone and volume controls. Now I have a choice to either use or bypass the controls.

c c johnson

From: killeen,tx usa

posted 08 December 2004 09:12 AM     profile     
For quite a while during the 60 70 80s the highs on the amps were dominant and if you tried to roll them off most amps became muddy. The highs were ok if all you were doing was playing ctry E9 but if you were doing pop stds, haw, etc the highs were lousy sounding to the audience. BE hal Rugg, green etc could ger tone with just the amp but thank goodness the profex 2 and others came along to help us when we were not playing ctry. I have always had a vol and tone control on my guitars, thanks to the patience of Reece and Shot. The controls in themselves soften the tone and allows the player to tweak his tone instead of going to the amp. I know this is me because I have severak friends that play steel going only to the amp and they sound good. JMHO CC
Perry Hansen

From: Bismarck, N.D.

posted 08 December 2004 09:56 AM     profile     
I guess the main reason I wired all of my steels to the output from the Fender 1000 to date is because I jump from one neck to the other quite often and it seems the sound is better with the pickups wired directly to the 1/4 " plug. And I don't have to worry about missing the switch when I jump necks. I'm not very graceful when it come to moving fast and accurate.
Frank Parish

From: Nashville,Tn. USA

posted 08 December 2004 10:10 AM     profile     
If you're using a fuzz tone like I do on some stuff I like to take a lot of the highs out so it doesn't sound like buzzsaw. If you're using the Profex II and you use the Leslie effects, to me it sounds better when you roll off the highs and have a thicker sound like a real B3. After working with so many B3 players it just seems natural for me to have a tone control at my fingertips and not have to turn around to the amp and if you're using a processor forget about it. The tone control on the Emmons guitars along with the cutoff switch should be standard at least for me. I bought an Emmons once with the switch bypassed and after wiring it back the way it was originally, I couldn't tell the difference. Johnny Cox has a tone control on his triple Zum and he uses it for that Boo Wah effect on swing stuff. It sounds great and it's a pretty big knob mounted on the right at the end plate. Try getting that effect without a tone control.
Jerry Hayes

From: Virginia Beach, Va.

posted 08 December 2004 11:48 AM     profile     
I just use my good old Goodrich matchbox, the one with the tone control on top. I always cut it back about a third and then set my amp tone for regular playing. Then if I want to go to some "Mooney" things which I love, I just crank the tone full on....JH

Livin' in the Past and Future with a 12 string Mooney Universal tuning.

Ron Steenwijk

From: Greensburg,PA

posted 08 December 2004 12:22 PM     profile     
explain why PSG don't have volume & tone knobs

They don't need them.


Nikaro SD10 4x6

Frank Parish

From: Nashville,Tn. USA

posted 08 December 2004 02:14 PM     profile     
Jerry's got the right idea. Also if you're doing a solo and using the fuzz and want that extra treble like Hendrix when he switched p-ups you can hit that switch and there it is.
Tony Prior

From: Charlotte NC

posted 08 December 2004 02:25 PM     profile     
I think it's because the two extra POT's and knobs would add too much weight to the Steel.


Dan Tyack

From: Seattle, WA USA

posted 08 December 2004 11:55 PM     profile     
I'd like at least a volume control, for when my right foot is busy with the wah pedal!


Steve Knight

From: Arlington, Virginia, USA

posted 09 December 2004 03:18 AM     profile     
I took a lesson with Buddy Charleton yesterday & he said that there was a pedal made (maybe in the 60s??) that was a single pedal that controlled both volume and tone. You would depress the pedal for volume, then it would swivel left-to-right for tone control. As if there's not already enough movement to try to cordinate while playing psg! I don't remember who made the pedal, but I'd love to find one on eBay.


Fred Shannon

From: Rocking "S" Ranch, Comancheria, Texas

posted 09 December 2004 03:27 AM     profile     
Steve K. Buddy was probably referring to the "standard" volume/tone pedal made by Fender, but I alson have ones made by DeArmond and Bigsby. I'm sure there were more, but I'm unaware of the manufacturers.


"From Truth, Justice is Born"--Quanah Parker-1904

Nicholas Dedring

From: Brooklyn, New York, USA

posted 09 December 2004 06:29 AM     profile     
I'm going to second what Erv said: I have a tone pot and bypass switch on my Emmons as well, and I never use the thing.

Basically, you have all the highs in with the tone pot bypassed, turning the pot on and turning it will just clip the high end off.

Mine must not be working though, I turn and turn, and I just can't get "tone"

Jim Bates

From: Alvin, Texas, USA

posted 09 December 2004 06:35 PM     profile     
My first pedal steel in the late 60's was a Sho-Bud with very hot pickups. I was using an old Fender Twin amp (non-reverb model)that just could not handle the strong signal from those pickups. So I put volume and tone controls on it and solved the problem. Then I got a real steel guitar amp (Cain) that could handle the full output with no distortion. So, before there were steel guitar amps, a lot of us used some sort of volume control to cut down signal and still be able to tromp down on the volume pedal without causing distortion.

Even though I now play an Emmons with a tone control, I hardly ever use it - doesn't sound good to me.


Jack Anderson

From: Scarborough, ME

posted 09 December 2004 08:33 PM     profile     
So, a good question and a lot of good answers: there are some valid, specific reasons why it may be advantageous to have volume and/or tone controls on a PSG. Absent one of those, not only are they not needed, they are likely to detract from the sound and you are better off without them. If you must have them, put a Black Box in between the pickup and whatever else you want to have in the signal path, and the results will be better.

To echo another thread, IMHO the only tone controls worth having on the instrument itself are (a) a moveable pickup or (b) with multiple pickups, a "blend" control like the Stringmaster, or a volume control for each pickup (with all due respect to the genius of Leo Fender, I still haven't found any value in the one volume/two tone controls of a Strat, and intend to rewire mine with three volume controls -- does anyone want to trade some white knobs? -- and meanwhile the only control I use is the pickup selector switch).

All times are Pacific (US)

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