Help with strat tone knobs

Guitar Tricks Forum > Tone and Effects > Help with strat tone knobs

michaelwharris

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Joined: 02/25/18

Posts: 21

I have a Mesa Boogie Fillmore 50 and today I finally got my hands on my dream Strat, the Eric Clapton Arist Edition. Admittedly, I haven't ever spent a lot of time fiddling with knobs on a guitar, but I'd really like to get that warm, mellow, slow blues sound that Clapton is know for on songs like Driftin'.

Any tips you can provide on where I should position the knobs on the guitar to get close to that sound would be appreciated. I will test and try out some things myself, but given that the toggle switch can also affect tone I'd hoped that someone here might've already found some great settings.

Thanks.

#1

I have a Mesa Boogie Fillmore 50 and today I finally got my hands on my dream Strat, the Eric Clapton Arist Edition. Admittedly, I haven't ever spent a lot of time fiddling with knobs on a guitar, but I'd really like to get that warm, mellow, slow blues sound that Clapton is know for on songs like Driftin'.

Any tips you can provide on where I should position the knobs on the guitar to get close to that sound would be appreciated. I will test and try out some things myself, but given that the toggle switch can also affect tone I'd hoped that someone here might've already found some great settings.

Thanks.

JeffS65

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Joined: 10/07/08

Posts: 1406

Originally Posted by: michaelwharris

I have a Mesa Boogie Fillmore 50 and today I finally got my hands on my dream Strat, the Eric Clapton Arist Edition. Admittedly, I haven't ever spent a lot of time fiddling with knobs on a guitar, but I'd really like to get that warm, mellow, slow blues sound that Clapton is know for on songs like Driftin'.

Any tips you can provide on where I should position the knobs on the guitar to get close to that sound would be appreciated. I will test and try out some things myself, but given that the toggle switch can also affect tone I'd hoped that someone here might've already found some great settings.

Thanks.

I see this went unanswered for a few days but if you return to this, a few things that will help.

Here's a great guide to Fender pickups, switch and knob controls: Link >>

For Driftin' Blues, a lot of this is played solely on the neck pickup (position 5) or the combination of the neck/middle (position 4). The 'closer' to the neck you get, the more mellow tone you'll get and it has that slightly hollow-y vibe. As far as Tone controls, Clapton tended to roll off the tone control (from being at 10) to ssomewhere between 2 and 3. He likes to roll out the brightness coming from the guitar.

Though we all know how volume knobs work on a guitar, there's a lot of confusion on tone knobs and their power. When a tone knob is set at 10, all frequencies from the pickup are coming through and is generally letting through a brighter sound. By rolling off (turning down) the tone knob, you are removing high frequencies. This nets a smoother tone and sounds.

Granted, that also must match up with your amp tone too as it's kind of an ecosystem of electronic things (guitar/amp/effects/various knobs) that make the sum total of the sound.

If tried to figure out that tone for Clapton, I'd set the pick slector to position 5 (neck only) and dial in the amp with only a little bit of overdrive. First fiddle with your amp. That's where you're going to net the most of your tone/sound. It will take some messing around but fool around with the amount of overdrive but this number is not very distorted. Depending on the amp, set all the tone controls at 5 (12 o'clock) and start adjusting. If you have a 3 knob tone control set up on the amp, roll the mid back to about 3 and then roll up the high and bass above 5 (spice to taste). This messing about might get you close.

The guitar tone control is a fine tuner for tone. It's like when you see a finished, decorated cake, after all the work to bake and decorate, that one knife that smooths it all out and makes it look perfect? That's the guitar's tone control.

That's my two cents. I hope that helps.

#2

Originally Posted by: michaelwharris

I have a Mesa Boogie Fillmore 50 and today I finally got my hands on my dream Strat, the Eric Clapton Arist Edition. Admittedly, I haven't ever spent a lot of time fiddling with knobs on a guitar, but I'd really like to get that warm, mellow, slow blues sound that Clapton is know for on songs like Driftin'.

Any tips you can provide on where I should position the knobs on the guitar to get close to that sound would be appreciated. I will test and try out some things myself, but given that the toggle switch can also affect tone I'd hoped that someone here might've already found some great settings.

Thanks.

I see this went unanswered for a few days but if you return to this, a few things that will help.

Here's a great guide to Fender pickups, switch and knob controls: Link >>

For Driftin' Blues, a lot of this is played solely on the neck pickup (position 5) or the combination of the neck/middle (position 4). The 'closer' to the neck you get, the more mellow tone you'll get and it has that slightly hollow-y vibe. As far as Tone controls, Clapton tended to roll off the tone control (from being at 10) to ssomewhere between 2 and 3. He likes to roll out the brightness coming from the guitar.

Though we all know how volume knobs work on a guitar, there's a lot of confusion on tone knobs and their power. When a tone knob is set at 10, all frequencies from the pickup are coming through and is generally letting through a brighter sound. By rolling off (turning down) the tone knob, you are removing high frequencies. This nets a smoother tone and sounds.

Granted, that also must match up with your amp tone too as it's kind of an ecosystem of electronic things (guitar/amp/effects/various knobs) that make the sum total of the sound.

If tried to figure out that tone for Clapton, I'd set the pick slector to position 5 (neck only) and dial in the amp with only a little bit of overdrive. First fiddle with your amp. That's where you're going to net the most of your tone/sound. It will take some messing around but fool around with the amount of overdrive but this number is not very distorted. Depending on the amp, set all the tone controls at 5 (12 o'clock) and start adjusting. If you have a 3 knob tone control set up on the amp, roll the mid back to about 3 and then roll up the high and bass above 5 (spice to taste). This messing about might get you close.

The guitar tone control is a fine tuner for tone. It's like when you see a finished, decorated cake, after all the work to bake and decorate, that one knife that smooths it all out and makes it look perfect? That's the guitar's tone control.

That's my two cents. I hope that helps.

DavesGuitarJourney

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Joined: 02/22/20

Posts: 308

Interesting stuff, Jeff. I'm nowhere near the point where I can benefit a lot from trying to dial in a specific tone like this, but it's still really interesting to learn about it anyway. One day I will be good enough to use this kind of information.

I think most of us clicked away when we saw that Eric Clapton Artist Edition. Too jealous! Plus, doesn't it come preloaded with that special EC magic baked right in??

It takes as long as it takes unless you quit - then it takes forever and you will never get there.

#3

Interesting stuff, Jeff. I'm nowhere near the point where I can benefit a lot from trying to dial in a specific tone like this, but it's still really interesting to learn about it anyway. One day I will be good enough to use this kind of information.

I think most of us clicked away when we saw that Eric Clapton Artist Edition. Too jealous! Plus, doesn't it come preloaded with that special EC magic baked right in??

It takes as long as it takes unless you quit - then it takes forever and you will never get there.

hsnoeckx

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Joined: 12/03/19

Posts: 264

Don't forget that Clapton played most of his live on Fender and Marshall amps, the Mesa might be a little to harsh to play that blues sound.

Herman

#4

Don't forget that Clapton played most of his live on Fender and Marshall amps, the Mesa might be a little to harsh to play that blues sound.

Herman

ChristopherSchlegel

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 08/09/05

Posts: 6511

Originally Posted by: michaelwharris

I have a Mesa Boogie Fillmore 50 and today I finally got my hands on my dream Strat, the Eric Clapton Arist Edition. Admittedly, I haven't ever spent a lot of time fiddling with knobs on a guitar, but I'd really like to get that warm, mellow, slow blues sound that Clapton is know for on songs like Driftin'.

Clapton's tone on the versions of Driftin' I've heard sound mostly like the Strat's middle pickup into a Fender style amp turned up just enough for a little gritty breakup.

That Mesa model is vintage voiced enough to get close.

This version sounds like the middle pickup & a wah pedal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sO-XP-ur1s

This version sounds like the Blackie Strat with the bridge and or middle pickup.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5pPoxEZmtQ

Originally Posted by: michaelwharris
Any tips you can provide on where I should position the knobs on the guitar to get close to that sound would be appreciated.

Middle pickup, tone knob on 10. The real trick here is to turn the volume knob down for the verses & fills in between the vocals lines, then trun it up to 10 for the solo licks.

Watch & listen to this performance. Not the same song, but you get a much better look at the pickup selector switch & Clapton's use of dynamics & volume.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9BUXsa55hg

I have a tutorial in my old GF1 that covers the function of the pickups, switch & knobs on a Strat.

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=10701

Hope that helps!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

#5

Originally Posted by: michaelwharris

I have a Mesa Boogie Fillmore 50 and today I finally got my hands on my dream Strat, the Eric Clapton Arist Edition. Admittedly, I haven't ever spent a lot of time fiddling with knobs on a guitar, but I'd really like to get that warm, mellow, slow blues sound that Clapton is know for on songs like Driftin'.

Clapton's tone on the versions of Driftin' I've heard sound mostly like the Strat's middle pickup into a Fender style amp turned up just enough for a little gritty breakup.

That Mesa model is vintage voiced enough to get close.

This version sounds like the middle pickup & a wah pedal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sO-XP-ur1s

This version sounds like the Blackie Strat with the bridge and or middle pickup.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5pPoxEZmtQ

Originally Posted by: michaelwharris
Any tips you can provide on where I should position the knobs on the guitar to get close to that sound would be appreciated.

Middle pickup, tone knob on 10. The real trick here is to turn the volume knob down for the verses & fills in between the vocals lines, then trun it up to 10 for the solo licks.

Watch & listen to this performance. Not the same song, but you get a much better look at the pickup selector switch & Clapton's use of dynamics & volume.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9BUXsa55hg

I have a tutorial in my old GF1 that covers the function of the pickups, switch & knobs on a Strat.

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=10701

Hope that helps!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory