wiring scheme options, all of which auto-tap
the humbucker in position two of the switch.
The Capacitor Thing
The ToneShaper has DIP switches to assign any
cap value to each of the two Tone controls.
It can also be set for no capacitor. What this
means is that you can still have the bright,
spanky tone on the bridge or bridge/middle
pickup settings, but huge SRV-type tones on
the neck pickup. Some players don’t use the
tone controls on their Strats very much, and
always leave them full up. The fact is that the
tone circuit is a tone modifier even when it’s
all the way up. The capacitor value coupled
with the resistance of the tone pot makes a
filter network that radically affects the highs
and mids. Try disconnecting the tone circuit
from your guitar and check out the increase in
treble and harshness. Some companies have
a no-load tone control, which does this at
the full end of the pot using a little detent or
notch that effectively cuts out the tone control.
The function of having no tone control is also
available on the ToneShaper, if desired.
These may be selected, or the values used
together, producing many more cool and very
useable values. It’s all about what you want to
hear with your gear and your fingers.
The ToneShaper provided the following cap values: .015, .022, .033, .047, and .1μf.
Treble loss Network
In the past, guitars of all makes lost a bit of
the high end when their Volume controls were
rolled off from the fully on setting. Lowering
the Volume control decreased the treble even
more. As guitar was recorded, musicians took
advantage of this phenomena. Many great
blues and rock tones were produced this
way; it was used both on the rhythm and lead
tones of Les Paul players like Jimmy Page,
Billy Gibbons and Duane Allman, as well as
Strat Players like SRV and Hendrix. In the
late ’60s, a capacitor was added across the
volume control of the Telecaster to give that
bright tone all the way down. This can easily
be heard listening to Don Rich, who was Buck
Owens’ guitarist at the time. Unfortunately,
this also dropped the low end, so soon afterward a bleeder resistor was added with the
capacitor, and the “network” was born.
The ToneShaper has two such networks available. One is called the “Volume Kit” and the
other is called the “Billy Mod.” The Volume Kit
provides the usual high-end loss solution using
the resistor cap mod. The Billy Mod is another
version of the solution using a different wiring
scheme with a different connection to the volume pot. It can only be used with a single Tone
control configuration, and it makes the Volume
and Tone controls interactive.
Is It Hard to Install?
The answer is definitely, NO. Installation is
extremely easy; no soldering is required.
Connections are all made by simple press-in
connectors—just press a little button and
slide the wires in. It’s made for Stratocaster
pickguards, so if you’re building your own
guitar just make sure that the Fender knob
and switch spacing is correct. Different brands
may have to be re-drilled for installation of
this unit. It is usually pickguard mounted,
however, I see no reason why it couldn’t be
placed into rear-routed guitars with some
modification of the guitar.
so How Does It sound?
The Stratocaster I received with the unit
installed was fitted with Don Grosh pickups. It
was a tremolo model with a maple fingerboard.
I started out with the stock Strat settings to
determine what the guitar itself was like. It
was a good sounding Strat to begin with, and
168 PREMIER GUITAR DECEMBER 2009