Pot Values – How do they affect my sound?
The big question… Do I use 250k, 300k, 500k, or 1meg pots in my guitar?
Well… the answer is… it depends.
The way pot values work is this:
- the lower the number on the pot (25k, 100k, 250k, etc), the more highs the pot will attenuate (or bleed off) from your signal
- the higher the number on the pot (500k or 1meg), the more highs the pot will allow through to your signal
- a 1meg pot will allow, virtually, the tone of a raw pickup to shine through (which may or may not be a good thing depending on the pickup)
So, if you are going to rewire your Stratocaster with 3 single coil pickups, single coils already produce a very high amount of treble and, without the correct pot value, could end up sounding very thin, very and “ice picky”. 250k pots are the way to go here. They bleed off more highs than 500k pots making them just right for your single coils.
On the other hand, if you are rewiring your Les Paul with a pair of humbuckers… Humbuckers produce more lows & less highs than single coils. If you used 250k pots on your humbuckers, it would make them sound VERY dark and, possibly, muddy so the correct pot value here would be 500k. If you’d like them to be darker, you can drop down to a 300k.
Now… what if you have a Les Paul with P90s in it? Those are single coil pickups. Using this logic, the right pot value would seem to be the 250k pots but, let’s look at P90s a little deeper. P90s might be a single coil pickup but they have a coil that is closer in construction to a single coil. The shorter the coil, the less highs that it produces and a P90 has a coil that is about the same height as a humbucker coil. The right pot value for a P90 is a 500k.
There are a LOT of variations and none of them are wrong. For instance, let’s say that you wanted very bright sounding humbuckers. Using a 1meg pot will allow, virtually, 100% of the raw pickup tone through to your signal. It attenuates (bleeds off) virtually, nothing. Want a VERY twangy Tele? Use a 1meg pot and let all of that Tele tone through! Using a 1meg pot on your stock Strat, though, may result in a REALLY thin sounding guitar.
I hoped this help demystify pot values a little. If not, drop me a note and I’ll be happy to answer any questions that you might have… firstname.lastname@example.org
I have a Tele with a Dimarzio PAF in the neck and a Seymour duncan single coil in the bridge. I noticed your Super2 wiring and I think it would be a good fit given the 500 and 250 pots. However, I noticed that the description lists it having the humbucker in the bridge.
It is setup for a neck single coil but we’d be happy to change it to a bridge single for you at no additional cost. Just make your purchase and send us a note that you’d like it changed. Easy! Thanks… Jack
I am thinking of putting a p-90 in the bridge on my strat along side a lollar blonde. 250 k pots. And suggestions or advice?
John, there are a few things to consider here. First, make sure that the P-90 that you purchase is a “south up” magnetic orientation (matching the neck single coil). That way it is hum-canceling with the middle pickup (which should be “north up”). Next, while a P-90 is a single coil, it has a very short coil and produces less highs than a Strat pickup. (the taller the coil, the more highs produced)
Gibson recommends 500k pots for P-90s and we agree but, as in most things in Life, compromise is the order of the day. Since you are mixing 2 different pickups (with different pot value requirements), there are several options for wiring. The first question that we’d ask is what kind of music do you play? Do you want your P-90 to have a very bright tone or a tone closer to that of a humbucker? Does your Strat currently have the 1 volume, 2 tones, 5-way switch setup? In terms of compromise, if you keep that setup and use a 500k pot for your P-90, it will make your neck & middle pickups sound brighter. If you decide to use a 250k volume pot, it will darken up the tone of your P-90. You could use 3 push/pull pots – a 500k for the P-90 and a 250k for the neck and the middle. They could be wired to be a volume in the “DOWN” position and a tone in the “UP” position. With that particular setup, each pickup would have the correct value pot and cap on it. The best of all worlds!
Tell me what YOU think… Thanks for a good question… Jack