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250K or 500K pots...what's the difference in tone?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Shades of Blue, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. Shades of Blue

    Shades of Blue Most Honored Senior Member

    Jan 28, 2008
    South Carolina
    Just what the title says...what's the difference in tone between 250K and 500K pots?

    Also, I plan to swap out the 500K pots that were in my squier strat for some 250K pots to help "improve" the tone. Will the 250K pots sound good with Tex-Mex pups?
     
  2. Jefro

    Jefro Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 12, 2008
    Canada.
    I'd imagine the tex mex pickups would sound much better using 250K pots since that is what they are meant to be used with "like the Jimmy Vaughan Sig" has 250K pots.
     
  3. gcconspiracy

    gcconspiracy Strat-O-Master

    773
    Jul 21, 2008
    Canada
    250 K is generally considered a "strat" pot. They are darker, whereas the 500K is generally considered a "gibson" pot, since they are brighter. Since strats rarely lack brightness, they often benefit from the 250 k pots
     
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  5. StratoBrew

    StratoBrew Strat-O-Master

    548
    Feb 1, 2009
    Evergreen, Colorado
    My understanding is that 250K pots are for single coil pickups & 500K pots are for humbuckers.
     
  6. Jackie Treehorn

    Jackie Treehorn Strat-Talker

    Age:
    62
    441
    Jun 18, 2006
    SOUTHERN OREGON
    500K are louder and brighter mostly due to increased resistance to ground. I will second StratoBrew's understanding.
     
  7. sevycat

    sevycat Custom Shop Cat Strat-Talk Supporter

    Aug 8, 2008
    Newark, DE
    I thought the tone cap installed impacted the dark/brightness feature of the tone. If the 250/500k pots factors into the tone, that is a new one to me.
     
  8. praga37

    praga37 New Member!

    Age:
    51
    3
    Feb 24, 2009
    Shediac, NB, Canada
    I just bought a Squier Stratocaster Pro Tone Series... great guitar, though it sounded quite too thin and too much on the trebly side for my tastes... I replaced the pots from 500k to 250k's (kept the same cap value) and it made a huge difference in tone. Not only bassier but more organic, livelier. I wonder why they installed 500k pots at the factory (Cort?) on such a great instrument in the first place. Aside from that, nothing to complain about. Problem solved... :)
     
  9. Jackie Treehorn

    Jackie Treehorn Strat-Talker

    Age:
    62
    441
    Jun 18, 2006
    SOUTHERN OREGON
    Never could keep the Pro Tone I once owned in tune. It ended up leaving the building. May have just needed a better setup or better tuning machines. Build quality was very good.
     
  10. rosssurf

    rosssurf New Member!

    5
    Feb 25, 2009
    Baltimore
    wouldn't a 500K pot turned down to 250 sound exactly the same as a 250 on full? Is there really a difference ??
     
  11. Shades of Blue

    Shades of Blue Most Honored Senior Member

    Jan 28, 2008
    South Carolina
    That's a great point...kind of what I am trying to find out lol
     
  12. Toadlc

    Toadlc Strat-Talker

    195
    Jul 21, 2008
    Sacramento
  13. BOD2

    BOD2 Strat-O-Master

    526
    Feb 28, 2008
    Scottish Borders, UK
    Remember to specify "audio taper" or "logarithmic" pots for your volume controls. These are setup to give an even volume response to the human ear.

    Don't use "linear taper" pots for volume controls or you'll find it operates very abrubtly as you turn the control (all on or all off).
     
  14. sevycat

    sevycat Custom Shop Cat Strat-Talk Supporter

    Aug 8, 2008
    Newark, DE
    I salute you for posting this link. This is a clears up a lot of questions. Thanks, I will be added this link to my guitar toolbox.
     
  15. Toadlc

    Toadlc Strat-Talker

    195
    Jul 21, 2008
    Sacramento
    Glad that you found it useful. BTW...they have a lot of other info there too. Here a link to the main info page:

    Free information at Stewart-MacDonald
     
  16. abracadabra

    abracadabra stationcalling? Strat-Talk Supporter

    Oct 5, 2009
    UK
    Sorry to revitalize this dead-un, but I'd rather not start another thread.

    My understanding of electonics is very limited, as I will now demonstrate, and I was wondering exactly how a pot works. The article posted above is very good, but doesn't answer the question rosssurf asked above.

    So, when you turn a pot on full (max vol), what is the difference between a 250k and 500k pot? Are both letting the same signal through?

    I'm probably not understanding how this works, but if you have a volume control off, that means all the signal goes to ground. If you have it on full, that means all the signal is getting through. So where does the 500k vs 250k come in? Is a volume pot on full giving out 250k/500k of resistance, or does this happen at the point where the pot is nearly, but not, off? :confused:
     
  17. fenson

    fenson ----------------------

    Jan 11, 2009
    Canada
    The tone cap shuts highs to ground, but when full out a 500 will allow more high frequencies to come through. A 500 will also increase precicved volume levels.
    They (fender) came up with the 250 and .1 cap as the best combination for the single coils used.
     
  18. fenson

    fenson ----------------------

    Jan 11, 2009
    Canada
    No it wouldn't
     
  19. TexasFury

    TexasFury Strat-Talker

    268
    Mar 25, 2009
    The Republic of Texas
    I'm bringing this up cause it makes NO SENSE to start a new thread (or even have to explain it).

    So what if you have an HSS guitar? According to the tonal general formula here that a 250K for Strats and 500K for HBs, you're screwed no matter what you choose for an HSS. If you go with 250K, the bridge HB is too dark. If you go with 500K, the neck/middle is too bright. So what's the solution?

    I have a Jackson DK2 that I want to replace the neck/middle Duncan Designeds. At current they sound kinda harsh compared to my Strat. They improve when I lower the volume and tone, but they still don't sound as good as the Strat. I'm wanting to put something in that is kinda sweet sounding but has a little "grind" to it when you dig in. Currently it has a GFS Power Rail in the bridge, but looking to put a Duncan Custom and still undecided on the SCs. Will want to completely rewire as well.

    Anyway, what do recommend on the pot values to eliminate the "bad" value matching on an HSS?
     
  20. SiyarK

    SiyarK Strat-Talk Member

    58
    Dec 25, 2010
    Holland
    Dunno.. For HSS you could do
    - volume 1 (humbucker) - 500k
    - volume 2 (single coils) - 250k
    - tone ( single coils) - 250k

    But I don't know if it's the same concept with tone pots. And generally humbuckers don't sound harsh so I would need no tone pot for the bridge humbucker.. Just my 2 cents
     
  21. SammyDee

    SammyDee New Member!

    3
    Oct 12, 2011
    Spain
    EBMM uses 250k pots on several of their guitars equipped with both SC and HB pickups. I generally haven't found their guitars to sound too bad--in fact, to my own experience, (I wired a 2HB guitar with 250k pots and .022uf tone cap) I much preferred the sound of 250k pots with HB's.
     

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