General tech questions

Stellertone ToneStyler in a hollowbody

1

Has anyone replaced their "mud" switch with a ToneStyler tone pot??

I have a ToneStyler and Im thinking of getting rid of the mud switch that I never ever use. I have to double check which model ToneStyler I have but Im pretty sure it is compatible with my Gretsch wiring as I won it at the NorCal Roundup many years ago. I think the Tone Pot will be more effective than the Mud switch so figured I would ask if anyone has done it and give some advice on the swap.

and No ,Im not even thinking of replacing the caps on my Mud Switch,,, To say I Dislike the Mud switch is putting it mildly.

2

I have a ToneStyler in my stereo Country Gent. It's way more useful than the tone switch. I think mine has 16 detents, with a subtly different tone in each position. Sixteen positions probably provide more gradual changes than the ear can hear, but it's easy to keep clicking till you get what you want - from full bright down to full dark. And I guess if you were obsessing about a particular tone for a particular application, you could count detents and remember the setting that way.

But, yeah - the ToneStyler is a real thing, well worth the swap.

On my stereo conversion, it definitely takes the functional place of the mud switch, though it's not physically in that position - I have it on the lower bout as one of the rotary pots under a former volume knob, as I need the mud switch position for stereo pickup switching.

3

Mud was good in its day... you have to recall the era when those guitars were designed.

Even the early Telecasters had a mud setting where they put a cap across the neck pickup

4

Gretschman36 has them installed in a number of hollow body guitars with reportedly excellent results.

5

Epiphone has a "toned-down" (less detents) version in their Blueshawk... always wanted to try one...

6

Yep. You are right, Ric12. Every Gretsch I own has one ( plus a few other brands). Musical. Effective. An Indispensable tool. Takes only a few minutes to install as well. While you’re at it, install a treble bleed on the master volume, too. You’ll be thrilled with the results!

We’re lucky to have guys like Don, Tavo and Proteus creating such innovative products that sweeten our Gretsch guitars!

7

I have a Tonestyler as well, but it is installed in my DiPinto Galaxie 4 rather than in a hollow body. It is everything that it is cracked up to be.

9

Yep. You are right, Ric12. Every Gretsch I own has one ( plus a few other brands). Musical. Effective. An Indispensable tool. Takes only a few minutes to install as well. While you’re at it, install a treble bleed on the master volume, too. You’ll be thrilled with the results!

We’re lucky to have guys like Don, Tavo and Proteus creating such innovative products that sweeten our Gretsch guitars!

– gretschman36

What other brands have you tired?

I'm thinking of trying one, but the only 2 I can find besides the Tonestyler (I don't want or need 16 detents) is the Delisle one (which uses an actual inductor like the original Varitones) and the Big D Guitars one (which, from what I can tell, does NOT use an inductor.)

I can't find decent/telling demos of either of them, unfortunately....

10

The ToneStyler isn't really quite like a Varitone, or doesn't sound like it to me. It doesn't have the honky/thin/midpeaky eq-as-an-effect settings I associate with Varitone.

It's more like a very precise and very smooth tone control, with even gradations all the way down - but that offers more clarity in the darker tones.

Don (Ayers/Stellartone) has several options which DON'T have 16 positions, including a 10-position, a 6-position (where you select the freq points at installation) - and a double-6, with different (and pickup-appropriate) capacitance ranges for neck and bridge pickups.

Looks like the 16-clicker is no longer in the line.

11

Ruger: I agree with Proteus. A ToneStyler sounds completely different than a Varitone. As Tim points out, a Varitone is limited and sounds “honky” as he describes.

Think of a ToneStyler as an EQ much like a recording console that allows you to dial things in precisely. I use the 16 models and only a few share the same settings. It’s that discrete.

That said, I believe a treble bleed is also in order on a Gretsch so the advantages gained with your tonestyler are preserved no matter the setting of your master volume.

Talk about waking up your tone!

12

Ruger: I agree with Proteus. A ToneStyler sounds completely different than a Varitone. As Tim points out, a Varitone is limited and sounds “honky” as he describes.

Think of a ToneStyler as an EQ much like a recording console that allows you to dial things in precisely. I use the 16 models and only a few share the same settings. It’s that discrete.

That said, I believe a treble bleed is also in order on a Gretsch so the advantages gained with your tonestyler are preserved no matter the setting of your master volume.

Talk about waking up your tone!

– gretschman36

I've got a treble bleed.

What other brands of these devices have you tried?

13

Just the Varitone, Ruger. When I went looking, I found the ToneStyler and was sold on the specs and tried one. After that, I was sold.

  • I meant other guitar brands... A few examples: All of my Duesenbergs, 335, a Guild, Eastman, etc.
14

Ah! Got it, misunderstanding....

...and of course you mean "just the TONESTYLER"

What not selling me on the Stellartone (since they do have a 6-position one) is, your and Proteus' descriptions make it sound like it's not a whole lot different than a standard tone control? It has detents of course, but if it's not a varitone, it sounds like it's just a low-pas filter of varying degrees...?

15

Don Ayers is the single most verbose, deeply technical and explanatory guy I've ever had email correspondence with. Somewhere in there I'm sure he's explained in excruciating detail why and how it differs from a tone control - but it will have lost me.

There's a short version on his website, here: http://www.stellartone.com/.... Relevant explanation appended below:

Your old tone pot is a "low-pass filter"; it has only one capacitor, which offers only one roll‑off point, chosen just above the bass frequencies and string fundamental pitches. Due to this very simple design, passive tone pots act as "mid+treble volume controls"... reducing the loudness of all combined harmonics heard above the bass tones, all at the same time! To make matters worse, the tone pot's large value capacitor loads the pickups at all tone knob settings, which reduces your mid-range clarity and signal level.

...ToneStyler controls have not one, but an array of five to ten selectable capacitors and roll-off points, plus true bypass. For the first time, players can adjust the frequency of the roll-off point... not simply the combined loudness of all mids+highs! You choose how much treble to retain... how much mid-range to retain... and exactly where to cut these harmonics off. Plus, the ToneStyler's small value capacitors greatly reduce pickup loading; this noticeably boosts your guitar's clarity and output level.

Powerful and precise control of treble & mid frequencies is provided at last... and that weak, muddy sound is completely eliminated.

To me, the result is the guitar sounds not like itself with tone rolled off (wherein the more you roll off, the more of the overtones which give the guitar its personality are lost) - but like itself with pickups of slightly different frequency emphasis, but still full-range.

It's hard to explain; it's not hard to hear (though it can operate very subtly, which is sometimes what you need when you're trying to surgically dial in a tone that works). But it's not like a dramatic effect - it's more natural than that.

Most important, every setting is "musical" - which is what I don't get from Varitones and even guitars with every possible out-of-phase and serial-parallel option. In those situations, you get tones that are indeed radically different, and maybe "cool," and maybe you think "I bet I could use that for something. Someday. I don't know what. If I ever have to lay in a trashy funk bit that sounds like it's coming out of a car radio in 1966, and I don't have any EQ in the studio."

With the Stellartone approach, everything is usable.

Don has a 30-day money-back deal. Don't see how you can get hurt badly. If it's longer than that and you decide you don't want it, I'll buy it. It's an upgrade for any guitar, really.

16

I contacted Don at ToneStyler and he sent me a very detailed email on installing it,(aBIG Thanks to Him) Im pretty good on electrical so Im going to install it where the mud switch is, Ill see how the results sound. The way I see it,anything is better than a Mudswitch so Im expecting the Tonestyler do be a major improvement.

17

Proteus, thanks for that. I'm almost sold. I definitely like the idea of "more natural" than a Vari-tone, because some of those notch tones are too strange for me.

The video above only has Stacy using 2 positions on the Epi Varitone, and I can't find a decent demo of the circuit anywhere (there are videos, but either recorded poorly or the user doesn't understand how it works), so they are of little help.

But I like the idea of a tone contol that will make things either "thicker" (and I don't mean with high-end rolloff) or "thinner" (and I don't mean with low-end rolloff.

18

It will be, Manny!

Good info from Proteus, Ruger. Best bet is to try one like Manny... you’ll instantly hear it.


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