Upgrading Gibson pots...

djpatb

Member
Messages
260
How much of an impact is there to upgrading TONE pots in a Gibson SG or Les paul? I've been upgrading my Gibsons, and I've done full 4 pot upgrades with RS Guitarworks parts. Would I be just as well off if I only changed the stock VOLUME pots? I'm just thinking of leaving the tone pots alone to save some money. Are the Gibson stock tone pots that much worse than a standard 500k CTS? Thanks.
 

GAD

Wubbalubbadubdub
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
14,646
Depends on the guitar. I've had Gibsons that new pots made a dramatic impact, and I've had Gibsons that sounded so good I wouldn't touch a thing. If the existing pots are 500K CTS, I'd leave them alone.
 

djpatb

Member
Messages
260
Cool, thanks. Yeah, I've got a guitar that isn't one of my main live guitars, so I'm thinking I'll just do the Volume pots to save some money. I'm installing some new PU's, and I just wanna make sure I'm getting the most out of them.
 

GAD

Wubbalubbadubdub
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
14,646
Are the volume pots also 500k CTS? Why are you swapping them? Better audio taper?
 

DK207

Member
Messages
2,685
Cool, thanks. Yeah, I've got a guitar that isn't one of my main live guitars, so I'm thinking I'll just do the Volume pots to save some money. I'm installing some new PU's, and I just wanna make sure I'm getting the most out of them.
If you're going to have it apart and be wiring new pickups and new volume pots, you might as well redo the whole thing and swap the tone pots. Check out the RS guitarworks kits, reasonably priced and pretty easy to wire up. Costs around a hundred bucks and well worth the $$.
 
Messages
2,318
I'm not a fan of this set up:



These are 300k pots and seemed to choke the tone of the P90s in the guitar. So, I replaced the whole set up with these:



Much more open sounding instrument now.
 
Last edited:

imsilly

Member
Messages
272
Don't be a moron and pay a middleman for an overpriced "mojo" pot set. The price you pay is massively inflated and all you are doing is wasting money. How these businesses make money I have no idea because there is no reason for them to exist.

Just got to you local/online electronics supplier and buy pots and caps of the correct value and install them. You won't hear any "improvement" in sound with expensive pots, but you will hear it with pots and caps of the correct value. In terms of sound value is all that matters, materials, brands, etc don't make a difference.

If you are worried about reliability then buy the pots and caps with the sturdiest construction. CTS pots are popular because they are well built and not because they are better sounding. As for caps the cheapest ceramic cap is reliable enough to do the job. Just test the value before you install to make sure it's the correct value. My CS Nocaster has a cheap ceramic cap in it and sounds brilliant and has a nice tone roll off. If I changed it because I thought that ceramic cap was holding back my tone I'd be fooling myself.
 

Elias Graves

Senior Member
Messages
1,837
Depending on the guitar, some P90 sets work better with 300s, some with 500s. If the sound is too dark, you might have 300s and some 500s would liven it up.
Gibson still uses mostly Gibson branded CTS pots. Spending extra won't really get you anything more. Some places will sell you pots that have been tested. That might be worth a couple of extra bucks, as pots can run from 430 to well over 500 if you reach into the grab bag.
I usually just buy up a bunch, as sometimes I want a little higher or lower.
FWIW, I've bought Gibson brand pots before and they have all tested right on the money for rated values.

EG
 

MKB

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,366
Just got to you local/online electronics supplier and buy pots and caps of the correct value and install them. You won't hear any "improvement" in sound with expensive pots, but you will hear it with pots and caps of the correct value. In terms of sound value is all that matters, materials, brands, etc don't make a difference.
If you do this, make sure the threaded sleeve on the pot is long enough to allow it to mount in a guitar cavity. Most standard pots won't allow this as the wood is too thick, unless you are mounting the pot in a pickguard (like in a Strat). You will also need a knurled shaft for most guitar knobs to work. These facts alone are good reasons to buy aftermarket pots.

Most Gibsons benefit tremendously from upgrading to 500K volume pots, but some don't need them at all. It depends on the individual guitar really. If your pickups are lacking chime and sound a bit dead, that would be a candidate for a pot upgrade. If the guitar sounds great and has good highs when the volume is lowered, and it has the stock 300k pots, increasing them to 500k could degrade the tone.
 

smolder

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
14,363
I've kept the 250k volume pot on my jr for good reason. No need to add treble there.
 

Jim S

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
15,083
RS Electronics make a HUGE difference compared to stock Gibson. All my Gibson get the RS pots and caps. It's not subtle cork snifferery change.
 

cap217

Member
Messages
3,248
Can someone explain the 500K vs 300K Volume pot difference to me?

I have a 61RI SG and was going to upgrade the wiring, then decided to just do the volume pots to 500K but the guitar sounds bright enough anyways.

I know a 500K tone pot will give it a more open sound that a 300k cant get to. But with that theory a 500k V pot will allow you to turn your guitar up more right? I just dont get this and the differences and I have read a lot of stuff.

Can someone simplify it?

500k vs 300k differences in the Volume and difference in the Tone pots?
 

mistercoffee1

Member
Messages
708
Can someone explain the 500K vs 300K Volume pot difference to me?

I have a 61RI SG and was going to upgrade the wiring, then decided to just do the volume pots to 500K but the guitar sounds bright enough anyways.

I know a 500K tone pot will give it a more open sound that a 300k cant get to. But with that theory a 500k V pot will allow you to turn your guitar up more right? I just dont get this and the differences and I have read a lot of stuff.

Can someone simplify it?

500k vs 300k differences in the Volume and difference in the Tone pots?
I'll try and simplify it, as you've asked.
In a volume circuit (not tone), the pot doesn't just behave like a variable resistor (like in a tone circuit) - meaning, turning the pot to where it would read 300k resistance IS NOT THE SAME as having a 300k pot. In a Tone circuit, this is true; but not in a volume circuit.
With a 500k pot, you more treble available, and it's ever so slightly louder due to that resonant peak that's on the treble side. When you turn down, you get less treble.
With a 300k, you don't have the resonant peak as much, and you get less treble available. The gain is ever so slight decreased.
 




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