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I need info on pots and pick-ups

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(@philippe)
Active Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 7
Topic starter  

I've got a tele look alike with great potential. Quality tone woods, neck is straight, tuners are good, the finish on it is killer... It just needs new pots and pick-ups.

Pick-up wise, I haven't yet decided between single coil or humbucker. I like to get some twang now and then ( your classic tele single coils). But I also really like a fat rounded sound, almost fuzzy, I'm thinking Dick Dale surf guitar style (humbuckers I'm pretty darn sure). It's mostly a matter of my making a decision, but, any suggestions as to what I need to make these sounds? And is it possible to get them both onto the same guitar?

Where my knowledge really drops off however is on the topic of pots. I've heard of 250k, 500k, push-pull pots??? What do I need with what? Is there a quality difference between one and another? And I'm sure there's probably many more questions reguarding pots that I don't know about. Please give me some insight.

P.S. This'll be my first guitar project. I plan on making the retrofits myself.


   
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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5038
 

Quick answers to start:

Rules of thumb are ...

250k ohm pots for single coil pups

500k ohm pots for humbuckers

500k ohm pots if mixing singles and 'buckers

Push-pull pots incorporate a switch and are used to save space and/or drilling of holes where one may want to add a coil tap (humbuckers usually) or a phase reversal switch.

And Dlck Dale is a Strat guy (single coils - note the reverse stringing!):

-=tension & release=-


   
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(@97reb)
Noble Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 1196
 

Yep, what Gnease said about Pots.

If you have a cheap Tele copy, then I'd not put cheap replacements in. Get at least mid-quality/price or better.

It is a small world for metal fanatics. I welcome you fellow musicians, especially the metalheads!


   
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(@philippe)
Active Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 7
Topic starter  

Thanks for the advice. Next questions.
What happens if you put 250k pots with humbuckers, or 500k with single coils? If you could please explain it to me in plain english, I've read some tech stuff on it but I'm no techie...
How can you tell cheap from good quality pots? Is it just a price thing?


   
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(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 7833
 

I doubt you'd notice much difference with the "wrong" pot values, really.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5038
 

Thanks for the advice. Next questions.
What happens if you put 250k pots with humbuckers, or 500k with single coils? If you could please explain it to me in plain english, I've read some tech stuff on it but I'm no techie...
How can you tell cheap from good quality pots? Is it just a price thing?

250k pots will roll off some of the high end on humbuckers -- not usually desirable as 'buckers already have less high end definition than singles.

500k pots may give a single coil a slight bit more high end. And some feel that is too much edge, whereas a 250k is just right to mellow single coils. However, one can always do some tone pot roll-off to achieve the same effect.

Good pots are usually larger (depth and diameter), oil or silicone damped (resists turning in a smooth "expensive" feeling manner), never feel scratchy when rotated... and usually cost more. But cost is usually only a reliable indicator for a place selling several price tiers of pots. It's hard to compare store to store since mark-ups vary a lot on lower cost components.

You should also know to buy audio taper pots, not linear taper. Audio taper pots have a logarithmic resitance change versus rotation. This better matches the loudness perception of the human ear, and makes the whole range of the pot's rotation useful. For a linear taper pot, nearly all of the volume or tone variation will happen at one end of the range, instead of a across the whole.

-=tension & release=-


   
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(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 7833
 

You should also know to buy audio taper pots, not linear taper. Audio taper pots have a logarithmic resitance change versus rotation. This better matches the loudness perception of the human ear, and makes the whole range of the pot's rotation useful. For a linear taper pot, nearly all of the volume or tone variation will happen at one end of the range, instead of a across the whole.
That's really important. And the audio or log taper pot achieves that linear-sounding effect by crowding the actual resistance change in one end of the rotation. That's why a 2:1 change in total resistance isn't a big change in reality, just like a small tweak of the knob.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
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(@greenie)
Active Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 14
 

If you want to be able to acheive sounds of different pickups you can. You will need humbuckers with 4 wires coming out 2 for each of the coils(you could cut up a 2 wire pickup i did but it can be risky and if your getting new pickups better to get these) and you can set them up ina variaty of ways

Serial is the normal humbucker set up

Parrallel gives less output but has better highs and is hum cancelling

then there is the set up of using only one of the pickups which is basically single coil though single coils tend to have stronger magnets.

this is very simple to do and heaps of info on the net.


   
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