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Thread: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

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    Tone Member house's Avatar
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    Default How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    Could someone please explain to me a 250k pot vs. a 500k pot. I'm not to hot at knowing how electrical components work. I plan on wiring a pickguard using SD Ant. Texas Hot PU's in the B/M/N. Would like to know which value of pot would I benefit from the most?
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    Toneologist Gypsyblue's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    Quote Originally Posted by house View Post
    Could someone please explain to me a 250k pot vs. a 500k pot. I'm not to hot at knowing how electrical components work. I plan on wiring a pickguard using SD Ant. Texas Hot PU's in the B/M/N. Would like to know which value of pot would I benefit from the most?
    I'll give it a go in my usual non-technical way. The higher the number the higher the resistance so 500K has more resistance than 250K. The lower the resistance the easier it is for treble to leak right through the pot and get lost, even if the pot is on "10". So the higher the resistance of the volume or tone pot, the more treble that stays in the audio signal and makes it to your amplifier when the guitar's volume and tone pots are on "10".

    Single coils sound better to most of us if a little treble is allowed to get lost. So 250K is usual.

    Humbuckers don't have as much treble as single coils so 500K is usual to resist treble getting lost.

    Some players who use certain humbuckers want to lose some treble and use 250K for humbuckers.

    The JB is one pickup that actually sounds good with 250K pots. With 500K it's pretty trebley.
    Last edited by Gypsyblue; 11-05-2011 at 12:53 PM.

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    Varg
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    Default Re: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gypsyblue View Post
    Single coils sound better to most of us if a little treble is allowed to get lost. So 250K is usual.

    Humbuckers don't have as much treble as single coils so 500K is usual to resist treble getting lost.

    Some players who use certain humbuckers want to lose some treble and use 250K for humbuckers.

    The JB is one pickup that actually sounds good with 250K pots. With 500K it's pretty trebley.

    This covers things pretty well.

    I A/Bd two guitars with old JBJs in them last week. A Jackson RR5 with 500K pots and a Gibson LP Studio with the stock 300K pots.
    While I like both sounds, the LP was noticably fatter (although the body probably plays a part in that).

    As always, theres not really any "right" or "wrong" in which pot value to use, theyre just different.

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    Tone Member house's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    Thanks guys, that helped out. Now I have a better idea on what pots to purchase. Peace...
    "The grass maybe greener on the other side, but you still have to mow the M@$ha F#*ka..."

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    Ultimate Tone Member zakk_speed's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    With Passive pickups, the lower the resistive load of the pots, the more the resonant peaks of the pickups are attenuated, which translates to less treble. As a basic rule most modern humbuckers are tuned for 500K pots and most traditional singles for 250K.

    You can use a lower value pot to tune a pickup thats too bright (ala les paul bridge pup), and conversely you can use higher value pots or remove pots entirely to give a warm humbucker more punch (ala charvel 80s single pup single volume). With passives the cable and the amp/pedal input stage all have a factor too as they all form part of the passive circuit, which is where a lot of the mojo between cetain amps and certain guitars traditionally happens.

    This rule does not apply to active pups, as there is a preamp in between the pup and the pot that takes resistive load out of the equation, so usually you see 25K-100K pots used there.

    More info here on the graph if you want to get super techy
    http://www.tdpri.com/forum/tele-tech...ach-other.html
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    Default Re: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    Why doesn't a 500K pot sound the same as a 250K pot when you turn it down ?

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    Ultimate Tone Member zakk_speed's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    If I could remember how to explain nominal impedance from college I could likely help you with that - as it stands I remember only enough to be dangerous
    "that’s what is so good about the guitar — everyone can really enjoy themselves on it and have a good time, which is what it’s all about. Right?”

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    Mojo's Minions Diego's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    My SSS Strat has all 500k pots. Dunno what the previous owner was thinking.

    I usually keep the volume around 8 and the tone pots around 6 or 7.
    Sounds nice like that. Can't be bothered to change the pots.

    Am I really missing on something here? Should I?
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    Default Re: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    So, which pot would have more effect on the treble response? Tone or Volume? I got a really dark pickup that I want to brighten up a bit. Or at least balance up with my neck pickup better.
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    Default Re: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    With Passive pickups, the lower the resistive load of the pots, the more the resonant peaks of the pickups are attenuated, which translates to less treble. As a basic rule most modern humbuckers are tuned for 500K pots and most traditional singles for 250K.
    This is correct regarding volume pots. The tone pot circuit behaves differently, it is a low pass filter. The resistance value controls the roll off amount, the capacitor sets the roll off frequency. In this circuit a 250k pot gives the same performance as a 500k pot turned down to the point it measures 250k. Note again, this is not true of the volume pot.

    The value in using a 250k tone pot is having a full 0-10 sweep to work with if you always find yourself running your tone turned down, instead of a 0-5 or 6 (or whatever, depending on the sweep).

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    Junior Member Gryphon's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    That's true. My 91 LP Std was a little too dark so by swapping the tones from 300k to 500k I got some extra treble (8-10 on each pot made the guitar brighter than it ever was before). If I turned them down to about 7 they sound just the same as when they were 300k pots.

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    Varg
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    Default Re: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diego View Post
    My SSS Strat has all 500k pots. Dunno what the previous owner was thinking.

    I usually keep the volume around 8 and the tone pots around 6 or 7.
    Sounds nice like that. Can't be bothered to change the pots.

    Am I really missing on something here? Should I?
    Is it your Squier youre talking about? I used to have a Squier that had all 500K pots in it, but it sounded good so I wondered if they had designed their pickups to work like that.

    If your guitar sounds nice, and you're happy, I dont see much reason changing the pots. If you usually leave the tone at 6 or 7, chances are youd just leave 250Ks at 10 all the time and not hear much difference.

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker hamerfan's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Soulcrusher_X View Post
    So, which pot would have more effect on the treble response? Tone or Volume? I got a really dark pickup that I want to brighten up a bit. Or at least balance up with my neck pickup better.
    Both in the same amount, but the tone pot only bleed higher frequencies away. So the volume pot affects the volume of the pickup more than the tone pot.

    There are guy on youtube which made comparisons and they found the following. With the volume pot for Humbuckers: 250 to 500k big difference, 500k to 1 Meg audible, 1 meg to 2 meg barely audible
    Tone pot: 250k to 500 audible, 500 to 1 meg barely audible, above not audible.

    So the recommendation for a dark neck humbucker would be 1 meg vol pot and 500k for tone. I do hook off the tone pots on my neck pickups, i dont touch them at all. If you use a tone pot in the neck you should swap the cap too. A .005 or .01 works better than a .022 or a .047 in the neck IMO, a lot of guys use .015
    Hope that helps!
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    Default Re: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    Thanks hamer. Actually, this is to brighten up a bridge pickup. After checking a lot more into on this Gibson/Iommi pickup, it would seem that Tony himself does NOT use a tone control for the bridge, maybe for this exact reason.
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    Default Re: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    oh, my bad!
    I get the feeling the A8 will blow your skirt up more so -Edgecrusher

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    Mojo's Minions blueman335's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    I use 250K's on almost all my bridge HB's and P-90's, and always use 500K's on the neck. Using the same pot value for bridge and neck moves both in the same direction treble-wise, which to my ears is a mistake: the bridge rarely needs to be any brighter (as with 500K's all around), and the neck likewise doesn't need to be any warmer (250/300K's all around).

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    Mojo's Minions blueman335's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    Quote Originally Posted by richard parker View Post
    Why doesn't a 500K pot sound the same as a 250K pot when you turn it down ?
    Not to me. I can't get the same bridge sound by turning down a 500K tone pot. Tried it a number of times. If a bridge is too bright, I get a better tone by putting in a couple 250K's. One advantage is that by using pots and magnets, you can get your relative bridge and neck EQ's set, in advance, and never have to fart around with it again. It's done. Both will sound great with the same amp EQ setting, with all the tone pots on '10'. To my point of view, that's how an electric guitar should be. When I get on stage, there's enough to do, and enough going on, that I really do not want to have to re-dial in tone pots every time. It's just an unnecssary hassle.

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    Toneologist El Supremo's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    Apart from a decrease in treble, how would a 250k affect the sound compared to a 500k? Would you lose some tightness, output or other changes to the EQ of the pu?

    I've been fooling around with an old ADA MP1 lately and get some great tone with the presence EQ'd down significantly. More of a natural woody sound, less prominent metallic "clang", but still tight and clear.

    A 300k or 250k sounds interesting as I'm using 500k's at the moment for both neck and bridge. But because I tune down, I would like to keep the tightness and note seperation.

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    Ultimate Tone Member PRSfan nym 1985's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    basically you get a warmer, creamier tone from lower value pots and a brighter tone from higher value pots so it just depends what you are after difference between the values is subtle but noticeable.

    I usually use 250k pots on strats and teles but that's personal opinion. There are a lot of variables to consider.

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    Something Cool uOpt's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do the values of a 250k pot vs. 500k pot effect performance?

    Quote Originally Posted by house View Post
    Could someone please explain to me a 250k pot vs. a 500k pot. I'm not to hot at knowing how electrical components work. I plan on wiring a pickguard using SD Ant. Texas Hot PU's in the B/M/N. Would like to know which value of pot would I benefit from the most?
    It's different for the tone and volume controls.

    As typically wired in a passive electric guitar...

    The tone pot is a simple first order low pass filter. It is a capacitor and a resistor in series. The tone pot simply allows you to vary the resistor part of the filter. A 500K tone pot turned to where it reads 250 Kohm on a meter will sound the same as having a full open 250 K pot.

    For the volume pot it is more complicated. A passive guitar pickup is a second order low pass filter with resonance peak. The resonance peak is right at the cutoff frequency. This filter reacts to both resistance load and capacitive load. Capacitive load such as a longer guitar cable lowers the frequency of the resonance peak. A resistor as load lowers the amplitude of the resonance peak. This is also the reason why turning down the volume pot changes sound, not just volume.

    The reason why you need a heavy load (250 Kohm) on a Strat pickup is that the resonance peak has such a high amplitude (is so loud) that it overpowers most of the other frequencies. You don't want that, need some mids and bass in there, too.

    In general, killing the resonance peak with too much resistance load sounds bad because it makes the guitar sound lifeless (exceptions apply, e.g. sometimes people like it killed when having neck and bridge humbuckers on at the same time for an ultra-clean sound). Your resonance peak needs to be at the right frequency and have the right amplitude, otherwise the pickup is whack.



    If you want a confusing detail, the tone pot when turned to zero turns from a first order low pass filter into a load capacitor (because the resistor disappears). That means instead of rolling down all highs it now lowers the frequency (but not the amplitude) of the resonance peak. But the amplitude will be intact. So it is very dark (low resonance frequency) but kind of powerful (still has a peak).

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