Centralab potentiometers

Jimi03

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Centralab potentiometers from the original bursts. Im looking for a modern equal that's just as good. Any ideas and suggestions?

I got a 2019 gibson les paul standard 50's, swapped the stock humbuckers. Put in a set of sheptone heartbreakers. They sound good but im wondering about the pots and the wiring. I don't know if the 50's standards have the 50s style wiring or not. Been thinking about geting a wiring harness, specifically the creamtone page #1 wiring harness. Aparently you can put the bridge humbucker out of phase with vintage wiring (not the 4 wire humbucker)
 

ARandall

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The problem with OOP and braided hookup is not that you can't, but that you cannot isolate the chassis ground. Thats why it is always suggested to use the 4 conductor version of the hookup wire.
Plus you will most likely have to shrinkwrap the braid as it cannot touch any other braid (ground) while it's being hot.
 

jlee

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VIPots are designed to have the same sweep as a vintage Centralab. I’ve never tried a vintage Centralab, but the VIPots are my favorite. I’ve had RS Superpots and Creamtone as well.
 

Jimi03

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Jlee what was the creametone pots like? How loud were they when like half way? Do pots just affect the sweep or is there more to them?
 

Grenville

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VIPots are very good, but visually do not look like Centralabs. DiMarzio make a Centralab lookalike unit that's pretty good, but I like the VIPots better.

I also like RS Superpots and Emerson Custom Pro as well.
 

jlee

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Jlee what was the creametone pots like? How loud were they when like half way? Do pots just affect the sweep or is there more to them?
The VIPots clean up nicer. They clean up quicker to the best of my recollection. Turning the volume pot to “7/8” cleans up the tone quite a bit. Seem to remember the Creamtones not bein tv as cleaned up around 7/8.

Cant remember too much about the Creamtone pots. Mid way on the volume pot and they were pretty clean.

Different pots have different sweeps and tapers. Most of the custom taper pots are manufactured by CTS, e.g. RS, Creamtone, etc... VIPots are manufactured by Bourns. Assuming the pot value is the same, the taper/sweep will be the only thing different.
 

ARandall

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The way the pickups sound is also part of the equation as well.
Some pickups seem to just lose compression in the early part of the dial, then they drop volume.
Other pickups will lose volume right from the start.

And I'm talking within pickups of the same nominal type......ie PAF clones, or Vintage Tele pickups etc etc.
I've had the same guitar react differently to rolldown when only the pickups have changed.
 

TM1

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I've used Centralab pots for over 50 years. I have a number of them here. however.. the VIP Pots are almost identical in sweep and function and I think they are the best replacement for Centralabs.
Grenville: who cares really what they look like, it's how they work that's the most important aspect. I mean who looks at a pot , you should play the guitar.. I've put them in guitars that had original Centralabs and CTS's and found they made the pickups sound better. I think the problem we see now is the carbon track on the original pots is wearing off and letting less signal through
 

MATTM

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I've used Centralab pots for over 50 years. I have a number of them here. however.. the VIP Pots are almost identical in sweep and function and I think they are the best replacement for Centralabs.
Grenville: who cares really what they look like, it's how they work that's the most important aspect. I mean who looks at a pot , you should play the guitar.. I've put them in guitars that had original Centralabs and CTS's and found they made the pickups sound better. I think the problem we see now is the carbon track on the original pots is wearing off and letting less signal through
My biggest gripe with the VIP pots is the construction. They are very poorly made. Nothing like the originals and far inferior in construction to the 450G CTS series.
 

Grenville

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I think that (construction) was kinda my point, I've had two Bourns made pots fail over the last few years and zero CTS constructed ones.

You can see in the following pic that the DiMarzio branded CTS is constructed like an old Centralab. Obviously, from the CTS branded and CTS made Crazyparts TVT either side that it's more heavy duty construction.

The PRS and YJM are made by Bourns and are obviously constructed differently. I've liked these too, but twice I've had YJM low torque pots fail after about 12 months use.

I made no comment about the responsiveness of the VIP pots, I think that side of things is fine. I'm just interested that they'd spec the taper but not go the extra mile with other aspects like DiMarzio seem to have been able to. Maybe it's a cost thing.

 

665

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A lot of the 50's centralabs are now WAY out of spec. I have one "500k" that reads over 700k! That's going to sound different. all the old centralabs I've had have been quite a bit higher than 500k.
 

fernieite

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I've got a set of Vipots in my R8 and I like them. They're very similar to the feel and taper of the stock Centralabs in my 1963 LP Junior.

If you want, you can sand off the logo if it bothers you... ;)
 

MATTM

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I've got a set of Vipots in my R8 and I like them. They're very similar to the feel and taper of the stock Centralabs in my 1963 LP Junior.

If you want, you can sand off the logo if it bothers you... ;)
Not a good idea to sand anything off the pot. Metal fragments will inevitably end up on the carbon track ruining the pot.
 

fernieite

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Not a good idea to sand anything off the pot. Metal fragments will inevitably end up on the carbon track ruining the pot.
Good point, but it's possible to do it safely if it's out of the guitar and you're careful.
 

Grenville

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I don't think anyone said they had a problem with the VIP logo... did they?

FWIW, I have VIPots in two of my three main guitars.
 

cooljuk

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I've never seen those DiMarzio pots, in person. Is the only difference in construction between them and most CTS pots the wafer/lugs being larger and the cleaning vents on the lug side of the case?

How are they made regarding the bushing, shaft, retention, wiper, and trace? Those are the factors that matter most, for rugged construction.

Though I can see how the larger lugs can be a construction plus, I've never seen a lug break off, once properly installed in gear. In shipping bulk pots (not small quantity or assembled harnesses), yes, CTS lugs do break off, sometimes. That wouldn't 't matter for the end-user, though.

Putting the "cleaning vent" holes on the lugs side of the case, like the original Centralabs, I actually see as a downside. The reason Centralabs did that was because the pushed-in metal from the vents is actually the part of the pot that mechanically stops the wiper from traveling in full circles, inside the pot. They stop the rotation in both directions. The problem with that is that that's exactly where flux and solder splatter when connecting to the lugs. That's also right where the lugs get pushed back and soldered to for grounding. You don't want any type of solder or flux splatter getting inside the pot, and it does, right there. In practice, it's probably the absolute worst place to have holes in the case. I'm sure this is why CTS and others relocated them to the exact opposite side on the rear and added a plastic piece inside the pot to utilize the rear location vent for stopping the rotation. See, they aren't actually cleaning vents, at all. Folks just call them that. You can clean a Stackpole pot with no vents right between the lugs and case. They serve a mechanical function but, when in the front by the lugs, are a bit of a liability.

If DiMarzio was just going for looks over function, I wonder why they have a brass shaft and didn't curve the front of the wafer? It's strange to me when I see people pay for custom tooling, just to get a look right, but then don't actually get the look right, anyway.
 


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