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Dodgy volume pot


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  • Dodgy volume pot

    Hi, (sorry if this is in the wrong forum but I looked at the others and they seem full of arguments about gun legislation and the existence or otherwise of various deities)
    My solid body guitar has developed an intermittent fault in that changing the volume via the knob causes the sound to totally cut out, a quick wiggle (of the knob not my tush) and the sound is restored.
    I have no experience of working on guitars and no knowledge of electrics I do however have access to an electrician if required. Because of my location going to a guitar shop is out of the question.
    So please any ideas, I am quite brave about taking things apart if it sounds like a simple fix. Any ideas at all gratefully received as I can't carry on with it as it is.
    Cheers Steve
    Cheers Steve

  • #2

    Those are the classic symptoms of a worn-out volume pot. Cleaning it with a specialized spray cleaner may help temporarily, but really you need to have the volume pot replaced. You'll need:

    1) a new volume pot appropriate for your guitar - most common values are 250K-ohms for single coil guitars and 500K-ohms for humbucker equipped guitars.

    2) Rosin-core solder for electronics, do NOT use plumbing solder or plumbing flux.

    3) A pen-type soldering iron between 20 and 40 watts. 

    I suggest getting someone with experience to help you if possible, or at least watch some YouTube videos on soldering. 


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    • #3

      Steve, this is the right forum for anything the regulars want to discuss

      What is the guitar?

      I will go with the assumption you do not have a volt-ohm meter at your disposal...how about a soldering iron?

      Absent these two primary tools, there isn't much you can do except eliminate the easy stuff.

      First suggestion: take the knob off the pot and make sure the shaft nut is tight...and check the nut around the output jack as well...

      (geez, all that potential innuendo...wasted)

      If that doesn't help, you will need to open the control cavity (possibly remove the pickguard, whatever gets you inside to look at the pots).  Keep track of the screws! Make sure all the wires are making proper contact (a little 'tug' will find the loose ones)

      (more wasted innuendo)

      If it is a bad solder joint, you just need it re-flowed.

      Otherwise, I'll go with Mr. Grumpy, the pot may be worn out; or it could be 'dirty'...but don't use a chemical cleaner unless you have some compressed air too, [blow it into the pot after the cleaner has been in for about 5-10 seconds]

      IMHO, 'contact cleaners' do as much harm as good unless you can remove it immediately, as the active solvent will often just evapoarate and redeposit the sludge....or you will wind up with a puddle of solvent trying to completely flush it.

      If the pot is 'shot', then replacing it is simple if you have a soldering iron.

       Is Turkey a RoHS signatory state? If so, you will need lead-free solder.

      "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

      Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'
      "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley


      • Voltan
        Voltan commented
        Editing a comment

        daddymack wrote:

        Steve, this is the right forum for anything the regulars want to discuss

        a ray of hope in an otherwise gray lithium mood...   thank you daddymack!

    • #4

      The two posts above have very good info. I've got nothing to add except that if you don't have access to the materials listed above, sometimes working the pot (turning it up and down) five or ten times might help with a scratchy pot, but only for a few hours - and often it doesn't help at all.

      And I'll repeat the sentiment that cleaner is often only temporary and can sometimes make things worse over time.


      • #5
        the best cleaner is de-oxit. use it sparingly . it leaves no residue.


        • steve mac
          steve mac commented
          Editing a comment
          Sorry about the delay in replying with thanks for the great advice, the time difference is quite a bit from there to here.
          Following the above posts I have taken the pick guard off and had a poke about (will this innuendo never end) and all of the wires appear well attached. The pot itself has PHA on it but nothing else I can see. It is a Burns Marquee single coil and a search has lead to an old post where the poster said that they where Alphas. Now there appear to be different types minis etc Am I safe to just order one of these or as they are so cheap get one of each and have them sent over so I can try and identify them when I take the old one off?
          Thanks again for your help (oh after wiggling, twisting and turning and finally putting back together it is exactly the same so it defo needs replacing)
          Cheers Steve