Can you hear a difference between 500k and 550k pots for humbuckers?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Buzzard Luck, Mar 18, 2015.

  1. Buzzard Luck

    Buzzard Luck Member

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    My question is in the title. I recently came across some potentiometers that claim to be 550 to 600k in value. Has anyone had experience with these? Could I hear/notice a difference? A smidgen more output or brightness would be welcome.
     
  2. C-4

    C-4 Member

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    I have not been able to tell a difference when the pot spread is only 50 or so.
    It may make a difference if the values were either much higher or much lower, but in that range, maybe someone with sensitive hearing could tell.

    What we need is a blind test.
     
  3. SPROING!

    SPROING! Member

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    Pot values are exponential. There's a lot more difference between 250 and 300 than there is between 500 and 550.
    You might hear some difference but it's not going to be dramatic. It may be just enough to get rid of some muffling but it won't transform anything.
     
  4. Summa

    Summa Silver Supporting Member

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    The only difference is the sales pitch
     
  5. dazco

    dazco Member

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    I doubt it, but i can tell you where you WILL hear a 50k difference....a 200k pot vs a 250k. This has happened to me a few times buying fenders where the volume piot was out of spec by close to 50k and the difference was quite obvious. Not so much with the volume on 10. But when you'd roll it back to clean up the tone would get real weak and lose punch. But with 500k and there abouts it'll never be a problem and i doubt i could hear that.
     
  6. XSSIVE

    XSSIVE D'Avanzo Guitars Vendor

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    The odds of your 500K pots in the guitar now actually being a true 500K or slightly above are slim. Odds are your current pots are in the 450K-490K range which is typical of most brands 500K pot 10% drift. On average of the many pots I've bought (I test and mark them all) 500K pots from CTS and Bourns tend to be low in almost all cases and hardly ever high. They're listed as +/- 10% drift but I've seen a vast majority more - than + that's for sure. I've had a few 502K or there about but way more in the 470-480K range. So if you have a (random example) 480K pot now and put in a 550K (which most actually do read close to 550K, hence the price increase) you'd have a 70K increase not just a perfect 50K.

    I tried 550K pots in my Les Paul and they came out the same day they went in because they made the guitar brighter than the 474K that was currently in the bridge volume position and I didn't like the change.

    It's all personal preference and it depends on the value of the pots in the guitar now and the 550K pot value as to whether or not you'll hear a change. If your current 500K are low and the 550K are higher than 550K then odds are you'll notice it. If your 500K are dead on and the 550K are low then odds are you won't notice it.

    The whole reason for the 550K spec pot was people being sick of ordering 500K pots and getting more pots on the low end of the drift scale as compared to accurate ones. So to combat that they started going with 550K to assure at least 500K was had with the thought being a little extra hot is better than to low.
     
  7. cosmic_ape

    cosmic_ape Supporting Member

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    This.
     
  8. Buzzard Luck

    Buzzard Luck Member

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    Thanks for all the advice to consider. I might go ahead and try one. Cheers!
     
  9. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    I believe you could hear a difference. It would probably be slight. But a difference none the less.
     
  10. edward

    edward Supporting Member

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    As already stated here, the real pot value of what you have in there is a major factor in whether you will hear the difference; your existing "500k" ohm pot can be up to 20% off and still be labeled "500k."

    So if your existing vol is, say 447K, and you drop in a 561k pot, then yeah, you may certainly hear more presence and sparkle from the latter; not more volume, but certainly an audible change in timbre. Depending on your pickups, amp, and playing style this can be barely noticeable or readily apparent.

    Edward
     
  11. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    yep!

    also, going much above 500k can get you into brittle, annoying territory. the idea that a 534k pot is "better" than a 486k pot is questionable, the opposite may be true (if any difference is even perceptible).

    in fact, there's a performance tradeoff for higher-number volume pots! as you turn down, you're throwing series resistance in front of the pickup at the same time you increase the parallel load between the pot and ground; at a given parallel load to ground, the higher-value pot puts more resistance in series with the pickup, dropping its volume faster and dulling it more.

    a 250k volume pot turns down smoother and with less high end loss than a 500k pot, even if at "10" the 500k pot is louder and brighter.
     
  12. fakeox

    fakeox Member

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    Yep, just another ingredient in the soup. Also 1 very cheap way to adjust to a little crisper or smoother. There are others; name your poison..
     
  13. sharpshooter

    sharpshooter Member

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    I recently ordered, and received four "nominal" 500K CTS pots, when I put them on the Fluke, they showed; 504/502/496/488, I figured that was close enough,, they work fine.
     
  14. SPROING!

    SPROING! Member

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    Excellent point. I tried a 1 meg in an attempt to liven up up a dark setup once. It got brighter, but also very shrill and brittle like you said.
    Truth be told, a 250k or 300k has a much smoother sweep and sound than higher values.
     
  15. edward

    edward Supporting Member

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    Oh man, I had to read that 3x before it sunk in! But thanks for that ...I get the technical reason behind it now (gotta love this place for the knowledge you guys bring!! :D) ).

    As one can already infer from all the input here, the myriad variables of wood, pups, string choice, amp, your style, your ears all play into the mix. The "right" pot is the one you choose that sounds/works best, value be damned; and there really is no substitute for trying it, in much the same way one chooses the best strings, "best" for them. Have at it :D

    Edward
     
  16. Dru Edwards

    Dru Edwards Member

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    I don't think I could tell the difference. Also, given the tolerances for the pots (assuming 5%), that could mean the pots are even closer in value (or further).
     
  17. clay49

    clay49 Silver Supporting Member

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    I did...550k was noticeably brighter
     
  18. gulliver

    gulliver Member

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    I wired a switch into a guitar to switch between 250k and 500k. I could not hear any difference between the individual pickup selections and only heard a slight difference on the very top end of the in between positions.

    However, I am told that the difference is dependent on the amp's input. With certain setups, you might hear a difference.
     
  19. buddyboy69

    buddyboy69 Member

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    I measure before installing and have the ones closest to 500 or 250 in the volume position just so I know where it is. Had a guitar that was not right because the pot was around 190, I didn't check it. 250 was where it was nice. I haven't made that mistake again, at least it pulls one thing out of the equation.
     
  20. SPSurgeon

    SPSurgeon Member

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    I just bought a used traditional that is substantially brighter than either standard that i owned and every other LP i have tried. Pots look stock but i havent measured them.
    As a Tele player the brightness is welcome.
     

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