Pots: CTS vs. Bourns. vs. Alpha vs. ???

Trebor Renkluaf

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Builders, how do you feel about CTS vs. Bourns v.s Alpha pots? I know the cork sniffers all say the CTS is best, but I've bought a number of the "boutique" CTS pots and frankly wasn't impressed. I'm looking mostly at standard pots (not push-pull) but welcome opinions on all.
Thanks
Bob
 

6AM

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I'm not a builder, but I don't think you have to be to know the differences in these pots.

CTS pots are the best for having the smoothest/truest audio taper. Bourns is almost as good, but they are very loose, which I don't like. Alpha is pretty mediocre but they tend to be the go-to pot since they're easily sourced, relatively cheap, and relatively well made.

If I were a builder I'd use CTS for the audio pots and Alpha for the linear.
 

Shane S

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1,702
The best made potentiometer I have found is from PEC in Canada. Alessandro has them made for the guitar with solid and knurled shafts:

http://www.alessandro-products.com/parts.html

I replaced some CTS pots in three of my Collings Electrics with these and they made a hugh difference in the increased range the volume and tone controls.

The only down side is they are expensive!
 

tnt365

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3,044
I use CTS because they work way better than the stock pots in every guitar I've owned. I haven't made an effort to try other brands...
 

Souldriver

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298
CTS makes custom pots for Hamer that have a "boost" at the 10 spot that i have waiting to try. You can get them at an authorized Hamer dealer/repair shop. Their good for volume but I use regular CTS for tones.
 

Trebor Renkluaf

I was hit by a parked car, what's your excuse?
Gold Supporting Member
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13,677
The best made potentiometer I have found is from PEC in Canada. Alessandro has them made for the guitar with solid and knurled shafts:

http://www.alessandro-products.com/parts.html

I replaced some CTS pots in three of my Collings Electrics with these and they made a hugh difference in the increased range the volume and tone controls.

The only down side is they are expensive!
Ouch! I hope they're good.
 

Trebor Renkluaf

I was hit by a parked car, what's your excuse?
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It seems like the general consensus is CTS - perhaps I just got some bad CTS pots, more than once, or I'm too picky. Weird.
 

diagrammatiks

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weird, do the corksniffers really say cts is the best?

vintage guitars used centralab and mepco.

What size pot do you need? Is your control cavity routed to accommodate full size pots or only mini pots?

What didn't you like about the cts? too stiff? too loose? the taper?
 

dougk

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6,023
It seems like the general consensus is CTS - perhaps I just got some bad CTS pots, more than once, or I'm too picky. Weird.
They do vary. I try to meter out what I install (I buy in bulk) and I do often see my 500k's ranging in reality between 470-490k with an average right about 485k most of the time.

I actually don't mind, I set a few of the low reading ones aside for bright guitars or for use on the bridge pickup.

They do feel good and the tapers seem consistent but like everything else mass produced, there are acceptable amounts of drift from spec.
 

Trebor Renkluaf

I was hit by a parked car, what's your excuse?
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13,677
weird, do the corksniffers really say cts is the best?

vintage guitars used centralab and mepco.

What size pot do you need? Is your control cavity routed to accommodate full size pots or only mini pots?

What didn't you like about the cts? too stiff? too loose? the taper?
Well most will link you to RS Guitarworks which sells "special" CTS pots, or Dr. Vintage which also sells "Special" CTS pots, or if you're feeling lucky and don't want a whole lot of communication ACME Guitar Works which also sells CTS pots.

I think Centrolab became CTS, but I could be wrong.

I'm looking for full size pots. I frankly didn't like the taper of the CTS pots that I got. People rave about the taper and how smooth and even it is, but mine were like an on/off switch. Everything was crammed between 9 and 10 or maybe 8 and 10. And yes I got the right type of pot. Maybe there was a bad or miss marked batch, but I had several that were like this and it made me gun shy to buy more.
 

larry1096

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1,348
Of the 'good' brands, which has the firmest feel? I prefer a pot that's downright tight, and find many too easy to move accidentally.

Larry
 

Pscheoverdrive

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168
Another +1 for CTS. Alpha pots are junk... I've had a lot of brand-new ones simply not work right out of the packaging. Bourns doesn't seem that much better. At this point, I won't bother with a pot unless it's at least CTS or better. You might save a couple dollars getting an Alpha pot, but you'll end up spending more time swearing and replacing it and getting a proper one shipped to you.
 

Quarter

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This last batch of CTS pots I got felt like they had gravel in them. They definitely used to be better in the long ago before their manufacturing was moved off shore.
 

diagrammatiks

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Well most will link you to RS Guitarworks which sells "special" CTS pots, or Dr. Vintage which also sells "Special" CTS pots, or if you're feeling lucky and don't want a whole lot of communication ACME Guitar Works which also sells CTS pots.

I think Centrolab became CTS, but I could be wrong.

I'm looking for full size pots. I frankly didn't like the taper of the CTS pots that I got. People rave about the taper and how smooth and even it is, but mine were like an on/off switch. Everything was crammed between 9 and 10 or maybe 8 and 10. And yes I got the right type of pot. Maybe there was a bad or miss marked batch, but I had several that were like this and it made me gun shy to buy more.
no centralab became centralab/mepcos and then some of their assets were sold to vishay to become bc components.

If you fit full size pots you'll want the 30 percent tapers.

The old pots are much stiffer then the newer quick turn pots that are popular. A cts pot will basically twirl from full to 0 by just brushing it.

These guys sell full size rv4 potentiometers with a 20-30 percent taper.

http://westlabs.com/Pots.HTML

Steve from Apex jr also has a few nos AB/Ohmite Type J's that are the vintage taper for about 3 dollars each.

Bourns now sells the 82 and the 96 series with a modified vintage taper.'

http://www.bourns.com/data/global/pdfs/82.pdf

They are 10 dollars each.

I'm sure the rs pots gets the job done but I'd feel like a fool if I spent over 10 dollars on a non-sealed/non-mil spec pot. Especially with a super special custom taper. Don't overheat them or drop cookie crumbs in that opening if you get those.
 

wizard333

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2,208
They are all as bad as each other, CTS is probably the worst. People who say CTS are best really don't deal with large quantities and don't see the massive horribble QC issues CTS has.
 

walterw

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38,264
i've not seen mechanical QC issues with the allparts-sourced CTS "vintage" 500ks, but the bagfuls i get do have an annoying habit of coming in reading in the high 300ks!

the regular flat-back CTS are all just so stiff to turn.

the dimarzio CTS have a good taper, a brass shaft with the little c-clip to prevent them from getting pushed through the pot, and an easy-turning feel.

they're my new go-to, with the caveat that the shaft sticks out too far from the threaded part, and the top is kinda sharp-edged, to where i have to skim the top edge on the belt sander to get the knobs to go on easily.

the PRS versions are by far the nicest, most effortless pots out there, with a price tag to match.
 

Adam_G

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22
Of the 'good' brands, which has the firmest feel? I prefer a pot that's downright tight, and find many too easy to move accidentally.

Larry
In my 'experience' CTS. I had the pickups, switch and pots in my MIM Strat replaced earlier this year. When I first went to play it (had to turn the volume up since the tech left it down) I thought the pot was broken because it was so stiff compared to anything I've felt before. Now all of the other guitars I play feel loose. YMMV.
 

2Slick4U

Senior Member
Messages
103
Of the 'good' brands, which has the firmest feel? I prefer a pot that's downright tight, and find many too easy to move accidentally.

Larry
Those RS Guitarworks pots which are manufactured by CTS, I've got one in my strat and it's plenty tight. It stays where you leave it, for sure. I think they specified a certain taper, but it's manufactured by CTS.
 




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