The YJM High-Speed Volume Pot

You may wonder what the big deal is about a re-engineered volume pot. It is one of those things many guitarists leave up on 10 all the time, right? Some don’t even ever adjust it, getting dynamics solely from pedals, amp or fingers. For those who had grown up playing Strats, we know the volume pot is in the perfect place to wrap your pink around. We can pick the note with the volume down, then turn the volume up with the pinky. Now, part of the reason we recognize the sound as an electric guitar has to do with the initial attack of a pick hitting the strings. The hard-surface (pick) to hard-surface (string) sound tells us what we are listening to.

But, by altering this sound at the beginning of the note, we can change the basic envelope of the note, and mimic instruments such as cello and violin. Guitarists for years have been doing this with volume pedals. I first heard a Strat player do this when Ritchie Blackmore was heard on the middle section of Deep Purple’s Fools.

Yngwie Malmsteen is a big Ritchie Blackmore fan, so no doubt he was influenced by this track too. He uses this trick a lot as well, so this is the reason he and Seymour Duncan have developed the unique YJM High-Speed Volume Pot.

The YJM High-Speed Volume Pot isn’t made of gold, but sounds like it is.

This replaces the standard volume pot in your guitar. Of course, it is best used if your volume knob is close to the picking area and you already use it to swell notes in. This pot is a direct replacement- you just have to unsolder what is already there, and solder everything in the exact same place on the YJM High-Speed Volume Pot. It is a high-quality Bourns pot with a low-friction lubricant inside which allows it to turn smoothly and quickly. It is available in 250k and 500k values, both with a split shaft.

Electronically, they work the same as any other pot.

I installed a YJM High-Speed Volume Pot on my Music Man as well as one of my Steinbergers. I grew up playing a Strat, and my pinky is almost always glued to the volume knob. I have used the volume knob to swell in notes for most of my playing life, and used to go through boxes of standard pots to find the one that might turn a little bit easier than the rest. Now I don’t have to do that. The YJM High-Speed Volume Pot turns super easy, but stays where you put it. Most stock and aftermarket pots feel stiff and gritty by comparison.

The YJM High-Speed Volume Pot can also be used as a tone knob too. You know, the knob you always leave at 10. I have always been one of those geeks that used a tone knob- not just to roll the highs off, but to ‘swell’ notes with it as well. When you use a tone knob like this, you get almost a wah sound, acting as a filter. It can really make clean parts stand out. Listen to Yngwie’s technique here:

To me, the volume knob is one of the most expressive, most overlooked effect on an electric guitar. Besides swelling in notes, there are a myriad of tones available to the guitarist between 0 and 10. This pot gets me there faster, and I will soon be switching every guitar I own over to the new YJM High-Speed Volume Pots. No more strange looks from music store owners when I pour their box of pots out on the counter and turn each one until I find one that is loose enough for me. I’d recommend it not only as a volume pot, but a tone pot as well. Maybe it will give you a reason to wipe the dust off of those knobs.

Dave Eichenberger

About Dave Eichenberger

Guitarist Dave Eichenberger composes ambient music using guitar technology and looping, yet still has time to record and perform with international jazzy soul artist Julie Black. Follow him @Zoobiedood on Twitter.
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  • http://twitter.com/muddyml muddy

    if he got it from anyone, it was jan akkerman, who was/is the king of the vol pot technique…

    • http://www.facebook.com/tom.johnson.923519 Tom Johnson

      here I woulda thought of Jeff Beck…

  • TIOK

    Whomever “he” got it from, it’s a cool and fun technique to expand your musical vocabulary. Swelling the tone control is subtler than a wah. In addition to the bowed sound of a fast swell, try varying the “ramp” you use – you can get a backwards tape kind of sound, or just plain erie, haunting sounds. Combine a swell (volume or tone) with bends, you can sound like a steel guitar (got this from Steve Morse). I use this with my Firebird and Les Paul, too, so it isn’t just a strat/tele trick.

    Can I get the YJM with a push-push switch in it?

    • dave birney

      these in push-pull would be great

  • http://www.facebook.com/daveeichenberger Dave Eichenberger

    My guess is that it was a cool idea, and people developed it simultaneously over the globe. Steve Hackett, Steve Howe and Robert Fripp did the same thing with volume pedals.