- Apr 7, 2008
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On the pots front Liam, if they are behaving weirdly, I've been able to sort it with the following on two.Jeggz, love the thread! The moment that you ask the question, "When do you STOP?" is quite possibly your subconscious trying to tell you something. It might even be now...
I'll be the heretic here. I don't think pots carry tone in a big way, because they are effectively resistive components, and unless their basic makeup had changed substantially since the 50s, changing them cannot make a huge difference. I change them for repros in any of my "player" guitars when required (generally hoping they actually read 550K+ when I get them), if just to lose the "vintage magic" of a scrunchy sound when adjusting volume, or occasionally the tone that I hear going up, when I have actually turned the control knob down.
A friend used to take repro pots apart and remove some grease to make them feel like the old ones, because they do feel a little stiff to turn. I might try it yet. Neither of us were terribly sold on "vintage taper", but I used RS "Super Pots" anyway, and the taper has suited me. It doesn't have an objective effect on tone to my ears.
I know vintage harnesses "complete" are a prized commodity, but the only electronic components that make an objective difference to my ageing ears are capacitors and pickup components.
Most of my 50's P90s still scream, so if the magnets are very degaussed by age, no-one told them yet. Capacitors maybe age less well, with most of my old ones reading well over where they were new, but they sound OK, and you just need to roll the tone off a little less. But they most definitely interact with the pickups in a characterful way that means good old ones, or great repros are worth having. Failing that, since I have gone full heretic this evening, I prefer a good Orange Drop to a knackered Bumblebee. There! I said it, and I feel better for it.
I noticed the other night that my "main squeeze" '59 replica has a mid 50's Bumblebee on the neck tone control, and a late 50's Bumblebee on the bridge tone control. The former is 0.018uF, and the latter 0.020uF, so I clearly sacrificed vintage correctness for what sounded better some time back. I think that was the result of experimentation back in 2011, vintage bees vs. Luxe. Luxe were really, really good.
I probably do need to change the pots in the aforementioned replica, but fortunately MOST of the 50s ones seem to be a little more resilient in my older Gibsons. I don't think I will lose any particular "magic" if I do need to change them though. I know how they work...
From your list, I would maybe shop for something that's not on it, which might be expensive, but late 50's PAFs can sound incredible. Failing that, I would just be playing that guitar. It has everything it could really need.
They've functioned PERFECTLY the years since without a single crackle or inconsistency of taper. I'm constantly adjusting them also so they get more use than most. Prior to that I had inconsistent drop-outs and some signal coming through even with things ON zero.
Take the pots out being careful not to overheat. Carefully and gently ease the tabs up with a sharp headed flat screwdriver. The old metal can be brittle so go super slow and easy. Take the pot out the casing, and use a q-tip dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Gently rub on the exposed part of the track turning the shaft to change the part of the track that exposed till you've gone around the whole thing. Repeat until the q-tipn is clean and has no black residue. Similar to cleaning tape heads on a tape echo. Careful not to leave any fibres from the q-tip.
Carefully reassemble the pot and enjoy perfect functioning. If you are careful with the screw driver it's pretty much impossible to even see anything has been done.
Of course, would only recommend this if you've tried a spray of deoxit to no avail.
Worked a treat for me.