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So I'm building a partscaster, and a tone pot on my old strat had gotten hard to turn but I just left it like that. Now I'm transferring that pickguard and pickups to the new strat, and knowing it'd be hard to turn, I bought contact cleaner to spray into it. I sprayed some into the vol and 1st tone, and now they are super smooth. For this one I spray CC into it, it becomes SUPER smooth, but once I put it back on the pickguard and tighten the nut on the top, it becomes hard again. I thought for sure maybe some dirt inside just hardened again, but I repeated this twice more, and the pot become very smooth.

So I left it for 20 minutes each time just to confirm that it turned smoothly after a while and it wasn't just because fresh CC was on it, but each time I tighten the nut around the top below where you would put the plastic knob, it becomes hard again, and stays like that even after I loosen the nut and take another look underneath the pickguard. This makes absolutely no sense to me. Functionally, the tone pot works as I've been testing it with a screwdriver while plugged into an amp with no strings on. This is driving me crazy, any ideas what the problem is?
 

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Do you have an extra nut and enough space on the threaded shaft to try one under the pickguard and away from the pot body and then the other on the outside of the pickguard?

This concept...acting as a lock nut under the pickguard...



BTW...This is just a guess.
 

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1) You can, and maybe even should, pry the back off a pot, by GENTLY lifting the tabs, and see if there is anything obstructing smooth rotation of the pot. Understand that thereis a "stop" built into all pots to keep them from rotating past the 7:00 and 5:00 positions. It is physically possible to re-install the shaft/wiper assembly of larger pots like the one Dave/Greco showed "incorrectly" such that the shaft/wiper bangs up against the stop early. So check that out and make sure that's not the issue.

2) Distinguish stiffness resulting from a shaft that does not want to turn, from stiffness resulting from a control knob pressed down against a hex nut so that the shaft is prevented from turning. Does the pot rotate smoothly when there is no knob on it?
 

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2) .... Does the pot rotate smoothly when there is no knob on it?
Functionally, the tone pot works as I've been testing it with a screwdriver
I'm guessing (again) but it would seem that the pot can rotate smoothly with no knob on it. However, maybe my interpretation of what is written will fall under "lost in translation"..LOL
 
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