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250k vs 500k for a Tone Control

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by ConeyIslandJoe, Jul 22, 2017.

  1. Would there a difference between a 250k pot & a 500k pot used for a tone control circuit with a 0.047 cap ?
  2. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    I'd say brightness and degree of control... 500k is brighter at 100% (fully open) and will sound like 250k at about 70% (audio taper). But this also means you have less control, less ability to fine-tune the sound. 250k is standard on Fenders, but your choice depends on what you're trying to achieve and how finicky you are about the sound.
  3. A 500k pot is exactly the same as a 250k pot, from 0 to 250k. In the range from 250k-500k, you further remove the capacitor from the circuit, resulting in less treble cut. A 500k pot does everything that a 250k pot does, but it has less "wiggle room" to fine tune, especially when you factor in the taper of the pot. With a typical audio taper, you sweep through half of the resistance in the first fifth (or somewhere close to a fifth) of the rotation, and then slowly progress through the other 50% in the last four-fifths. This means that you have to roll down quite far on a 500k pot to get to where a 250k pot goes at higher settings. When you are trying to dial in lower resistances, the 500k pot will sort of "bunch up" toward the end, making small adjustments more prominent.

    IMO, the best choice for a tone control is a 250k pot with a bypass switch. This gives you an optimal taper, and the brightness of a bypassed tone control, instead of making you choose one or the other.
    NKBassman, megafiddle and tjh like this.
  4. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    A "no load" pot, which simply opens at "10", would also be a good choice.

    Higher value pots set at "10", and open circuits, hardly effect the high frequency rolloff at all. This is primarily set by the pickup inductance and cable capacitance. This forms a low pass filter with a resonant peak.

    What higher tone pot values will change is the height of the resonant peak. This occurs around a couple KHz, depending on the pickup inductance and cable capacitance.

    With 250 K tone and volume pots, the peak is very small. With a no load circuit or 1 Mohm pot, you can get a few db of peak increase. Even more if you use higher value or no load for the volume also.

  5. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    If you like it bright, get a 500k Ohm treble cut potentiometer.
    If you really like it bright, get a no-load pot, as mentioned above.
  6. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    in my mind there is literally no downside to using the 500k tone pot.

    more brightness is on tap, and if you want the "vintage" 250k sound just nudge it back to like "7".
  7. Personally, I've never used anything other than 500k pots, all around. I think that they are ideal for just about everything, regardless of pickup choices and wiring schemes. (Excluding low impedance stuff, where 25k pots are required.)
  8. tallboybass

    tallboybass Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2003
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    I just switched from 250k to 500k on my P bass and there is no downside. None. Just a little more brightness to start with, and the taper was incredibly even with an audio taper pot.
    walterw likes this.
  9. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009

    now with volume pots you can get a downside, in that 500k audio volumes drop off really fast from "10", faster than 250k audio volumes.

    that's why i always recommend linear volumes for bass, the sweep is more even.
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  10. tallboybass

    tallboybass Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2003
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    Absolutely. Linear for volume, audio for tone. It's more difficult for me, being a lefty. I have to find reverse audio pots for tone and can't use the 'no-load' tone pots.
  11. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    I simply could not find 500k Ohm Linear taper with a solid shaft, so ended up getting 1 MegOhm ones :wideyed:
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