Pots

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by cobbweb, Nov 11, 2020.

Which is the most important element of guitar tone? Let's leave out the way you play-most important

  1. Guitar build (eg wood, neck etc)

    12.7%
  2. Strings

    5.5%
  3. Pickups

    50.9%
  4. Amplifier

    81.8%
  5. Pots

    1.8%
  6. Capacitator

    1.8%
  7. Plectrum

    9.1%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. CyFan4036

    CyFan4036 Senior Stratmaster

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    Some can hear it, some can't. I suppose it depends on the quality of your ears. Just because YOU can't hear it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Welcome to the Forum.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2020
  2. WillyDaC50

    WillyDaC50 New Member!

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    Just a quick story regarding all of this hoopla about components, strings and assorted other nonsense regarding what effects tone. I caught an interview with someone (and forgive me for not remembering who the interviewee was, but it was someone like Billy Gibbons and if not him, someone that I would personally consider an "expert"). The upshot was the conversation got around to Stevie Ray Vaughan and his tonal qualities being the product of his "number one" guitar. As the story goes, SRV and the interviewee were merely in attendance. SRV picked up whatever later model strat was on stage, twiddled a few dials on an amp and amazingly sounded just like himself. So, no magic in the 59/63 or whatever. I believed the story, and I believe it today. The distinctive sound came from the player alone and his knowledge of the amplifier he had to use. Can anyone on here dispute that SRVs tone is so distinctive that it's not recognizable if you hear it and don't have any idea beforehand, that you wouldn't recognize his playing in about 3 notes?
     
  3. Torvald

    Torvald Strat-Talker

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    I've had some very inexpensive guitars that sounded shockingly good through a good amp. Like a $79 Axl strat through my Tweaker 15/Vintage 30. So after upgrading pots, swapping pickups etc. I'm going with the amp and speakers.
     
  4. WillyDaC50

    WillyDaC50 New Member!

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    Thank you. I've been a silent follower for a while, and I have a great ear. Not being snarky, it's simply a fact. And I've been around a long time, lol. This has always been a subject that fascinates me.
     
  5. CyFan4036

    CyFan4036 Senior Stratmaster

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    Yep, no snarkiness here either. As fascinated as you are by those who can hear these differences, I am equally fascinated by those who can't discern them. Both of us are, of course, correct. But we can still be friends! Lol
     
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  6. Eventful_Event

    Eventful_Event New Member!

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    Tone woods do contribute to tone. Both neck/body woods. Weight(density), truss rod type, and neck profile. Don't believe me? Warmoth's YouTube channel has fantastic comparisons where you can hear the differences!

    Lighter weight guitars resonate more and are louder acoustically. They also sound brighter acoustically. Heavier guitars sound deader (acoustically), but have more sustain (honestly, who really cares about sustain anyway.... you have feedback, gain, and compressors if you need that).

    A hardtail bridge vs a tremolo have a significant impact on tone. A 6 screw tremolo is better than a 2 point, a floyd is the worst. A standard 6 screw can be decked or blocked- blocking is closest (maybe indistinguishable) from a hard tail.



    Pick a string gauge that makes you play the best, its that simple.

    Amplifier types is an overwhelming majority of your sound. Believe it or not though most of the sound differences is from the SPEAKER inside the cabinet, not necessarily the amplifier schematic. (With the exception that Fender Style, Vox Style, and Marshall style circut will always sound like that type of circut) Also, speaker differences are most easily discerned at HIGH gain, not clean.




    See how they basically all sound the same? Because they are all being played through the same "speaker cabinet".

    Pickups are simple. Humbuckers have a natural compression, and the compression increase with how "hot" it is. The compression is the signature characteristic of a humbucker. P90's as single coils, don't have this compression, although they actually have a darker frequency response than most humbuckers. Strat Style single coils go from nearly P90 clones (SSL-3,4,5,6) to extremely treble-y. A P90 has a loaded resonant frequency around 2k, same with SSL-3,4,5,6's. Something like a vintage 50's low-wind strat single coil has a resonant frequency around 4.2k.

    http://echoesofmars.com/pickup_data/viewer/


    Capacitors of an identical value sound identical. Construction does NOT influence tone, besides that ceramic may be piezoelectric (microphonic).

    Guitar picks absolutely do play a difference in tone. A Dunlop Jazz III sounds completely different than a 2mm Gator Grip.

    Finally pots.... its education time!








    .... about those caps

    https://youtu.be/817JHiYV_Po
     
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  7. micmurph

    micmurph New Member!

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    I once tried different capacitors to see what the differences might be. I could not really say any of the commonly used caps made a notable difference, but when I tried one of these the guitar sounded like a cross between an organ or a synth.

    I don’t remember the value, but I considered adding a switch so I could switch it in or out. I went traditional cap instead. I know that’s weird, that’s how I remember it.
    [​IMG]
     
  8. micmurph

    micmurph New Member!

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  9. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    You are completely overthinking what a Potentiometer actually does.

    All a “pot” is is a variable resistor. On ten there is no resistance so there is full volume on zero there is full resistance and no volume. It’s an incredibly simple device. If you want to hear the difference the wiring makes in the tone of your guitar just by by pass all the electronics and wire the pickup straight to the Jack then you will hear exactly the pickup with no coloration by the electronics, then add the controls and you will hear basically no difference when the volume and tone pots are both at ten. Capacitors, all they do is roll off the highs, and most players don’t even use the tone controls much if at all which essentially bypasses the capacitor anyway.
     
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  10. CAR63

    CAR63 Strat-Talker

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    This really doesn't surprise me ...;)
     
  11. CAR63

    CAR63 Strat-Talker

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    I will go so far as to say my 4 Strats don't even sound the same through the same amp !
     
  12. keys88

    keys88 Strat-Talker

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    Anyone who doesn't think pots are a critical component to the electronic signal path (and therefore overall tone) should play a Tele with 1-meg pots, or a Les Paul with 100k pots. That'll change your mind pretty quick. Your pickups and pots/caps are like two sides of the same coin. They work together to create your tone and they need to be matched appropriately.

    Now, that being said, I've never noticed a difference in tone between a cheap pot and an expensive pot of identical values. Just like I've never noticed a difference between a cheap output jack and an expensive one. The more expensive stuff is typically made better, but it's not going to make your guitar sound any different.
     
  13. Tone Guru

    Tone Guru Senior Stratmaster

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    Not exactly.
    A potentiometer is a three terminal device, a voltage divider.
    A variable resistor only requires two terminals.
    A pot when used as a variable resistor has the third terminal bonded to the wiper, or disregarded.
    The CTS "no-load" pots are somewhat misleading in appearance in that the third terminal is not connected internally.
    It's a vestigial appendage that no longer has a function.
     
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  14. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    No load pots make no sense to me. I’ve installed them but they make no discernible change I can tell?
     
  15. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    One thing I can say about the poll. The amp is getting the most votes however, if that is true then why do major league bands when they tour Europe ALWAYS use backline Amps but NEVER use backline guitars or backline pedals?

    The amp is BY FAR the most overrated piece of the chain.

    It pains me to see young kids playing a $200 guitar through a $2000 amp. The opposite is what ANY serious professional would choose. They would almost always play the $2000 guitar through a $200 amp before playing a $200 guitar through a $2000 amp, and the amateur/semi-pro guy will ALWAYS pick the $200 guitar to play through the $2000 amp. This is a fact, and what is even more interesting from a marketing perspective is that the profit margins are generally higher on amps than on guitars, meaning that it costs less to produce the $2000 amp than it is to manufacture the $2000 guitar, because there is less hand labor involved.