Learn how to choose between 250K and 500K pots

Learn how to choose between 250K and 500K Pots now!

Last Updated: October 30th, 2021

We frequently get asked about pot values when a customer orders one of our Prewired Telecaster Control Plates or Prewired Pickguards. Pot value has a significant impact on your instrument’s final tone; it’s essential to choose wisely. We mainly get asked how to choose between 250K pots and 500K pots. Let’s dig in!

CHOOSING BETWEEN 250K AND 500K POTS:

When choosing between 250K and 500K pots, there is no concrete rule (more on this later), but here’s a good rule of thumb:

Single Coil Pickups use 250K pots and Humbuckers use 500K pots, as a good starting point.
  • Single Coil pickups sound best on 250K pots (think Strat or Tele pickups)
  • Humbuckers and stronger pickups sound best on 500K pots
  • 300K pots do an excellent job of filling the gap between 250K and 500K.

WHY?

The pot itself dampens high frequencies from your pickups’ signal. It does this by adding a short across your pickup’s signal. Lower resistance pots, like 250K, will dampen more high frequencies off of your signal than a 500K pot will. 

If you were to connect your pickups directly to the output jack, you would notice your tone is louder and brighter. Most instrument manufacturers pick the pot value that makes the instrument sound the best.

Learn how you can remove your pots from your signal with one of our cool push-pull pot mods.

A 500K pot provides the most resistance, so high frequencies from your signal are not bled to ground as easily as a 250K pot. Similarly, the 250K pot contributes less resistance and thus bleeds more high frequencies to ground.

But wait: variable resistance is a good thing! Traditional Humbuckers can sound dark and muddy through a 250K pot, and Single Coil Strat or Tele Pickups can sound shrill and “crispy” through a 500K pot. By choosing the correct pot value, we tailor our electronics to the pickup’s true voicing. 

Want to learn more about pots? Check out our article here.

LINDY SAYS…

Lindy always says: “the correct pot is the one that sounds the best to you.” This is true for many reasons: you may want your single-coil pickups to sound brighter in the first place. Or, you may have a dark-sounding guitar, and you want to compensate by having brighter sounding pickups. In either case, wiring your pickups through a 300K or 500K pot will most likely help you achieve that goal.

WHICH POTS TO CHANGE?

When you choose between 250K or 500K pots, it’s important to remember that Volume Pots make the bulk of your tonal difference. Your tone pots certainly make a difference as well, but, if you wanted to make a quick and easy change, change your Volume pot first, and then listen.


Well, that’s really about it. It’s a pretty simple topic. The best way to know which pot value works best for you is to experiment! Grab a 250K, 300K, and 500K, and change out your volume pot to see what it does to the tone.

Written By:

Tyler Delsack (Manager, Fralin Pickups)

👋 I'm Tyler Delsack, the Manager of Fralin Pickups. Along with managing the shop and working on this Website, I run my own website to provide free Jazz Guitar lessons.


10 Comments

  1. I have a Strat type guitar with SSH configuration.
    And I like to change the pickups by replacing the traditional single coils by replacing them for hum canceling single coil pickups (the ones the look like single coil but function as a humbucker).
    Wich pots should I choose for those pickups + the traditional humbucker on the bridge?
    Thanks

    1. Hey Nicolas, if you’re going with our Split Blades, we have 4 outputs to choose so you can make sure that either 250K or 500K will work perfectly. If you wanted a Traditional Humbucker in the Bridge, I’d recommend 500K pots and select our Blues Output Split Blade Neck & Middle. This would require a 500K volume pot. This way, you’ll have perfect balance in all positions.

  2. I have a question: I plan to split the coils on my 2 humbucker guitar by replacing the single tone pot with a push/pull. My question is what value push/pull you recommend for this mod since the guitar will sometimes be in a SS configuration with the switch engaged and HH with it off?

    Thanks.

  3. Ralph canosays

    I have a grease bucket on my yosimite
    Pickups
    They sound chirpy bright
    And extremely high pitched
    I want a warmer low end on my tail bridge pickup
    What can I do
    The tone mob just rolls off some of the highs
    I need a twang sound not a trebly sound on the bridge pup

  4. Alexander Hausersays

    And what pot is to choose for a HSS set?

    1. Tyler Delsacksays

      It really depends! Most pots are 250K. But, you can choose 300K or even 500K if you have darker-sounding single coils.

  5. Joseph J. Rogowskisays

    I have developed a simple concept the I call the rule of 40. Just multiply the DC resistance of your pickup by 40 to see what pot value is best for that pickup. You can try it with the number 35 if you want a little less bright sound. This concept really works and takes a lot of complex impedance ratio theory out of what should be a simple issue to solve.

    Since the pot value is also in parallel with the amplifier input impedance, typically 1 Meg ohm, then a 250K pot looks like a 200K ohm load along with the guitar cable capacitance that’s is near 30 pf per foot.

  6. Dear fralin Picups
    One of my customers , need to have a lower output on his p90 lundgren Picups. It’s because he’s sound engineer
    On live gigs, says that there is to much difference in the output between his vintage guitars and the new handmade sose1678# guitar .
    Can you please help me with this problem?
    Henrik liep , tech and owner of liep handmade guitars. Denmark.
    Thank you very much ?

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