Stacked Pots

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Barnzy, Jan 31, 2012.

  1. Barnzy

    Barnzy Member

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    I'm in the process of experimentation with the electronics of my PRS, and could use some advice on pots. My guitar has three holes and one needs to go to the toggle switch. I'm left with a master vol and master tone. Now my problem...my neck pickup and bridge pickup do not seem to agree on tone settings and in fact...I think they want different cap types/values. So...are stacked potentiometers a reliable and viable option? If so, who makes the best one from a performance standpoint (sound/reliability)? Cost is not a factor for this...I want the best and electronics are reasonable even on the 'spendy' side of things. What are my choices from your experiences? And if you like different brands for vol verses tone, let me know. BTW, I'm planning for a "Vol/Tone neck" stack and a "Vol/Tone bridge" stack...so Gibson style setup for Z-90's.
    Thanks
    Barnzy
     
  2. Jef Bardsley

    Jef Bardsley Member

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    I use stacked CTS pots from AllParts in two of my guitars. They're 'good enough' and you can open them up and swap out the resistive elements to make custom combinations. I used to use Bourns JIC pots, but being sealed, when they got scratchy there was nothing I could do.

    BTW, on one guitar I have vol/tone, vol/tone, as you suggest because adjusting the volume usually asks for a tweak of the tone, but on the other I have vol/vol, tone/tone, as on that guitar I use the "middle" position a lot, and it makes it easier to tweak the mix of the pickups.
     
  3. Barnzy

    Barnzy Member

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    Thanks Jef,
    You've go alot of good answers...you must 'tinker' with your gear often, just like me. I'll give Bourns a close look, mainly because I've never tried them before. And if others have some experience in this area, I'd love to hear it...
    Thanks,
    Barnzy
     
  4. Sensible Musician

    Sensible Musician Member

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    you've hit upon one the best universal interfaces for guitar IMO: master volume, selector switch and two tone controls. yes, i came up on strats LOL

    CTS are good once you loosen up the wax. ALPs also makes nice, small pots that turn easier out of the box and fit easier in tight cavities.

    if you get very far with this you will first spend a lot of money on 20 different sets of knobs, only to conclude that they all suck.

    i just take regular cheap knobs (literally the cheapest thing from ebay that looks right) and mount the inside/top one on the shank side of a drill bit and chuck the bit backwards in a hand drill. i then angle it on a belt sander (running) so that the knob tapers significantly at the base. this has a couple of effects: it guides your finger toward the thicker top, plus takes care of any binding issues at the bottom. a rubber ring on the top/inner is also very nice IMO

    i personally use the inside/top for bridge b/c i ride it a lot more, and the neck much less often

    i have found that 100nF is the correct value for almost every guitar i've built/modded for myself. i also like to start with an audio taper pot that has a bigger range than needed and put a resistor in parallel across 1&2. i get the value by putting the stock pot at what i consider the highest setting i would ever want IRL, then measure the value across 1&2. then use a calculator to find the value of the parallel resistor as a function of the max resistance of the pot (measure don't take their word for it) and the desired array value.

    that does a couple things: you get a flattened taper - not linear but flatter than audio - and you get 100% usable range. makes the tone control work the way you always wished they would

    IMO all this stuff helps make the guitar into a musical instrument - a prosthesis through which you sing music. the more transparently it responds to your manipulations - w/o conscious effort - the more you can play music in the moment and not think about gear
     

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