Pots taper(s) for play at home/low volume : advice needed

Discussion in 'Technical Side of Things' started by captainmur, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. captainmur

    captainmur Electromatic

    Age:
    56
    59
    Sep 7, 2017
    Germany
    Hello dear members,
    an advice needed for my custom build project, which actually is a Gretsch-inspired 16" hollowbody of 6120-shape but made of solid maple and with 25,5" scale & 1 7/8" ultra wide neck. I'm currently finishing the collection of parts. The PUs should be most probably TVJ Classic Plus + Supertron (or Classics bridge + neck) combination with tone pot circuit.
    And I'm in doubt about choosing tapers of pots : audio (logarithmic) or linear or reverse logarithmic.
    The only things that are clear are value 500K, solid shaft 1/4" and good brand like CTS or Bourns.
    So, I play at home only i.e. at the low volume level, it means a smooth volume/tone controls namely at low levels. Sound I use is clean only : a Chet/Merle style.
    The Master Volume is for me the most used pot. Just studied some forum threads about the pots choice:
    http://www.gretsch-talk.com/threads/ngd-5220-does-anyone-else-have-this-flaw.187362/page-2
    The colleague @ hcsterg advices following combination, see:
    http://www.gretsch-talk.com/threads/master-vol-pot-question.174322/#post-1055386
    MV Master Volume = A500K (log)
    PUV PU Volume = C500K (reverse log)
    MT Master Tone = A500K (log)
    But he wrote here : " With these tapers, you will have progressivity in your settings, particularly if you play at high volume and overdrive." And I play at low volume and clean : exactly conversely o_O
    Which pots taper/ what combination for MV, PUV and MT would be optimal for me ?
    Any advice is highly appreciated ! Thanks !
     
  2. captainmur

    captainmur Electromatic

    Age:
    56
    59
    Sep 7, 2017
    Germany
  3. hcsterg

    hcsterg Country Gent

    Feb 13, 2012
    France
    Hi captainmur,

    You're looking to the schematic I posted numerous times... :oops::rolleyes:

    Most of the time, I play clean with a wah or a phaser or nothing. Sometimes I play distorted, but it's never too heavy (think Santana at worse) and usually a very light drive.

    So it's perfectly convenient for a clean tone playing too.

    I experimented with a LIN B500K for the master volume. It's utterly progressive, but when you're close to the end of the pot, it shuts off abruptly. I personally don't like that, moreover if you use some dirt pedal, it will be worse with the gain increase. That's why I prefer the A500K.

    But it's me, OK ? :D

    That said, experiment yourself : test a B500K and a A500K and choose what's better for you... ;)

    The PU volumes are C500K (reverse log) and the master tone is A500K (log). On these controls, these tapers guarantee the best progressivity in setting adjustment.

    To sum up : only the choice between A500K and B500K for the master volume has to be made according to your taste, the rest of the circuit being unchanged.

    But it's my advice, OK ? :D

    A+!
     
    captainmur and new6659 like this.
  4. benjwri

    benjwri Country Gent

    Age:
    81
    Oct 27, 2011
    Central ON Can
    'A' pots (ztapered) on a guitar are a mistake...you lose 70% of the volume in the first 30 % of rotation. JMO!
     
  5. Axis39

    Axis39 Country Gent

    Age:
    51
    Jun 2, 2008
    La Quinta, CA
    I disagree... I like the lot-of-action-in-a-little-movement on audio taper pots.

    It makes using Fuzz and riding the volume pot for me (on stage) more convenient and easier to adjust in the 'heat of the moment'. But, I also use it at home to lower my volume a lot at the beginning, and then use the smooth taper of the lower half to really refine my volume... I ride the volume knob a lot at home and on stage. I do mean a lot! And, I tend to play super clean at home, when practicing, to make sure I am hitting the correct notes, etc.

    Granted, you could do it the opposite way... A quick jump at the bottom. But, I don't like the abrupt silence at the end, after a long turn of not much change.

    For me audio taper pots work better... Although I have found the CTS Vintage Taper Pots the best. They are much less abrupt, more even seeming. Also, they have very light turning tension... But, this is also about stage use for me.
     
    hcsterg likes this.
  6. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Sorry Vista
    Admin Post
    Pot taper has nothing to do with how you intend to use the guitar, and nothing to do with the pickups, amp, effects, etc. The Audio taper pot approximates how we perceive changes in volume. Our perception of volume is logarithmic, it takes 10x the power (signal level) to create a doubling in perceived volume. If you use a straight taper pot, the response when you change the volume will not seem proportional to the amount the knob was turned.

    All of this was researched and developed in the early days of Bell Labs, whom all but invented the science of acoustics, as they performed the research necessary to create a telephone system with consistent volume. We tend to take all of this for granted, but having volume controls which respond as we would expect them to, is the result of a lot of research and development.
     
    captainmur likes this.
  7. stevo

    stevo Country Gent

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    Most importantly is getting quality Pots and the Emerson are well spec'd quality pots made by CTS. I use these myself as they are 7% tolerance. The cheaper pots you find will be 15% or even 20% which means that you're now looking at 400k or 600k for your value and that impacts your tone noticeably. Also, the quality and consistency of the taper will be better in these CTS/Emerson. The taper of cheaper pots very often (yes, I'm talking about Alpha among others) doesn't come anywhere close to what's advertised. So you think you bought linear but you got some odd stair step result. (For instance.) I don't think it's a big deal to spend an extra $10 or so on pots to get predictable results.
     
  8. stevo

    stevo Country Gent

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    Keep in mind that unless one has purchased quality pots like CTS, taper can be largely meaningless. I've tested several of the cheaper brands their tapers are rarely what they say they are. So what people hear when they've installed a cheaper pot in an amp or guitar or pedal can be very subjectivized by this randomness.
     
  9. hcsterg

    hcsterg Country Gent

    Feb 13, 2012
    France
    I use ALPHA pots in my amps and effects. : no issue with taper not values, they always are within their specs. Plus they are correctly built...

    I use them only in guitars where there is a pickguard, because their threads are often not long enough to overtake the thickness of a wooden top and secure correctly the nut.

    A+!
     
  10. Axis39

    Axis39 Country Gent

    Age:
    51
    Jun 2, 2008
    La Quinta, CA
    I stopped using crappy pots for any electrical stuff years and years ago... I've been a devotee of CTS and Bourns for a while.

    I've also come to appreciate some of the custom ordered/spec'd pots. Things like the Dimarzios, the Vintage Taper spec'd ones, there's even a guy over on the LesPaul Forum who sells specially ordered pots that are supposedly the closest to the old vintage pots Gibson used.

    There are a lot fo choices for quality components these days and those choices can be quite confusing!
     
  11. stevo

    stevo Country Gent

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    True all of that - I got a nice set of sealed bourns that I haven't used yet. One day, there will be a guitar that I can put them in.
     
  12. MrAstro

    MrAstro Gretschie

    378
    Mar 5, 2015
    Sydney, NSW
    In my experience, the best way to play at a low volume at home with something resembling decent tone is to use a solid state modelling amp like Roland Cube. They can be turned down very effectively (even the larger ones - I own a few) and then you just build your guitar as normal. I have valve amps and solid state amps so I'm not biased - it's just how it works out.

    I know this thread is supposedly about using potentiometers for the same end but valve amps need a certain amount of volume to sound decent or they sound terrible imo. No such problem with a solid state modelling amp.

    Actually another example I could give is using a Fender DRRI. Turn up the amp so it breaks up and overdrives and then use the volume pot on your guitar to turn it down. Suddenly the amp will be clean and loses the over driven character. If you try and do it when the amp is already turned down it sounds really bad lol.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019 at 6:55 PM
  13. captainmur

    captainmur Electromatic

    Age:
    56
    59
    Sep 7, 2017
    Germany
    Thanks to all for your comments. My ordered pots are delivered just now. Measured resistance values, kOhm :500, 496, 498, 513, so ± ~ 2,5 % tolerance. It looks good :)
     

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    Axis39 likes this.
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