500k pots with a P90 SG?

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by luckystrike, May 22, 2019.

  1. luckystrike

    luckystrike Member

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    I have a 2001 SG Classic that needs a new wiring harness.
    It's cut out on me twice now despite having pots replaced etc.

    I have had some conflicting advice regarding which pot value would be best.
    Most pre-wired harnesses come with 500k pots but some have said that 500k
    will make p90's too shrill, and thats why Gibson fitted 300k pots.

    What have other experienced?

    Regards, LS
     
  2. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

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    300k is probably the wise choice. Having said that, your amp certainly has tone controls.
     
  3. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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  4. syscokid

    syscokid Well-Known Member

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    AFAIK, Gibson was fitting humbucker equipped guitars with 300k pots, too. Personally, I have 4 guitars with different brands of P90s: Gibson, Seymour Duncan, Wolfetone, and Kinman. All pots are 500k. None of these guitars are inherently "shrill". Maybe a nuance of more brightness, but certainly not more "shrill".
     
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  5. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

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    My G400 has humbuckers, and they fitted 1 Meg pots. That sounds fine. Above a certain resistance you get a diminishing return of brightness because the input resistance of the amp starts to become dominant.
     
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  6. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    I think the shrill factor in a pickup is directly proportional to its height.
     
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  7. papagayo

    papagayo Well-Known Member

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    With 500k potentiometers tone and volume controls are more sensitive.

    The sound is the same, no problem.
     
  8. plankton

    plankton Well-Known Member

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    I have a Tokai with P90s and all 500k pots and it's in no way shrill, just awesome.
     
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  9. HackeIommi

    HackeIommi Member

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    Brighter? Probably yes. Shrill? I think this is a matter of taste. If you find the sound shrill, one simple capacitor mod can solve the problem. I've done it to my Nighthawk. She had a 0.022 uf typical bad Gibson ceramic capacitor. I replaced it with a good cap. Not even a different value, just a better 0.022 uf. Made great impact.

    This video can give some ideas:

     
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
  10. Layne Matz

    Layne Matz Well-Known Member

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    Just going to add that i have a p94 in the bridge position of my Strat, two 500k pots for master tone and volume as well as a pot bypass switch. It can sound nearly Tele like if you dial in the amp right.

    P.S. pot bypass switches sounded overrated and unnecessary before I tried them and discovered how prqctical they were. Pickups without pots or a capacitor sound unique and its not something that can be achieved any other way besides a bypass switch unless you want to try really hard to dial that tone in. Id rather just add a dpdt switch.
     
  11. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    I use 500k pots on my P-90s from Rose Pickups in California.
    This Epiphone guitar sounds awesome to my ear. Epiphones respond really
    well to upgrades IMHO.

    I don't think there's anyway that P-90s pickups could be made to sound shrill
    unless you bypass your pot controls as above. That would ruin the tone of
    any pickup IMHO. Those tone controls are there for a reason. Telecasters don't
    sound shrill either. Telecasters have a very wide range of tones, and are
    excellent instruments. A Telecaster can sound bright, or not, depending on
    how you set your controls.
     
  12. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    Through most of the Norlin era, they did. Then, for many years the Standard and below used 500k tone and 300k volume.
     
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  13. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    I have a 2004 and 2006 SG Classic with the original wiring and have no issues with either guitar. The only modifications that I have made are changing the bridge pickups to zero-hum P-90's and replacing the small bean tuners with the keystone versions.

    I have never understood the hype about 500k pots and the hate for 300k pots that I read about online and have never experienced any issues with the values of the stock pots and caps used in the control cavities of Gibsons.
     
  14. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    that was one of the first bits of ETSG wisdom I ran across
    when I was a newb in like 2009. "get rid of the 300k pots
    and put CTS 500k pots in there...."

    The experienced older guys said that Gibson had designed the p'ups with
    500k pots, and then for some reason had substituted 300k. Typical Gibson
    bashing posts insisted that this was a cost saving change, undermining quality
    in the name of profit. I never believed this.

    But I never understood the reason Gibson would go against the design.
    I've seen the copyright diagram, as prepared (and signed) by Seth Lover.
    500K...
    That's good enough for me. I never understood why the substitution
    was made. Members of this forum tried to explain it in Electronics Engineer
    jargon, and I confess that I never understood the explanation. *shrugs
    I concluded that Seth Lover knew what he was doing, and then played
    my SG.

    Fender Guitars are issued with 250K pots, and maybe this is to
    tame some of the legendary Fender brightness. One of the few things I
    "improved" on my '06 MIM Fender Tele Deluxe replica was to replace the stock
    wiring with a good quality kit from Stewmac, including 500K pots.
    I believe that the change did the guitar some good, tone wise.
    I've read posts where guys thought the Tele Deluxe sounded muddy,
    but mine doesn't. Mine sounds awesome.

    Anyway, to answer the OP's question in detail, I asked the same question
    here when I was planning to upgrade the electronics in my Epiphone ES-339 P-90 pro.
    The consensus among P-90 users was 500k. That was good enough for me.
    I bought the parts and snaked them into the guitar body through the sound hole,
    using fishing line tied to each component. ...a bitch of a project... never again.

    When I looked at what the Epiphone engineers had installed into my guitar,
    it was CTS 500k pots. So I installed the same thing I had removed. Go figure.
    The ES-339 is a thin body semi-hollow body with a center block of solid maple.
    So I couldn't look at what was in there, or I would have left it alone. Oh well.

    This is how you learn. CTS pots (which used to mean Chicago Telephone Supply)
    are now made in many countries of the world, including China. Gibson probably
    ordered their potentiometers from this company (in the fifties) simply because Mr. Maurice Berlin
    (who owned Chicago Musical Instruments Co. which owned Gibson) might have been a drinking buddy with the CEO of Chicago Telephone Supply. I'm guessing here, of course.

    Anyway, I've had electronics engineers tell me that there is no difference from
    one pot to another. The same with Capacitors. They all do the same thing, within
    the same specs, within specified tolerances. Personally, I didn't believe this either,
    because radar is one thing, and music is another. Engineers usually don't think
    in terms of tone, man.
     
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  15. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    The tone control in an electric guitar is simply an RC Low Pass Filter circuit.

    [​IMG]

    I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
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  16. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    :rofl: I like that.
     
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  17. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    ha ha... me too
     
  18. plankton

    plankton Well-Known Member

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    I'm going to borrow that one to use at school.
     
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  19. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

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    The engineers are one hundred percent, spot on correct. A guitar's tone control circuit is one of the least demanding environments a component can encounter. Radar demands many orders of magnitude more control, with not only the material things are made from mattering, but the physical dimensions being key to operation. In a guitar's tone control all that makes a difference in a capacitor is its value. Same with a pot. Obviously there are quality issues to do with not falling apart, getting scratchy etc, but that is a different issue.

    I find it in equal parts funny and depressing that guitarists can claim to hear the difference between makes of tone cap - even while the tone is at max treble (go figure), but don't respond with equal certainty to the tiny change brought about by moving their head one millimetre, which will be a far bigger change.

    I'm not accusing anyone of lying (although some do, when sales figures are involved). This is just a manifestation of a very common psychological delusion which can only really be countered by a double blind test.
     
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  20. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    While engineers are correct in theory, it often takes a college degree to break it and a high school diploma to fix it. :smile:
     

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