Are You Listening With Your Eyes?
Some people have the idea that controls on a new effect should always be set to the midpoint or 12:00 on a hypothetical clock. I’ve heard a variety of answers
Some people have the idea that controls on a new effect should always be set to the midpoint or 12:00 on a hypothetical clock. I’ve heard a variety of answers about why, including that the unit in question gets used up or damaged somehow by extreme high or low settings. The inaccuracies in controls make this argument somewhat nonsensical.
Knobs have a line or dot to show relative position. Some equipment will have a numeric scale printed onto the faceplate behind the knob, which suggests some level of precision in the pot setting. This practice was immortalized – correctly! – in the movie Spinal Tap when guitarist Nigel Tufnel talks about all of the knobs on their amps going to eleven, based on the idea that a marking of “11” was one more than the same pot rotation marked “10”.
You need to set your equipment by what your ears tell you, not your eyes.
Knobs are not generally aligned on the pot well. The best potential for accuracy and the worst in practice is the round shaft and knob with setscrew. It is theoretically possible for this to be set to the limits of the pot’s own accuracy. However, setscrews work loose, knobs twist on the shaft and any hope of positional accuracy is lost. The fixed-position press-on knobs do a better job; the D-shape with a flat and the toothed shape at least get you to a knob position that does not slip.
Pots come with PIPs on the bushings to lock them so they won’t rotate on the panel. However it’s common practice in the boutique effect world to cut the anti-rotation PIPs off to avoid having to drill a matching hole in the box for the PIP. So the rotational position of the pot in the faceplate is again not always precise.
Full up or full down on a pot is not necessarily 0 percent or 100 percent of the possible function of the knob controls, and mid position is usually not exactly 50 percent. High precision pots do exist, but they cost from ten to a hundred times more than the simple controls on most musical gear.