Tone Pot has “Tone”?

Papa Che

Strat-O-Master
Mar 25, 2017
550
Denmark
Let me post my observation recently.

I’ve bought the Mojotone tele harness for a modding project. Tried the CS 51 Nocaster pups and they sounded rather underwhelming. As if they missed frequencies. They certainly lacked.

So I decided to ditch the poplar body of that guitar and buy an alder body AND new SD Briadcaster pickups. Same Mojotone harness. Again these pickups too sounded as if they are lacking certain frequencies. It just sounded wrong. No, not out of phase, just sounding not-full. Causing ear fatigue for me.

Then I thought to change the tone pot to a Fender 250 Audio and as soon I plugged the guitar and hit the first chord smile was on my face.

This was not a ti h difference but rather huge. From thinking to throw this guitar out of the window to actually enjoying it.

So what’s your story about volume and tone pots and if you hear tonal difference between them. I’m still shocked it had such big difference. I thought capacitor is where the difference was, not the pot. But here I kept the same Mojotone cap .047
I’m considering to buy another fender pot for the volume knob on this guitar as I feel it’s not giving me the slight darkness needed when scrolling down to 6-7
(I did remove the treble bleed from this harness. Hate that stuff)

Please share!
 

Papa Che

Strat-O-Master
Mar 25, 2017
550
Denmark
@somebodyelesuk yes that sure sounds like a big difference.

But what about the other effect; matters little if I had the tone pot fully open or anywhere in between 10-1, the pickups sounded bad when I used the Mojotone pot. Then when I switched to the Fender pot the tone was pleasant, from
1-10.

Also on the Fender I can fine tune the highs without loosing that sweetness. In short, both darker and brighter setting on the tone knob sounded pleasing. Not so at all on the Mojotone.

Could this be the tonal difference if Mojotone was 300k and Fender 200k ? If so then I ought to buy myself a meter and measure the pots!

Thanks again for the reply!
 

somebodyelseuk

Senior Stratmaster
Jan 29, 2022
1,111
Birmingham UK
@somebodyelesuk yes that sure sounds like a big difference.

But what about the other effect; matters little if I had the tone pot fully open or anywhere in between 10-1, the pickups sounded bad when I used the Mojotone pot. Then when I switched to the Fender pot the tone was pleasant, from
1-10.

Also on the Fender I can fine tune the highs without loosing that sweetness. In short, both darker and brighter setting on the tone knob sounded pleasing. Not so at all on the Mojotone.

Could this be the tonal difference if Mojotone was 300k and Fender 200k ? If so then I ought to buy myself a meter and measure the pots!

Thanks again for the reply!
Yer welcome.
What you find is pots that are under value give less highs and vice versa. I won't use pots that measure more than 5% below.
That said, my preference is to use Bare Knuckle Pickups' custom made CTS pots, which they spec at 280k and 550k, with a 10% tolerance. With these, you know that if they are within spec, they will read no lower than 250/500k respectively.
An alternative in the US would be to try VIPots - popular with the Les Paul forum crowd on their Historics and even some of the real vintage owners. They're not cheap, mind.

In any and all cases, though, it isn't the actual pot that is directly responsible for the tone/sound. It's just what it measures. A cheap Chinese pot will sound the same as a CTS, Alpha, VIPot, Fender, etc if it has the same (measured) resistance, assuming it's not shorting to ground internally.
 

Papa Che

Strat-O-Master
Mar 25, 2017
550
Denmark
Well in this case these Mojotone pots might be made to give more highs and not alter much until very low on the pot 1-2.

Ok so it’s basically hit and miss if I dont have a meter. Buy a bunch of pots and test.

I think TAD offers pots with 10% tolerance. I will look more into this as I feel my volume pot needs changing.

Thanks again for your help!
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
7,020
Murfreesboro, TN
Pots do make a difference. The resistance of the tone pot stands between your signal and the tone cap. When you turn it down, that resistance drops. To zero, when it is all the way down. No pots sound different turned all the way down.

If it was a bigger value pot, it won't sound as expected until you turn it down to about 250k. A 1m tone pot turned to 250k sounds exactly like a 250k pot turned to 250k. I'm guessing something like this happened.

Of course, psychology plays a role too. And I suspect you changed the strings at some point as well.
 

Papa Che

Strat-O-Master
Mar 25, 2017
550
Denmark
No. I did not change the strings with the SD Broadcaster pups. It’s easy to swap pots on a Tele without messing with the strings. Also not psychological. But we would need to ask my dentist about that to be sure :D or my wife! :p
 

Eric_G

Senior Stratmaster
Jan 10, 2021
3,165
Quebec
Pots do make a difference. The resistance of the tone pot stands between your signal and the tone cap. When you turn it down, that resistance drops. To zero, when it is all the way down. No pots sound different turned all the way down.

If it was a bigger value pot, it won't sound as expected until you turn it down to about 250k. A 1m tone pot turned to 250k sounds exactly like a 250k pot turned to 250k. I'm guessing something like this happened.

Of course, psychology plays a role too. And I suspect you changed the strings at some point as well.
I’ve been reading this and biting my tongue… but yeah….

A pot is a pot and offers resistance… regardless of quality, the tone will not be impacted by the pot. For equal resistance value, equal tone…

A defective pot that would still offer resistance while full open could make a difference. But according to the OP the tone was better through the full range of the pot.

At this point there’s only two plausible explanations, something else changed (wiring/soldering/???) or it’s a placebo effect…
 

somebodyelseuk

Senior Stratmaster
Jan 29, 2022
1,111
Birmingham UK
Well in this case these Mojotone pots might be made to give more highs and not alter much until very low on the pot 1-2.

Ok so it’s basically hit and miss if I dont have a meter. Buy a bunch of pots and test.

I think TAD offers pots with 10% tolerance. I will look more into this as I feel my volume pot needs changing.

Thanks again for your help!
Before you get carried away...
There's also the taper to consider.
Off the shelf, pots come with audio (log) or linear taper and are labelled A250K and B250K - can't remember whether A refers to audio or not.
Linear pots 'roll off' in a linear fashion, whereas the audio/log pots tend to roll off progressively more as you approach '0', hence they can seem like they're not doing anything initially.
The BK pots I use come with three audio taper options - 10%, 20% and 30% IIRC - so there's the scope there to tailor the amount of roll off sweep, so to speak.
I think the standard off the shelf CTS taper is 30%.

10% tolerance pots will definitely be a better gamble, and if I were you, I'd be tempted to try both linear and audio, assuming the cost isn't prohibitive, to see which you prefer the sweep of.
There is a sort of convention regarding which pot type to use where, but try them for yourself, and go with what you like best.
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
7,020
Murfreesboro, TN
Before you get carried away...
There's also the taper to consider.
Off the shelf, pots come with audio (log) or linear taper and are labelled A250K and B250K - can't remember whether A refers to audio or not.
Linear pots 'roll off' in a linear fashion, whereas the audio/log pots tend to roll off progressively more as you approach '0', hence they can seem like they're not doing anything initially.
The BK pots I use come with three audio taper options - 10%, 20% and 30% IIRC - so there's the scope there to tailor the amount of roll off sweep, so to speak.
I think the standard off the shelf CTS taper is 30%.

10% tolerance pots will definitely be a better gamble, and if I were you, I'd be tempted to try both linear and audio, assuming the cost isn't prohibitive, to see which you prefer the sweep of.
There is a sort of convention regarding which pot type to use where, but try them for yourself, and go with what you like best.
A is for audio. The taper is logarithmic, because human perception of loudness is logarithmic. So most people strongly prefer an A pot for volume.

On an A pot, 50% is around 7. On a B pot, 50% is at 5.
 

JustABluesGuy

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 3, 2016
1,906
Somewhere
I removed the factory treble bleed circuit from a Telecaster recently, and it completely changed the guitar. It went screechy to smooth, with good mid-range.
I’ve never understood the whole treble bleed phenomenon. I want my guitar to get quieter and darker as I roll back my volume.

I set my amp with the guitar already rolled back some. Rolling forward adds volume, gain, and treble helping me to cut through for solos. Rolling back allows me to “blend into the mix” at other times.

I assume those who like treble bleeds, don’t ride gain like I do maybe? Some might dime their guitar volume, then set their amp or use a clean pedal platform and get their tone. Starting with the guitar dimed, will mean that one’s tone will only get darker from there.

Starting with the guitar rolled back and an amp set on the edge of breakup works great for what I do. I can get a lot of different tones from just my guitar and hands that way. I can get brighter, OR darker if I want. It seems like a treble bleed would make what I do harder to do effectively.

If I got all my tone from pedals, and wanted my tone to stay the same at all volumes, I would probably prefer a treble bleed as well. I’m not sure why those who use them like them, so I am just guessing.

I would actually love to try a guitar with a treble bleed just to see, but I’m too lazy to install one on any of mine, just to satisfy my curiosity. Hopefully a fan of them will explain to me what they use them for, or why they prefer them.
 

Eric_G

Senior Stratmaster
Jan 10, 2021
3,165
Quebec
I’ve never understood the whole treble bleed phenomenon. I want my guitar to get quieter and darker as I roll back my volume.

I set my amp with the guitar already rolled back some. Rolling forward adds volume, gain, and treble helping me to cut through for solos. Rolling back allows me to “blend into the mix” at other times.

I assume those who like treble bleeds, don’t ride gain like I do maybe? Some might dime their guitar volume, then set their amp or use a clean pedal platform and get their tone. Starting with the guitar dimed, will mean that one’s tone will only get darker from there.

Starting with the guitar rolled back and an amp set on the edge of breakup works great for what I do. I can get a lot of different tones from just my guitar and hands that way. I can get brighter, OR darker if I want. It seems like a treble bleed would make what I do harder to do effectively.

If I got all my tone from pedals, and wanted my tone to stay the same at all volumes, I would probably prefer a treble bleed as well. I’m not sure why those who use them like them, so I am just guessing.

I would actually love to try a guitar with a treble bleed just to see, but I’m too lazy to install one on any of mine, just to satisfy my curiosity. Hopefully a fan of them will explain to me what they use them for, or why they prefer them.
I have never used a treble bleed, but when I heard about them I couldn't figure out why would that be necessary. I always perceived that a resistance would lower the volume equally therefore my logic was a volume pot doesn't impact the tone, just the volume, and I was wrong.

I research it and now, I think, I understand the reason for it.

In a nut shell, a resistance will not impact volume equally, it start affecting volume of the highs before the mids and the bass. So in essence it changes the "mix" of you sound, the treble bleeds are meant to keep you mix equal as you roll of the volume...

So let's imagine a 10db full open volume, the impact of a volume pot to the frequency would look like this (note: this is not a scientific table, just an example)

TreblemidsBass
Full open10db10db10db
Mid-way3db4db5db
Almost closed1db2db3db

Of course if you want you tone to roll off the treble first, then the mids then the bass, you don't want want. However if you feel that your tone darken to much or too fast when you roll off the volume, a treble bleed would help.

Anyway, that's how I understand it... at the end it's all about preferences...
 

henderman

Dr. Stratster
Dec 4, 2013
10,884
largo,fl
i have several cts 1%er's.

one used to be able to buy them from sellers who tested and categorized the pots values back when just we were weird and not the times.
 

1stpitch

Strat-Talker
Mar 2, 2019
194
Southeast USA
I’ve never understood the whole treble bleed phenomenon. I want my guitar to get quieter and darker as I roll back my volume.

I set my amp with the guitar already rolled back some. Rolling forward adds volume, gain, and treble helping me to cut through for solos. Rolling back allows me to “blend into the mix” at other times.
Pretty much the same here, except I set my amp with the guitar volume already rolled back a lot.
 

StratUp

Most Honored Senior Member
Sep 5, 2020
9,051
Altered States
@somebodyelesuk yes that sure sounds like a big difference.

But what about the other effect; matters little if I had the tone pot fully open or anywhere in between 10-1, the pickups sounded bad when I used the Mojotone pot. Then when I switched to the Fender pot the tone was pleasant, from
1-10.

Also on the Fender I can fine tune the highs without loosing that sweetness. In short, both darker and brighter setting on the tone knob sounded pleasing. Not so at all on the Mojotone.

Could this be the tonal difference if Mojotone was 300k and Fender 200k ? If so then I ought to buy myself a meter and measure the pots!

Thanks again for the reply!

Buy a meter. Everyone doing any kind of electronic work needs one. You can get one for $10 to $20 that will suffice for basic guitar work. You'll find a lot of uses for it once you have it, like most tools.
It won't measure capacitance, which is nice for guitar guys. If you want that, you'll need to spring for a bit more.
 

StratUp

Most Honored Senior Member
Sep 5, 2020
9,051
Altered States
A is for audio. The taper is logarithmic, because human perception of loudness is logarithmic. So most people strongly prefer an A pot for volume.

On an A pot, 50% is around 7. On a B pot, 50% is at 5.

I use to be in that school of thought. Then I bought a guitar with factory installed linear for volume and audio for tone. When I saw the controls marked that way in the cavity I was thinking I should switch them. But it actually works very well.

A couple months ago I found a guy on you tube who did some analysis of both options with scope and ears. The sound tests weren't that useful as is always the case when listening through youtube. You have to be in the room playing and fiddling the knobs yourself for that IMO. But I was surprised at what actually happens with the scope signal via the alternatives. There are interactions you wouldn't expect. Not nearly as logical as I thought.

I'll see if I can dig up his tests.
 

Groundwire

Strat-O-Master
Apr 16, 2021
725
Oregon
I’ve never understood the whole treble bleed phenomenon. I want my guitar to get quieter and darker as I roll back my volume.

I set my amp with the guitar already rolled back some. Rolling forward adds volume, gain, and treble helping me to cut through for solos. Rolling back allows me to “blend into the mix” at other times.

I assume those who like treble bleeds, don’t ride gain like I do maybe? Some might dime their guitar volume, then set their amp or use a clean pedal platform and get their tone. Starting with the guitar dimed, will mean that one’s tone will only get darker from there.

Starting with the guitar rolled back and an amp set on the edge of breakup works great for what I do. I can get a lot of different tones from just my guitar and hands that way. I can get brighter, OR darker if I want. It seems like a treble bleed would make what I do harder to do effectively.

If I got all my tone from pedals, and wanted my tone to stay the same at all volumes, I would probably prefer a treble bleed as well. I’m not sure why those who use them like them, so I am just guessing.

I would actually love to try a guitar with a treble bleed just to see, but I’m too lazy to install one on any of mine, just to satisfy my curiosity. Hopefully a fan of them will explain to me what they use them for, or why they prefer them.
As someone who does ride the volume knob on the guitar, a treble bleed can be really useful. I don’t use them on all of my guitars, but the concept behind them, at least for me, is this:

I want to have a nice glassy clean sound, with a lot of touch dynamics, not a warm/dark clean sound. If I set the amp to sound crisp and bright with the guitar volume rolled back, it can be way too piercing with the volume cranked. The treble bleed helps to maintain the same perceived brightness through the whole volume range of the guitar.

That said, I cannot stand most treble bleed circuits. The cap value is way too high and it bleeds back too wide a frequency range so your guitar sounds like a tinny telephone receiver at low volume. Many will use a resistor in parallel with the cap to lessen the effect, however this also changes your volume pot taper.
The solution is to use a Kinman style treble bleed, with the resistor in series, and a very small cap value (330-470 pf) which only retains the highest highs.
Doing this allows for a very consistent sound through the range of the volume pot.

This is very much a style thing, and I know some players like to have their tone get warmer as the volume rolls back, in order to blend in with the band. I prefer to keep a bright clean sound and then use my tone knob to knock back the highs if needed. Just different stylistic methods, I guess.
 


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