Jazz Bass Pots/Wiring Help

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Modest_Moose, Dec 26, 2014.

  1. Modest_Moose


    Dec 26, 2014
    So I've got essentially a stock MIM Fender Jazz bass 60th Anniversary model. I love this thing, just it's MIM but I love the tone, it's surprisingly versatile. Anyways to the point, I've never upgraded or changed out any of the electronics in my bass which is now 8+ years old. The pots are super noisy and I really don't know which are the best for replacement.

    I would be greatly appreciative for some help on;
    1.) Which volume/tone pots are the "best"
    2.) Wiring. Should I/Have someone put in all new wiring as well with the new pots?

    I don't know a whole lot on the technical aspect of maintaining my bass. For me it's worked wonders up till now and I've been able to get some pretty solid tones that I personally love, but my Pots are going. The tone pot is super noisy, I have to fiddle with it to stop it from buzzing, and when I turn it down to a certain point the buzz stops, or else if both pick-ups are on full triggering the humbucker between the two pickups and the tone pot all the way up, the humming can stop.

    Any help would be awesome this is my first post to Talkbass!

  2. Budbear

    Budbear Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2004
    Staten Island, NYC
    Fender uses CTS pots. They are high quality. It just may be only the tone pot that is going, but...you'll need (3x) 250k audio taper pots (make sure that the shafts match the originals so you can re-use the knobs), a .047 mfd capacitor and less than a foot each of black & white guitar circuit wire (22 gauge is sturdy stuff) to redo the bass. You may want to replace the jack as well, with a Switchcraft mono jack.You'll also need reasonably decent soldering skills to do it right. Take a photo of the wiring before you detach the pups and the bridge ground and use that to put everything back in the right place. Google "jazz bass wiring" and you'll get a huge number of diagrams to help you. Parts are readily available on the web and some vendors will sell complete kits with everything you'll need. Some will do the wiring for you (for a price) and all you'll need to do is reconnect the pups & the bridge ground.

    Here's some sources I've had good results with:


    Good luck!
  3. Before you go replacing stuff, I recommend two things.

    Get some one who knows what they are doing to check the wiring for obvious faults like a loose or dry solder joint.

    And secondly, spray the pots with switch/contact cleaner. You buy this from electronics shops. Attach the tube to the nozzle, spray a short burst into the pot through the gap where the solder lugs are, and rotate the pot from zero to ten and back, three or four times.

    If it still is playing up then go ahead and replace the pots. cheap pots are absolutely fine if you know how to solder, however I recommend the cts, alps, bournes etc etc if you are not very experienced with the iron.

    and finally, yes, if your pickups just have a pair of single wires, definitely replace these with good quality shielded stuff. Also use shielded wire to the tone pot and to the jack.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2014
  4. Modest_Moose


    Dec 26, 2014

    Hey thanks for the info, I actually did spray it with contact cleaner. I've opened the pot up to check the connections inside, the pot is definitely going. It's extremely buzzy and I can't shake it. I've minimized it right now but it still buzzes good. I'll probably just have to go that route and replace the tone knob. The soldering looks solid overall. I'm not super great at it, but it's a nice even solder. Not super bubbly or anything. For being MIM it has seemed sturdy so far, so I think i've narrowed it down to the tone knob. But i've just never looked into that stuff much as to what makes one potentiometer better than another. Considering how old it is and I'm pretty much now experiencing some issues I've been pretty impressed. I might want to rewire the pickups as it is just single wires, get some good quality wire there to help minimize potential buzz. They aren't noiseless pickups so I sort of expect buzz when the pickups are both full on to make a humbucker (which is almost always for me) as it's not vintage style pick ups which I've contemplated getting some Lollars (West coast Fralin really).
  5. If they are still scratchy after a spray, then you are right, it's time for new pots my friend. In general, the more expensive pots will stand up to excess heat a little better than the 2 dollar cheapies. I'd still recommend using a heat sink clip on the solder lugs.