Linear Vs Audio Pots

Discussion in 'Project Depot' started by Mr. Leyvatone, May 22, 2020.

  1. Mr. Leyvatone

    Mr. Leyvatone Well-Known Member

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    I've recently been going deeper into the mod pool and have come to a realization regarding a wiring preference.

    Common wisdom seems to be audio taper pots for volume, and linear or audio for tone.

    I've been really disappointed with the volume and tone controls in my guitars with that setup. I've even had a good American Pro Tele modified (ineffectively) to try to work around the way the tone and volume fell off so quickly.

    Turns out the configuration used on my Agiles from the factory is the reverse: B500K linear Alpha pots for Volume and A500K audio Alpha pots for Tone. To me, this is much better. I feel like it gives a usable range from 1-10 on both controls.

    So my next wave of projects will likely involve some rewiring of guitars to use the linear volume and audio tone configuration. I'm pretty excited about this. I have a love/hate relationship with some of my guitars...love how they sound when the volume is at 8.5 - 10, but hate the weak sauce below 8.5.

    Any good stories from forum members on this topic?
     
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  2. Mr. Leyvatone

    Mr. Leyvatone Well-Known Member

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    Legalize Linear Volume Pot! bump
     
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  3. Daniel Butler

    Daniel Butler Member

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    I'm not an expert but I've found traditionally you'll find audio taper (normally designated with a "A") pots on the volume and linear taper (normally designated with a "B") on the tone. I understand some Gibsons (EG LP Jr.) and others, as you have noticed, will actually reverse this. My experience with linear taper (B) pots on the tone have not worked well. There's no effect on tone between 10 and 2, and then between 2 and zero it just drops off.

    That being said, I prefer audio taper (A) pots on both volume and tone and can really see no reason at all to put linear taper (B) pots on either; I've just not found them to work like they need to, especially for tone.

    I would also add you should seek out quality, full-size (24mm) pots, preferably with brass bushings. For example, Alpha, Bournes, CTS. Pots are seriously inexpensive so there's no reason to not get decent ones.
     
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  4. andrewsrea

    andrewsrea Well-Known Member

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    I like audio taper all around, especially on Tele's. Essential for volume. I have a friend that can do the wah-wah tone swells with linear taper tone pots, which is really cool - just not my thing.

    The reason I think imports like Agile use linear pots, are economics and they cater more to lefties than other manufacturers. Linear taper perform the same if they are wired lefty or righty and you don't have to stock reverse - taper.

    I'd be interested in what our leftie friends prefer. I get into watching Shane from 'In The Blues' who uses primarily righty audio pots, but plays leftie. His on-off motions are backwards from me and he has it down.
     
  5. backinit

    backinit Well-Known Member

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    Works best for me as well.
     
  6. Mickey

    Mickey Guest

    Back in the 1960's I learned to use what was available, as a result it never occurred to me to install reverse taper. DUH!
    They would probably feel backwards to me today.
     
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  7. Fat Jack

    Fat Jack Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Like Mickey I started with what came on the guitar. Pretty simpe 1 way turns it up other way down, then i read about reverse- lefty- taper. It makes no sense to swap it all now and unlearn to relearn 1- 10.
     
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  8. mozz

    mozz Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Never saw a linear taper on a tone control.

    Vol- audio taper
    Tone- audio taper

    Vol- linear taper= bedroom player.
     
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  9. tobijohn

    tobijohn The Great Enabler Gold Supporting Member

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    To the best of my recollection, every left-handed import I have has originally come with linear volume and audio tone pots. The only exceptions have been the new style Agile ALs and maybe a Schecter which have linear pots on all four corners. However, they are wired so that to increase volume and tone, the knob is turned counter-clockwise. This does not affect the sweep too much on the linear pots but when audio pots are wired in reverse, it almost eliminates the sweep. So usually one of the first things I do is rewire the controls to a right-handed configuration where turning the knobs clockwise increases volume and tone and restores the tone sweep to something with more of a natural gradient. Gibson lefties come stock with the right-handed configuration...
     
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  10. Chocol8

    Chocol8 Well-Known Member

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    Both volume and tone are audio so use an audio pot to control them.
     
  11. Partscaster

    Partscaster Well-Known Member

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    I think I've only used audio, and I measure and put the lower ohm pots of the batch for the volume position(s). I read that can shift the entire resonant peak of the signal a small amount to the lower frequencies, for when I aim to curb excessive highs.

    I've even bought significantly lower pot readings to throw in volume position of an overly bright tone scenario. Like a 300k in an LP volume position, etc.
     
  12. andrewsrea

    andrewsrea Well-Known Member

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    So off for you is 'pull-up' on the volume?
     
  13. Mickey

    Mickey Guest

    No, counterclockwise. :)
     
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  14. andrewsrea

    andrewsrea Well-Known Member

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    @tobijohn , @Mickey , @Fat Jack - sounds like you guys learned and now prefer 'clockwise = increase in volume. For some strange reason, I find that fascinating but understandable. I've been playing righty so long that intuitively, I pull up on the volume with my pinky for more and push down for less.

    ^Edit: Sounds like Mickey has his wired leftie.

    I have only seen it a few times and the one guy insisted all his guitars be wired that way. With a linear tone pot and playing righty, there is a sharp transition 'knee' around '3' or '4'. This guy would normally play with it on '6' and do wah-wah effects by swelling the tone knob as he played. He was very good at it, although not my bag. I'll use a floor wah, thanks.
     
  15. dabbler

    dabbler Well-Known Member Supporting Member+ Supporting Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Easy to say, but my experience has been either can work. I USED to think audio taper on volume until I went to put a switchpot on one of my favorite J basses and found out it had linear volume and audio tone pots... and they both worked VERY WELL!

    So as I've learned with a lot of assumptions I've had about equipment, "It depends"... and "EVERYTHING matters"!
     
  16. Mossman

    Mossman Well-Known Member

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    A linear tone pot is a mud switch IME. I used to always use linear pots for tone because that's what I was told you're supposed to use, but an audio pot gives you a broader range of tonal options. If you're going to use a linear pot, you might as well save yourself some trouble and not have a tone pot at all, because you're always going to keep it dimed anyway.
     
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  17. nomadh

    nomadh Well-Known Member

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    Its crazy that this isnt "settled science". I've never dug into this but I know some of my guitars vol work better. But the main issue isnt how it ramps as much as how it gets gritty/ugly sometimes. A pot is only resistance how can it have "ugly" resistance. If I had a 250k and turned it down to 100k then at that moment the circuit is identical to a 100k resistor to the point I could unsolder the pot and put in the 100k for identical sound, right? 1/4 watt or 1 w or metal film res? True?
     

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