Brightening a dark-sounding guitar

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by KailM, Jun 30, 2020 at 3:56 PM.

  1. KailM

    KailM SS.org Regular

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    Greetings --

    I've had a Schecter C1 for a couple years now, and, while I really like the guitar and it plays like a dream, I've come to realize it sounds a bit dark, or muffled -- like the tone knob is rolled off a bit, even though I always run it all the way open. I don't hear the detail in the upper mids and high end like I do with my other two guitars. The pickups (Black Winters) are not the problem, though I did swap the bridge BW with one from my other guitar, and it sounded the same. The other guitar sounded the same as always with the swapped Black Winter bridge, so I feel like the two pickups are identical/nothing wrong with either of them.

    I also don't think it's necessarily the woods or the build. It has a mahogany body and neck, with an ebony fretboard. My other Schecter has the same specs, only a V body, and it does not sound dark, even when tuned lower than this guitar.

    I've never messed around with capacitors in guitars, but I'm wondering if that may be the culprit. Also, I never, ever, ever use the tone knob on any guitars. I always set that at max. I do roll off the volume sometimes. Maybe I should just bypass the tone knob altogether and it would regain some brightness. Any other ideas or recommendations? Aside from swapping pickups, my knowledge of guitar electronics is pretty limited.
     
  2. NickS

    NickS Rocket Surgeon

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    You might as well try taking the tone knob out of the circuit, since that is the easiest mod, and go from there.
     
  3. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire grossly incandescent

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    removing tone knob is a good step.
    could also swap the vol pot for a 1 meg ohmpot.
     
  4. elkoki

    elkoki SS.org Regular

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    Is it a Schecter C1 hellraiser or which series ? All the Hellraiser series guitars I've had were pretty dark/warm sounding but with the right amp settings and pickups they sound crazy massive.

    Does your guitar ring out bright and loudly when unplugged or does it sound pretty dull ? The dark tone could just be the guitar itself, the woods, construction or whatever else that makes it sound the way it does.

    Personally I'd swap out the pups. I'm not a big fan of the BW. But definitely try the easier tone knob mod first and go from there.
     
  5. KailM

    KailM SS.org Regular

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    Eh, just remembered my tone pot is a push/pull style for coil splitting. I do want to keep that function, I just don't want it to cut any highs. Maybe I'll try the 1 meg ohm volume pot first.
     
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  6. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire grossly incandescent

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    If you want to keep the tone pot then either take off the capacitor or put a really low .mf value one on it. A 1 meg vol and a 500k tone pot won't be a huge improvement over the stock sound. Otherwise you could go for a 1 meg vol pot and a dpdt switch to control the splitting.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020 at 5:42 PM
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  7. KailM

    KailM SS.org Regular

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    It is a C1 Exotic Star, which I believe is on par with a C1 Classic or Blackjack (that's what my V is). Acoustically, it does sound a bit darker than my other guitar which is an LTD with a shorter scale (24.75 as opposed to the 25.5 scale of my Schecters). It sounds pretty much identical to my V, acoustically. That guitar has a Nazgul bridge which has no issues with being "dark."

    This guitar does sound massive, and at super high volumes it is bright enough. I can't play like that all the time though, hehe.

    The Black Winter bridge is sick though; don't think I'll be swapping it any time soon.
     
  8. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    EQ pedal and bump the high mids? Have you messed with pickup height?

    I have a c1 elite with titans and it isnt dark. Your guitar just may also be a dark guitar no matter what you do.
     
  9. KailM

    KailM SS.org Regular

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    I haven't messed around with the pickup height in a while. Where it is now is where I set it after fine tuning the height to where it sounded optimal. I think our ears change over time though.

    I just tweaked my EQ pedal a bit and brought up a little 3.2khz. I normally bump 1.6khz up a bit, so I left that where it was. It sounds phenomenal when turned up loud (5150 III or my 6505). I just got done playing it at gig volume and there's nothing wrong with the sound, haha.

    I think maybe my LTD is an especially bright guitar, and I've been spending more time with it lately. I still think I'll try clipping the capacitor and see what happens.
     
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  10. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    Iirc guitar mids sit around the 4k level, so this makes sense.
     
  11. elkoki

    elkoki SS.org Regular

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    If the specs I looked up are right about your guitar then it's a mahogany body,with a mahogany quilted top, mahogany neck and ebony fretboard. That's a lot of mahogany lol. Is the guitar physically pretty heavy ? I've said this a few times and people crap all over me but I think heavy mahogany guitars usually sound deeper, and fatter than lighter guitars. Lots of things come into play of course but I think it's a major reason why it sounds so dark to you.

    You may love the black winter in your other guitars but it may make more sense to try something a little different for this guitar. BWs are really filthy sounding pickups. They're bright but have a dark brutal vibe to them that might not match well with a guitar already so dark sounding
     
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  12. TheWarAgainstTime

    TheWarAgainstTime "TWAT" for short

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    I have an older Schecter Blackjack C1 guned to drop A# and it's also a lot darker than all of my other guitars pretty much no matter what. I've had the stock JB, a Distortion, Black Winter, Dominion, Titan, Breed, and currently have a Nazgul in there. The Nazgul does the best job of cleaning up the excess low end and bringing some brightness and upper mids IMO, though the Titan was good too.

    In the end, I found the Nazgul is "good enough" in that guitar and I just use a different overdrive when I play that guitar. I normally use a Maxon OD-808, but with the Blackjack, I'll either use a Fortin Grind or an MXR M77 with some extra bass pulled out.
     
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  13. KailM

    KailM SS.org Regular

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    Interesting, and food for thought. I’ve actually thought about swapping the Nazgul from my V into this one, but then I might have the same issue with the V, and I tend to tune that one lower @ C Standard or drop B.

    I should have also mentioned, I don’t really have any problems with a dark tone when I boost my 6505 with my M77, I just don’t like to boost my 5150 III. The other two guitars sound perfect unboosted. The C1 takes a little EQ adjustment.
     
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  14. ScottThunes1960

    ScottThunes1960 SS.org Regular

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    Hope you find a solution. My experience has been that the only cure for a guitar that sounds dark after pot and pickup swaps is to sell or exchange it.
     
  15. MASS DEFECT

    MASS DEFECT SS.ORG Infiltrator

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    If all the pot change doesn't work, I suggest trying out PAF or PAF voiced pickups. Those almost always brighten a dark guitar and adds some really musical frequencies.
     
  16. Alex79

    Alex79 SS.org Regular

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    Could also be a poorly cut nut or low quality nut.
     
  17. KailM

    KailM SS.org Regular

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    I clipped the capacitor on the push/pull pot and I do think it brightened it up a bit. It’s hard to be certain because it was already sounding great the way I had the amp dialed. It seems like there’s a hair more clarity in the low end, and maybe a bit more sparkle on the high end. It’s such a minute difference though, it’s hard to determine if it’s a placebo or not, haha. Either way, the guitar does sound amazing, especially loud. \m/
     
  18. HeHasTheJazzHands

    HeHasTheJazzHands greg rulz ok

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    Yep. Had a Kramer Pacer that sounded muddy as hell. Tried everything and nothing worked. Tried replacing the strings and even connecting the pickup directly to the output jack. Nothing worked. Was a dead plank.
     
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  19. Emperoff

    Emperoff Hasta la vista, Baby Contributor

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    Can't you replace it for a toggle, then?
     
  20. elkoki

    elkoki SS.org Regular

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    I'm like you, I can solder but I can't really tell you how most of it works. Maybe someone can chime in on this, but does clipping a capacitor really even do anything? Isn't it basically the same as just having the tone knob at full? Or does a cap being soldered in suck away some of the treble?
     

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