if you take away only one thing from this post, make it this: if you care about your tone you owe it to yourself to check out singlecoil.com
last week i took on replacing the cheap pots and caps that came in my telecaster with NOS military parts as the next step in my endless journey toward the ultimate tone. i thought i’d post a little reivew and hopefully stear some of you out there to do the same.
pots and caps can vary greatly in price from just a few cents on the cheap side to tens of dollars for really nice NOS parts. but then again, tens of dollars isn’t much if you can really improve the tone of your favorite instrument. a comparison of tone caps on the Home Recording Show turned me on to the idea so i headed over to singlecoil.com. the site is a tresure chest of great tips, tricks, how-to’s and what-to’s of guitar modding goodness. i emailed their web shop for advice on what to do with my telecaster. they suggested two matched military grade 250k audio pots, a NOS german papter-in-oil tone capacitor, and a speacial “bleeder network” to go in place of the cheap ceramic capacitor across the load of the volume pot. these pots have a super smooth 60/40 taper for a more musical range of motion than cheap ones and the paper-in-oil tone cap reveals a clarity in the midrange and articulation of the tone in all positions of the tone knob that was just muffled before. the “bleeder network” that they attached to the volume pot for me at their shop is a small cap and resistor in paralell that cuts the volume more evenly across the frequency spectrum so the guitar doesn’t start to sound “thin” at lower volume settings.
this all cost me $62 including shipping. once installed i could feel the new pots are smooth and firm as i turn them. i used to never touch my tone knob because it made the guitar sound like i’d put my had over a microphone or something. now any position of the tone knob sounds useable from full brightness and bite way down to the warm soft end. but the most impressive part of all is the overall clarity in articulation that the guitar has. when playing with the band my guitar cuts through better with out having to push the volume on my amp. i can easily hear individual notes in my chords even with my distortion pedal breathing flames of rock awesome all over them.
$62 may sound like a lot for a couple of pots and some caps for your guitar but the improvement in the tone easily rivals some of the other, much more expensive addtions i’ve made to my signal chain.
if you care about tone, don’t overlook this! trust me.
(some pics of the install)