How to clean pots?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Reynolds 101, Sep 2, 2009.

  1. My GK head makes that crackling noise and the volume fluctuates improperly when I adjust the boost, volume, and master volume head, and I read that I have to clean the pots with WD-40. I twisted them back and forth for about a minute each and that seemed to fix it for the time being, but I also read that it just moves the dirt around and I need to actually clean it.

    Im completely oblivious to the component sections of heads and have no idea how to go about cleaning the pots on my GK.

    Can someone help?
  2. Best to use electronic contact clean and lube.
  3. Would the WD-40 still work though? I dont really want to go out and buy 2 things that I'll probably use once maybe twice if I can just use the spray nozzled WD-40 I have here. If its dangerous and I could potentially screw something up then yeah Ill go buy it.
  4. billhilly66


    Aug 25, 2007
    Plano, TX
    Credit card and a frisbee?
  5. What? How could these possibly work?
  6. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    Here's a forum of some guys going back & forth on the WD40 product for pots & electrical cleaning. At the bottom of the page, I saw enough from the MSDS spec sheet to make me NOT want to use it (not that I ever have in the 1st place) for pots or circuit board or anything electrical for that matter. It seems it leaves a thin film of oil after most of the product evaporates. This just screams "dust & dirt collector" to me. I'd just pop for the electrical cleaner & be done with it.
  7. Laredo


    Nov 27, 2005
    Upstate, NY
  8. tinjenbass


    Jun 13, 2006
    Berea OH
    Endorsing Artist:Dean Guitars
    The best thing to use is at Radio Shack, Its a spray called TV Tuner. I bought an old ASHLY crossover at a thrift store for $30 and took it home and all the pots were nasty. Making all sorts of noise and after doing some research I had to buy the 7 dollar TV Tuner spray at radio shack. You spray it into the opening of the pot. Turn the dial a few times around, let it dry and they are brand spanking new again!!
  9. electrical contact cleaner is the best option. it leaves no residue and evaporates quickly. however if after doing this its still scratchy the pots themselves could be damaged. be it the carbon track or the wiper that runs on the track.

    i wouldnt expect the pot to be damaged if its reasonably new. if its an older product they may need replacing.
  10. Laredo


    Nov 27, 2005
    Upstate, NY
  11. tinjenbass


    Jun 13, 2006
    Berea OH
    Endorsing Artist:Dean Guitars
  12. rbonner


    Sep 25, 2008

    HOLY CRAP, what a collection of bad advice. STOP EVERYTHING.

    FIRST, do not go anywhere near electronics with WD-40.

    SECOND, do not go near your pots with tuner cleaner. There's nothing inside of them that requires lubrication. Old style TV tuners are a special type of drum switch and a pot is not a drum switch.

    What you need to buy is NON-LUBRICATING ELECTRICAL CONTACT CLEANER. The last can I bought I got at Home Depot in the electrical department.

    You can get it at Grangers and other supply houses... Spray the stuff into the pot and turn it back and forth allowing the dirty fluid to run back out the way it came in (leads down). Deoxit is probably OK but at $17 bucks a can what a screwing.

    You will be able to fix up maybe 60% of noisy pots, the rest will need replacing.

    Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

  13. electronic contact cleaner or nothing

    I use a lubricated version on my bass pots, not sure about amp pots, I wouldn't go there without researching it first though.
  14. DukeLeJeune

    DukeLeJeune rational romantic mystic cynical idealist Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 24, 2008
    Princeton, Texas
    Owner & designer, AudioKinesis; Auth. mfg, Big E (Home Audio only)
    Not too long ago I ran into this same issue (on a different piece of equipment), so I called the manufacturer's service department.

    They recommended CRC electrical grade contact cleaner. I don't remember whether I bought it from Lowes or Home Depot, but it was one of the two.

    My recommendation isn't CRC contact cleaner; it's a phone call to the manufacturer.
  15. Tim1


    Sep 9, 2005
    New Zealand
    A while ago I ruined the pots on a 69 jazz bass by using contact cleaner - without any lubricant at all the two surfaces were scratchy and irreparable. Since then, and having learned the hard way, I have used a brand of electronic contact cleaner which has a lubricant added specifically for sliding type electrical contacts. Definitely stay away from WD40, though - go straigh to an electronic contact cleaner with lube, it is designed specifically for the job.
  16. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005

    My experience - and it's fairly substantial - contradicts this advice... IME, you need a pot cleaner/lube - the very best available is Caig's De-Oxit, which is also sold as a Peavey product, re-labeled as "Funk Out"... Either way, just cleaning pots and leaving no lubrication behind will most definitely damage them - from the factory, ALL pots have a bit of lubrication for the internal wiper...

    DO NOT use WD-40 under any circumstance - and don't cheap out on this, or you'll be sorry - because it'll cost you ALOT more than a $12 can of Caigs...

    - georgestrings
    devnulljp and agedhorse like this.
  17. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005
  18. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005

    Exactly right on all counts...

    - georgestrings
  19. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Hey guys,

    17 bucks for a can of deoxIT or 2 bucks for WD40 (and a hundred bucks for someone to repair my amp afterward.)

    Which should I pick? I'd rather do things cheap.
  20. blockinlay


    Feb 21, 2009
    Phila Pa
    Radio Shack Tuner Cleaner will work fine, or any other high cost tuner cleaner that has lube in it. Pots need lube. If you used WD-40, which is a water displacer, do it again with tuner cleaner. Never use contact cleaner on pots. Keep it to a minimum, and don't get it all over the rest of your components.