Guitars might seem like simple enough instruments, just a wooden body, neck, and strings, but in reality, there are all sorts of different parts that make all guitars unique. Guitar players take every aspect of their instruments seriously, including the guitar pots, or potentiometers.
Since there are different varieties of guitar pots, it can be challenging to decide which pot is best for your instrument. Below we have listed eight of the best guitar pots and some vital information about each so you can determine what’s the best fit for you!
What are guitar pots?
Potentiometers, or pots, are the knobs on electric and acoustic-electric guitars that control the tone and volume of the guitar, but they aren’t as simple as they may sound.
There are different types of guitar pots, and they are also differentiated by resistance. These different resistances are essential regarding the kind of pickups a guitar may have, which is why not all guitar pots work for every guitar.
There are a few different types of pots, all with distinct advantages and disadvantages. They are:
Now that you know a little more about guitar potentiometers, let’s dive into what we consider the eight best guitar pots on the market.
Best guitar pots – Summary
Fender 500K, Split Shaft Potentiometer (Volume or Tone)
- Product 1: Genuine Fender Replacement Part
- Product 1: High Quality
- Product 1: Durable
- Product 1: Country of Origin: Taiwan, Province Of China
- Product 2: Fender original factory part
Potentiometer type: Split-shaft
Fender has been synonymous with guitars for 76 years, meaning all parts of the guitar, including potentiometers. The Fender 500k is made to fit almost all U.S. and Mexican-made Fender guitars and doesn’t take any setting screws to install.
The key word here is almost. It’s a good idea to always check the specifications of any potentiometer before purchasing against your guitar to ensure that everything lines up. No one wants to buy a guitar pot only to discover it doesn’t fit.
Mounting hardware and a tone capacitor are also included when purchasing this potentiometer.
You can purchase the Fender 500k potentiometer on Fender’s website if you want to be completely confident that you’re getting the real deal. Still, they can also be bought from trusted third-party retailers, occasionally for cheaper.
Toneshaper Pot Pack 500K For Gibson, 2 Volume 2 Tone
- Unique CTS low-torque pots, easier to turn than CTS pots with flat backs, as typically used by that Nashville company, and by PRS and others!
- Top-quality pots in a 4-pack that saves you money!
- 1/2” bushing lengths get through the top on most rear-rout guitars with threads to spare!
- Hardware included. UTS thread sizes may require hole enlargement on non-USA guitars.
Potentiometer type: Long shaft
This pot pack is excellent if your guitar of choice is a Gibson or a Gibson-type guitar. It comes with two volume knobs and two tone knobs. All four are identical, so it doesn’t matter where you use each.
Carefully check the specifications on these potentiometers before purchasing to ensure they will work for your Gibson or Epiphone model since not all of them take the same potentiometers.
CTS makes these guitar pots with bushings that are ½ inch long so that they can fit almost any thickness guitar panel.
Unlike the previous potentiometer, this pot pack isn’t made by Gibson but by a third-party manufacturer called CTS, one of the top-rated producers of guitar pots. For the price, this pot pack is a good choice.
Seymour Duncan 500K Potentiometer
- Smooth Turning 500k Potentiometer
- Custom-crafted by Bourns
- For Volume or Tone Control; Knob Not Included
- Split Shaft fits More Knobs
- Evenly Tapered Control
Potentiometer type: Split-shaft
Another big name in the potentiometer game is Seymour Duncan. Reviewers and retailers describe these guitar pots as some of the smoothest.
Since these guitar pots are so affordable, some purchasers were afraid they weren’t as high quality as Seymour Duncan’s parts usually are. Still, the consensus is they are both of excellent quality and a great deal.
The Seymour Duncan 500k Potentiometer works for both volume and tone control. They are very responsive, which makes sense because they are made with reduced torque compared to other guitar pots. This reduced torque is why they are considered so smooth turning.
Seymour Duncan 500k Potentiometers are best suited for humbucker setups.
Dunlop Super Pot 500K
- From Dunlop comes this new high-performance, maintenance free volume/tone Super Pot Potentiometer
- Made to last a lifetime
- Completely sealed potentiometers that are resistant to dust and corrosion, they provide a smooth audio taper that will never sound noisy or scratchy
- Tested at over 7 million turns, these could be the last pots you’ll ever need to buy
- 500K-ohm, split shaft, fine knurling (0.235″ diameter, 3/8″ height)
Potentiometer type: Split-shaft
If there is something that no instrument player enjoys about their craft, it’s maintenance. So, with a claim that their potentiometers will never need cleaning, the Dunlop Super Pot, or DSP, makes itself stand out from the crowd.
Jim Dunlop, the company that produces the DSP 500k, claims that the Dunlop Super Pot will never become scratchy even with no cleaning. Scratchiness is a clear sign of a less-than-stellar potentiometer, so the fact that the DSP 500k will never become scratchy indicates a quality product.
The Jim Dunlop brand isn’t just known for its potentiometers. They make all kinds of guitar-related products like pedals and strings, so if you need all types of gear, Jim Dunlop might be the best company to go with!
Kmise MI0318 Guitar Wiring Harness 2 Volume 1 Tone Potentiometers 500K 3 Way Toggle Switch
- PREMIUM MATERIAL: The harness is made of quality metal materials with fine machining, lightweight, wires are anti-aging and durable.
- HIGH DURABILITY & LESS NOISE: The pot is constructed with copper shaft sleeve, offers excellent durability and ability to decrease noise.
- 3 WAYS DESIGN: Three-way switch is designed for electric guitar circuit wiring, 2 volume 1 tone 1 jack wiring harness for electric guitars.
- CONVENIENT TO INSTALL AND USE: Easy to install and use, just need to solder pickup to the switch and ground it to the volume pot.
- WARRANTY: Please confirm size and compatibility before order. We take full responsibility for our product. Any product quality problem or service issue, please feel free to email us for help. We will reply you within 24 hours.
Potentiometer type: Full size
If it’s economy you’re looking for, look no further than the Kmise M10318 pack. This potentiometer pack comes with three different guitar pots– 2 for volume and 1 for tone, as well as a toggle switch and a guitar wiring harness.
Its installation is relatively straightforward, but some reviewers comment that the included instructions aren’t the best. Some soldering is also required for the installation, so as long as you’re comfortable with that, this potentiometer value pack is a good choice for some affordable guitar pots.
These potentiometers are sure to improve cheaper guitars compared to the guitar pots and wiring that come on them initially. Still, they might not be that much of an upgrade for the potentiometers that come on more expensive guitars.
2-pack 500K Bourns Audio-Taper Potentiometer
- 500 KOhm Audio Taper Potentiometers
- Perfect for use as volume knobs on guitars
- High rotational life, Carbon element, RoHS compliant
- High-quality Bourns pots are widely respected by guitar builders and repairers
- Includes washers and mounting nuts
Potentiometer type: Full size
Another excellent choice for cheap potentiometers is the 2-pack 500K Bourns Audio-Taper Potentiometer. These potentiometers can only be used for volume control and not tone control, but this is still a great deal at a price of under $10 for two guitar pots.
One of the best features of these guitar pots is that they have quite a firm turning action. This prevents you from changing the volume dramatically each time you touch the knob, so if you like a guitar pot that gives you more control over your guitar’s volume, this two-pack is a good choice.
This two-pack also contains a washer and nut for mounting per each pot, and while they are made to fit most guitars, it’s still a good idea to carefully check whether this two-pack of guitar pots will fit your specific guitar well.
Allparts Ep-4685-000 Cts 250K Long
- 250K Long Shaft Potentiometer
- Audio Taper
- Manufactured by CTS
- Split Shaft
Potentiometer type: Long shaft
Since there are so many different guitar body shapes, not all guitar pots will fit every guitar. Some electric and acoustic-electric guitars have a deeper body shape than most average guitars. This means that potentiometers that fit most guitars might not reach as deeply as they need to.
Long shaft potentiometers for guitars like the Allparts Ep-4685 are necessary. With a longer shaft, the Allparts Ep-4685 have a more extended reach than other potentiometers, making them perfect for deep-body guitars.
CTS guitar pots have an excellent reputation as high-quality products, and at a reasonable price point, these guitar pots are a great choice. Reviewers point out that the Allparts-4685 is a sturdy guitar potentiometer and that they sound wonderful.
CTS 500K Electric Guitar Pots Guitar Linear Potentiometer B500K
- Split shaft with Fine Spline Knurled; Shaft Length:18.5mm; Shaft Diameter: 6mm; Base Diameter: 24mm
- It’s made in CTS Taiwan Company, we have shown the detailed factory diagram for the pots, please verify the diagram if you have any doubts. CTS has several factories that all of them can produce guitar pots
- A’ means Audio Taper which increases or decreases in a sloped curve fashion ; ‘B’ means Linear Taper which increases or decreases in a linear fashion
- Generally speaking, Audio Taper (A) are always used as Tone and Linear Taper (B) are always used as Volume, but you can use Audio Taper as Volume and Linear Taper as Tone as well, it usually depends on your personal preference.
- Package includes: 1x CTS Pots; Comes with Nut and Washer
Potentiometer type: Split shaft
The last potentiometer on our list is the CTS B500k. Like some of the other guitar pots on our list, the CTS B500k works for tone and volume control, making them very versatile for almost anyone’s guitar pot needs.
As we’ve mentioned before, CTS is a very trusted brand in the guitar potentiometer world, which means that this CTS B500k should work well for your guitar pot needs and last long enough to make your purchase worthwhile.
The B500k is a split-shaft guitar pot that can fit many guitars. If you’re in the market for a 250k guitar pot instead, this company also makes one of these pots in that variety.
CTS guitar pots have reliable durability and quality, so if you need to replace your guitar pots right away, this is a great brand you can count on.
How To Find The Best Guitar Pot
Since most guitar pots are affordable, it can be hard to determine which are just a great deal and which aren’t the best quality in the long run. Here are some things to consider when replacing your guitar pots.
While guitar potentiometers aren’t too painful on the wallet, most of them can be challenging to install, while durability is one of the most important things to look for in a new set of guitar pots.
High-quality guitar pots will usually be made out of metal instead of plastic. Brass is a common component for guitar potentiometers which can indicate good construction.
It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re installing your new guitar pots with good wiring if you want them to last a significant amount of time. Some potentiometers come with a wiring kit or harness included, while for others, you will need to buy the wiring separately.
Sound And Resistance
Potentiometers aren’t always a huge component of a guitar’s overall sound, but someone serious about perfecting their guitar’s sound will be able to recognize quality potentiometers versus cheap ones.
First, you want your guitar pot to have the proper torque for your preference and play style. Some guitarists like looser pots, while others prefer very firm torque on their guitar pots. No matter how tight you like your guitar pots, you want your potentiometer to work smoothly.
A smoothly turning potentiometer will mean the difference between a gradual, highly controllable volume and tone change and jarring or too drastic changes. Guitar pots that aren’t constructed well are also known to sound scratchy and ruin the guitar sound, but this scratchiness can also occur if the guitar pot is installed incorrectly or needs to be cleaned.
Regarding resistance, there are two main resistance ratings–250k and 500k. Guitar pots will indicate in the name which resistance rating they are most of the time, making it easy to choose the right one.
A potentiometer resistance rating of 250k is perfect for a single-coil guitar, while a humbucker or double-coil guitar does best with a guitar pot that has a 500k rating.
Single-coil pickups are known to sound brighter and more lively, while humbucker pickups have a dark, deep sound. To make the most out of the unique sound of these pickups, choosing the correct resistance rating in your pot is essential.
There are a ton of different potentiometers out there, which can make choosing the right one for your guitar seem daunting. The most important thing to remember when shopping for these guitar pots is to make sure you’re familiar enough with your guitar to recognize which pots will fit, and to become comfortable with the installation process, so you don’t waste your time and money.
If you can perfect choosing the right guitar pot and the installation, then our guide of the eight best guitar pots will be instrumental in picking the next pot for your guitar. Our list is full of fantastic pot choices, and you’re sure to find the one you need!