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Pots and jacks?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Richardee62, Apr 11, 2014.

  1. Richardee62


    Apr 1, 2011
    I am in the process of taking a Classic Vibe 50's bass to a new level. On a modest budget. Frets filed, New 51 reissue pickup. Do you really need to change the pots and Jack to improve tone? If so would it be better to put a better wiring in as well? Will it make a tonal difference?
  2. jefkritz


    Oct 20, 2007
    iowa city, IA

    some might say yes, but even if it does actually make a difference, it will be have less than 1% of the impact that fret filing or changing pickups (or changing strings) will have.
  3. jefkritz


    Oct 20, 2007
    iowa city, IA
    of course, it they're broken, or you want 500k pots instead of 250k pots, or want more tone rolloff, or... then yes, it'll make a difference.

    but changing the pots and the wires for 'nicer' ones will make a negligible difference, if any.
  4. The reason I change out those items on any project instrument is more related to quality of feel and quality of electrical engagement at the output jack.

    Depending on what's in there currently, you may or may not be making any change by replacing these. One thing I've found is that in a lot of instruments, the stock output jack is much less sturdy, and of a different design than a Switchcraft jack, for instance.

    This probably doesn't affect tone in the slightest, but it may in fact prevent a loose (noisy) connection at some point in the future.

    All the best,

  5. Pots and jacks do not influence tone. You will only hear a difference if you are changing the values.
  6. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    I tend to swap those kind of things out not for tone but for reliability. A decent switchcraft jack will likely last a lot longer and have fewer issues over time than whatever cheap generic thing is in there from the factory. Same with the pots.
  7. I only change them because I end up ruining them when I replace pickups (I'm new to bass/guitar repairing).
  8. Richardee62


    Apr 1, 2011
    Thanks guys. I was of the same mind. It's a new one I got on a sweet trade so I think I'll leave them in a while anyway. Then maybe a year or so switch them out.
  9. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Good plan. This is what I do. I wait until the cheap pots and/or jack gets noisy. Usually the cheap ones get noisy faster than the good ones. The jacks loose tension and make "static" when you move the cord and the pots get "scratchy" when you turn them.

    Sometimes the cheap ones last longer than you'd think, sometimes not.

    When replacing use a Switchcraft jack (which hold tension much better than cheapo ones) and CTS pots are good too, but sometimes you have trouble fitting them in a cavity because they are larger diameter than the small style of Asian pots. Even new Alpha pots will be good as they come in small style.

    Of course sometimes pots will fall completely apart without warning, or a cheap jack will short without warming so switching to a higher grade pot or jack is "insurance" against that happening.
  10. This.

    And to make sure the connections are decent, seen some pretty shoddy soldering jobs in some basses!
  11. jwsturgis


    Apr 2, 2014
    The pots and cap choice will change the tone. A general rule of thumb the higher the K value of the pot brightens the circuit. And the higher UF of the cap will darken it. A 52' should be set up with 250K pots along with a .1uf cap. If you change out the cap for a .2uf, the tone pitch would be noticeably darker. But you could use 500K pots along with a .2uf cap, and the tone should be comparable to a 250K/.1uf setup.
  12. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    Pots and capacitors can have a dramatic effect on tone.
  13. I modded my Squier CV 50's p with a Lollar SCPB pup and full sized CTS pots (I like the way they feel), had to enlarge the holes in the control plate, but I also re-shielded the cavities and re wired with better quality hookup wire, left the original socket.
    No change in the tone with the pots, but I did change the cap to a .047uf so I could get a more reusable range... All worth it... Love that bass a lot. Especially with GHS P flats, it's become a main player.

    BTW I also got the Fender japan RI 51' pup (slightly raised A and D pole pieces) at first and thought it was excellent, great sounding pup, just the Lollar popped up at a good price and I couldn't say no ;)

    Enjoy that bass !
  14. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Which is why I like to wire my passive basses with a on-off-on SPDT mini toggle switch in the tone circuit. This gives me two capacitor values ( in my case one is .047 ufd which is the normal factory value and the other is smaller. Just try values and see what you like)

    The center "off" switch position makes the bass as bright as it can go because the tone circuit is completely disconnected. I like that because I can flip into "bright" tone when I want it and then flip back into "mellow" which has been pre-adjusted for the room, what I want etc. and I can do this without having to deal with twiddling knobs.
  15. tedsalt

    tedsalt Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2010
    Kansas City
    I modded my MIM RW P for multiple capacitors using no-load audio taper pot. The no-load pot basically removes the tone pot from the circuit when you rotate all the way to the end detent. So switch to the .1uF cap and tone pot rolled off for pure thump, or anywhere else for something in the middle, and no-load tone pot set to detent to bypass, giving you everything your PUP has ...

    Link to TB multi-cap thread -

    bassbanj's method above uses less parts (less cost) for same effect ...
  16. Richardee62


    Apr 1, 2011
    I like that idea. Do you here any difference in tone with no-load pot full off.
  17. Richardee62


    Apr 1, 2011
    Yes the Fender 51 RI pickup sounds great.