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Does the quality of the pot matter?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by zackthompson, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. zackthompson

    zackthompson Endorsing Artist: MJC Ironworks Strings Supporting Member

    Jul 18, 2011
    Virginia Beach
    Is there a difference in tone between, say, a CTS pot and a Squier or equally cheap pot?
  2. Handyman


    Sep 4, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Low quality pots will generally wear out more quickly than decent quality ones such as Bournes or CTS. They will, however, sound the same.

    If you've got a bass loaded with cheap pots, there's not much reason to swap them out unless they don't work, are noisy, or falling apart.
  3. zackthompson

    zackthompson Endorsing Artist: MJC Ironworks Strings Supporting Member

    Jul 18, 2011
    Virginia Beach
    Cool. Thanks for the quick reply!
  4. JFOC


    Oct 23, 2010
    new hampShire
    I hate cheap pot, always gives me headaches. O wait...
  5. Exactly. I hate to use the cliche, it seems a lot of people are ignoring the saying:"Don't fix it if it ain't broke."
  6. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    yep; it's about "performance" more than "sound".

    the cheap pots of the same value will sound the same on "10" and (of course) "0", but the sweep may not be as good, they may make noise, and they may not feel as nice to turn.
  7. spaz21387


    Feb 25, 2008
    Portland oregon
    good pot is always very stinky and costs alot... oh wait???
  8. You have to remember that a pot is nothing more than a non-inductive resistor. The only arguments you can have for tonal effects are for things like thermal noise and contact noise. Neither of which are significant to the application you are using the component in. Parasitic capacitance, non-linear behaviors, etc., are not relevant in this case, either.

    On the other hand, you must note the difference in manufacturing tolerance between some pots. Pots are often spec'd to + or - 20%, which allows considerable variation. You must also note the quality of the taper if you intend to do volume swells, and such. It is common practice in the manufacturing of pots to create an approximation of the logarithmic curve by joining two linear segments, in order to keep manufacturing costs low. Depending on the quality of the taper, not all pots of the same specified type of taper follow that taper smoothly.
  9. joelb79


    Mar 22, 2006
    Lansing, Michigan
    Around here we have those pots shops that will fix that problem... O wait.. LOL

    Hey to the OP: yes a potentiometer in a passive bass circuit is as much a part of the whole electronics system as the pickup itself. Better quality parts like Bournes pots have tighter tolerances, volume tapers and part quality. CTS isn't the only brand out there, other brands have different sounding tapers. Worse quality pots will bleed off more treble to ground. A higher quality tighter tolerance part is more likely to perform without any noise additions to the signal.

    But the load of the pot is as much a part of the sound of the bass as is the pickups. 500k pots will bleed less treble out to ground and allow the pickup resonant peak to shine through more. A 250k pot will effectively filter the resonant peak of most pickups and help to tune the sound to a more midrange focus. Even the length of pickup wires i've found to make a difference because longer wires tend to reduce inductance. Cold solder joints too.