Why use the large pots in guitars?

Motterpaul

Tone is in the Ears
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13,680
Why do we use the 15/16" wide pots in guitars? It isn't like the incoming signal is high wattage. Won't the smaller Bourns pots just as well?
 

Rod

Tone is Paramount
Gold Supporting Member
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24,430
Yes they will…. The square ones..
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
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40,280
because the bigger pots look cooler? :dunno

maybe the bigger ones are more durable, but EMG and fishman use the small pots with their active systems, and i know tom anderson has used the small pots forever
 

John Hurtt

Platinum Supporting Member
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19,685
My guess is that back in the 50's that was the size you could buy that would work. Guitarists, bassists less so, are rather traditionalists as a general group so the industry stuck with it.
 

HipKitty

Gold Supporting Member
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2,677
Back when I worked for Gibson, I was told that the larger pots had a wider carbon path thus minimalizing debris/wiper interruptions. This makes sense, but honestly, I never looked further into it other than "off brand" large size pots don't have carbon thickness that name brands like CTS have. I'm sure the folks at Mojotone can confirm or deny this.
 

Motterpaul

Tone is in the Ears
Messages
13,680
I make a lot of pedals and I rarely have a pot fail unless it gets too much current. IOW the wipers usually stay pretty clean and consistent. If I have a pot problem it is usually a wiring issue (because it gets loose and twists around so a hot wire touches a ground.)

Guitars are very low current, purely passive usually. And they are contained in sealed compartments so there is little reason why they would fail. I am guessing it is a small detail they just think looks better. Like putting 200v Panasonic caps (so they are 5-times bigger) in a pedal that only uses 9v.

I guess a player that uses his pots all the time and grabs them hard and twists might need a bigger pot. But I don't think most players do a lot of that.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
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40,280
I guess a player that uses his pots all the time and grabs them hard and twists might need a bigger pot. But I don't think most players do a lot of that.
dunno about grabbing "hard" and "twisting" but i use my guitar volume constantly, and i don't think i'm atypical (especially among more old-school players used to tube amps with no channel-switching).

as such a guitar volume could get cycled orders of magnitude more often then the pots on pedals
 

Timtam

Member
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2,844
There's a parallel universe where American-made guitars have small pots, and Japanese- and other Asian-made guitars have large pots. People assume the large pots must be crappy and swap them out for smaller ones. ;)
 

mrwolf

Member
Messages
381
Yes they will…. The square ones..
They are REALLY stiff to turn and earthing them is a nightmare so I can't see a reason to spend 10x more for one.
If they were so good I'd think Anderson would use them because he builds for quality not profit.
 
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18,318
I was informed my some technically proficient bass players that there are better quality pots out there, that DO not use a carbon trace on the wafer.
They use conductive plastic, & apparently actually conduct the signal better than the ones we're using.
They also have a much longer life.

Folks are suggesting that is what John East is using in his preamps, but I've never seen East divulge any info about just HOW he makes his preamps sound better even in Passive mode, except that he does tell us he uses TWO signal paths for Passive vs. Active.
 

Dan40

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,888
I have considered trying the "conductive plastic" potentiometers in my guitars and amps but the price is usually a bit higher than I'm willing to spend. I did buy a few of these pots that I recently saw at a parts supplier. They are advertised as "military grade/ carbon film track" so I'm anxious to see how well they perform.

 




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