more on pots and capacitors

Potentiometers – Which should I use, and why?

The first thing to consider when choosing pots is whether you want to use Linear pots (Alpha A) or Logarithmic pots (Alpha B)

Linear pots (Alpha B) give a true representation of the output, (so 1 on the dial is 10% of the output, 5 is 50% and 10 is 100%). This means they’re a good all purpose pot that can be used on both tone and volume.

Logarithmic pots (alpha A or Audio Taper) offer very little control from 1 – 5 (jumping for 0% to 60 or 70% very quickly). As a tone pot their quite handy when you consider that, from 5 to 10, your covering less ground, giving you much more control over your sound. Considering very few of us roll the tone down past 5, the trusty Logarithmic pot still has its uses when fine tuning your sound.

Fender and Gibson use Logarithmic pots for most of their products (usually CTS) and get good results, so at the end of the day it all comes down to what you prefer from a guitar. More control over the full range, or more control over the top/bottom end.

250K or 500K?
As a quick and easy rule of Thumb, we use this guide.

500K = bright sounding
250K = warm, vintage sounding

Problems can arise when you’re running a Humbucker in the same guitar as a Single Coil, but these are the results we’ve found.

500K = warm HB, bright SC
250K = muddy HB, warm SC

Which capacitors should I choose?

If you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to modify the sound of your guitar then changing the Capacitors is something to consider.

Below are the most common cap values, as found in both Fender and Gibson guitars

.022 µf
Our personal favourite Cap size, and certainly the most popular. These caps produce a good balance between Bass, Middle and Treble; Plenty of mid range without compromising on the extreme ends of the spectrum. Absolutely perfect for single coils and fitted as standard on almost all Fender Strats.

.033 µf
Giving a slightly fuller sound than the 0.022s, these caps cut out a small amount of the bright tones, but boast a very strong mid range that carries through; great if you’re getting drowned out by the rest of a band.

.047 µf
These are as far as your really want to go with your guitar (or bass). Nearly all the bright top end is gone, leaving behind plenty of bass and middle. Great for full blown distortion. We prefer to use these with Humbuckers, and we recently fitted them to a ’62 Vintage Jazz Bass.

from Northwest Guitars FAQs

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