Pickups?

The Convert

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It's strictly whether or not higher quality electronics have an audible impact on tonality.

I get it. And corrosion which leads to degrading signal and noise and potentially no signal impacts the quality of the signal. So gold connectors are commonly used across the industry, as gold does not corrode. In fact other metals conduct better, but do corrode. I suppose you could use platinum if you have the cash.

EDIT: I was responding to one element. If you want my perspective on pots and caps and wiring, it’d be this: if you are planning on keeping the guitar for 50 years, it makes a difference. Otherwise, cheap electronics in my experience have a minor, but detectable impact on tone. The reason you replace cheap guitar electronics is for reliability. I’ve had a few pots fail in Squier/Epiphone guitars. Also with pots you way want a different taper or a different level of physical resistance (some cheap pots turn loosely in some players’ estimations.) But “strictly” does it have an effect on tone? Not so much, but a little. I have only a few times installed or bought a guitar with expensive pots or caps. I’ve never noticed a difference beyond orange drops and CTS pots. Does that help?
 
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Steven Westberg

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Assuming that the stock wiring is within spec, then replacing the pots, wiring and caps has no electrical effect, beneficial or otherwise.

The only thing the wiring harness can do to hurt the sound is improperly load the pickups by having pots that are either way above or below spec. If the humbuckers or P-90's sound best with 500k pots, then anything more than 20% outside of that will make the pickups sound either muffled or shrill. Whether the pots are dime or quarter sized makes no difference. Some pots have a better log tapers than others, but there's no evidence that the stock pots have a bad log tapper, or that replacement pots would have a better taper. So if the pots are bad, that's one thing, but you'd first have to determine that they're bad. The dime and quarter pots fail for the same reason, the wiper can become oxidized, the only way to prevent it would be to used enclosed potentiometers, but I haven't even seen such a thing offered for guitar controls.

The quality of the wire that is in between the controls is irrelevant, because even hair thin wire presents a very low series resistance, and even there was significant series resistance, it would still be trivial compared the series resistance of the pickup.

Some people believe PIO caps are better than ceramic, that's a debate unto itself, and I think replacing the caps is as much a waste of time as replacing anything else, but it's a lot less invasive than replacing all the wiring, if that's all you do.

I think the idea of quality wiring originates from how 50's guitars were wired, with parts used in guitar amps that are rated to handle a much higher amperage than electric guitars are subject to, so the hookup wire, quarter sized pots, and chunky capacitors are unnecessarily large for the task at hand, and even though the small import style wiring is more appropriate, the guitar community turns it into a quality issue, which it isn't. In fact the voltages are so tiny, the little surface mount parts could be used, and it still wouldn't be detrimental to the sound.

Import guitars have had cause to sound bad, but it's usually due to the pickups, not the wiring. The ProBuckers are high quality though, if an Epi has them, then there's nothing to be objectively gained by replacing any of the electronics.

That was really interesting. And being slightly electronics oriented I found absolutely nothing to disagree with here.
Thanks Brother!
 

Antigua

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I think "lived experience" is the term du jour. "You have your truth about PIO caps and I have mine."
 

Raiyn

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My thinking is purely based on longevity. If I'm gonna replace some pots or a switch or a jack I may as well spend a few bucks more for better quality and not have a need to do it again. With caps it's mostly about tolerance not the composition. I've used PIO, Orange Drops, Chicklets and even tiny ceramic caps. Any audible difference is negligible.
I think we're largely in agreement here.
I have no problem dropping a little coin for better quality / tolerance - especially if I'm playing with specs.
 

soulman969

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I get it. And corrosion which leads to degrading signal and noise and potentially no signal impacts the quality of the signal. So gold connectors are commonly used across the industry, as gold does not corrode. In fact other metals conduct better, but do corrode. I suppose you could use platinum if you have the cash.

For me corrosion and/or mechanical wear mean it's time to replace the electronic components and when I do that I do use CTS pots and a Switchcraft jack and new jack cups on Teles. I do use my volume and tone controls a lot.

I just put new electronics in one twelve year old import Tele and an eleven year old import PBass is on deck. The rest have all been good so far but I'm anticipating more upgrades soon on others that are ten years old or more.
 

Raiyn

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For me corrosion and/or mechanical wear mean it's time to replace the electronic components and when I do that I do use CTS pots and a Switchcraft jack and new jack cups on Teles. I do use my volume and tone controls a lot.
For me it's CTS or Bourns and that can be based on the knobs I want to use. For my Doheny Tribute, I found the perfect set of pure white Jazzmaster knobs, but they're metric splined so I went with a measured hot set of Bourns. Most of the time I'll use ±5% 525k CTS from Art of Tone or buy a 300K if I'm doing something that calls for a 250K. I tend to err towards hotter pots in my builds.

I stopped using Switchcraft jacks after discovering Pure Tones.
 

grinwer

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To be fair, depending on the application, there is a legitimate electronic use for gold in connectors. Corrosion is a real thing.

Also, I wouldn’t label everyone who participates as gullible. If your gear serves the purpose only as a tool, I’d agree it’s extraneous and not worth the money, but most guitar players are amateurs and collectors, and for them, they like what they like, even if it sounds impressive or looks pretty.

im not so into cars anymore, but I’d bet a lot of stuff in a Lexus isn’t necessary and ramps up the price, but it’s only worth it or not worth it based on the owner’s enjoyment of it. I don’t see how this is any different. Buy what you like for the reasons you like. There’s no shame here.
I don't want to offend anyone. You can like anything. And you can pay what you want. I am not talking about that.
Good quality gear is better than bad. This is an axiom.
But. Rags on the wires and gold on the contacts don't make the sound better. Are we talking about this? Full size pot are no better than small ones.
This is a long list.
I put the wires into my guitar as thick, thick as my finger, and the guitar came to life! Yep. )
 

grinwer

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I get it. And corrosion which leads to degrading signal and noise and potentially no signal impacts the quality of the signal. So gold connectors are commonly used across the industry, as gold does not corrode. In fact other metals conduct better, but do corrode. I suppose you could use platinum if you have the cash.

EDIT: I was responding to one element. If you want my perspective on pots and caps and wiring, it’d be this: if you are planning on keeping the guitar for 50 years, it makes a difference. Otherwise, cheap electronics in my experience have a minor, but detectable impact on tone. The reason you replace cheap guitar electronics is for reliability. I’ve had a few pots fail in Squier/Epiphone guitars. Also with pots you way want a different taper or a different level of physical resistance (some cheap pots turn loosely in some players’ estimations.) But “strictly” does it have an effect on tone? Not so much, but a little. I have only a few times installed or bought a guitar with expensive pots or caps. I’ve never noticed a difference beyond orange drops and CTS pots. Does that help?
Corrosion? 50 years?
I don't store my guitar in the pool, the amp in the aquarium, pedals in the swamp.
 

Antigua

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It's no secret that guitar electronics crap out, and that's part of what makes replacement wiring seem worthwhile. The three main problems seems to be 1) oxidation or whatever getting into the pots, so that the signal is scratchy when you turn the dial, 2) the input jacking wearing out or coming loose, 3) the pickup toggle not making electrical contact. The thing is, there doesn't seem to be a meaningful difference between the components in American versus import guitars for any of those things. I think you have to buy expensive Switchcraft parts to avoid the problems. But never the less, cheaper guitars such as Epiphone are accused of using parts that fail more readily, and in my opinion (since neither side has factual data) is that people are harder on cheaper guitars, they see them as expendable, while domestic guitars are babied, and if and when a domestic guitar has problems, it gets a benefit of the doubt that imports are not given.

In fact, I've been mostly dealing with Fender guitars, and the PCB-based square shaped blade style pickup selector, which is found on import Strats and Teles, has been all around a lot more reliable for me than the large, round shaped American pickups selector, which is true to the original 50's design, because the PCB version encloses the electrical contacts internally, and the mechanics of the electrical connection are more sturdy, and have fewer moving parts. That's a clear situation where something is perceived to be higher quality simply because it's 50's based and more expensive, and something else is perceived as low quality simply because it costs less and was designed in more recent times.
 

The Convert

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Corrosion? 50 years?
I don't store my guitar in the pool, the amp in the aquarium, pedals in the swamp.

oh, I thought most guitarists were aware that guitars and amps...especially the most desired guitars and amps...have been around for decades. Or that some parts of the country or world get very humid.

I guess some people look at musical gear like disposable electronics and ikea furniture.

you’re too angry for me. I’m out.

:io:
 

grinwer

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oh, I thought most guitarists were aware that guitars and amps...especially the most desired guitars and amps...have been around for decades. Or that some parts of the country or world get very humid.

I guess some people look at musical gear like disposable electronics and ikea furniture.

you’re too angry for me. I’m out.

:io:
Does it last long or does it sound better? They are not the same thing. You've mixed everything together.
 

BGood

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It's no secret that guitar electronics crap out, and that's part of what makes replacement wiring seem worthwhile.
Don't last ... today that means : not maintained = crapped. All that is mechanical. When your car door hinge starts creaking, do you replace it ? When your bicycle chain starts to be hard to shift, do you replace it ?
1) oxidation or whatever getting into the pots, so that the signal is scratchy when you turn the dial
Have you ever opened one to witness that oxidation ? Didn't think so, it's simply accumulated dust and gunk. That's what Deoxit has been invented for.
2) the input jacking wearing out or coming loose,
Wearing out ? Nope ... what are you doing with that jack ?
Coming loose ? Go in there and bend that prong.
3) the pickup toggle not making electrical contact.
Deoxit again. Don't work ? Go in there and bend that prong.

Toggle switch.jpg
It's not rocket science, it's mechanical. Maintain it. I have old Epiphones, oldest a 2006 with that crappy electronic, but I maintain it and after all those years, they still perform flawlessly ... really.

But, it is today much easier and satisfactory to order a new made at home part and have it delivered to your door than to stoop to maintain foreing caca.

Mother Earth thanks you.
 

The Convert

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Does it last long or does it sound better? They are not the same thing. You've mixed everything together.

one last point. I’m mixing thing up because they are all related, you are talking about things that aren’t things.

define “tone” and “better”. Tone is a nonsense word and better is subjective.

if I’m tracking and mixing, I’m dealing with a signal. If that signal is dirty, it’s useless. Timbre, articulation, eq of pickups, etc, don’t matter if cheap wiring and components make the performance unusable.
 

Supersonic

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I'd like to see some of you put your money where your mouth is, gut your guitars and replace with the worst garbage components available. I mean if it makes no difference then there shouldn't be any problems right? Just send the stuff that was already in there to me and I'll make sure it's safe until the experiment is over.
 

Antigua

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Most of my guitars are imports, and they have the stock parts, but almost all of the pickups are swapped out. A lot of the replacement parts have to be "cheap", for example all push pull pots are dime sized pots, and the vintage clotch wire is too thick to connect to the DP/DT eyelets, so cheaper 24 awg vinyl wire is appropriate there also. I agree that so long as things are maintained, there's no real distinction between the "premium" and cheaper non-descript components. A lot of stomp boxes use surface mount parts an components of ambiguous origin and quality, and that doesn't seem to bother some of the same people who make a big deal out of the guitar's components.

The cheapest electronics I've seen came in a counterfeit Hofner, the actually PCB mounted the switches and pots, and it crackled add felt crude, but after cleaning it with Deoxit, it sounded great, no crackling. It still feels flimsy, but there are no real problems otherwise.
 


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