MB-2B | Sound On Stage, April 1997

Sound On Stage, April 1997
By Mike Collins

The Fat Controller

Have you ever wanted your Telecaster or Strat to sound like a Gibson? Or maybe you use humbuckers but want an active tone control which will give you an even fatter sound with more mids? The answer to all your prayers could be the MB-2 Midboost/Fat Control from Demeter Amplification. This is a retrofit unit for your guitar, which features a battery-powered preamplifier with just one potentiometer to control mid-frequency boost. The actual mid-range frequencies, which are boosted, are chosen to give the guitar excellent response and sustain characteristics. The blurb says that if you install this on Stratocaster single coil type pick-ups, you will get a sound very similar to the old Gibson P90 pick-ups, while humbucking type pick-ups turn into superhumbuckers.

Unless you are fairly comfortable with doing your own guitar modifications, you will have to get a guitar technician to install the pre-amp circuit board and 9 Volt battery inside the guitar body, routing out additional space if necessary and either replacing an existing tone control or adding the Demeter as an additional control. I got round the problem of temporarily installing it by simply soldering a couple of jack sockets to the cables and inserting this lashup between the guitar and the amplifier.

As expected, advancing the control boosted both the volume and the mid-range frequencies. It certainly made my vintage Telecaster sound much fuller with more bottom end and a thick mid-range tone. However, for my taste, the mid-range was a little too ‘cloudy’ sounding and the boost seemed to take the ‘edge’ off the top end as well. To listen to real humbuckers in action, I then tried my ’60s Epiphone Riviera. This confirmed my impression that the Demeter unit made the tone of the Telecaster too ‘thick’ in the mid-range, as the Riviera sounded fuller than the Telecaster without losing clarity in the mid-range, although the Epiphone did not sound as ‘fat’ in the mid-range as the Telecaster with the boost. Next up, I tried the Riviera through the Demeter, with better results this time! Again, I got the volume boost and a fuller mid-range sound, but this time I did not lose the edge off the highs as much as with the Telecaster, and the mid-range sounded smoother, more satisfying, and somehow very ‘musical’. A great bluesy/jazzy sound with a rock edge to it, John Scofield rather than Steve Vai.

The Demeter did provide an interesting alternative to the sound of the single coil pick-ups on the Telecaster, but I was much more impressed with the results I got boosting the humbuckers on the Riviera. And it’s good value for money.

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