The right pots can make SUCH a difference

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Crowder, Oct 6, 2011.

  1. Crowder

    Crowder Silver Supporting Member

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    My latest project has been replacing a H/S/H pickguard in a Partsocaster with a H/S/S guard.

    Going from this:[​IMG] To this: [​IMG]

    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!
     
  2. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    All your hearing is the different value and RS's cash register.
     
  3. vortexxxx

    vortexxxx Silver Supporting Member

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    The RS have a slightly different taper but most of what you're hearing is the huge difference between 500k and 280k.
     
  4. Crowder

    Crowder Silver Supporting Member

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    The gradual sweep of the volume pot when compared to the other one is worth 45 bucks to me. YMMV.
     
  5. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    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.)
     
  6. joesnewmatch

    joesnewmatch \m/. .\m/ Silver Supporting Member

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    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.
     
  7. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    It isn't better quality it is just 280k not 250k!!!!!!!!!
     
  8. Crowder

    Crowder Silver Supporting Member

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

    JB Eckl Member

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    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.
     
  10. K-Line

    K-Line Gold Supporting Member

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    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.
     
  11. jamison162

    jamison162 Supporting Member

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    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.
     
  12. whitepapagold

    whitepapagold Supporting Member

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    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.
     
  13. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    Yeah pots can help you voice a guitar.
     
  14. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    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.
     
  15. chervokas

    chervokas Member

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    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.
     
  16. 2HBStrat

    2HBStrat Member

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    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.
     
  17. jamison162

    jamison162 Supporting Member

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    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.
     
  18. lemonman

    lemonman Supporting Member

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    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?
     
  19. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    Your listening to a different value that is all:bonk:bonk:bonk
     
  20. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    Any good tech will happily do this for you.;)
     

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