Will changing to 500k pots help my bass?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by bassingeorge, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. bassingeorge

    bassingeorge Supporting Member

    Jul 28, 2003
    San diego, CA
    Ok, so I have a short scale Jaguar-turned-jazzmaster Squier bass with a PJ pickup configuration. I love the short scale and I'm playing it as much as a P bass (with flats) that I use a lot as well...and having that flatwound string sound at my disposal I need a bright sounding bass with rounds.

    The jaguar has rounds and I can dial a bright sound, but not bright enough...I plan on changing pots to better quality CTS and a different cap and jack in a while, so my question is:

    Will changing the tone pot to 500k help brighten my sound?
    So it would be 250k-250k-500k (vvt)

    Or go with 3 250k pots and just change the cap value? I'll probably buy a mallory cap, but which value will give me a brighter sound?

    Please help! :D
    greenscharlie likes this.
  2. I'll bet it already has a .047uF cap there, and if you want it to be brighter, then move toward a .020uF or even go as far as a .010uF cap.

    But - that will indeed be very brassy for lack of a better term.

    I'd just add a toggle switch and a single .020uF cap and then be able to switch between the two values at will.

    I've done that - but in the other direction to take the tone to a lower range - into Motown-range by adding a .100uF cap on a toggle switch.

    Oh yeah - don't bother with the highly hyped and marketed 'Orange Drop' caps. They are no better or worse than any cap you can get at Radio Schlack for 3/99ยข

  3. bassingeorge

    bassingeorge Supporting Member

    Jul 28, 2003
    San diego, CA
    It would be cool to add a toggle but I really have no idea how to install one.

    Would installing a 500k tone pot help brighten the overall tone of the bass? And just use the .047 cap?
  4. doktorfeelgood

    doktorfeelgood layin' it down like pavement

    Yes....a 500k tone pot will give you a brighter tone.
  5. I think a cap is less intrusive though, with or without a switch.

    Pots are not simple either and if you're not sure of the installation for a switch, then perhaps pots are gonna be a challenge too?

    You're gonna wind up un-soldering and re-soldering.
  6. bassingeorge

    bassingeorge Supporting Member

    Jul 28, 2003
    San diego, CA
    Oh, I've done that plenty of times, change pots, caps, wire, pickups...but installing a toggle on my bass will require some modding, routing and honestly I've never wired a toggle.

    Would be easier to install the pots. I'm buying new pots for it anyways. Just want to know if I can get a brighter tone with just the tone pot being 500k, or would I have to buy the 3 pots 500k? If I go with the 500k pot, which cap value should I go with?
  7. doktorfeelgood

    doktorfeelgood layin' it down like pavement

    You will get a brighter tone by just swapping out the tone pot to a 500k pot. No need to switch the volume pots to 500k pots.
  8. bassingeorge

    bassingeorge Supporting Member

    Jul 28, 2003
    San diego, CA
    Cool! I'll order 2 250k's and 1 500k! :)

    Cap can stay the same at .047uF?
  9. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    The brighter sound you get by increasing the pot value comes from decreasing the load on the pickups. The load decrease occurs incrementally as you raise the value of each pot so there is no hard and fast rule about how many pots you need to change. It just depends on how much brighter you expect the sound to be and there is no guarantee that changing all three will make your sound bright enough since that depends on your expectations. We can say that if we include the 1M amplifier input impedance the load on your pickups in the various configurations will be:

    3x250k => 77k
    2x250k V + 1x500k T => 91k
    2x500k V + 1x250k T => 111k
    3x500k => 142k

    There is no way to know how much is enough for your tastes, we can only note that the maximum effect is obtained by changing all three.

    The tone cap value is a separate issue really. The brightest tone is obtained when the pot value is maxed out and the tone cap value has no effect at this setting on the high frequency (ie "bright") sound components unless it has a really small value. At 300 Hz a 2 nF (0.002 uF) cap has only as much effect as the 250k tone pot in series with it and a 1 nF cap would have as much effect as a 500k tone pot. So the tone cap value is only important when you dial in a deeper tone (lower tone pot resistance) and if you like the 47 nF cap you have now you will like it the same after you change the pot(s). Wiring a toggle is no harder than wiring a pot, just follow any of the many schematics that have been posted here and you will be fine. The real issue is that if you use a toggle you need to drill a hole somewhere to mount it, or else you need to get a pot with a push/pull switch built in.

  10. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    I would switch the volume pots to 500k. That will do more than the tone pot. The volume pots are directly loading the pickups.

    As Ken pointed out, when you add them together the load increases. You can also go with 1M volume pots, but they get darker when you roll back the volume.

    Have you tried brighter strings? The cap won't do anything for you. That's only in play when you turn the tone control down past about 8 or so. The cap removes highs. It won't make the bass brighter.

    You can also get a no load tone pot, or a Fender TBX. The remove the cap/resistance when you turn the tone up to 10.
  11. bassingeorge

    bassingeorge Supporting Member

    Jul 28, 2003
    San diego, CA
    Cool! Thanks guys! I'm learning a lot as I read.

    Thats a VERY helpful little list you posted khutch! That's exactly what I wanted to know. I don't want to bright of a sound, but I want to brighten my current sound. I max out the tone knob, use the jazz pickup to add sparkle, and use bright roundwounds, but still want a little bit more brightness.

    Going to try changing the tone pot to 500k, and leave the cap at .047uF.

    77k to 91k seems fine.

    Thanks guys!