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How much difference do pots/caps/wire make?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Carl E, Mar 8, 2008.

  1. Carl E

    Carl E

    Feb 26, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I am pretty new to bass, and have a rewiring question. I will be replacing a passive P pickup in Squier standard bass (not Affinity) and while I am in there would have the opportunity to replace the wiring, including the pots and cap. I know the common advice would be to replace everything while I am in there (remember, it is a Squier), but really how much difference would heavier wire, Orange Drop cap and CTS pots make over stock? I am fairly comfortable soldering (but don't particularly enjoy it), but it would be a lot easier to make only the two solder joints for the pickup instead redoing everything. I am not having any problems with any of the stock electronics, but wanted to upgrade if it really did make a noticeable difference in tone. Thanks!
  2. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    This is from the Stewmac site ... http://www.stewmac.com/

    "Your tone is affected by the control pots you use. Not just the tone control — the volume pot influences tone, too.

    250K vs. 500K pots
    250K pots give a slightly warmer tone than 500K because the 250K bleeds off some of the high frequencies.

    250K = warmer
    500K = brighter
    1 Meg = brightest

    Usually, 250K pots are used with single-coil pickups and and 500Ks are used with humbuckers. If you want to hear your guitar "wide open" with all the highs, try 1 Meg pots."
  3. Carl E

    Carl E

    Feb 26, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Thanks. I didn't really mean that I wanted to switch to different values, just what effect it would have to use higher quality components than the stock Squier stuff, which I am pretty sure is not on par with aftermarket components like CTS pots and Sprague caps. What I was hoping someone might have done is kept the same pickups and just switched out their wiring harness and was able to say whether or not this really improved the tone. Thanks for your info, though, maybe I will end up switching some of the values.
  4. the higher quality pots have a smoother taper, the values are closer to what they advertise it to be, like 250k pot will be close to 250k at full value, some pots say 250k but a quick check will show values like 150 or something :( my last batch of 100k pots showed 81K at full value

    Higher quality pots also feel better than the gritty cheap one when you rotate them, and also do not get scratchy that quickly, although this could depend on your playing conditions a lot....
  5. I find that sprague caps have a move even response (smoother loss of treble as you turn it).

    With pots, the main thing you get from using, say CTS as opposed to generic cheap ones is a more accurate value. Even the best pots can be + or - 20% of what is stated. So it will be closer and more consistent. Also, higher quality pots will last longer.
  6. aquateen


    Apr 14, 2005
    the cheapo components are more prone to crackling as they age. cts pots seem to hold up better. I had to rewire my mid 90's epi rivoli because the pots made so much noise when I turned them, but the pots on my 72 EB-3 are still clean as can be.
  7. jasper383


    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    If one were to change pots on a Jazz Bass, from 250K to 500K for instance, would you also have to change capacitors?

    I know Dimarzio J pickups recommend 500K pots, what capacitor would you use?
  8. You dont have to change cap along with pots.

    But if you wanted, because the higher impedence pots let more highs through, you could add a slightly higher capacitance cap. I wouldnt tho. The DiMarzio pups ive got are pretty dark as is.
  9. fender3x


    Mar 12, 2006
    I am setting up a bass with Model Js...ordering the 500k pots that DiM recommends... I thought that DiMarzio recommends .047mfd caps. But when I went through my notes, I realized that I got that idea from the wiring schematic on one of the stickies for this forum.

    So I asked the nice folks at DiMarzio. They said it's a matter of taste. The techie I talked to told me he would go no higher than .033...and might go with .022.

    the higher the number the more highs get bled off as you turn the knob (at least I think I have that right).

    So, FWIW, here's what I plan to do: get three or four caps at different values. Easy, because Spragues are only a buck apiece. and try'em to see which ones I like. I figure I can alligator clip them in for the trial to see which one I like best.
  10. GREAT idea. Let us know what cap values you like and what difference they really make.
  11. WarriorJoe7

    WarriorJoe7 Banned

    Mar 12, 2004
    Syracuse, NY
    get a has sound tone box. change cap values with the turn of a knob.
  12. jdier


    May 28, 2003
    Milw., Wis.
    A couple of other whacked out ideas for you.

    1. Volume, Tone, Mini switch. You could wire just as you like but then put in a kill switch or wire it as a parallel/series switch.

    2. Volume, Tone, Tone. Put in two tone pots with two different value caps.

    Just ideas. The guys over at community forums at seymourduncan.com are wiring wizards. They can draw up just about anything you can dream of.
  13. To the OP, I replaced my entire P-bass wiring harness & pots and was very surprised at the difference. Mine was a cheaper (MIM) model like yours. I thought it would sound a little better but it sounded a LOT better. Warmer and with more variations (in between) on the tone knob.
    Good luck! :D

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