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J Bass, New Pots, Not Happy

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by XontheP, Aug 30, 2013.

  1. XontheP


    May 24, 2013
    Omaha, NE
    I recently picked up a used MIM fretless Fender J. My first time playing a fretless, it sounded and played great, and I loved it. But I wasn't happy with the way the volume pots gained 75% of their volume over the last 25% of their travel. I did quite a bit of research here on TalkBass, and decided if I would install linear pots, it should resolve the "issue". Since I would be putting on flats at some point in the future, I decided I'd go with 500k pots for that little more tonal range. I ordered CTS 500k linear split shaft pots (and shaft sleeve adaptors for my set screw knobs), from GuitarPartsResource.com. By the way, I was impressed with their prices and fast shipping. I'm inexperienced with wiring and electrical work, but researched that also, and the mod came out OK. I left the tone pot stock, and replaced only the volume pots.

    First, the issue with the steep volume gain was not resolved, it's no better and perhaps even a pinch worse. The tone is also different with the new pots. The neck pickup didn't change a lot, but seems a pinch muddier. The bridge pickup now sounds more like the neck pickup, a pinch cleaner than the neck pickup, but it no longer has that classic J Bass bridge pickup sound. The 2 pickups now sound too much alike. Let me clarify, it's not a bad sound, and it's playable, but I can't come close to getting a Jaco sound out of it now, where I could before doing the mod.

    First, could this be a case of botched installation? I put the new ones on exactly like the old. Could the 500k instead of the stock 250k make that much difference in tone? GuitarPartsResource.com says the linear pots are "for tone control only", and in a guitar I can see that. But based on my research, this should be OK for bass. I'm ready to order CTS 250k audio pots to try to get back the old sound, as I unfortunately garfed up the old pots taking off the wires.

    I'd appreciate any thoughts or input you all might have on this.
  2. Switch from an audio taper pot to a linear taper pot. Problem solved. Also, stay with 250K
  3. XontheP


    May 24, 2013
    Omaha, NE
    AWilkie - that's exactly what I did, changed from the stock pots to linear pots. But was my move to 500k the reason for the tonal change?
  4. ShonenCello


    Sep 21, 2011
    I just went through this myself.

    I tried many pots on mine until the taper was more realistic.

    I'm wondering if this is poor quality control. Some guy on YouTube said he discarded two out of every three pots he buys.

    Linear & audio taper makes a difference sure, but not what you are describing.
  5. ncapone


    Nov 17, 2010
    Yes, that pot value will change the sound of your tone. That's just how it works!
  6. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    the linear volumes should make the volume sweep smoother, eliminating the big jump right at the top, and 500ks should make the pickups brighter, not muddier, and more distinctly like themselves, not more like each other.

    sounds like you got something wired wrong; pics?
  7. XontheP


    May 24, 2013
    Omaha, NE
    Thanks for the responses. Walter, I appreciate your offer to look over pics, but it will be tomorrow before I can post pics. Hopefully you'll be available to check them after that.