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Pot Cleaning Cap from Stew Mac

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by WoodyG3, Feb 2, 2014.

  1. WoodyG3


    May 6, 2003
    Colorado, USA
  2. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    Seems kinda unnecessary. Easy enough to get access to the pups whether they're mounted to the pickguard or a back-routed cavity with an access panel. StewMac sells a lot of nifty little doo-dads like this, but not all of them are really a required tool.
  3. IMO it would be easier to just take off the rear cover or control plate to get to the pots directly, than to have to remove each knob. I can find other things to spend twenty bucks on!
  4. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Great way to clean out the shaft lube. Maybe not such a swell way to clean the wiper contacts though. ;)
  5. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Try that on an ES-335...;)
  6. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Agreed. If you don't have an instrument of that type of construction it would be unnecessary. Handy if you do work with those types of bodies though.
  7. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    The thing that would worry me, especially on things like an old 335 would be using some kind of solvent that attacks the finish. I understand it's not a quick or easy operation to remove the pots for cleaning on some instruments, but how often do you really need to do it? Not to mention the fact you are not really getting a through washing of the wipers by blowing a little cleaner in through the top.

    If you earn your living working on instruments and you can clear up some noisy pots in 5 minutes rather than spending a few hours stripping them out, cleaning, and reinstalling them, tools like this make perfect sense.
  8. kohntarkosz

    kohntarkosz Banned

    Oct 29, 2013
    Edinburgh - Scotland
    Stew Mac up to their usual tricks of inventing solutions without problems.

    Archtop guitar? Remove the harness. Do you want the dirt + cleaner soup to trickle out of the pots and into the cavity of your guitar? Really? $20.15 for a small section of tapped metal. REALLY???

    The best solution I ever figured out for cleaning pots is to take them apart. If they are big CTS-style pots then it is easy. They are held together with four metal tabs. Undo these carefully and clean the carbon track with an eraser. I did this in a vintage amp with rare/weird pot values I could not easily replace or reproduce.

    Contact cleaners work for a while. All that dirt has to go somewhere once the solvents evaporate. The idea of wicking tiny quantities of cleaning spray down into the pot via the section where the shaft meets the upper pot casing is farcical and lazy.

    Modern/Import hollow guitar? Don't use the Stew Mac spray-directing cap. Replace those pots. You will find most pots cheaper than $20.15 online.

    Vintage hollow guitar? Don't use the Stew Mac spray-directing cap. When that thing back-sprays solvents all over your original nitro finish you will be crying like a baby.
  9. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    If you want to get contact cleaner in through the shaft of a pot on a hollow body, I would be more inclined to use an eye dropper (make sure its glass though).
  10. SamanthaCay


    Nov 16, 2008
    Denver, CO.
    I'm going to join the this is dumb crowd.
    Not that it's necessarily a bad invention.
    Although there are different and often times better ways of cleaning pots, I could see how this could be a good quick fix sort of thing.

    My main issue with it is the price, the price like many things they sell is insane.
    I could produce those in my small shop charge 10 dollars and still make money.
    Now consider that stewmac has those things produced in bulk.
    My guess is that they could sell them at 2/3 dollars and still double what they paid.
    20 dollars for that is why some folks call 'em screwmac.
  11. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    Contact cleaner is supposed to be applied in the little hole that every pot has on the side of the BACK of the pot. Paying $20 for something like this thing is pointless because it doesn't apply the cleaner to the correct place anyway.
  12. georgiagoodie

    georgiagoodie It's all fun&games 'til the winged monkeys show up Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2008
    Atlanta, GA
    "Pot calling the Stew Mac?"
  13. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    Sorry but there is no way you could make them for $10 in a small shop and actually make any money off of them.
    Unless your time is free and then you sill have materials and electricity. Don't forget about the rent for your shop ether.
    I own a machine shop and know what the costs are to produce things.
    You have to shape the body, drill and thread the main hole (two drilling steps) and then machine the "O" ring grove (It uses a O ring to seal) then drill the side hole properly to fit the spray nozzle and radius it for the spray to flow properly. That step needs to be done in a mill that you would half to make a fixture for.

    For them to produce enough of them at a price point that they will sell at they need to be made on very expensive machines that need to be set up and programed by people that make good money.
    Have you priced aluminum bar stock lately?
  14. CrashClint

    CrashClint I Play Bass therefore I Am Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Wake Forest, NC
    DR Strings Dealer
    Cool idea and I could see someone using it if they were timid trying to spray the cleaner into the back of the pot. If one were given to me, I would use it but for me I wouldn't pay $20 unless it included shipping.
  15. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Got a 32 channel mixer with a dozen rotary jobs per channel, all mounted to a single big PCB? SM does a lot of stuff geared to a shop doing lots of work, not just a guy with six basses.

    This could be handy for someone in a different situation than most people on TB.
  16. elBandito


    Dec 3, 2008
    Rotten Apple
    Great simple solution for a messy job.

  17. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    we wish! those mixers aren't gonna have full-size CTS pots with imperial threads, which is what the gadget fits.

    anyway, tried it and no thanks; for some reason you're required to hold your finger over a hole in the top, soaking your skin in the solution at the same time it goes everywhere (except onto the pot wiper trace where it's needed :mad:).

    it's also kind of pointless to pry a pot apart just to clean it :eyebrow:;

    you forever weaken the housing's tightness (un-bend metal and it never bends all the way back unless you can over-bend it) and for no reason at all, since you already have a nice big gap to spray the juice into.

    i've had good luck with bending the end of the little red straw on the de-oxit can into a 90° hook with my heatgun, allowing me to get the spray into awkward spots through f-holes and such. (remove it from the can first :eek:)
  18. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I have to pretty much agree with the negativity here. Not that the thing is totally useless. There have been a couple of times when I would have wished I had it. Those were cases when the pots were totally sealed any you couldn't find a way to get the cleaner in there at all! Yes, this would have been a cute trick.

    But dripping cleaner on your hands (and then onto your nitro finish) or into your hollowbody just isn't a great plan. Best is the usual of just getting to the pots and spraying in where cleaner belongs. If the pots are totally sealed then just bite the bullet and replace them.

    Besides this idea as sold is really a solution for a problem long gone. I'm talking about the high quality sealed military molded element low noise pots you used to be able to buy. But that was then. This is now.

    Today, pot threads aren't standard come in all kinds of metric and other sizes so if StuMac was REALLY offering a decent tool for $20 it would not be ONE screw-on cap but a SET of them tapped to fit all the current threads that pots come in. Same even goes for rotary switches.

    Just the tool for guitar repair IF you also happen to own a time machine.
  19. kohntarkosz

    kohntarkosz Banned

    Oct 29, 2013
    Edinburgh - Scotland
    As the person who decided to "pry" a pot apart, to use your slightly emotive turn of phrase. For my application it made perfect sense. I was working on a vintage HH amp that had weird pot values. One was a 56k pot with an inverse log taper. Find me more of them at a decent price with the right shaft length!

    I didn't spray anything into the pot, because that solution does not hold up, in the long run. The spray doesn't make the dirt vanish; it makes a dirt soup that keeps everything working, for a while. Year down the line? Time for another spray. I cleaned the carbon tracks in the pots in my amp using an eraser. They went from being unusable to 100% perfect functionality. None of them broke, or appeared structurally weakened, as a result. If one of the metal teeth did break then I would simply superglue the pot back together using a tiny quantity of glue I could easily break if I needed to clean the pot again (which seems unlikely for the next ~30 years).

    Stew Mac are marketting a section of tapped metal to people too lazy or ignorant to do the correct thing when it comes to hollow/archtop electronics repairs. If you are scared to remove the wiring loom from your hollow guitar, take it down to your local luthier and give him some decent business.

    I admire Stew Mac's attitude of 'anybody can be a luthier', even if it encourages reckless results at times.
  20. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    well the idea is to flush out the "dirt soup" ( i like that) with a couple of repeated sprays and workings.

    i haven't tried the eraser trick, that's interesting; i'd be worried about rubbing off some of the carbon on the track, sending the pot's resistance rating upwards.