We all like to work on ways to improve what we have, get more from it, and our guitars are no exception. We look for more ways to get more sounds and more tones. There are lots of ways, and they don’t all cost a fortune. Lets look at the fitted tone control and understand what it does and how it could be changed.
The tone capacitors job is to progressively block sound frequencies generated by the guitar strings in the Pick-Ups, starting from the highest frequencies and working down into the mid-range. The tone potentiometer itself puts resistance against the generated signal, such that with the Tone Control at zero there is no resistance and all the signal goes to the capacitor, allowing the capacitor to remove the higher and middle frequencies output. At ten on the Tone Control the resistance is so high as to prevent the signal reaching the capacitor and your guitar note is pure as if there were no tone control fitted. (In truth the very highest frequencies still leak to ground). Your sound becomes progressively brighter. Turn the tone control towards zero and the frequencies are rolled back. You gradually begin to send signal through the capacitor to ground.
So, what controls how far the high and mid-range frequencies are rolled back, how far do we go? On a guitar, the capacitor works in a passive mode, allowing high frequency signals to pass through, grounding them out. The frequency cut off point is determined by the size of the capacitor. Single coils like Fenders normally use the .022 microfarad capacitor. If you increase the size of the capacitor, you effectively lower the frequency cut off point. As the tone cut off is lowered the tone becomes deeper or bass. Fender guitars in the early days, which are generally thought to be among the best-sounding guitars ever made, had the tone capacitor value of .1 microfarad or .05 microfarad. The larger value capacitor results in a darker warmer tone, which may suit jazz players, whereas the .022 microfarad capacitor is sharper and brighter, great for rock pop and blues styles. You might think that fitting a .05 microfarad capacitor, and turning the tone control half way would give the same frequency cut off as a .022 microfarad capacitor, but it doesn’t really, as the capacitance doesn’t vary, and different value capacitors will produce different tones, which is why experimenting is encouraged.
Interesting stuff, great guide. I have to agree though, needs some paragraphs and spaces to make more digestable.
Quote by SKArface McDank
Jesus Wall Of Text

add a TL;DR

Or just read it? If you think that's too much to read you really have a problem lol

TL;DR - Read it. It's not long.

TL;DR;TL;DR - Wow.
Last edited by WhoDooVooDoo at Mar 31, 2011,
A lot of guitar manufacturers use a logarithmic potentiometer, rather than a linear one. This means that just because it is at 5 out of 10, it doesn't mean that it's at half the value. The logarithmic pots give you much more control over the tone in the brighter regions (5-10) but at a sacrifice of control at the deeper region 1-5.