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250k/500k pots: does it matter if I always leave them at max?

Discussion in 'Pickup Forum' started by diogoguitar, Dec 30, 2018.

  1. diogoguitar

    diogoguitar Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 2, 2012
    Northwest US
    I'm an "everything on eleven" kind of guy: I like to leave my tone and volume pots to max level. I'm considering getting a high power single coil sized to my strat (like a SD hot rails or dimarzio Super Distortion S). In one of the wiring diagrams, I saw the manufacturer recommending 500k pot for volume and 250k for tone.

    However, I almost always leave these two pots maxed out, so does it matter which pot I use?

    P.s.: this will fit a custom strat, with roasted maple neck, ebony fretboard and 24.75" scale (Gibson conversion)

    Here are the options I'm considering:
    SHR-1B - https://www.seymourduncan.com/pickup/hot-rails-strat-bridge
    DP218 - https://www.dimarzio.com/pickups/hum-canceling-strat/super-distortion-s
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2018
  2. fenderkev

    fenderkev Most Honored Senior Member

    Aug 18, 2009
    Back In Blighty
    I tried 500k pots that were recommended for a set of DiMarzio Choppers I had in my Strats. They made them sound harsh. I still have a Chopper in the bridge position of both of my Strats, and they sound much better with 250ks. I found SD full size JBs sound better with 250ks too.
     
    diogoguitar likes this.
  3. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 27, 2018
    North Central NC
    Yes it matters, since when the pots are all the way up, their specified resistance is still in the circuit, and it loads the pickups accordingly.

    That doesn't mean you have to use what the manufacturer recommends though, you may prefer something different.
     
  4. diogoguitar

    diogoguitar Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 2, 2012
    Northwest US
    ^^ this is interesting. About a year ago I bought a loaded set of super distortion S + choppers and felt the choppers were a bit too harsh.
    Do you use positions 2 and 4? The critical reason why I returned the pickguard is because I hated positions 2 and 4. Felt too numb.

    I don't know what pots came with it though (should have looked).
     
  5. PCollen

    PCollen Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 13, 2014
    Florida
    Yes, it certainly does matter .
     
  6. Tone Guru

    Tone Guru Senior Stratmaster

    Dec 13, 2011
    Music City TN
    How about "no load" pots ?
    These don't matter the value since they are infinite when on 10.
    Theoretically these should be the harshest of all with higher wound pickups.
    Do we have any reports of harshness with no-loads ?
     
  7. fezz parka

    fezz parka Do you Reach? Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    60
    Apr 21, 2011
    Right behind you...
    They still bleed highs/high mids to ground, even on 10. No load is the only way to go if you want to remove the pot's resistance from the circuit and still have a volume pot. I have an Esquire that has full blow (straight to the jack) on one of the switch positions. It'll rip your head of if your not careful.lol
     
  8. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 10, 2014
    Michigan
    .

    Pots and caps matter more than most think to the guitar output tone. Players wax all day about this wood and that metal and the other paint color on their guitar but strangely ignore those pots and caps. Why is that? Pots have a 20% tolerance spec range from the factory. If you had car tires that varied by 20% in diameter at all four corners you'd be mad at the tire store.

    As for using the knobs? Get ourself an Esquire or Junior and it will teach you a lot of tricks.
    Part two is watch where all the picking happens (hint, all over for different tones).





    .
     
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  9. fenderkev

    fenderkev Most Honored Senior Member

    Aug 18, 2009
    Back In Blighty
    No mostly bridge and neck. I'd imagine you'd need something like an Area 67 in the middle to brighten positions 2 and 4 up. I'm sure you had 500ks, as the Choppers I had in the middle and neck with 250ks sounded smooth as silk.
     
    diogoguitar likes this.
  10. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 28, 2014
    in between
    Yes it matters, because maxed pots are still resistors, otoh, 500k pots can perform like 250k pots if you roll back on the tone control slightly.
     
    Andrew Wasson likes this.
  11. mutato

    mutato Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 10, 2007
    RI
    "No Load" pots will still come in different specs (250k 500k etc..). When your tone control is at 10 on a normal tone pot, there might be a tiny hair of that signal still being attenuated to ground. All the "No load" does is go that slight extra step and make it a true "10" with all signal going through tone pot. But that pot is still filtering at the 250k or whatever it is. That's going to determine your overall sound. Be it brighter or darker at "10".
     
  12. Tone Guru

    Tone Guru Senior Stratmaster

    Dec 13, 2011
    Music City TN
    No.
    At "10" on a no-load the pot's resistance (and the cap in a traditional Fender scheme) is physically disconnected from the rest of the circuit.
    There is no signal going through the pot, to ground or anywhere else.

    This is why I am curious if there are instances of harshness with no-loads, because there is no filtering.
     
    diogoguitar likes this.
  13. mutato

    mutato Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 10, 2007
    RI
    My bad. I was thinking about "Greasebucket", and even THAT is not what I was getting at. I blame the Margaritas ; - )
     
  14. diogoguitar

    diogoguitar Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 2, 2012
    Northwest US
    thanks guys. I got enough info to make a decision.
     
  15. Sarnodude

    Sarnodude Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 26, 2015
    Mukilteo
    fwiw: I have an MIA strat with fat 50's and no-load tone pot. I don't perceive any harshness on the bridge p/u.
     
  16. Zeekrider

    Zeekrider Strat-Talker

    Age:
    68
    162
    Jul 14, 2016
    Scottsdale
    All of this is personal preference, of course.

    Since going with No-Load tone pots in several of my Fenders, I've come to really love them as I am usually "at 11" myself. I like as much of the sparkly tone to come through as possible - especially with neck and middle pickups.

    If I roll off a tone control at all, it's almost always with the bridge pickup and even then, not much. And I prefer .015uF caps, as they only roll off the highest frequencies. .022 and, especially, .047 cut back on a much deeper range of frequencies which, to my ears, usually sounds horrible.

    Generally speaking, rolling off tone controls ruins the good tones that I love. All up to personal preference, though.
     
  17. stratomatt

    stratomatt Strat-Talker

    388
    Sep 23, 2010
    San Diego
    Hey this is interesting. I have a JB in the bridge of mahogany/maple top Schecter C1, and have really only played it through my Katana 50, which is pretty bright, and it sounds a bit harsh to me, even though I have it pretty low. Maybe it needs a 250K pot? Wonder how it would sound with the Jazz in the neck? Anyway, I never even thought of a 250k pot with a humbucker. (Why, that would be absurd!) Great idea!
     
  18. fenderkev

    fenderkev Most Honored Senior Member

    Aug 18, 2009
    Back In Blighty
    If you check out the Seymour Duncan website they actually suggest 250k pots for smoother styles.

    "Use it with a 500k volume pot for great high-end cut, or try a 250k pot to sweeten and soften the tone for smoother styles".

    https://www.seymourduncan.com/pickup/jb?__uuid_ref=5c377a4088217?__uuid_ref=5c377a4088255
     
  19. stratomatt

    stratomatt Strat-Talker

    388
    Sep 23, 2010
    San Diego
    fenderkev likes this.
  20. Andrew Wasson

    Andrew Wasson Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    54
    535
    Nov 6, 2018
    Vancouver, Canada
    FWIW, you can’t use a no load pot in the volume circuit or at least not using conventional wiring. No load means it’s out of the circuit, meaning you’ve disconnected your guitar from the amplifier.

    Also yes, as has been stated, it matters. I’ve spent a lot of time messing with volume controls and single coil and humbuckers. I like a chopper with a 500k volume but I dislike a small single coil with a 500k volume... this presents a problem.