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As I recall, pots 'back in the day' required far less attention than they do now.
How many times did Mom switch on, and turn up the volume on that kitchen radio? Lasted forever.
My most recent disappointment is a late-model Custom Vibrolux Reverb, which I acquired, used. It shows no visible wear, not even dusty inside, so it has all the signs of being a closet queen.
It 'scratches' fiercely on the FIVE most commonly used control functions on the panel.
That has forced me to take the whole unit apart, only to discover (to no surprise), that the pots are all miniature, bracket-mounted, and each has 7 solder connections to a PCB - (three, plus four on the bracket). There is no physical way of introducing a spray cleaner (not that it always works, anyway).
I simply ordered replacements from one of the parts houses in Arizona, and am awaiting their arrival.
I can guess that whatever brand they are marketed as, they will be all cheaply made in the far east, and as such, probably will have a short lifespan as well.
'We can put a man on the moon, but we can't make a decent volume control' (you may quote me on that, LOL)

Has anyone got any recommendations? I'm sure that CTS is now made in Asia, unless advised otherwise.
Thanks for reading.
 

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After a long search, I ended up with Emerson cts. Better than the non-emerson ones. I ab'd them with a local guitar tech and it was unanimous. They are also better than the allesandros that we tried as well ($50USD per pot)

Edit: I purchased the Emerson pots after finding out that is what larrivee was using in their RS series.
 

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I've never seen the inside of one of those. Any way you could attach good pots to the faceplate and fly the three leads to the PCB?
 
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After a long search, I ended up with Emerson cts. Better than the non-emerson ones. I ab'd them with a local guitar tech and it was unanimous. They are also better than the allesandros that we tried as well ($50USD per pot)
Info about the Emersons:
Emerson Pro CTS Pots | stewmac.com

@adcandour Are there any Canadian suppliers of these pots?

I remember the Allesandro pots. All of the products that I have seen by that name are VERY expensive.....even hookup wire!!
 

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I bought super expensive pots from some aero-space outfit. Meh...

I think CTS is the way to go.
 

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Bourns, also I'm not sure if they do anything but you can get dust caps for pots
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Bourns, also I'm not sure if they do anything but you can get dust caps for pots
The amp housing is very clean inside. It's my belief the carbon film inside the pot is being worn/scraped off by the wiper prematurely. The composition of the carbon is not durable enough maybe(?).
P.S. Ya, Bourns is another old, quality manufacturer I should look for.
Adcandour mentioned Allesandros sell at $50 a pop... Yikes! The only pot worth that kind of money comes in bags.
By the same token, I've got some old Bourns 10-turn precision pots in my parts drawer that I could make enough to retire on.
Wait a minute, I AM retired. Terrible how age dulls the memory - now where was I ...
 

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LOL, to me CTS ARE expensive pots (yes I know there are more expensive post still; especially if you go into HiFi stuff). All Emersons are, are CTS pots with a custom taper (still log but a slightly different shape/slope) and higher QC. That's it.

If you want no scratching move to something conductive plastic based (vs carbon track). Some higher end guitars already use them (mostly Bourns, though Bourns also makes carbon pots; very good quality; personally prefer them to CTS, but CTS is the standard everyone knows). FYI you can't clean CP pots with any standard contact cleaner; melts away the CP and strips away the lube (don't use Craigs Deoxit, but something from their F-series line instead).

I'm not sure if they do anything but you can get dust caps for pots
AKA pot condoms, but what they are really for is to shield the pot casing electrically (e.g. in tight pedal builds with r-angle PCB-mounted pots vs solder lug or even straight PCB pins, so it doesn't short out the traces on the board).

E.g. in this situation:


They look like this:


IMHO they are superfluous in that second pic.

They won't keep dust out because the area by the terminals is open. If someone needs/wants some anyway I have both 16mm (rigid plastic trans white as pictured above) for mini pots (as used in pedals and at least older asian import guitars) and 24mm ( more flexible black plastic) which is the mosre stabndard (American) guitar pot size.
 

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In my experience, dust is a lesser concern than internally generated grime. Maybe it's because we tend to live in air-conditioned homes these days and the windows are often closed. Maybe it's because we don't have any pets and nobody here smokes. Whatever the case, dust isn't a problem.

That said, people forget that pots work by friction. There is a resistive strip inside that is a horseshoe of compressed particles, and the wiper makes contact by being forced against the resistive strip. If it's a pot you rotate a lot, then all that rotation is rubbing and scraping against the resistive strip. My own experience is that wider diameter pots tend to have wipers with a gentler, less abrasive contact with the strip, while the 9, 12, and 16mm pots more commonly found these days tend to have lousier wipers that look like the "cowcatcher" on old locomotives (actually, more like a close up of a kalimba) and scrape the strip more.

The end result is that often much of the dirt inside pots is actually a buildup of residue scraped off the surface of the strip by the wiper. This is why I like to use Stabilant 22, a proud product of Thornhill ON. The analogy I like to use is this. Imagine a freshly-paved stretch of blacktop. Drive on it and it will be extremely quiet, because your tires make perfect continuous contact with the asphalt. Over time, there will be debris on that road, some of it deposited there, and some will be little bits of the asphalt lifted up. If you were totake a big push-broom and sweep everything loose off the surface of that road, it would quiet things down a bit, but your tires would still make noise, because there are many pits in the surface from the asphalt that has been lifted out. Similarly, spraying pots with cleaner will only do so much. Stabilant forms a permanently viscous electroconductive film that fills in all those pits, so that the strip behaves as if it is brand new smooth surface and was never scraped.

There are limits to what it can do, largely because it never dries, so you can'tbuild up layers. If you're in a Cream cover band, and you've been playing Tales of Brave Ulysses and White Room, twice nightly since 1975, it will not make your wah pot perform like it was brand new. But I've descratched plenty of pots and switches, and gotten TV remotes, gamepads, and Nintendo cartridges working again. Even got the SIM card in my sister's cheap phone to work again with the stuff. If I expect a brand new pot to endure heavy duty, I will remove the back of the pot when I get it, put a few dabs of the stuff on, close the pot up again and THEN install it.

In the grand scheme, it is probably a good idea to use better and bigger pots with well-designed, less-abrasive, wipers. But they don't always fit in the available space,so the next best thing is to extend the life of the pot by treating it with something that lubricates the contact between strip and wiper, and addresses any imperfections already caused in the strip. It ain't cheap stuff, but a small bottlewill take you years to use up, since all it takes is a few sesame-seed-sized droplets to treat a pot.
 

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I prefer these ones. A bit more expensive but they are sealed.

upload_2017-3-20_19-47-19.jpeg
upload_2017-3-20_19-47-19.jpeg



I noticed that those pot condoms are actually blocking a few holes though
 

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Those are Bourns conductive plastic, no? They look the same in any case. CP pots have the advantage of often being sealed like that, as well as more consistency in taper and value ( higher tolerances, usually 5% vs typical carbons which are 20 %; Emersons are selected from the CTS production line via an extra QC process and therefore unnaturally 8%; the rest are thrown back as it were).

The pot condoms aren't blocking any holes that actually do anything useful ( the one on the bottom) and you can take them off if you want to.
 

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Conductive polymer element
 

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Alpha = Made in Taiwan
Bourns = Made in China
CTS = Made in Taiwan

Can't speak for the other brands or specialty ones (like the Emerson ones). Does it really matter these days anyways? Product quality is about design and quality control, not where it is made.

I will say this much... In the past 2 years NG has shipped and received thousands of pots. Alpha probably outsells Bourns and CTS combined by about a 2:1 ratio (probably due to the price difference). Despite that, we have had more CTS pots arrive DOA (visibly defective) or get returned by customers due to non-visible defects than either Alpha or Bourns. In fact, I can only recall one Alpha pot arriving DOA because one of a solder lug snapped off in transit (very tightly packed and poorly treated box). Never had a single problem with a Bourns pot, but we don't sell a ton of them. Very few people like the feel of them, fast and loose.

That said, that all has to do with fresh pots coming in from the factory. It says little to nothing about product longevity. For all I know the contacts on Alpha pots will crap out sooner than a good CTS one. So take the above with a grain of salt.

There are premium pots out there for upwards of $50+ per pot. Precision (Canadian company) and Alessandro are a couple of examples. I'm sure there are more, but I don't know them all and don't know where to get them in Canada. It would be super cool to know how every component in each brand/type of pot is different, what materials and build methods are arguably better, and what the biggest factors in lifespan are.

Sounds like someone needs to make a pot documentary.
 

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Conductive polymer element
yeah; same difference. Just a fancier name.

That said, that all has to do with fresh pots coming in from the factory. It says little to nothing about product longevity. For all I know the contacts on Alpha pots will crap out sooner than a good CTS one. So take the above with a grain of salt.
Alphas are good quality; just about every pedal DIYer uses them, and most pro (boutique) opedal builders as well. Some of the majors too IIRC. I use them in my builds; they hold up just fine. To be fair I don't have a modern CTS in use (a few in the parts drawer) to compare to though.... even my vintage instruments have Centralab pots not CTS.
 

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Alphas are good quality; just about every pedal DIYer uses them, and most pro (boutique) opedal builders as well. Some of the majors too IIRC. I use them in my builds; they hold up just fine. To be fair I don't have a modern CTS in use (a few in the parts drawer) to compare to though.... even my vintage instruments have Centralab pots not CTS.
It's a good time for the development of a "stickie" about pot characteristics and quality. For instance pots can have great longevity but poor compliance with the tolerance spec, or the taper spec. They can have great longevity and precision, but lousy feel. And so on.

There's a lot more to a pot than simply "good quality" or "crap". And in many instances, what you REALLY need a given pot for is simply its ability to fit into a predetermined space, whether that being having a long-enough collet to poke through the top of a guitar from a control cavity, or fit in a 1590A enclosure.
 
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