Monday, March 14, 2011

Varitone Project - 12 Positions

The varitone is a multi-position guitar tone switch. It's a great thing for DIY guitar electronics enthusiasts, because every position of this tone controller can be designed almost independently. It means, that it allows you to crate many different guitar tones.

In this post, I would like to show you my own project of the varitone. It's got 11 low-pass filters.

My varitone is based on a 12-way rotary switch, 11 capacitors and 1 resistor. All in popular and easy to get values and types.

The joint is a place where all conductors should be connected together.

Changes in the guitar tone

The position „0” is the bypass. The next 11 have some tone filters, based on well selected caps.

You can see there also the 100K resistor. It's used to make the filters less drastic, "smoother". With this thing, the guitar tone will not be too dull and will not lose too much treble. On most positions the guitar sound will be quite transparent.

The first position of my varitone will change the tone only slightly (with some pickup types the change can be almost unnoticeable). The next 3 positions will be a little bit more influential. They will act only on high-end. The guitar frequency range will be still quite wide.

These first 4 positions (without „0”) are good for making the tone just a little bit warmer, less screaming. They are based on ceramic caps.

The all next positions works much more drastic on the guitar tone. They are based on film caps. They will help you to reach very warm and smooth tones. The higher the position, the smoother and warmer the tone. The last 4 of them works great for jazz sounds - very smooth, with a lot of bass.

Varitone vs. classic tone control

The varitone, on bypass position, will not add a resistance between the hot path and the ground of a guitar wiring. The pot based tone control will do it. It means, that the Varitone on bypass position will not affect the guitar tone (frequency range).

Changes in the guitar signal, caused by using the tone control, will be different with the varitone, than with the classic, pot based circuit. It also depends on how will you make it: which part values will you chose; will you make low-pass filters or notch filters etc.

If you're familiar with selecting tone caps, the varitone can be a great tool for you.

The varitone can be good as a supplement to the classic guitar wiring configurations. It can be also a great alternative to the pot based tone control.