Questions for my guitar project
I had recently purchased off of Craigslist an Ibanez GAX75 for $75. I had found out that the middle position of the switch is intermittent and is very odd the way it works, and the guitar output jack is sticking out like a sore thumb.
So I decided that it was time for me to learn to just build from the ground up. I'm going to replace the output jack, all 4 pots and the 3-way switch for starters, maybe the bridge and two humbuckers a bit later. The pickups actually sound really good.
The guitar looks like it has all LP style knobs and switches, so I went with that when ordering parts. The question I had and "should" have asked before I ordered was:
Is a pot a pot as far as volume and tone go? I ordered 500k pots.
I wanted something better than the "stock" switches and pots, so is more expensive usually better?
In Space, no one can hear me sing!
500k-ohm is considered standard for humbucker volume and tone pots. Audio taper is preferred for the volume, but tones are your preference (either linear or audio). Be sure to buy the correct style knob for your pots (or correct pots for your knobs). Solid-shaft pots work mate with set-screw knobs, while split-shaft pots mate with push-on knobs.
Usually more $$ indicates better quality, but it is not a foolproof criterion. I've had mixed luck with some rather pricey, updated versions of the original Switchcraft-style bat-handle switches. Switchcraft's original long leaf switch design seem to be more reliable than the newer compact "short" versions sold by Stew-Mac, AllParts and GF. I've found the new versions look well made, but often require reshaping and contact burnishing to work well. Yet these newer "short" versions cost more than the original design. It's much easier to judge the quality of Fender-style blade switches. The cheap ones do not have good detents and are made with thin metal stock, lightweight plastics and wimpy springs.
Good quality pots have large bodies (close to 1 inch in diameter) and are damped internally with silicone grease -- they feel expensive as you turn them, providing a nice, smooth resistance (mechanical) to rotation. Cheapo pots are smaller and provide little resistance to turning. Unfortunately, if you are buying stacked, concentric pots pairs or pots with push-pull switching, it's difficult to find these assembled with higher quality pots. (anyone know of a source?)
If the threaded body of the jack is protruding out too far from the jack plate or pick guard, then you need to adjust the internal jack nut behind the plate or guard to pull some of the jack body back into the guitar. You may need to add the internal nut if it is missing. When the jack is "proud" to your satisfaction, then tighten the nut on the outside. Carefully apply Locktite or fingernail lacquer to lock the nuts.
-=tension & release=-
Cool thanks, so I have an opportunity to buy 2 CTS Audio taper 500k pots, and a CTS Switch, is that a good deal?
In Space, no one can hear me sing!
stewmac.com is a good source. I have also used allparts.com. I think GC carries some things too.
Joe you are really getting into all things guitar. I tried my hand at building lap steels with some success, a lot of melted wire, stripped screws too. LOL. the doing and learning is great fun.
you won't go wrong following gnease's advice.
I hear from other sources the $20 for all 3 is a really good deal, and these are all new and sealed, so Im going with this parts guy.
And yeah, I am feeling a plateau in my playing, so I figured it was time to stand back a bit and learn another asoect for a bit. Also book theory is going to be bug for me this year.
In Space, no one can hear me sing!
Hey Joe, that's a great project and will be a good learning experience with a really fine guitar too. I'd say it's win/win. :D
It sounds like a good deal on those pots and the switch, they are correct in principle (I assume the switch is @ 90 degrees) but I don't know their prices. It is difficult to overspend by much on these "little parts" anyhow - not like buying pickups?
I'd buy one of the kits at Stewart McDonald, already predetermined for what you may need. Short shaft pots are likely too.
Greg's answer was just fantastic! Way better than what I might have said, though I was leaning in that direction, just not as well-spoken and able to convey the facts without a bunch of flowery language? I will try to address his question now too.
Yes, getting good pots at good prices is a challenge, but we can shop around and buy either just what we need and not spend a lot, or buy in quantities for super low prices. My son and I use thousands of pots, because he builds synthesizers.
Cost and quality BOTH, become issues, if it's not just a one time thing, or a good, well planned and executed guitar rebuild.
We use Small Bear electronics in Canada http://www.smallbearelec.com/StoreFront.bok - be sure to visit their home page too, if you ever want to build effects or stomp box kits, and want to learn about Tube Screamer's reverse audio tapers etc.
With Small Bear, I find that the quality of Alpha (often misspelled Aloha) has increased and is very good, to professional grade. CTS, Dimarzio and Gibson, even WD have had better offerings, but cost way more. If I needed a push/pull with a smooth shaft, I would go with Alpha from SB, though I prefer to buy from and recommend DiMarzio as the most robust and the sturdiest I have ever come across at maybe 5 - 10 times the price. If you want to do it right and just once, it's worth it.
The other biggie with over 15,000 kinds of pots in stock, whom my son deals with extensively is http://www.digikey.com/
You just can not go wrong with that outfit - an industry leader and a standard by far. But you have to know what you're shopping for ideally. They are always helpful, but deal with people in the industry who buy quantities, I have observed.
Oh BTW, my son was once so tight and on a budget, that he bought just a hundred Alpha pots from some supplier who had only knurled shafts. SB has both knurled and solid, as in Teles where you would use a side screw knobs. On synths, like Arp, Roland, MOOG you use exclusively side screw, quality turning knobs, not to mention pots which are sliders - yes those are potentiometers too, and how! Well, jeez, he tried to control costs, but I wouldn't want to see people regularly using side screw knobs turned sideways, placing the screw into the split in the shaft, that's okay once or twice, but not on a repeated basis. What the heck, he tried to save money, and I ordered him 100 bushings for $20 which cover the knurled split shafts.
Again, cost and quality are both legitimate factors, aside from using right products, ie. pots, caps, resistors and switches. I might suggest that you buy a volume control, or both volume controls if separate, with a treble bleed from Bill Callaham.
http://www.callahamguitars.com/ Enjoy the site, see parts. We're here to share, learn and enjoy the hobby together.
We are turning our attention (before I get too old?) to the redesign of the oldest of electric guitars, the Telecaster and the Les Paul, like your updated and sleek Ibanez 75 somewhat or in many ways? We'll use a lot of these parts again, and I stand by my impressions on their strength and reliability to reach top quality, especially with CTS, CRL, O.Drop, Sprague etc. I'd never redesign a Strat, with many super versions and companies like the Swiss Levinson Blade, Nashguitars etc. out there!
Trying not to get off topic, but here on another of my favorite sharing sites, I'm sad to see Robin Guitars cease production, a month ago, after nearly 30 years in the business. http://www.riograndepickups.com/ >>> http://www.robinguitars.com/
Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.