About Treble Bleed Circuits

First of all, what is a treble bleed circuit, and why do I care?

A treble bleed circuit, also known as a high-pass filter, is a simple modification often done on electric guitars to prevent the loss of treble frequencies when the volume knob is turned down. This is especially useful for guitarists who use their volume control extensively to clean up the sound or reduce gain, but don't want to sacrifice the "sparkle" or "bite" of their tone.

To understand why this is necessary, it's helpful to understand a little bit about how volume pots (potentiometers) in guitars work. When you lower the volume on a guitar by turning the knob, the potentiometer doesn't reduce all frequencies evenly. It tends to reduce high frequencies (treble) more than low frequencies (bass). This is due to the impedance of the volume pot, the capacitance of both the cable and the guitar pickup. These create a low-pass filter that leads to the tone becoming 'darker' or 'muddier' as the volume is reduced.

A treble bleed circuit is a simple circuit, usually consisting of a capacitor and a resistor, wired across the two lugs of the volume pot.This allows the higher frequencies to 'bleed' past the volume control at lower volumes, thereby compensating for the loss of treble.By selecting the right values for the components in the treble bleed circuit, guitarists can tailor their tone to their liking, maintaining a consistent tone across the entire range of the volume control.

Some prefer a more drastic treble bleed that retains a lot of high-end as the volume is decreased, while others prefer a more subtle treble bleed that allows some of the high-end to roll off with the volume.It's important to note that while a treble bleed circuit can improve the tonal balance when lowering the volume, it's not always desirable for every player or every guitar. The 'right' tone is highly subjective and depends on the individual guitarist's preferences, the guitar, the amp, and the rest of the signal chain.

Because it can take some experiementation with different value components and methods of wiring, special treble bleed circuit boards such as the Mars-Tronic Treblemaker have been designed to allow rapid prototyping, simple connection, and simple adjustment.

Available in two versions, the Treblemaker allows you to select series, parallel or both and vary resistance between 10K and 500K. In the V2T version, push in wire connectors allow rapid no-solder connection and prototyping as well as soldered connections, while the more compact V2Slim is a solder only version for permanent installations.

Check out the Treblemaker here


Will this work in all electric guitars? Strat? Les Paul?
It will work in all electric guitars with passive electronics, including Stratocasters and Les Paul style guitars. You need one for each volume control. So for instance you would need two on a Les Paul

Will it work on active guitars?
No. A treble bleed isn’t needed on a guitar with active pickups

Does my choice of pickups affect which capacitor I will choose?
The primary thing that affects your capacitor choice is the instrument cable length. In the instructions this is explained along with a simple rule of thumb.

Can the version with terminals be soldered in?
Yes. It has solder points. You can solder in the wires to the volume pot and then decide whether to solder in the capacitor, or leave it in the push terminals.

Is it easy enough for anyone to try?
Yes. The larger version can be set up to your liking without any soldering. Then when you want to connect permanently, it can be connected with 4 solder joints. Your local guitar store may be able to help with this if you aren’t confident yourself.