Let's talk pots.

Mark1406

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I've heard much about the magical qualities of Centralab pots. I've gathered that the value and taper are important. Others claim that the original material is important too. I just can't get my head around this one. Resistance isn't capacitance or inductance, it's pretty straight up.
I have Gibson Historic pots in my R0, and Ron Ellis pickups. I played through my amp clean and played guitar, I turned the guitar volume pot down and the amp volume pot up to compensate and at both times the guitar sounded very similar.

Under these circumstances I can't see myself getting boutique pots (VIP or custom CTS) or original Centralab pots.

If someone thinks I have it wrong, I'm happy to try a situation which displays differences in tone.

Thanks for you input and time.

Regards

Mark
 

Roxy13

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I have not had a Historic so I can't really comment on the quality of the pots or the taper, but I do pony up for the VIPots in my favorite guitars as they do have a taper I like the most.
 

1all's Pub

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The issue with pots is more about the tolerance, IME. Typical CTS pots have a tolerance of +/- 20%. So a 500k pot could be as low as 400k (worst case scenario) and that will definitely affect their function and remove treble and thus affect what you hear coming out of them. The ThoBak wiring harness I put in my R8 has 500k pots with +/- 9% tolerance with all tested to be at or above the 515k mark. That, along with their caps (handmade Lux Bumblebee POI), which when it comes to taper make a big difference, combined to give my guitar noticeable improved treble response and taper/control.

So I am a believer in quality, properly spec’d pots and caps. They genuinely make a difference, IME. In fact, I recently ordered a new wiring harness for my newly acquired 2010 Silverburst Custom (not from ThroBak this time, I didn’t care about historically correct appearance this time, and the ThoBak harness is pretty pricey). The CTS pots on this new harness (from Jackson Electric Luthier) are 525k with a +/- 5% tolerance so they should be right at 500k worst case. The caps are POI Russian military surplus (.022uf for the bridge and .015uf for the neck—the guitar came with a .015uf neck cap and I really like the extra brightness and chime it gives the neck pickup, so we’ll see if that translates to the new harness as well).

Anyway, point is, this stuff really can make a difference if the parts are quality and held to within a tight spec.
 

Pappy35

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The CTS pots on this new harness (from Jackson Electric Luthier) are 525k with a +/- 5% tolerance so they should be right at 500k worst case. The caps are POI Russian military surplus (.022uf for the bridge and .015uf for the neck—the guitar came with a .015uf neck cap and I really like the extra brightness and chime it gives the neck pickup, so we’ll see if that translates to the new harness as well).

Anyway, point is, this stuff really can make a difference if the parts are quality and held to within a tight spec.
I source my parts from The Art of Tone and he has sets of four pots matched to +-2% for just under $20. Turns out I don't like audio taper (90/10) pots so I went with their "vintage taper" pots which, if you request it with the order, he can match to around 5% tolerance. I used those Russian 22 and 15nF caps on my Epi when I upgraded it. I did all of it, pots/caps/switch so I don't know what contributed more to the resulting tone, but as a system that guitar sounded 100% better after I did the upgrade.

I'm going to do the same with my new 50's Standard but I splurged and got Vitamin Q caps (though I know it won't make any real difference in tone), again 22 and 15nF, and will install a new set of pots as well. The pots it came with, the Gibson branded ones, averaged to 476 kOhm with about an 8% tolerance which isn't bad. I'd just rather have them matched closer than that.
 

cybermgk

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Not all Audio or Linear tapers are the same.

Some makers taper is just not as accurate as others.
 

Pappy35

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Not all Audio or Linear tapers are the same.

Some makers taper is just not as accurate as others.
Regarding my post, that's why I put vintage in quotes. I could care less how these "vintage" pots compare to some mythical Vintage pot. What I like is that they are ~70/30 taper so there's more useful range as compared to the 90/10 audio taper pots. With a 90/10 pot, the volume goes from ear-bleed to mouse fart in the range from about 10-7-ish. I found the "vintage" pots I got accomplish this same volume sweep in a knob range of about 10-4-ish. Much wider arc to play with between beats.

This is, of course, it's just a personal preference. Someone looking for an "actual" vintage taper curve, whatever that is, would need to hunt down ones that are authentic.
 

zombiwoof

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Regarding my post, that's why I put vintage in quotes. I could care less how these "vintage" pots compare to some mythical Vintage pot. What I like is that they are ~70/30 taper so there's more useful range as compared to the 90/10 audio taper pots. With a 90/10 pot, the volume goes from ear-bleed to mouse fart in the range from about 10-7-ish. I found the "vintage" pots I got accomplish this same volume sweep in a knob range of about 10-4-ish. Much wider arc to play with between beats.

This is, of course, it's just a personal preference. Someone looking for an "actual" vintage taper curve, whatever that is, would need to hunt down ones that are authentic.
That Vintage taper is actually the vintage audio taper. Most of the pots back in the 50's and 60's had a 30% audio taper, the stock CTS these days has the 10% audio taper, which many people complain about because it is a more abrupt taper, not as smooth as the vintage 30%. You can find many custom CTS pots from other companies that are also the vintage audio taper and lower tolerance.
Al
 

cybermgk

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Regarding my post, that's why I put vintage in quotes. I could care less how these "vintage" pots compare to some mythical Vintage pot. What I like is that they are ~70/30 taper so there's more useful range as compared to the 90/10 audio taper pots. With a 90/10 pot, the volume goes from ear-bleed to mouse fart in the range from about 10-7-ish. I found the "vintage" pots I got accomplish this same volume sweep in a knob range of about 10-4-ish. Much wider arc to play with between beats.

This is, of course, it's just a personal preference. Someone looking for an "actual" vintage taper curve, whatever that is, would need to hunt down ones that are authentic.
That Vintage taper is actually the vintage audio taper. Most of the pots back in the 50's and 60's had a 30% audio taper, the stock CTS these days has the 10% audio taper, which many people complain about because it is a more abrupt taper, not as smooth as the vintage 30%. You can find many custom CTS pots from other companies that are also the vintage audio taper and lower tolerance.
Al
Some like that quick, almost cut-of, for volume swells and even cleaning up the dirt. Personally, I want an easier ability to clean up in stages, instead of full dirt and clean essentially. But, that is why we have choices. It's also why I prefer Audio taper for tone pots, as I prefer a larger swath of smaller treble bleed off, instead of almost all of it at 1-3

 

Pappy35

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It's also why I prefer Audio taper for tone pots, as I prefer a larger swath of smaller treble bleed off, instead of almost all of it at 1-3
Exactly! I stuck with 90/10 tapers for the tone pots. Because, since they are wired opposite to the volumes, that drop off happens at the other end of the sweep resulting is a wider useful range. Works great.

PS - I love that guy's video demos of pots and caps. Really sold me on how caps types (say Orange Drops vs. some expensive PIO makes) not a bit of difference.
 

cybermgk

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Exactly! I stuck with 90/10 tapers for the tone pots. Because, since they are wired opposite to the volumes, that drop off happens at the other end of the sweep resulting is a wider useful range. Works great.

PS - I love that guy's video demos of pots and caps. Really sold me on how caps types (say Orange Drops vs. some expensive PIO makes) not a bit of difference.
Yeah he's awesome, cuts through the BS right to the science.
 


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