Pots with “Vintage” 30% Tapers? I Don’t Get It.

MATTM

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All the Les Paul guitars made since 1968 are modern reproductions of originals. Unlike originals they have treble rich tone which I call modern tone. It lacks mids original tone has.

Sorry, but I find that a ridiculous blanket statement. I've played plenty of old Les Paul's and owned an original '68 LP. This was not my experience in the least.
 

cooljuk

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There is a rather simple and obvious reason for the different effect the same regular 10% audio taper for volume pots works on original vs modern LPs. It is different tonal context - original tone vs modern tone - and that difference is what caused creation of custom (less steep curve) audio taper volume pots.

The effect of '50s wiring - cap/tone pot connected at output lug of volume - is (often verbally described as) gradually reducing mids in tone as volume pot is rolled off.

BUT, there is a huge difference original vs modern tone. Original tone has more mids and compression, and it lacks treble = clarity and punch for some. Modern tone has more treble and punch, but it lacks mids and fullness for some.

Obviously, original tone with more mids will suit BETTER for '50s wiring - there are more mids to begin with and to be removed by volume pot roll off. That is why original tone even when played 'through' volume pot with 10% taper has 'wider usuful range' - tone does not get too thin/too plinky even with volume pot rolled off low - think Jimmy Page on liverecordings playing his '59 neck PAF - 8.2k or 8.6k - on his #1 with neck volume pot as low as 5 or 3 sounds full, balanced and strong, almost like an acoustic guitar tone, strumming (several strings played) or single note (single string played) lines.

Modern tone simply does not have enough mids within itself BY DESIGN, DELIBERATELY for it to sound equally good = full, strong with 10% taper. Cause when mids are reduced by '50s wiring - tone very fast starts to sounds tiny, thin, like a banjo. Gibson USA 300k linear taper pots for volume pots are dead wrong overkill for the purpose - tone does not thin out too fast but taper is pretty much unusable. However, some a kind of middle ground - using audio taper pots with less steep curve - 20% taper (DiMarzio Custom pots) or 30% taper (RS Superpots) is better at keeping those insufficient/lacking mids of modern tone 'longer' (wider range before it thins out) in tone as vol is rolled off.

That is the reason for 'invention' and how custom audio taper (greater value than 10% taper = less steep curve = closer to linear taper) volume pots were born to be used in modern tone/guitars.

(Modern repros of originals have less mids than on originals due to metal hardware used, cause alloys used for modern repro hardware are much harder than on originals so modern repro hardware create mechanical resonance with treble = higher overtones and dampen mids =lower and mids overtones - which we hear as modern - treble rich, lacking mids, too punchy, too aggressive - tone. No manipulation of electric signal can compensate. Remove the cause - use the same alloys as on original hardware - and it will eradicate the unwanted effect = bring the original tone back. Simple.)

I guess this answers OP question.


If you were to say, "the average 50's Les Paul is acoustically warmer sounding than the average modern Gibson USA Les Paul" I might agree with you.

...but regarding the electric sound, I'd disagree. Modern Gibson's electric sound is pushy and mid-heavy. Most of their pickups are limited in top end response and excessively midrangy. Even the ones that are brighter are bright in "lower treble / upper mids" range, that's harsh or brittle, by comparison to most more open sounding and less congested originals.


I also don't think most resellers are doing that type of involved research on vintage instruments or deep introspective philosophical thinking about their pot tapers. Most likely, they are just copying what they've read or seen sold, elsewhere. How many vintage-accurate parts are really on the market, especially for Gibson? Most are copies of wrong copies of wrong copies. Some better than others.

The 30%, 20%, 15%, etc. tapers that resellers offer isn't really anything custom. They are standard tapers that CTS offers on their pots.


It's just a box checked of about ten standard available tapers on an order form. Nothing that "painstaking research" went into. We've probably done more "research" just in this thread on original Centralabs than most parts resellers have. lol!
 

ARandall

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Correct me if I'm wrong here, but if you have 2 pots of the same k rating but different tapers dialed to the same k reading....do they not sound completely identical. As in the physics of the circuit for the two pots apply identically as long as they are set the same??
 

Pappy35

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Correct me if I'm wrong here, but if you have 2 pots of the same k rating but different tapers dialed to the same k reading....do they not sound completely identical. As in the physics of the circuit for the two pots apply identically as long as they are set the same??

A guitar pot at some given setting, is just a resistor in an AC circuit so, yes, if they are set to the same resistance value (say, 250k Ohms) there a=should be no difference in the tone.
 

MCT

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Correct me if I'm wrong here, but if you have 2 pots of the same k rating but different tapers dialed to the same k reading....do they not sound completely identical. As in the physics of the circuit for the two pots apply identically as long as they are set the same??
You’re technically correct from a physics perspective. But I can just feel the countdown starting until people start laying forth arguments about all the other variables (materials, etc.) that can influence our subjective sonic senses...
 

Pappy35

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A guitar pot at some given setting, is just a resistor in an AC circuit so, yes, if they are set to the same resistance value (say, 250k Ohms) there a=should be no difference in the tone.

You’re technically correct from a physics perspective. But I can just feel the countdown starting until people start laying forth arguments about all the other variables (materials, etc.) that can influence our subjective sonic senses...
Yeah, I can feel the keyboards clicking from my desk here in Western TN. :cool:

<this is me channeling Sheldon from Big Bang Theory)
Let me pull the rug out from them before it's too late: in my response I meant that for two pots soldered successively (one after the other, not at the same time) into the same circuit of the same guitar (i.e., my Epi Les Paul or your vintage 1958 LP, or whatever) each carefully set to the same 250k Ohm position (as measured with a reasonably accurate multimeter, not based on knob position), and played in the same temperature and humidity conditions by a robot whose strumming pressure and pick attack are pre-determined and repeatable (preferably designed by an MIT-trained, Ph.D-level, mechanical engineer if possible), will sound identical.

Clear enough? :rofl:
 
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cooljuk

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Here's something interesting:

IME guitarists today have less complaint about the 20% or 30% tapers than any others. There's no one taper that everyone likes, but the 20% or 30% seems to be what gets along with most rigs/players. The 10% audio and linear definitely have a much higher "rejection rate" among my customers and those of colleagues I've worked with over the years.

So, it's another example of everyone thinks they want something vintage-accurate, but they also assume and expect vintage-accurate to be like what they imagine it to be in their head, which is often not the case.

Similarly, nobody wants to put T-Tops in their R9 but often people describe the sound they are after and that's exactly what it is, a low output, bright, jangly, hollow midrange T-Top, not a warm, mid-heavy PAF that might be a more common example of a 1959 burst.

Fender amp guys chase down tweeds that sound like Plexis. Marshall guys chase down tube rectified 60's Marshalls that sound like 50's Bassmans. Many LP guys want a "Tele on steroids" and many Tele guys want an unusually hot and warm Broadcaster pickup like Keef to get a sound closer to a Gibson. We guitarists are some strange and conflicted creatures!


FWIW - Mojotone used to list the taper of their pots (30%) but removed it from their stated specs. Maybe they read this thread? lol!

then:

now:
 

MCT

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Hilarious - Mojotone (a company I greatly respect) was one I clearly saw advertise the vintage taper as 30%.
 

cooljuk

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Hilarious - Mojotone (a company I greatly respect) was one I clearly saw advertise the vintage taper as 30%.

In fairness, they never specifically said "late 1950's Centralab vintage taper."

Maybe they were going for something else vintage?
 

MCT

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Yeah- something so vintage, they had to retract the taper from their description.
 

5F6-A

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Get used to conflicting specs and terminology in the music industry.

Fender still doesn't know the difference between a vibrato and a tremolo and Gibson hasn't figured out that the jack on your guitar is not an input.


Whatever taper your pots are, that taper will appear to change from rig to rig and as you turn up and down the compression / gain / distortion and your dynamic range is squashed.

I have a freezer bag full of old Centralabs and I could chart a few out for you (in fact, I already have) but then the question becomes if you are after the figures today or the figures 60 years ago, when they were made? ....or some time in the middle, when your favorite song was recorded? For sure, those old Centralab pots from Gibsons haven't aged gracefully! The values and physical rotation feel of them has certainly changed significantly.
That is very funny
 

Dougie

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I found the thread about volume pot count ups to be VERY informative, and very accurate to the reference pots listed in the thread.

Personally I use the RS Superpots because of their taper. I play mostly in the middle of the sweep and the knob seems to yield the changes I like more than other pots. Example, if a pot is slightly more linear than a comparable vintage taper pot then going from 5 to 6 on the knob makes less gain than going from 5 to 6 on a pot that has more of a curved taper, where 5 to 6 produces more gain so it's not as slow between those numbers as the pot that is a bit more linear.

I spoke to VIP and they did confirm their graph compares the RS Superpot as the "other US brand" and my comment about less change between 5 and 6 on the RS pot as compared to the VIP pot can be seen in the graph. It's such a subtle difference that unless you knew which pot was in the guitar, you would likely not even notice. My 2018 Custom Shop Historic '58 LP Jr doublecut has I am sure the CTS vintage taper pots, and I find it VERY usable, very period correct to vintage guitars.

Point is, between RS and VIP there is only a tiny bit of a scooped curve for the VIP as compared to the RS, and it ain't enough of a difference to warrant changing either one for the other.

Vintage Pot Taper.png
 

cooljuk

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So we have a "US brand" that's made in Shenzhen, China (Bourns / VIPots) and a "other US brand" that's made in Hong Kong, China (CTS / RS Superpots).
 

MCT

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I found the thread about volume pot count ups to be VERY informative, and very accurate to the reference pots listed in the thread.

Personally I use the RS Superpots because of their taper. I play mostly in the middle of the sweep and the knob seems to yield the changes I like more than other pots. Example, if a pot is slightly more linear than a comparable vintage taper pot then going from 5 to 6 on the knob makes less gain than going from 5 to 6 on a pot that has more of a curved taper, where 5 to 6 produces more gain so it's not as slow between those numbers as the pot that is a bit more linear.

I spoke to VIP and they did confirm their graph compares the RS Superpot as the "other US brand" and my comment about less change between 5 and 6 on the RS pot as compared to the VIP pot can be seen in the graph. It's such a subtle difference that unless you knew which pot was in the guitar, you would likely not even notice. My 2018 Custom Shop Historic '58 LP Jr doublecut has I am sure the CTS vintage taper pots, and I find it VERY usable, very period correct to vintage guitars.

Point is, between RS and VIP there is only a tiny bit of a scooped curve for the VIP as compared to the RS, and it ain't enough of a difference to warrant changing either one for the other.

View attachment 483275

And of course, everyone has their preferences as to which pots they prefer. My issue was about the accuracy of marketing re: calling an aftermarket pot with a 30% taper “vintage.” And based on that curve, RS Superpots have a 25% taper, not 10%. Is it meaningful difference? Probably depends on the player’s ear.

But one thing I will say is that the jump in k’s on a Centralab-style 10% taper between 8.5-10 is like a gain boost which I personally find quite useful- no 25% or 30% taper pot I’ve tried has that quality.
 

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