The Very Best Varitone on Planet Earth    

Varitone with or without Blend Control?

First, how to determine if you need the blend control?  If you routinely play with your stock passive tone control all the way down for the bassiest tone, you probably don't need it, and your bass will look like a stock Fender as we just replace the standard tone control with the Varitone - still a two knob set-up for P bass and three knob for Jazz. 
Alternatively, if you look for the sweet spots in your tone control, you'll want the blend control.  When we use the Varitone in conjunction with the blend control it complicates things a bit; it adds one knob in addition to stock Fender set-ups.  I've schemed a couple of different ways to do this.


Varitone with blend control for Jazz basses:
For the Jazz bass, the Varitone with blend control took a little more conniving.  First, I can't get undrilled Jazz control plates yet like I can get undrilled P bass pisckguards.  But I figured out a way around it in order to meet the objective of having the four controls and a top mount jack..
The first option is the simplest and employs a side mount jack (you already know what I think about side mount jacks, but I'm showing this option first as it's the least costly):



The next option is what I did on my personal backup Jazz bass and employs a concentric or "stack" pot.  The neck pickup volume is on the inside knob and the bridge pickup is on the outter ring, then we have the Varitone then the blend control and still a top mount jack (I used two "chicken head" knobs, but we can use any knobs you want including stock Jazz bass knobs):


Now, on my main bass, I did a 5 hole control plate.  How did I do that since I can't get undrilled Jazz control plates?  I started with a 3 hole a la '60 and '61 Jazz and reissues and added two holes.  This gets us a closer knob spacing than a stock Jazz, but we can use standard CTS pots and standard knobs for the volumes, and we still get a top mount jack, but I have to use the smaller Bournes pot for the blend control to fit between the jack and the huge Varitone.  This is the most costly option but, in my opinion, the best.  This is what I used on what I call THE Bass which is Elita CertainBass serial number 0001, my main axe:


Varitone with blend control for Precision Basses:

For the Precision bass, it's fairly simple, but we do have a few options.   I have Precision pickguards without control holes drilled so I can put your knobs anywhere you like.  The photo below shows one of my P basses where the volume control is located in the same place as a stock P bass, but the controls are spaced closer to together than on a stock P bass, but spaced the same as a Jazz bass as the Jazz bass control plate shows us.


The second P bass option is to keep the P bass spacing which moves the volume control closer to the pickup as shown below:



The third set-up uses a sidemount jack as shown below like on a standard PJ set-up.  The upside to this is that the volume control is in the same place as a stock P bass and the spacing between knobs is the same as well.  The downside is that I deplore side mount jacks.  They get knocked around easily and compromise long term dependability.  So unless you're accustomed to side mount jacks (which I am not as well as most diehard Fender players), let's not do it.

Here is a PJ set-up with Volume/Volume/VaritoneVaritone Blend with side mount jack that PJ's normally have:


To do a top mount jack for PJ, I just move all the knobs over to the right and put the jack where the left most knob is like on a standard P bass.  This is option is somewhat more costly because all pre-routed PJ bodies are also drilled for the side mount jack.  So, to do a top mount jack PJ, have to start with a P body and hand rout the bridge pickup cavity.

 So I hope this answers all the questions about how to configure the Varitone with blend control.  If you have any other ideas, I'm making you a custom bass, so I'll do anything long as it's reasonable.

More images of varitone parts

Stereo Bass Varitone info

Ordering information

The music you're listening to is the CertainBass Elita 5 string Model One with Lindy Fralin normal wind pickups, maple neck, alder body, and I'm putting the onboard Varitone through its paces.  You may not like all the tones I'm getting, but you're going to fall in love with some of them.


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