VOLUME & TONE CONTROLS

 
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The issue is what do volume controls do and tone controls do ?
The complaints we hear about volume controls is that they fail to deliver a signal evenly.
 
Meaning, volume needs to be turned up to 6 or 7 on the control to really hear the guitar's pickups and the same goes for tone controls, that is, one cranks the tone control to get the bleed off of lows.
 
Recently, Seymour Duncan generated his opinion about audio control vs. linear controls. Here's what he states about controls for guitars.
 
First, he recommends always using audio controls for volume arguing that audio pots generate a smooth volume increase. With a linear pot Duncan states volume increase slowly for 0-70% then rapidily increase from point 7 on.
 
Duncan states this radical upswing is a result of no direct resistance with volume in a passive circuit (like most guitar pickups). Thus, audio controls compensate for this radical distance and you should get a consistent volume change throughout the sweep of the control.
 
For a tone control, Duncan argues that a linear control works best. A tone control function is to feed part of the signal to capacitor. So to have a smooth transition from bright to mellow a linear pot accomplishes this.
 
A capacitors function (to reiterate) is a passive low filter, it lets high frequencies through and dumps the highs to ground via the control so lows pass on out of the guitar into the amp. Simply the highs are blocked.
 
The higher value of a capacitor the darker the sound when the tone control is below "10."
Strats and telecasters usually use .022 caps, Les Pauls use .047.
 
Well with that stated, other arguments claim the use of linear controls allow allows most of the signal to come through up front and then taper off. That's the opinion of Gary Phillips at Alpha Kinetex.
 
However the issue is why do controls vary in what they do???????
 
In talking with a tech at "WD" about controls he argues the variance of a control makes the difference. Meaning, that a control having greater then a 5% variance will not deliver an even signal. For example, a new 500K pot may only meter 460 or 485 etc, thus, greater then a 5% variance. Thus, uneven or jumps in sound occurs.
 
WD argues that CTS pots have a 5-9% variance thus that's as good as it gets..........We believe that makes sense. That is, variance is significant.
 
In sum, we conclude that controls audio, linear, and etc that have a 5-9% variance will probably provide to smoothest delivery of a signal whether it's volume or tone. So, CTS would be the choice while other brands may have a greater variance.