Replacing pots: Where should new ones go

Serenomoreno

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Hello everyone,

I bought a 2009 G0 last year which came with CTS pots and fake bumblebees. It’s a great guitar except for the muddy neck pickup. I’ve lowered it and cut the bass in my amp and that’s helped a bit (I have no complaints about the bridge PU). I finally brought myself to unsolder the pickups from the volume pots and found all values to be 456k neck vol, 514k neck tone, 405k bridge vol, 436k bridge tone. I’ve purchased matched 5% tolerance 525k pots from The Art of Tone which haven’t arrived yet but wanted to ask what would the best placement be if, for example, I get a 500k, 525k, 535k and 550k. Where should they go, highest to lowest to achieve the best tone overall.
 

Dazza

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This was common practice here years ago before Historics got better consistency pots, there'll be a lifetime of threads about it.
Simply swapping your 2 neck pots would move you in the right direction. But you've ordered all new higher spec pots so the whole guitar will brighten up a bit.

Highest value for the neck volume, next for neck tone, then bridge vol and tone.
To help 'combat' a muddy neck make sure you use '50's wiring'.
Personally I couldn't get neck pickup clarity from the stock Burstbucker pickups of that era I had, and I didn't care for the bridge either, but each guitar / pickup / ears are different so you might fare better.

Daz
 

ARandall

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Essentially you almost had the right value pots in there from the start.
I doubt you'll hear any difference with your neck pickup, but the bridge will get brighter.
 

Serenomoreno

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Essentially you almost had the right value pots in there from the start.
I doubt you'll hear any difference with your neck pickup, but the bridge will get brighter.
This was common practice here years ago before Historics got better consistency pots, there'll be a lifetime of threads about it.
Simply swapping your 2 neck pots would move you in the right direction. But you've ordered all new higher spec pots so the whole guitar will brighten up a bit.

Highest value for the neck volume, next for neck tone, then bridge vol and tone.
To help 'combat' a muddy neck make sure you use '50's wiring'.
Personally I couldn't get neck pickup clarity from the stock Burstbucker pickups of that era I had, and I didn't care for the bridge either, but each guitar / pickup / ears are different so you might fare better.

Daz
Thanks for the info. I was asking because I've found different advice, maybe due to personal preference. Some folks recommend the same placement as you are, others advice installing them, highest to lowest, in the neck vol, neck tone, bridge tone, bridge vol. I guess this is all confusing to me because I still don't understand how a pot works differently for volume and tone.
 

Serenomoreno

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Essentially you almost had the right value pots in there from the start.
I doubt you'll hear any difference with your neck pickup, but the bridge will get brighter.
So you're saying going from 450k to 550k in the neck volume wouldn't have much of an impact?
With regards to the bridge vol, yes I'm worried it might get too bright but was thinking 405k was too low. You think that should be left alone, then? Thanks.
 

Dazza

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Also I believe you'll have brass stoptail studs. Check them with a magnet. Replacing them with vintage correct steel studs 'can' help brighten things up. I say 'can' because in my personal experiments the difference on a 2007 R8 was negligible while a on a 2008 R7 was like putting on new strings. The difference surprised me so much I swapped back and forth several times in a row to ensure I wasn't accidentally turning the tone knob or some other contributing factors. It clearly livened up the treble response giving lots more definition in the lower frequencies.

Once again despite known mechanical truths that determine a given result - ie the tonal difference between harder steel and softer brass - each guitar is different and the results will also be. The range of experiences related in this forum over the years is invaluable, but there's no substitute for your own. And that's where the fun is !

Daz
 
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Dazza

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So you're saying going from 450k to 550k in the neck volume wouldn't have much of an impact?
With regards to the bridge vol, yes I'm worried it might get too bright but was thinking 405k was too low. You think that should be left alone, then? Thanks.
Simply put the higher value the pot the more treble frequencies are available to you. 450-550 there is a difference yes, but it's not night and day to your ears. If you had an older Gibson with 300k pots then installing 500+ would be more obvious.

Again each guitar is different. I have Historics with lower range 400k pots and I still roll the tone back to tame some high end.

Don't be put off thinking everything needs to be on 10. The tone pots are there for a reason. They're adjustable and meant to be used. The 'eureka' moment for a lot of us was when we realised that. It was embarrassingly obvious and simple - yet overlooked. Having come through an era of footswitch controlled amps /preamps / effects many of us used to change tones by pressing a button and never touched the guitar knobs. I've put all that nonsense far behind me.

THE most practical advice given on this forum is this thread http://www.mylespaul.com/threads/how-to-use-the-controls-on-a-les-paul.48038/

Daz
 
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EdmundGTP

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For what it's worth. I was initially underwhelmed by the sound of my 2009 R8 when plugged in. "Muddy" is a word I would have used to describe the sound. Generally lacking in clarity and musicality, especially when over-driven. Multiple notes blending into mush rather than separate tones that exist simultaneously. That sort of thing. Spent a bit of time messing with pickup adjustments but that didn't really fix it for me.
Never did bother with swapping pots as they were already 500k cts. Swapped the fake bees for Luxe bees. That helped a bit (mostly with the tonal adjustment), but changing out the pickups is what REALLY took it from "meh" to "damn!". Literally night and day difference. So even though it's a sample size of one, in my case, I blame the BB pickups. Depending on your budget and willingness to experiment, a pick up swap may be the ticket for you.

Also I did not bother to measure my pots but I can say that I almost never play with the tone knobs at 10, so needing to pull extra high frequencies out of the pickups was never an issue.

Understandably all of these terms are subjective, but if your "muddy" is the same as my "muddy", then I don't know if adding more high end would actually clear that up. But pots are relatively cheap and worth a try if you can solder.
 

dc007

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Question to the OP......do you play with guitar volume and tone on 10 all the time? FWIW I usually set up for a good neck tone I like with the volume on about 7 for my cut through the mix volume. Adjust amp volume to taste. I have found this to be true for all my humbucker guitars to get a good clean neck tone. Now a good 500k + pot for the neck volume and tone will help.
 

ARandall

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So you're saying going from 450k to 550k in the neck volume wouldn't have much of an impact?
With regards to the bridge vol, yes I'm worried it might get too bright but was thinking 405k was too low. You think that should be left alone, then? Thanks.
If you get sent that value pot, then stick it in....hell the taper will most likely work better at the minimum.
Second point is that sometimes the pot might just do a little to the right part of one pickups tonality in a particular guitar due to the individuality of wooden instruments.

The volume pot and pickup are co dependent....like a seesaw. Change the value of the vol pot and the whole pickup response changes. The lower the value the more it chokes the pickup. It's like sticking a damping muffler on an engine. The tone pot is less reactive, and with 50s wiring it doesn't drag down the pickup as you roll off volume. A higher value pot simply gives a more open tone on 10, but simulates a lower value pot as you roll down.
 

Serenomoreno

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For what it's worth. I was initially underwhelmed by the sound of my 2009 R8 when plugged in. "Muddy" is a word I would have used to describe the sound. Generally lacking in clarity and musicality, especially when over-driven. Multiple notes blending into mush rather than separate tones that exist simultaneously. That sort of thing. Spent a bit of time messing with pickup adjustments but that didn't really fix it for me.
Never did bother with swapping pots as they were already 500k cts. Swapped the fake bees for Luxe bees. That helped a bit (mostly with the tonal adjustment), but changing out the pickups is what REALLY took it from "meh" to "damn!". Literally night and day difference. So even though it's a sample size of one, in my case, I blame the BB pickups. Depending on your budget and willingness to experiment, a pick up swap may be the ticket for you.

Also I did not bother to measure my pots but I can say that I almost never play with the tone knobs at 10, so needing to pull extra high frequencies out of the pickups was never an issue.

Understandably all of these terms are subjective, but if your "muddy" is the same as my "muddy", then I don't know if adding more high end would actually clear that up. But pots are relatively cheap and worth a try if you can solder.
Interesting. What pickups did you install?
 

Serenomoreno

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Question to the OP......do you play with guitar volume and tone on 10 all the time? FWIW I usually set up for a good neck tone I like with the volume on about 7 for my cut through the mix volume. Adjust amp volume to taste. I have found this to be true for all my humbucker guitars to get a good clean neck tone. Now a good 500k + pot for the neck volume and tone will help.
I use the controls a lot. The cleans with the neck pickup lack sparkle, though, even with the tone at 10. Not sure if that's due to the 450k volume pot.
 

dc007

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I use the controls a lot. The cleans with the neck pickup lack sparkle, though, even with the tone at 10. Not sure if that's due to the 450k volume pot.
Ok...if the Burstbuckers are the stock pickups then they are potted. You will hear a difference in a pickup with no potting. The neck tone pot you have that test over 500k should give you the range you need unless you don't like the taper
 

Dazza

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I use the controls a lot. The cleans with the neck pickup lack sparkle, though, even with the tone at 10. Not sure if that's due to the 450k volume pot.
Referring back to my initial post I never got any sparkle or chime out of a BB except in the Jimmy Page CA. I experimented with BB magnet swaps to AIII (as is known to be in the Page) but it didn't transform my BB's into Page pickups - (I reckon there's more to it). I also tried 550k pots, .015 caps, steel studs = the BB pickup is what it is. They work for some, but not me. My Page / Beano / Kossoff have variations on early AIII Custom Buckers that do everything I was looking for, so I sold the BB equipped R7 / R8. You'll get far better results swapping pickups. And that opens up a huge world of possibilities - there's no shortage of reviews and opinions in these pages.

Daz
 

Al Walker

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Muddy neck pickup, my usual answer is swap in an alnico3 magnet.
 

jamman

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lots of info here , so I'll add my 2cents to the mix .
I won't worry what other guitar do with other types of setups and their hardware.

I'd eval the guitar in question . if it's a darker toned guitar , brighter pots may be needed, going by the specs you listed for the 1's you bought . Or at least 1 of the pots that you install into that pup that's muddy . For 525K ohms pots ,If you get 1 with 550K reading use that 1 for muddy pup .
I get the feeling from your OP that a 525K pot wont be open enough . But it really depends on the guitar ( and lessor things too) as the primary . I spec out pots(when I can) to be 525K tops . So ,,,, since I like a darker smoother tone for my normal everyday playing tone ....

Not being a fan of "bright" sounding pups , when I do use the bridge pup ,dialing the TONE control down to 4 is not something strange or out of the ordinary ... because it works for me . Yes the controls are there to be used and help focus your tone to what you like .. Use them ,they work .
 

Tim Plains

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Highly doubt that I could hear the difference between pots measuring 525K or 540K, so I wouldn't care where they go.
 

hamerfan

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I use 1 meg Volume pot at the neck and hook off the tone pot, that i didn't use at all. That makes a difference.
 




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