Linear or Audio Taper Pots

audiocheck

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Since I have not received any help on a previous post elsewhere on this forum, I would like to restate the question here.

I recently purchased a 2013 LPJ. My last LP was purchased in '91. So seeing a Circuit board inside the control cavity was a shock. I don't want to get into the argument of wether the Board is good or bad. Some have suggested that what I don't like is the difference in the Pots that it uses.

All my other LP volume controls seem to have a little jump in level around 2 or 3 on the knob, after that there seems to be a very slight increase up to 10. I am used to this and I kind of prefer it.

The LPJ has hardly any level adjustment from 0 to 8 on the knob, and then ramps up to full volume really fast from 8 to 10. I do not like this since the small level adjustments I utilize are in this 8 to 10 range. So it makes it real hard for me to dial in my desired level when playing with a band. My older LP have a wider range of travel (for the same amount of volume change), so it is easy for me to dial in a real precise level.

So my question is:

What Pots did Gibson use from (my oldest LP) '79 to (my newest LP) '91?
Linear or Audio Taper?
Because those all seem to act the same, where as the LPJ Pots act totally different.

I have a total rewire planned for the spring with Push/Push or Push/Pull pots and want to make sure I get Pots that act more like my older ones.

I also noticed, on the LPJ, that when I measure the Resistance at the Output jack, as I spin the knob from 10 to 0, that the resistance comes quicker and higher than my older LPs.

also the LPJ's tone seems to bogged down when the volume is spun to 8 or below. Like the life is being sucked out of the pickup.

Can someone tell me which ones are which?
 

David Collins

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You want linear volume pots (of course still staying with audio tone). Gibson has used this arrangement since ' 73, and I thought they were still using this up through your most recent model, but your description of how they work would indicate you currently have audio volumes.
 

Brocko

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I thought it was the other way round normally - audio taper for volume, linear taper for tone???
 

Alligatorbling

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i like audio taper in both volume and tone
 

FFXIhealer

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Can someone tell me which ones are which?


Gibson USUALLY uses 300K linear-taper pots for their volume controls and 500K audio-taper pots for their tone controls. I like this and recommend these tapers to almost anyone, but some people play clean almost exclusively and so prefer audio tapers in their volume controls. Without knowing this, I got 4x audio-taper 500K pots to redo the wiring in my Ibanez Artcore (ES-335 style guitar). The tone pots are wonderful with a great sweep, but the volume controls drive me up a wall. I lose most of my volume before I hit 8 on the volume knob. Then from 8 to 0, almost nothing has to change. The guitar becomes relatively silent by ~2 on the knob. I hate them. I hate them. I hate them.

My Hagstrom Ultra-Swede has two linear-taper pots: one volume and one tone. The tone control is virtually unusable. I have to roll the knob almost all the way to 3 before I start hearing the highs filtered out to ground. Then it ramps down to fast for me to get fine control. I want to replace it with a 500K audio-taper pot. In fact, I'll probably replace the volume with a 500K linear-taper as well. You CAN find them, but they're a lot more rare to find on guitar parts websites than the audio-tapers are.

This seems to parallel your findings. Now, I've looked for a number of comparisons where people compare 300K volume pots and 500K volume pots and most of them have reported that there's almost no difference in the tone of their guitars with everything on 10. Some people will swear up and down that there's a huge difference, but then there are some people who swear up and down that a rosewood fretboard will sound "warmer" than a maple fretboard, even though the fretboard wood has virtually no difference on what frequencies the pickup gets from the strings (on a solid-body guitar, at least). And some people swear up and down that 50 solid-state watts isn't nearly as loud as 50 tube watts, even though science has proven time and time again that 50 watts = 50 watts and that a speaker given a specific power load will react EXACTLY THE SAME. The difference comes from mis-labelling. RMS power VS Peak power.

Take what you will, but Gibson PCBs are SUPPOSED to have 300K linear-taper volume pots and 500K audio-taper tone pots, but the only way to be sure what you have is to unplug everything from the PCB, hook up a Digital Multi-Meter (DMM), and measure each pot between the outer two lugs. Then turn all 4 knobs to 5 and measure between the middle lug and one of the side lugs. If it reads exactly 1/2 (50%) of the total value (between the two outside lugs), then it's a linear taper pot. If it's more like 20% or 80%, it must be an audio-taper pot.

I thought it was the other way round normally - audio taper for volume, linear taper for tone???
Incorrect, sir.
 

audiocheck

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Gibson USUALLY uses 300K linear-taper pots for their volume controls and 500K audio-taper pots for their tone controls. I like this and recommend these tapers to almost anyone, but some people play clean almost exclusively and so prefer audio tapers in their volume controls. Without knowing this, I got 4x audio-taper 500K pots to redo the wiring in my Ibanez Artcore (ES-335 style guitar). The tone pots are wonderful with a great sweep, but the volume controls drive me up a wall. I lose most of my volume before I hit 8 on the volume knob. Then from 8 to 0, almost nothing has to change. The guitar becomes relatively silent by ~2 on the knob. I hate them. I hate them. I hate them.

My Hagstrom Ultra-Swede has two linear-taper pots: one volume and one tone. The tone control is virtually unusable. I have to roll the knob almost all the way to 3 before I start hearing the highs filtered out to ground. Then it ramps down to fast for me to get fine control. I want to replace it with a 500K audio-taper pot. In fact, I'll probably replace the volume with a 500K linear-taper as well. You CAN find them, but they're a lot more rare to find on guitar parts websites than the audio-tapers are.

This seems to parallel your findings. Now, I've looked for a number of comparisons where people compare 300K volume pots and 500K volume pots and most of them have reported that there's almost no difference in the tone of their guitars with everything on 10. Some people will swear up and down that there's a huge difference, but then there are some people who swear up and down that a rosewood fretboard will sound "warmer" than a maple fretboard, even though the fretboard wood has virtually no difference on what frequencies the pickup gets from the strings (on a solid-body guitar, at least). And some people swear up and down that 50 solid-state watts isn't nearly as loud as 50 tube watts, even though science has proven time and time again that 50 watts = 50 watts and that a speaker given a specific power load will react EXACTLY THE SAME. The difference comes from mis-labelling. RMS power VS Peak power.

Take what you will, but Gibson PCBs are SUPPOSED to have 300K linear-taper volume pots and 500K audio-taper tone pots, but the only way to be sure what you have is to unplug everything from the PCB, hook up a Digital Multi-Meter (DMM), and measure each pot between the outer two lugs. Then turn all 4 knobs to 5 and measure between the middle lug and one of the side lugs. If it reads exactly 1/2 (50%) of the total value (between the two outside lugs), then it's a linear taper pot. If it's more like 20% or 80%, it must be an audio-taper pot.



Incorrect, sir.

Thank you!

Your description has made all finally make sense. I will now redesign my wiring design so as to incorporate Linear pots for Volume control.

Any chance you have seen Linear Long Shaft Push/Pull pots anywhere?
 

Brocko

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Incorrect, sir.
Really? Because I thought that the whole point of audio taper was that it alters the volume in accordance with how your brain/ears interpret changes in volume ie in a non linear fashion. I have always used audio for volume and never had any problems, always a nice smooth roll down of volume.

The OP might need linear for what he wants but for a smooth volume pot you normally need audio(log) taper
 

FFXIhealer

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Really? Because I thought that the whole point of audio taper was that it alters the volume in accordance with how your brain/ears interpret changes in volume ie in a non linear fashion. I have always used audio for volume and never had any problems, always a nice smooth roll down of volume.

The OP might need linear for what he wants but for a smooth volume pot you normally need audio(log) taper
Except that we're not talking about volume output to the speakers. We're talking SIGNAL OUTPUT from the pickups to a Signal Amplifier. Your guitar does not generate signals the same way that your speaker converts signal to sound.

But to get to a finer point, the difference in whether you like audio-tapers for your volume control or linear-tapers depends on how you generally use the volume control. A linear-taper will roll the guitar signal off more gradually than an audio-taper will. For someone who plays with distorted amp signal and wishes to turn the knob just a bit to clean everything up and still have plenty of room on the volume knob to fine-tune his "clean" signal, then yes - go with the audio-taper pot. It will roll off about half of the output signal between 10 and 7. So you'll suddenly have a relatively CLEAN sound coming out of your amp. Then you have 7-to-0 to play with the volume there.

If, however, you would prefer to CONTROL your gain before it cleans up in order to shape your tone a bit, then you'd prefer the linear-taper pot, as you would have to roll the knob down to around 4 before the distortion cleaned up. Then it keeps going down sharply at that point before finally going silent below 1 on the knob.

In a guitar, I prefer linear-taper pots for VOLUME controls and logarithmic (audio) tapers for my tone controls. But if I was building an AMP, I'd be using audio pots all over the place for tone-shaping and volume control. Except for the GAIN knob. I'd use a Linear-taper there. Because once you start to distort, there's a lot of character you can play with, but not if it's clean at 6, distorts at 7, becomes buzzy by 8, overly-compressed by 9, and then super-muddy by 10. A linear taper might only be clean up to 4, then distort by 5, giving me more room to control the character of the distortion. Same idea behind a guitar volume knob to me.

You know, I'd have thought like some people that a linear-taper pot would be better for a tone pot. Except that personal experience has taught me otherwise. I have two 500K linear-taper pots in my Hagstrom: a master volume pot and a master tone pot. The volume pot works very well. Distortion and volume both roll off nicely, then it goes clean and keeps going down to off. But the tone pot doesn't really sound any different until I hit around 3. Then it gets super dark and muddy by the time I hit 2, then 1 and 0 are both just thick mud - no definition to the strings at all.

I put 4x audio-pots on the Ibanes and while I HATE how the volume pots act, I LOVE how the audio pots roll off highs in what seems by far to be a much smoother sweep. I like keeping those knobs around 7 to get a mid-heavy crunch in the style of a Fender '59 Bassman or a Marshall JTM45. Rolling it up to 8 moves towards a Plexi sound, then rolling it up to 10 makes it fully-bright and I can sound like a JCM800.

So I did some internet searches and found out that Gibson almost exclusively uses 300K linear-taper pots for their volume controls and 500K audio-taper pots for the tone controls. That fits with how the controls seem to work in my three Gibsons I have, as all of their tone controls seemed to have nice sweeps to them. Also, I went directly to Gibson's store and they only sell 300K linear-taper pots and 500K audio-taper pots. They sell both long and short shafts. Then they have something called a "Vintage spec" pot, which I have no idea what its ratings are.

I'm not saying that EVERYONE should have linear volume pots. Some guitar players hate that with a passion. Your mileage may vary. You put in your guitars what you like to have in your guitars. It's as simple as that. I just know what I prefer.

And I'll eventually pull the two volume pots back out of the Ibanez and use one in the Hagstrom as a tone pot. Then replace them with linear-taper pots, putting a 3rd in on the Hagstrom. Then all of my stuff will play awesome. :dude:
 

FFXIhealer

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Thank you!

Your description has made all finally make sense. I will now redesign my wiring design so as to incorporate Linear pots for Volume control.

Any chance you have seen Linear Long Shaft Push/Pull pots anywhere?
If you're going to be changing out your pots, might I suggest you change all four? Long-shaft pots with switches are usually hard to find, especially if you're limiting your search to high-quality pots like CTS. And even harder to find are those that have linear-tapers. All the ones I could find in a 5-minute internet search were all audio-tapers. No wonder Gibson puts those in for the TONE pots instead.

The only linear pots I could find in a long-shaft were regular pots - no switches.

Found a CTS 300K linear-taper pot in a long shaft, if you don't want to buy a Gibson brand: $7.67/pot
Cts 300K Linear Taper Long Split Shaft Potentiometer Pot | eBay

Here's a similarly-priced Gibson branded pot for the same job: $7.95/pot
Gibson Long Shaft 300K Linear Taper Pot 1 Ppat 300 | eBay

Or the official Gibson pot still in its original packaging: $12.39/pot
Gibson 300K Linear Taper Pot Potentiometer Long Shaft | eBay

A set of two of them for $22.21/pair (Or $11.11 per unit, cheaper than above)
Gibson 300K Linear Taper Long Shaft Potentiometer Pot Set of Two | eBay

For your DPDT switches, here's what I found.

Bournes 500K audio-taper push-pull long-neck pot: $10.14/pot
Bourns 500K 3 4" Long Shaft Push Pull Audio Taper Potentiometer Pot | eBay

Alpha 500K audio-taper push-pull long-neck pot: $14.75/pot
Alpha Brand Pot Push Push DPDT 500K Audio Taper "Long Shaft" Pot | eBay

Then again, if you'd rather get a pre-made harness, there's a number of those guys who build them to-order that roam around the forum here. Most of the time, they hand-select pre-measured 550K pots, but they use audio-taper pots almost exclusively. I'm sure if you contacted them, they could find you some linear-taper pots to put in there. Who knows? They might even be able to find you a set of linear-taper pots with the push-pulls on them.
 

Ant

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Les Paul Standards 2012 onwards have 500k Linear taper push pulls in the volume, 500k non linear push pulls in the tone

Im pretty sure the volume pots are CTS.
 

audiocheck

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Les Paul Standards 2012 onwards have 500k Linear taper push pulls in the volume, 500k non linear push pulls in the tone

Im pretty sure the volume pots are CTS.

OK, I just looked at Gibson's web site and they offer a Linear 300K pot and a 500K audio taper pot. both have the option of long or short shaft, but only the 500K is offered in Push/Pull and only as a short shaft.

I do need Long Shaft Push/Pull for a LP, right? Is Gibson using Short Shaft Push/Pull in Les Pauls?
 

Brocko

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Except that we're not talking about volume output to the speakers. We're talking SIGNAL OUTPUT from the pickups to a Signal Amplifier. Your guitar does not generate signals the same way that your speaker converts signal to sound.

But to get to a finer point, the difference in whether you like audio-tapers for your volume control or linear-tapers depends on how you generally use the volume control. A linear-taper will roll the guitar signal off more gradually than an audio-taper will. For someone who plays with distorted amp signal and wishes to turn the knob just a bit to clean everything up and still have plenty of room on the volume knob to fine-tune his "clean" signal, then yes - go with the audio-taper pot. It will roll off about half of the output signal between 10 and 7. So you'll suddenly have a relatively CLEAN sound coming out of your amp. Then you have 7-to-0 to play with the volume there.

If, however, you would prefer to CONTROL your gain before it cleans up in order to shape your tone a bit, then you'd prefer the linear-taper pot, as you would have to roll the knob down to around 4 before the distortion cleaned up. Then it keeps going down sharply at that point before finally going silent below 1 on the knob.

In a guitar, I prefer linear-taper pots for VOLUME controls and logarithmic (audio) tapers for my tone controls. But if I was building an AMP, I'd be using audio pots all over the place for tone-shaping and volume control. Except for the GAIN knob. I'd use a Linear-taper there. Because once you start to distort, there's a lot of character you can play with, but not if it's clean at 6, distorts at 7, becomes buzzy by 8, overly-compressed by 9, and then super-muddy by 10. A linear taper might only be clean up to 4, then distort by 5, giving me more room to control the character of the distortion. Same idea behind a guitar volume knob to me.

You know, I'd have thought like some people that a linear-taper pot would be better for a tone pot. Except that personal experience has taught me otherwise. I have two 500K linear-taper pots in my Hagstrom: a master volume pot and a master tone pot. The volume pot works very well. Distortion and volume both roll off nicely, then it goes clean and keeps going down to off. But the tone pot doesn't really sound any different until I hit around 3. Then it gets super dark and muddy by the time I hit 2, then 1 and 0 are both just thick mud - no definition to the strings at all.

I put 4x audio-pots on the Ibanes and while I HATE how the volume pots act, I LOVE how the audio pots roll off highs in what seems by far to be a much smoother sweep. I like keeping those knobs around 7 to get a mid-heavy crunch in the style of a Fender '59 Bassman or a Marshall JTM45. Rolling it up to 8 moves towards a Plexi sound, then rolling it up to 10 makes it fully-bright and I can sound like a JCM800.

So I did some internet searches and found out that Gibson almost exclusively uses 300K linear-taper pots for their volume controls and 500K audio-taper pots for the tone controls. That fits with how the controls seem to work in my three Gibsons I have, as all of their tone controls seemed to have nice sweeps to them. Also, I went directly to Gibson's store and they only sell 300K linear-taper pots and 500K audio-taper pots. They sell both long and short shafts. Then they have something called a "Vintage spec" pot, which I have no idea what its ratings are.

I'm not saying that EVERYONE should have linear volume pots. Some guitar players hate that with a passion. Your mileage may vary. You put in your guitars what you like to have in your guitars. It's as simple as that. I just know what I prefer.

And I'll eventually pull the two volume pots back out of the Ibanez and use one in the Hagstrom as a tone pot. Then replace them with linear-taper pots, putting a 3rd in on the Hagstrom. Then all of my stuff will play awesome. :dude:
Thanks that clears it up for me. A better answer than 'incorrect sir'!! :naughty:
 

970harris

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Hey, folks, nice thread. This is about as clear a discussion as I've seen on the forum regarding the virtues of linear v. audio taper pots...
 

geddy

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just a couple of points:

...a lot of log pots are not true log pots. They are 2 different slope linear tracks joined together to approximate a log pot.

... to be pedantic, a linear pot does not have a taper. Its just a linear track

nit picking over....
 

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So correct me if I'm wrong but for a smooth transition on the volume it should be an Audio-log taper and for the same smooth transition on the tone it should be a linear taper?
 

David Collins

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So correct me if I'm wrong but for a smooth transition on the volume it should be an Audio-log taper and for the same smooth transition on the tone it should be a linear taper?
No, a linear on the tone will act like an on/off tone switch at around 1-2, so linear should a almost never be used for tone control (unless you want the whole range crammed at the very bottom, which apparently some people do.

For the volume, there is no answer as simple as smooth or not smooth - it depends on a lot of variables like what type of amp and settings you use, and how exactly you prefer Your volume to work. There's no better or worse here, or right and wrong, just different control styles.
 

cheetah77

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Get the best of both worlds with a DiMarzio 500k audio, I've tried everything but vintage, and like these best for a Les Paul.
 

Alligatorbling

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Get the best of both worlds with a DiMarzio 500k audio, I've tried everything but vintage, and like these best for a Les Paul.
ive always been curious to try those.

from what i understand it has a custom taper?
 

korus

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ive always been curious to try those.

from what i understand it has a custom taper?
DiMarzio 500k audio taper pots have 20% or 20/80 taper. Regular/common audio taper is 10% or 10/90. Linear taper is 50% or 50/50 taper.
Taper is defined by the ratio total resistance of the pot is 'divided' when you position the wiper in the center (on '5') of the pots rotation.

So, this actually means that when on '5' (half of the rotation) pots 'divide' their total resistance of 500k

linear : 250k / 250k
audio : 50k / 450k
Dimarzio : 100k / 400k

This means that volume roll-off with DMZ pot will be faster than linear but slower than regular audio. That is the very idea of having custom taper pots for volumes in guitar.

Also, when new, DMZ pots are not stiff as e.g. RS Superpots are.

HTH
 




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