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Confessions of a Pots Dealer

Pots are an oft-misunderstood component, so I thought we’d discuss them this month since they’re used in almost all guitars. They do wear out or break occasionally and need

Pots are an oft-misunderstood component, so I thought we’d discuss them this month since they’re used in almost all guitars. They do wear out or break occasionally and need to be replaced, so it behooves you to understand them so that you can make appropriate choices should you decide to buy any.

Pots are variable resistors. As you probably know, a resistor is so called because it resists current flow. Think of it like a garden hose. Turn on a hose and you’ll see water flowing through it. Kinking it effectively adds a resistor to the hose, and you can vary the amount of resistance. Kinking the hose a little bit slows the flow of water somewhat; kinking it more tightly slows the flow somewhat more; and kinking it completely stops the flow of water altogether. Adding a resistor into an electrical circuit does the same thing.

By variable resistor we mean that you have some control over the thing. When the pot is turned to one extreme, it doesn’t resist current flow at all, and when it’s turned to the other extreme, it resists current flow for all it’s worth. When adjusted anywhere in the middle, it resists current flow somewhere between not at all and for all it’s worth.

Of course, for all it’s worth is relative. Just as a weak man might dangle only a few pounds from a swallowed sword, while a strong man might dangle more than 44 pounds from one (yes, really), some pots have more “strength” than others, and you can determine how much one has by the pot’s value. A higher value means more strength, so a 500K pot (500,000 ohms) will stop current flow to a greater degree than a 25K pot (25,000 ohms). Strength is technically the wrong word here, but you get the idea.

The pot’s value (500K; 25K) denotes the maximum resistance that the pot can exert when turned to one extreme; when turned to the other extreme, almost all pots have the same minimum resistance, which is essentially zero.

The values of pots used in the guitar industry vary, but for most guitars that use passive electronics (un-powered, which is usually obvious because there are no onboard batteries), they are typically 250K, 500K, and 1M:

250K (250,000 Ohms)
Most Fenders, including basses

500K (500,000 Ohms)
Most Gibsons
PRS
Gretsch

1M (1,000,000 Ohms)
Jaguar
Jazzmaster

Most of these instruments use the same values for volume and tone controls, but not always. Some makers (Gibson, for instance) have experimented with various values over the years, so there’s no guarantee that your Les Paul will have 500K pots, although it’s pretty likely, and in any event, 500K pots would certainly be an appropriate value for use in a Les Paul, regardless of what value it might have come with from the factory.

So, you might then ask, does the value really matter? If Fender uses 250K pots in some guitars and 1M pots in others, wouldn’t either work in any Fender guitar? The answer is yes, any value will work. However, there is a tonal change that accompanies a value change, and this is the important consideration in the selection process.

A higher value pot will make the guitar sound brighter, even when it’s turned up all the way. This might seem counter-intuitive, since a volume control that’s turned up all the way is in its “not resisting current at all” mode, and so is essentially providing zero (or very nearly zero) resistance. All values of pots will be the same in this regard – offering virtually no resistance to current flow when turned up all the way. Why then would it make any difference, tonally, what value the pot is?

Suffice it to say that it does. Next month we’ll be talking about pots in more detail, and I’ll provide some diagrams to illustrate points so that you can see them easily, but for now just accept that if you insert a 500K volume pot into a guitar that previously had a 250K pot, a brighter tone will result. Tone being subjective, of course; there’s no right or wrong value, the only valid consideration where your guitars are concerned is what value sounds best to you. So feel free to experiment – pots are cheap.

There’s a lot more to talk about concerning pots, so I’ll expand on this topic over the next several months. But before we wrap up, let’s briefly discuss tapers.

Pots come in several tapers: Audio (also known as log; turning clockwise “turns it up”); Reverse-Audio (also log; turning counter- clockwise turns it up); and Linear. Audio taper is by far the most widely used in audio applications and is almost surely what you have in your guitar. In fact, the only guitar in the list above that uses a linear-taper volume pot is the Jazzmaster, and while I could speculate on the reasoning behind this, I won’t. I’ll explain the differences between the three types in greater detail later, but for now you can pretty safely assume that if you need pots for your guitar, you’ll want audio taper (unless you’re left-handed, in which case you’ll probably want reverse-audio, but you probably won’t be able to find them).

So there you have it, another topic that grows in the telling. More next month!

George Ellison
Founder, Acme Guitar Works
acmeguitarworks.com
george@acmeguitarworks.com
302-836-5301

Guitar Center Presents: Holiday Gift Guide

Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.

Les Paul Desert Burst Satin

Gibson
\$2,399.00
<p>The newest addition to Gibson’s Traditional series, the Trad Pro V electric shares the same DNA as a Les Paul—mahogany body and neck, carved maple top—but adds modern advancements. It’s super comfortable thanks to its weight-relieved body, and it feels awesome in your left hand with its asymmetrical neck shape. Playability is paramount: the compound radius rosewood fretboard makes it easy to bend strings cleanly high on the neck. You'll hear the difference, too: With its dual Tradbucker pickups and advanced electronics – allowing coil splitting and tapping – this versatile tone machine can handle almost any musical style. If you’re looking for a guitar that combines the best elements of classic Gibson mojo and modern features, you’ll find it here.</p>

Spark MINI

Positive Grid
\$229
<p>It might be tiny, but Positive Grid’s Spark MINI delivers a huge quantity of tones…and fun. This 10-watt practice amp sounds great with electric, acoustic and bass. It’s battery-powered and easily recharged via USB, and is barely larger than the palm of your hand. It contains four onboard guitar tones (Custom, Solo, Lead, Rhythm) and access to 33 amps and 43 effects via the free Spark app. The app also offers educational and play-along tools, and makes it simple to post your performances to social media. It’s rare to find a product that has so many potential uses: sidewalk busking, songwriting, practicing, home recording and more. No matter what style you play or your level of experience, you’ll find a lot to like in this amp.</p>

GAMMA 50w

GAMMA
\$199 \$169
<p>Looking for a flexible amp that’s equally at home for practice, rehearsal, or live gigs? Check out the GAMMA G50 and take advantage of its special holiday pricing. This 50-watt, dual-channel 1x12 combo amp delivers all-analog tone in a lightweight package – a perfect grab-and-go companion. It’s loaded with features like Bluetooth connectivity and multiple amp voices, so it can cover any music style or genre. With its premium quality True Blue High Headroom speakers, the GAMMA G50 also provides clear, punchy clean tones, making it a great choice as a pedal platform too. If you’re in the hunt for a portable, powerful and affordable amp this holiday season, be sure to include the GAMMA G50 on your wishlist.</p>

Fender Classic Series 5 Guitar Case Stand Tweed

Fender
\$279
<p>Here’s a guitar stand that’s as eye-grabbing as the instruments it’s holding! The Fender Classic Series 5 Guitar Case Stand boasts a classic vibe, from its tweed exterior to its rich red plush lining. And it’s great for gigging. The Classic Series 5 looks like a traditional case, but easily turns into a roadworthy, super stable guitar stand. Rugged features include a 3-ply hardshell wooden case, vinyl-wrapped steel carry handle and steel latches. The interior plush lining ensures that your guitars are protected from scratches and dents. If you want a great-looking way to display your guitars at home, or if you’re looking for a backstage/onstage solution to safely hold multiple guitars, here’s a handsome option.</p>

Fender Holiday Guitar Cable Keychain

Fender
\$4.99
Here’s the perfect stocking stuffer for every guitarist and bassist: grab a bunch of these Fender Pluginz Guitar Plug Keychains and spread the holiday cheer with your friends and fellow musicians. This cool keychain features a genuine Fender guitar plug. If you already have a Pluginz Jack Rack key holder, this will fit right in. By the way, you can also use these as tree ornaments if you’re looking to add a dash of rock ‘n’ roll to your holiday spirit.

Fender Limited Edition Holiday Sweater

Fender
\$49.99
It’s an annual tradition: each year the folks at Fender reveal their newest limited edition holiday sweater, and it’s a smash hit. This year’s model is particularly sharp looking: black sleeves emblazoned with the famed Fender logo, and a torso adorned by red, white and green seasonal graphics. Don’t miss out: grab your sweater while supplies last, because this limited edition item will sell out faster than you can say “winter wonderland.”

Harbinger MLS1000 Personal Line Array Speaker System

Harbinger
\$799 \$599
<p>The Harbinger MLS1000 Personal Line Array offers a professional PA solution with big sound and a wonderfully compact footprint. Acoustic musicians, DJs and bands will find it a great choice when performing in small venues, coffeehouses and practice spaces. But don’t be fooled by its modest size: the MLS1000 delivers the perfect blend of mobility, robust sound and full-featured electronics. Its built-in mixer supports up to five sources at once, including Bluetooth audio. You can go from the car to the stage in a single trip, set up in two minutes and give your audience a well-balanced sound that evenly fills an entire room. Built-in reverb, chorus and 2-knob EQ per input allow an ideal mix for vocals and instruments, while a 10" subwoofer and a six-speaker vertical array cover the full frequency range with high-quality sound. Comes with a column bag and sub cover to protect the system for transport and storage, and Smart Stereo capability gives you the option to link two units for unified sound, control and signal routing. </p>

Sterling Audio P10 Dynamic Instrument Microphone

Sterling Audio
\$79.99 \$54.99
If you’re looking for an affordable microphone for acoustic guitars, amps, snare drums, and more, meet the P10. Sterling Audio’s dynamic instrument mic is an all-purpose champ, ideal for live shows, practice spaces and home recording. It complements acoustic and electric instruments alike: Its custom-tuned microphone capsule focuses on bringing your sound to front-of-house, with crafted mid-range and high-frequency detail. The cardioid polar pattern provides superior off-axis noise rejection on stage, ensuring that your instrument is heard, while an isolated custom capsule suspension system minimizes stage noise and rumble. And it’s rugged: the reinforced grille and die-cast head assembly and body are designed to survive the rigors of the road. Includes protective microphone pouch and mic stand adapter – a complete, road-ready package.

Sterling Audio Harmony H224 USB Audio Interface

Sterling Audio
\$149.99 \$99.99
The Sterling Harmony H224 audio interface is a dynamite choice for recording in a home/project studio or mobile sound environment. Compatible with popular recording apps, it offers studio-grade circuitry and flexible monitoring, all optimized for desktop recording. With the H224 it’s easy to achieve clear, transparent sound. Its class-leading NXS mic preamps deliver less noise and a cleaner signal for all your recordings, while its front panel instrument inputs have their own optimized circuitry that makes the H224 one of the best interfaces for recording guitar or bass. The advanced flexibility of its four (4) output design allows for two separate stereo output mixes at once, so you can easily have a separate mix for performers, route tracks for re-amping or run separate A/B studio monitors or other independent audio outputs. Plus, the H224 is fully USB-powered, so you can record without a separate power supply, and the included MIDI I/O connections allow your hardware to perform as a MIDI interface too, so you can layer your projects with specialty instruments, MIDI controllers and synths alike.

Apogee
\$229.99

Mystery Stocking

Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.

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Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.

• This year's Mystery Stocking will cost \$44.95. (\$39.95 + \$5 Flat shipping)
• Each box will be guaranteed to contain \$40 or more in value.
• US only. (Sorry World.)
• Make sure your shipping address is correct.
• Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
• There will be NO REFUNDS given.
• There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
• One per household, one per person.

Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?

Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?

A: Yep.

Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.

Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.

Q. How much is it?
A. \$39.95 Plus \$5 shipping

Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.

Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.

Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
A. Yes

Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.

Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!

Origin Effects Announces the M-EQ Driver

Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.

Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.

A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.

Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive

Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.

RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)

Lava Music Introduces All-New Golden-Hour Finish

The new finish, according to Lava Music, is “inspired by the beauty of the golden hour,” a shining time just before sunset and after sunrise when photographers covet to capture stunning pictures.

With bright and warm golden hues, the new finish adds a brilliant metallic glow to the surface of Lava ME 3, complementing its AirSonic 2 carbon fiber unibody which features L3 Preamp with FreeBoost 2.0, delivers industry-leading sounds by breakthrough acoustic technologies, and houses a multi-touch display powered by Lava-developed HILAVA system.

Speaking of the HILAVA system, Lava Music also added four new effects: Nebula, Desert Rose, Cassette, and Edge of Breakup. As unique as their names sound, they are very much different from what we normally know about effects. Programmed into the HILAVA system, each of the four is powered by the company’s latest ArctanDrive algorithm and incorporates effects like Pitch Shift, Delay, and Reverb. And every one of those incorporated sub-effects comes with various parameters that players can adjust to design unique, overdriven sounds by just tapping on the multi-touch display. That said, those effects enable users to play with overdriven tone on an acoustic-electric guitar without even plugging in any external gear.

LAVA ME 3 | Now in Golden Hour | LAVA MUSIC

Lava Me 3 in Golden Hour is now available starting from \$999 on LAVA MUSIC, Amazon, and local guitar dealerships near you.