What are Tone Pots / Potentiometers?

Asked by: Julie Johnson

A potentiometer or “pot”, is a variable resistor that changes your tone or volume by increasing or decreasing resistance. Adding a capacitor or “cap” to the pot turns it into a simple EQ. Turning the wiper adjusts the amount of resistance and, in turn, determines which frequencies are allowed to pass.

What are tone pots?

A Tone Pot is nothing but a regular pot, with a capacitor soldered to it. A Tone Pot will work the same way as a Volume Pot, but just a little different. Instead of sending the entire signal to ground, the tone cap helps by sending only a part of the signal to ground.

Do tone pots make a difference?

The volume pot regulates the overall electrical output of your signal, while the tone pot alters the frequencies. But in it of themselves, they are basically the same thing. They can be slightly in terms of wiring and construction. Their main differences create slight alterations to the way they work.

Are tone pots necessary?

Removing the tone pot will make your guitar about 0.5% brighter. It’s makes a marginal difference but not one to write home about. With that said if you’re never using it and you want to replace it with something else, knock yourself out. Adding a second volume pot can be a lot more useful.

Should tone pots be linear or audio taper?

Linear pots will give a uniform decrease in volume/tone (you will notice more of an effect on each control knob setting) whilst audio will give a more instant (quicker) increase or decrease in volume or tone. If you gig a lot, audio may be better for a quicker boost while on stage.

Are tone pots and volume pots the same?

Volume pot. People often ask “what’s the difference between a tone pot and volume pot?” The only difference between a tone pot and a volume pot is whether there is a capacitor attached. Since a potentiometer is a resistor, putting a cap between the pot and ground turns it into an EQ.

Do tone pots need a capacitor?

Tone capacitors are wired to the tone pot so the signal from the guitar pickup will pass high frequencies to ground when the tone pot is rolled down. The higher the value of the cap the wider the range of frequencies that get rolled off to ground. With lower value caps only the highest frequencies get cut off.

Are 500K pots louder than 250K?

The rule is: Using higher value pots (500K) will give the guitar a brighter sound and lower value pots (250K) will give the guitar a slightly warmer sound. This is because higher value pots put less of a load on the pickups which prevents treble frequencies from “bleeding” to ground through the pot and being lost.

Why do active pickups use 25K pots?

25K pots are for controlling the volume or tone of active pickups, or for use after the preamp of a piezo-saddle transducer bridge.

What kind of pots are in a Gibson Les Paul?

Les Pauls were equipped with 500k-ohm pots in the late ’50s, and for many guitarists this remains ideal. In later years, however, after the single-cut Les Paul returned to the catalog, Gibson variously used 400k and 300k pots, and these sucked some of the brightness and clarity from the pickups’ signals.

What does A and B mean in guitar pots?

The general convention for pots is that A is an audio/log taper and B is linear. For smooth control of volume, you should always use an A type audio/log taper pot.

What is the difference between A500k and B500k pots?

A B500k has a linear taper, which means the change is continuous from one end of the control to the other (think of that as a straight line). An A500k has a logarithmic taper which generally work more like a curve from one end to the other, with most of the control happening around either side of the center.

What is the difference between a250k and b250k pots?

U.S.A. The “A” is an audio taper pot, used for volume controls. The “B” is a linear taper pot, usually used for tone controls. Either will substitute in a pinch for the other, with a somewhat different “action” when the knobs are turned.

What potentiometer should I use for volume control?

For our ears to perceive a halving of volume with the control at the midway point, the pot actually needs to be logarithmic. So, log pots are generally preferred for volume because signal level ramps up, and down more smoothly that it does with linear pots.

Which potentiometer do I need?

Select the correct range. A potentiometer does you no good if it covers a range of zero ohms to 100 ohms but you need it to operate up to 1000 ohms. Conversely, if you need to make adjustments of 10 ohms, you’ll find a range of 1,000 ohms too coarse to adjust.

What’s the difference between 250K and 500K pots?

A 500K pot provides the most resistance, so high frequencies from your signal are not bled to ground as easily as a 250K pot. Similarly, the 250K pot contributes less resistance and thus bleeds more high frequencies to ground.

What tone pots for humbuckers?

For humbucker pickups and P90 pickups, we recommend 500K audio taper pots. For standard single coil pickups, like those on Stratocaster or Telecaster electric guitars, we recommend 250K audio taper pots. For single coil sized humbuckers, like our Little 59, Red Devil or JB, jr, and Rail pickups, we recommend 250K pots.

Should I upgrade guitar pots?

In most cases, the stock electronics in an electric guitar or bass function just fine. When should you consider upgrading? 1. If there’s a problem — scratchy pots, loss of high frequencies when turning down, volume or tone taper that isn’t smooth, and so on — then an upgrade may improve the instrument.

When would you use 250K pots?

If you switch from 250K to 500K pots, your guitar will sound brighter. If your sound is muddy, you might try using a 1Meg pot to brighten it up. For a warmer tone use 250K pots. That’s always a good way to tame down single-coil pickups that are too bright.