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hi13ts

Pots on 2016 LP Traditional

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Hi friends, let me preface by saying that my observations of an audio taper pot vs linear taper pot is that audio tapers have a smoother roll to full volume, with no sudden volume jumps, while a linear taper pot hits to almost full volume around 5 or 6 and then increases just a bit when you roll up to 10. Whether or not this is true or at least, consistently true, I'm not certain, but working from that knowledge, I noticed something at a recent gig.

 

All my Gibsons are wired 50s style with either Orange Drops or PIOs with 500k audio taper pots. My SG and 333 were upgraded with CTS pots after purchase. My new 335, I can only assume, is a 500k audio taper pot with Orange drops. I cannot look at it to verify as it obviously does not have a backplate. My Les Paul, however, came with stock pots that says Gibson. According to Gibson's site, they are 500k audio taper pots.

 

When I was playing a gig, I had two sets and brought both the 335 and the Les Paul. I utilize my volume knob constantly to roll off and clean up my tone. I played the 335 first and had to roll down my volume knob to about 4 or 5 to get a cleaner tone. Being used to that, I played the second set with my Les Paul and did the same, but I noticed that the gain was significantly less and to match the volume level of the 335 at 4 or 5, I had to have the Les Paul's knob about 7 or 8. With everything being the same, why is there such a significant difference between those guitars? I went home and tested all my Gibsons and they all react the same as my 335; only the Les Paul has significantly lesser gain.

 

Are the pots that come in the 2016 LPs not CTS? They certainly react differently. Obviously, this is not really a problem, it's just something I'd adapt to, but I'm just curious as I thought the Gibson pots are indeed CTS pots with the Gibson logo stamped on.

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The pickups would have some variation in output, but the guitars are quite likely wired different. That will greatly effect the volume in the middle of the range, not so much when the controls are wide open. Recent 335's have the Memphis Tone Circuit, which is kind of like 50's style, but a little different. Not sure.

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Audio taper pots are at 10% when rolled to 5 (one half).

Linear taper pots are at 50% when rolled to 5.

I use vintage taper pots (Emerson CTS Pro) which are 30% when rolled to 5. In my opinion that sort of splits the difference. You might want to try a vintage taper pot and see if that puts your volume where you can use it more effectively.

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Another thing to remember is that the volume is not really a volume like a master volume or the volume on your TV. Think of it as the power your pickups output into the amps preamp circuit. If your amp is already at a low gain overdrive then just a little bit more power will give you a little more volume. But more power (more volume from guitar) doesn’t get louder it gets more preamp gain. That might also explain why you are not hearing ‘more loud’ and instead are hearing ‘more gain’. This is exactly how I use my guitars. I leave the amp master volume wide open and dial in a little bit of preamp gain. Then I use the guitar volume and tone to go from clean to overdrive whilst keeping the overall guitar volume the same. I want a ‘loud’ clean sound and a loud ‘gain’ sound with little volume difference

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My question is that since all of my guitars are wired the same and the specs are consistent, why would the Les Paul react so differently compared to the other guitars. The pickups are all PAF-inspired so it's comparable, but the the swell is different. Derald touched on a good point in that pots, even with similar values, can be different. I can see that being the differentiator given that my other Gibsons have CTS pots (actually, I don't know what's inside the 335 for sure, but regardless, it reacts similarly to my other Gibsons. Only the Les Paul is reacting differently and that's the difference I'm trying to find).

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