A popular guitar mod, the “treble bleed,” preserves high frequencies as you turn down your volume control. Here’s one reason this is useful: When playing rhythm guitar you can dial back the volume but still maintain presence—the extra brightness gives a cleaner, crisper sound at lower volumes.

Old School Treble Bleed
Old school treble bleed: you needed a capacitor, optionally a resistor, and some soldering skills.

Treble bleed does its magic thanks to an electronic component called a capacitor, which can pass high frequencies while rejecting low frequencies. With a tone control, the capacitor shunts high frequencies away from your guitar’s output, which creates a bassier sound. With the treble bleed circuit, the capacitor shunts high frequencies across the volume control and directly to the output. So, even though you’re turning down the pickup volume, you’re not turning down the high frequencies as much.

Although some guitarists love the effect of treble bleed, others don’t—it’s about personal taste. And sometimes even if you do like treble bleed, you might want it on one pickup’s volume control and not the other, or at least be able to change it without pulling out a soldering iron and getting into the world of do-it-yourself.

Gibson High Performance model Treble Bleed
High Performance treble bleed: Switches 3 and 4 are in the on position, so treble bleed is turned on for both the bridge and neck volume controls.

Gibson’s solution for the 2016 High Performance line’s Les Paul Standard and Les Paul Studio guitars is in the control cavity: take off the back plate, and you’ll see five miniature “set and forget” switches in a blue plastic housing. Switches 3 and 4 control the neck and bridge treble bleed circuits, respectively. To turn on treble bleed, move the appropriate switch to the “on” position. Turning the switch off bypasses the treble bleed circuit completely from the guitar’s electronics, so there’s zero effect on your tone.

Some guitarists use the volume control as not much more than a glorified switch—either the pickup is at full volume, or it’s off. Adding treble bleed gives the volume control a more nuanced feel, and provides more tonal flexibility. Best of all, in the High Performance Les Paul Studio and Les Paul Standard, It’s your choice whether to use treble bleed or not—no soldering iron necessary.