Adventures In Audio
Silencing a crackly guitar volume control

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

Sunday September 30, 2012

The volume control on my vintage Fender Stratocaster had become a little unreliable lately. When set to full, a slight nudge could cause the signal to cut out completely, with a loud crackle thrown in for good measure.

It's a fiddly business opening up a guitar so I put off looking into the issue for some time. Quite a long time in fact. But then out of the blue the urge took me to resolve the problem once and for all.

My first thought was simply to replace the potentiometer. That would be perfectly straightforward. But then I had a thought... I don't actually use the volume control. I always have it turned up full. The reasons for this are that I only use the guitar for recording, and turning down the volume on the instrument also seems to sap the life out of the tone. I prefer to get the sound I want from the controls on the amp.

So it would be an even easier solution just to wire the control out of circuit. And it would cost nothing!

So I did that and the result is perfect! The guitar sounds great and there is no cutting out or crackling.

But then I realized...

It isn't something I even think about, but ever since I started playing the electric guitar, I have been in the habit of turning the volume fully off when I put the guitar down. There is always the tendency for the instrument to feed back of its own accord and cause quite a commotion. And even apart from that, it is good studio practice not to have any sources of noise that you don't need.

But now of course I can't do that. I hadn't anticipated this because I didn't think the project all the way through.

Still, my guitar sounds great and doesn't crackle. And I can always reach over and turn down the amp.

For my next mod perhaps I'll replace the 3-position pick-up selector with a 5-way switch (which are commonly available in Strat style), and have one of the positions as an 'off' setting.

And I'll be careful to think the project all of the way through this time.

Like, follow, and comment on this article at Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram or the social network of your choice.

Come on the Audio Masterclass Pro Home Studio MiniCourse - 60 great hints and tips to get your home recording studio MOVING

It's FREE!

Get It Now >>

How to choose the best key for your song

What is comb filtering? What does it sound like?

NEW: Audio crossfades come to Final Cut Pro X 10.4.9!

What is the difference between EQ and filters? *With Audio*

What difference will a preamp make to your recording?

Watch our video on linear phase filters and frequency response with the FabFilter Pro Q 2

Read our post on linear phase filters and frequency response with the Fabfilter Pro Q 2

Harmonic distortion with the Soundtoys Decapitator

What's the best height for studio monitors? Answer - Not too low!

What is the Red Book standard? Do I need to use it? Why?

Will floating point change the way we record?

Mixing: What is the 'Pedalboard Exception'?

The difference between mic level and line level

The problem with parallel compression that you didn't know you had. What it sounds like and how to fix it.

Compressing a snare drum to even out the level

What does parallel compression on vocals sound like?

How to automate tracks that have parallel compression

Why mono is better than stereo for recording vocals and dialogue

Clipping and compressing a drum recording to achieve an exciting sound texture

What can we learn about room acoustics from this image?

Can you hear the subtle effect of the knee control of the compressor? (With audio and video demonstrations)

What is the best studio microphone?

What is the Neve sound? (Using the Slate Digital FG-73)

What is the difference between recording, mixing and mastering?