One of the hottest topics on the internet is 250k vs 500k pots and why we choose what we choose.....
The answer seems simple... But WHY?
The common answer to this debate seems easy. 250k pots for single coils and 500k for humbuckers. Let's get into why these have become the most common choices.
Basic Rules of Electronics
1. Electricity always takes the path of least resistance to ground... ALWAYS.
2. Anytime there is a path to ground for your guitar signal, high frequencies are the first to go.
The simple guitar circuit would consist of the pickup, two wires and the output jack to the amp. In this case, the pure output of the pickup would be heard.
When we add a volume pot, we divide some of the signal off and send it to ground. When we do this, some of the highest frequencies output by the pickup go with it. The video below will explain how the volume pot does this.
What difference does the Pot value make
The volume control sweeps from a short to ground (volume down and no sound) to the full resistance value of the pot and the least signal being shorted to ground.
This being said, there is still SOME of the signal that goes to ground and this is determined by the value of the pot. Remember that a shorter path to ground will (even when turned all the way up) bleed more highs than a longer path to ground. A 250k pot turned up to ten is a shorter path to ground than a 500k pot turned up to ten.
This is why the common choice is to pair single coil pickups with 250k pots. The shorter path to ground when turned to ten (or 11 if you are Nigel Tufnel) will have less highs present.
Referring back to our blog on Humbuckers
, we remember that because of their construction, there may be less highs present so we create a longer path to ground at full volume with a 500k pot and retain more of the available high frequencies.
250k vs 500k pots... is that the final answer?
NO.... as we get further into tone circuits, you will see that there are many ways to uses different combinations of pots and caps and pickups to get the desired tone.... think flexibility... and stay tuned.