Are All Mini Pots Bad?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by mkdaws32, Feb 18, 2020.

  1. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    One thing not mentioned about smaller pots is the sweep, for some they are less smooth to control in small increments, ie: the radius from shaft centerline is shorter, so control of movement is harder. Just a comment, not something I worry about too much.

    When I converted a Deluxe Reverb RI to a handwired amp I went ahead and used the existing pots. They were small, but very smooth.
     
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  2. Switchy

    Switchy Tele-Holic

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    You know.... very high quality small pots do exist.
     
  3. TimTam

    TimTam Tele-Holic

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    Are you suggesting that swapping for pots of the same resistance affects tone ?
     
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  4. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    I wasn't aware that any of the mini-pots were "bad". I've opened plenty of my guitars to find mini-pots in them, and haven't had problems with them. I have, however, noticed them in more inexpensive guitars, so there could be an issue with using them over a long period of time, gigging regularly, etc.
     
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  5. TimTam

    TimTam Tele-Holic

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    Perceptions about wiring quality are often wrong eg ...
    Big pots are not intrinsically better than small ones.
    Big orange capacitors are not better than little ceramic ones.
    Wiring in Japanese Fenders is not worse than MIA Fenders ... in fact the shielded wiring found in many MIJs is better than the unshielded wiring in most MIAs.
     
  6. Chipss36

    Chipss36 Tele-Meister

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    Pots of the same resistance are rare with tolerance of current pot manufacturers, that said , taper and how the carbon tack is made all make a difference.
    Do you measure pots? You should , a 250 ohm marked pot could be way way off and that does indeed effect tone!
    It is funny to me that someone would put cts and Alfa pots in the same category, they are clearly quality wise and price wise in different categories, the specs will tell you a bunch about longevity, not always spot on, but a good guideline.
    Why anyone would use a cheep Alfa to save a buck or two over a cts to me is absurd.
    A USA made crl switch is flat out a better switch that will last longer than import junk, same with using China Alfa pots.
    A made in America fender does indeed have better parts in it compared to imports, shielding can lead to a loss in high end, and that is just the physics of it , has nothing to do with the quality of electronic components, I say this as someone who works in electronics. Building amps, mic amps, compressors, mics, all sorts of stuff, I feel I understand how to read a spec sheet, and understand what fails or lasts while being used in studios every day....not just what I “think” and have done so well over 30 years.
    If you are talking the time to rewire a guitar, spend a few extra bucks, use the best parts available, make sure the part meets spec, never worry, you could have done it better.
    Just my take.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2020
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  7. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I have learned in over 30 years experience to measure pots to ensure proper tolerance and taper. It’s just worth it to do, rather than revisiting the circuit after it is complete because of an under performing pot. I also believe that resistance is resistance and capacitance are capacitance. There are controlled studies that show very little measurable difference in the performance of capacitors of various construction across the audible frequency range; I do not believe in the magic or orange drop caps.

    While I agree that shielding does attenuate high frequencies - I mean you can’t dispute the physics of it - the effect on tone is subjective. The small amount extreme highs that are lost with 6” of shielded cable are, in my opinion, a positive effect on tone and well worth the decrease in undesirable noise. But as I said, this is entirely subjective.

    I do believe that a part should be “fit for purpose”, and over time, full size Alpha pots have proved to be reliable and within required specifications for my purposes. The CTS pots are constructed differently and some people may prefer the feel and drag of CTS post and that’s fine, but subjective. I am not convinced that Alphas are inferior for this particular purpose.

    It is true there is a lot of junk that comes out of China, but there are also a lot of quality, branded products. At one time it may have been true, but inferior quality should no longer be assumed with Chinese manufactured components.

    I also have an electronics background, education and professional experience servicing amplifiers, CRTs and other electronic equipment, although the last 20 years or so of my professional career have been more on the software and then management side.

    My purpose in starting this thread was to leverage others’ experience with various manufacturer’s mini pots, since I have little experience with them. This is largely because I have just avoided them for years due to personal, and honestly irrational, bias.
     
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  8. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    I'm still waiting for the crappy mini pots and plastic switch in my MIJ Strat to give me any trouble. 25 years and counting...
     
  9. Si G X

    Si G X Tele-Holic

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    With the same sized knob, it doesn't feel any different to me. The radius from the centre to the outside of the knob is exactly the same and the travel between 0 and 10 is the same.
     
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  10. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    See - this is what I mean - passive guitar volume and tone circuits are not exactly an intense or stressful application for pots ;) . Some do fail, but those early MIJs were built pretty well. The electronics might not have been “USA spec”, but I doubt they were bottoms of the barrel.

    I’ve had maybe one import PCB switch ever actually fail (poor connection - noisy) but I always replace them with Oak Gigsby because I prefer the stiffer feel. Actually I prefer the feel of Oak Grigsby switches to the “clunk” of the CRL switches, which many consider the superior blade switch, but again it’s subjective.
     
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  11. Bob M

    Bob M Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    In my mind there is a consistency to both CTS pots and CRL switches that make them the "go-tos" for many. That said my son (who can wear out a guitar) has a low end 20 yr old Yamaha Pacifica that has all the original switches and pots and works flawlessly still. How many perfectly good "cheap" pots have been tossed in favor of a CTS "upgrade". I know I've done it...
     
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  12. TwangToInfinity

    TwangToInfinity Tele-Afflicted

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    i used them for partcasters, mik from ebayer bezdez.

    it has been quite a while and no problems whatsever.

    i like the small diameter that way i can get more wiggle room for crooked control plate issues
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
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  13. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    No. They’re fine and cheap to replace if they fail. I have a well-played 1994 Tele with minis that work fine. However, the only pot I’ve had the inside go weird and loose is a CiJ mini-pot. CTS are fine but aren’t always any smoother when you first install them. However, you’ll find new pots get smoother after a little use. A lot of pots that are playing up can be fixed by cleaning with the right stuff, as long as the carbon track isn’t worn out. I resurrected the original tone pots in my 1973 Tele that one tech had given up on and replaced before I got it. You need a low-residue cleaner/lube that’s designed for potentiometers. No WD40!

    So why do I use full-size CTS pots? For a small amount of money more than decent mini pots, I can go for the same standard of pots used on high value guitars. So why not?
     
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  14. TimTam

    TimTam Tele-Holic

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    I can't believe some people are arguing in favour of unshielded wiring over shielded conductors in a guitar. Check every cable in audio and video installations - often carrying much higher frequencies than a guitar. Are they shielded conductors or not ? All except speaker cables. Read up on signal to noise ratios. And maybe try running an unshielded speaker cable from your guitar to your amp and see how that works.

    And some of the other stuff here is just repeated hearsay, misconceptions, and half-truths. The price of a part, and whether it's made in America, is no guide to quality. And Leo would have a good laugh at you if you said he used the best quality parts. Resistance is resistance. And guitars aren't mixing desks or milspec.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
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  15. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    My other Japanese Strat still has it's original Alpha pots, I changed the DM30 switch for a DM50 way back in 83, but not because it was broken.
     
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  16. Geo

    Geo Friend of Leo's

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    Best way to determine if the pot is as good as wanted especially for a tone control is to measure the
    resistance turn off completely. For a 250K pot if reading say 240-250 - very good, 230-240 good
    and 220-230 so-so and maybe fine for a volume control pot.
    It is even possible for a 250K pot to read even a bit higher. The overall taper can be measured
    all the way to fully open or yes 0- Zero K.
    A lot of high end non guitar audio equipment use the small pots. Since CTS has an Asian plant
    it wouldn't be surprising to see those full size ones in the higher end Fender Japan models.
     
  17. Marblatx

    Marblatx TDPRI Member

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    If a pot goes bad replace it. Unless the existing pot is out of spec there's non need to change it unless it goes bad. It's not going to make any difference in tone any more than replacing a ceramic capacitor with an "orange drop" will.
     
  18. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I have to agree. Resistance is resistance - as long as the taper and value are right and it’s not too stiff or loose (feel matters to me) leave it until it fails - my new philosophy :)
     
  19. Fendereedo

    Fendereedo Poster Extraordinaire

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    You may have a bit more to wait then lol.
     
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  20. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's Vendor Member

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    I did a total makeover on an Epiphone Dot, installing Gibson Classic '57's and all new wiring. To make it easier to fish the wiring harness in through the f-holes I used CTS 500K audio taper mini pots. I have been very happy with how the whole thing turned out and the pots work great. They are pretty firm on the turning friction - not loose at all. Some might like or dislike that.
    Cheers,
    Rex
     
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