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