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View Full Version : The right pots can make SUCH a difference


Crowder
10-06-2011, 07:22 PM
My latest project has been replacing a H/S/H pickguard in a Partsocaster with a H/S/S guard.

Going from this:https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-TG9L6s9kwFo/TS0R53r0CVI/AAAAAAAADOM/1xouYwSAk3k/s512/2011-01-11_21-28-18_322.jpg To this: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Pu8RK1GEdaY/To5QtS4X3yI/AAAAAAAADOI/GGsxKDokJSk/s512/2011-10-06%25252021.05.05.jpg

The new pickups are a four-conductor Lollar Imperial, a Dimarzio Area 67 in the middle, and an Area 58 in the neck. I'm using a five-way switch with the 4th position being the humbucker split with the middle, which gives up a surprisingly good quacky kind of strat tone. The middle tone control works on the 1&2 positions (neck and neck/middle), and the bottom tone works on the humbucker.

When I wired this up the first time, I used some brand-new CTS 500K pots from Stew-Mac. The results were so-so. There was a glassiness to the high end that I attributed to the 500K pots. I was getting good tones by rolling off the tone controls, but with everything wide open it was kind of harsh. I was also disappointed in the way the signal rolled off as I rolled down the volume knob.

I decided to bite the bullet and order new pots from RS Guitarworks (the 280K version of their Superpot). I just got them installed tonight, and it made all the difference in the world with this guitar. The glassiness is gone, and the volume control is so useful now I can't believe it.

I know that switching from 500K to 280K would make a difference even if I'd stuck with the cheaper pots, but I'm glad I tried the RS stuff.

I also ordered 4 500K pots, so I'm going after my Tele Custom partsocaster with those over the weekend. Woo hoo!

Eagle1
10-07-2011, 01:55 AM
All your hearing is the different value and RS's cash register.

vortexxxx
10-07-2011, 02:44 AM
The RS have a slightly different taper but most of what you're hearing is the huge difference between 500k and 280k.

Crowder
10-07-2011, 05:56 AM
The gradual sweep of the volume pot when compared to the other one is worth 45 bucks to me. YMMV.

Eagle1
10-07-2011, 08:48 AM
S taper instead of an Log Audio taper KA (the clue is in the name) is very far from smooth with gain. But whatever works for you (even an empty wallet.)

joesnewmatch
10-07-2011, 10:19 AM
I'm with the OP on this one -- I switched the stock pots on my Custom Shop Les Pauls to RS pots and caps, and the differences were nigth and day. The notice was particularly overwhelming in my P-90 LP.

Is it "RS" the company versus better pots, generally, I don't know. I do know that I can hear the difference, and the tapers are completely usable now. RS' quick delivery, quality products, and great customer service have made me a loyal customer.

Eagle1
10-07-2011, 10:53 AM
It isn't better quality it is just 280k not 250k!!!!!!!!!

Crowder
10-07-2011, 04:02 PM
It isn't better quality it is just 280k not 250k!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for all the exclamation points. The sixth one finally helped me understand you were adamant.

JB Eckl
10-07-2011, 06:21 PM
I have a ridiculously glassy sounding single coil guitar. I wonder what kind of pots it has in there... might be a really easy upgrade.

K-Line
10-08-2011, 07:04 AM
RS stuff is manufactered to a much tighter tolerance than the standard pots they put out. They do indeed have a better sweep, and just perform better. If it were I, I would use a 280/250K for V and T1, and a 500K for T2 where you have it hooked up to the hum. A humbucker performs well in the bridge position with a 250K volume pot. Also check your caps. A .047 cap will give a better sweep than a .022. Now these are my opinions which are subjective, they are what my ear tells me.

jamison162
10-13-2011, 07:48 PM
I find it very hypocritical that folks will spend $300 on a set of pickups and then rag on people/RS for $15 pots. But go ahead and use the crapshoot stock $5 CTS pots if you want to. Personally, I have no problem paying for screened pots to my specs (550k min.) that have a custom taper and solid brass shafts, not to mention the pop out retainer. How many stock CTS pots would I need to find one @ 550k +/-? Probably at least $15 worth.

So for me it's worth it, I love the way these open up a good sounding PAF and make it sing. But for most, the stock 500k +/- 20% will do....but then wonder why your neck pickup on your custom wound $300 set of pickups is muddy with that 420k pot in there. So you continue the hunt for the perfect set of pickups, tweak, swap mags, caps, 50's wiring, etc. But hey, I've been there done that is all I'm saying. Consider this food for thought.

whitepapagold
10-13-2011, 08:10 PM
Man the title read wayyyy different when I didn't realize pot had an s at the end...

But agreed.

I just bought a 72 P Bass and the volume and tone pots BOTH sound GREAT at most any setting. With my guitars I always needed a boost pedal to make the pots work as well- though my Tele now has great electronics.

EADGBE
10-13-2011, 09:03 PM
Yeah pots can help you voice a guitar.

Eagle1
10-14-2011, 05:08 AM
I find it very hypocritical that folks will spend $300 on a set of pickups and then rag on people/RS for $15 pots. But go ahead and use the crapshoot stock $5 CTS pots if you want to. Personally, I have no problem paying for screened pots to my specs (550k min.) that have a custom taper and solid brass shafts, not to mention the pop out retainer. How many stock CTS pots would I need to find one @ 550k +/-? Probably at least $15 worth.

So for me it's worth it, I love the way these open up a good sounding PAF and make it sing. But for most, the stock 500k +/- 20% will do....but then wonder why your neck pickup on your custom wound $300 set of pickups is muddy with that 420k pot in there. So you continue the hunt for the perfect set of pickups, tweak, swap mags, caps, 50's wiring, etc. But hey, I've been there done that is all I'm saying. Consider this food for thought.

In what way is testing CTS pots myself for the value I want a crapshoot??
The RS pot is not better just more money ,if it was actually better it would be worth the difference.

chervokas
10-14-2011, 06:30 AM
I find it very hypocritical that folks will spend $300 on a set of pickups and then rag on people/RS for $15 pots. But go ahead and use the crapshoot stock $5 CTS pots if you want to. Personally, I have no problem paying for screened pots to my specs (550k min.) that have a custom taper and solid brass shafts, not to mention the pop out retainer. How many stock CTS pots would I need to find one @ 550k +/-? Probably at least $15 worth.

So for me it's worth it, I love the way these open up a good sounding PAF and make it sing. But for most, the stock 500k +/- 20% will do....but then wonder why your neck pickup on your custom wound $300 set of pickups is muddy with that 420k pot in there. So you continue the hunt for the perfect set of pickups, tweak, swap mags, caps, 50's wiring, etc. But hey, I've been there done that is all I'm saying. Consider this food for thought.

Well I realize the factory spec on the CTS 450 series pots is +/- 20%, but I've never purchased a CTS pot from a guitar parts dealer that measured that far off in either direction...my experience has been the pots are closer to +/- 6% in practice, maybe all the different retailers I've purchased from are screening 'em, though I doubt it, but I haven't come across, say, any 250K pots that measure at 300 or 200 or even close to that, more like 245 or 265 at worst. And the retailers seem to cite a +/- 10% spec on the CTS pots they sell so maybe CTS sells a screened pots into the pro audio/instrument market? I dunno, I just know I've never bought one packaged by All Parts or online from a parts retailer that was 20%. Maybe other folks have had other experiences.

Second, I've never felt like I wished I had a different taper on the pots, standard audio or linear taper pots have always worked fine for me.

Sure, I get that if you want a different taper or a very specific pot value then I get that you might want to buy a semi-custom part. And yeah $15 isnt a lot of money, although looked as as a multiple, 3X is a very steep premium over stock. I can think of one circumstance where I'd love, say stacked concentric linear taper pots with one at like 550K or may more and one at 225K or maybe less. Would I pay extra if that existed for my Tele with the humbucker in the neck? Probably. So it's really a matter of what you value and what you need.

But for my purposes, given my experience screening the CTS pots I have purchased, paying a 3X premium for the RS pots seems unnecessary.

2HBStrat
10-14-2011, 08:21 AM
To the OP: Thanks for posting this. I have been contemplating ordering pots from RS and you made my mind up for me. Also, disregard the naysayers on this thread and listen to your ears.

BTW I really like the way that guitar looks.

jamison162
10-14-2011, 09:13 AM
Shoulda figured some would miss the whole point. If someone wanted a specific value pot, say 550k min. - how many $5 pots would you have to buy until you found one? Just order the RS in this case, pretty simple.

lemonman
10-14-2011, 11:09 AM
Wymore Guitars used to sort their CTS pots & mark them, you could order high/low values at no extra charge; I bought 550-560k pots from him numerous times. I wish he was still in business, anybody know someone who does this as well?

Eagle1
10-14-2011, 11:10 AM
To the OP: Thanks for posting this. I have been contemplating ordering pots from RS and you made my mind up for me. Also, disregard the naysayers on this thread and listen to your ears.

BTW I really like the way that guitar looks.

Your listening to a different value that is all:bonk:bonk:bonk

Eagle1
10-14-2011, 11:12 AM
Wymore Guitars used to sort their CTS pots & mark them, you could order high/low values at no extra charge; I bought 550-560k pots from him numerous times. I wish he was still in business, anybody know someone who does this as well?
Any good tech will happily do this for you.;)

jamison162
10-14-2011, 01:05 PM
Any good tech will happily do this for you.;)

Who can afford a tech? We were talking DIY here..a tech will definitely cost you more than $15, hahahaha!

Eagle1
10-14-2011, 01:22 PM
Who can afford a tech? We were talking DIY here..a tech will definitely cost you more than $15, hahahaha!
Buy them from the tech at the shop.:bonk:bonk:bonk

peskypesky
10-14-2011, 01:37 PM
i put CTS pots in a couple of my Squier strats and honestly didn't notice any real improvement over the stock mini-pots.

since i really would like to have pots that serve a purpose, i might go ahead and invest in a set from RS.

Eagle1
10-14-2011, 02:04 PM
i put CTS pots in a couple of my Squier strats and honestly didn't notice any real improvement over the stock mini-pots.

since i really would like to have pots that serve a purpose, i might go ahead and invest in a set from RS.

250K is 250K they sound the same.
The RS is 280K.:facepalm

Eagle1
10-14-2011, 02:05 PM
Do you guys want to buy some Greek bonds?:rotflmao

big mike
10-14-2011, 02:11 PM
You just can't help yourself, i swear.
Make your point and get over it, beating people over the head is just irritating.

RS do have a different taper, and they are made to a tighter spec.

Weather or not that's worth it to you is the person's call.

cowboytim
10-14-2011, 02:59 PM
R&S and WCR sell Great Pots for not much money. Jim Wagner at WCR has his pots made to his specs along with his own Caps......These guys are devoted to the industry and are NOT RIP-OFF artists......Their pots make a huge difference through out ALL settings..... Gibson's pots suck period.

cowboytim
10-14-2011, 03:07 PM
You know you can talk about the paint and finish of a guitar or the bolt on neck of a strat.........BUT what REALLY makes the BIG difference is GOOD PUPS.... CAPS AND POTS! That effects the guitar MUCH more than paint and glue.

chervokas
10-14-2011, 03:11 PM
250K is 250K they sound the same.
The RS is 280K.:facepalm

Well, RS I think sells both 250K and 280K pots

Crowder
10-14-2011, 04:37 PM
Eagle1......I want to party with you.....you seem like a real fun guy!

jamison162
10-14-2011, 04:58 PM
Eagle1......I want to party with you.....you seem like a real fun guy!

Stay away from the tequila!!!

jamison162
10-14-2011, 08:32 PM
I had forgotten about this info. (been available for years now). Most of you guys have not seen this but print this out and read it if you really want to learn the insides of guitar electronics:

http://www.lespaulforum.com/pots/potents.html

http://www.lespaulforum.com/pots/potents2.html

http://www.lespaulforum.com/pots/lpfpots.html

http://www.lespaulforum.com/pots/morepots.html

DC1
10-15-2011, 02:02 AM
I've been using these.

http://www.bourns.com/data/global/pdfs/95.pdf

Really good pots.


dc

DGTCrazy
10-15-2011, 03:06 AM
he's fun like a hemorrhoid!

You forgot to use the other 5 exclamation points.:rotflmao

big mike
10-15-2011, 08:26 AM
Layoff the personal attacks guys.

3 Mile Stone
10-15-2011, 09:07 AM
RS stuff is manufactered to a much tighter tolerance than the standard pots they put out. They do indeed have a better sweep, and just perform better. If it were I, I would use a 280/250K for V and T1, and a 500K for T2 where you have it hooked up to the hum. A humbucker performs well in the bridge position with a 250K volume pot. Also check your caps. A .047 cap will give a better sweep than a .022. Now these are my opinions which are subjective, they are what my ear tells me.


Very interesting and I would tend to agree, but ... what exactly does a 500K on the tone control of the Humbucker do. My understanding is that this would make no diferrence at all.

???

socalscott
10-16-2011, 02:34 AM
It is tough to come up with a good solution with a single vol pot with an HB/SC pup mix.
You can use a resistor on one of the pups to effectively create a different pot value.

jamison162
10-18-2011, 11:55 AM
You can use a resistor on one of the pups to effectively create a different pot value.

Never heard of this. You can however, add a resistor across the sweep of a pot to effectively change it's value.

Just got another RS pot in at 566k for my LP neck volume control.

Seegs
10-19-2011, 12:09 AM
I've been using these.

http://www.bourns.com/data/global/pdfs/95.pdf

Really good pots.


dc

Me too...just started using a harness made with these pots in my 339 and the taper is so easy...amazing really...

Thinking about using em in all my guitars...

Chow,
Seegs

socalscott
10-19-2011, 01:08 AM
Never heard of this. You can however, add a resistor across the sweep of a pot to effectively change it's value.

Just got another RS pot in at 566k for my LP neck volume control.

My bad. Can't you put a R on a MegaSwitch that would do it's thing when selecting a SC position?

hudpucker
10-19-2011, 01:11 PM
Last 'crap shoot' CTS pot I ordered was supposed to be 250K.

It was actually 183K. Yes, I can hear that difference.

I don't mind paying someone like Acme for screening and a tighter tolerance.


The 'Acme' pots turn easily, too.