How To Change A Volume Pot

How to change a volume pot on an electric guitar? This is my experience. It began with the obvious symptoms of a bad volume pot: noise. Unpleasant noise whenever you change the volume on the guitar. Hard to describe but you know it when you hear it. One remedy is to use a contact cleaner to lubricate the potentiometer and to reduce or eliminate the noise. In my case, that did not work.

Tom was good enough to send me a replacement pot at no charge. I prepared my treasured Tom Anderson instrument for its surgery.

Tom Anderson Guitar

The basic tools for the task include a soldering iron, solder, needle nose pliers, flashlight and an assortment of screwdrivers. Here is the new volume pot.

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Looks so innocent. I mean, really, how hard could this be? The first step is to remove the volume knob. On this guitar, it is held in place with a set screw.

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Once removed, there is a washer that holds the volume pot in place. That also needed to be removed. So far, so good. The guitar is then placed on its front. I used a very thick blanket to ensure that no harm would come to the front of the instrument. With the back of the instrument exposed, it was time to remove the plate that covers the electronics.

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My, my. There are a lot more wires in there than I expected.

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Better write out a basic diagram. Five ground wires and two hot wires. I also discovered two more ground wires along the way.

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Always a good idea to protect the instrument when using a hot soldering iron. Several layers of painter’s masking tape will do the job. As long as you are careful.

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The really difficult part of the job was removing all of the existing wire contacts on the volume pot itself. I was not expecting so many contacts and the work environment is really, really tight. But somehow I managed to free the old pot. Did you notice the scorch mark on the masking tape? Good thing it was there. No marks on the guitar from this job.

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I prepared the new pot by placing solder on the contact points before inserting the pot into the guitar. You can see the solder contacts in the photo below. There were a total of 9 solders for this particular operation. And here we have the new pot almost finished.

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With everything properly soldered, it is time to remove the tape and replace the electronics cover.

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And now the volume control knob is set.

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I tested the instrument and success. The volume pot sounds smooth as silk and operates like new. A relatively straightforward operation as long as you take your time and be particularly careful with the soldering iron. This guitar had a lot of contacts and a very tight area. I do enjoy the challenge of these types of projects. Especially when they turn out well.

Comments

  1. Rob says

    Now that’s confidence! Replacing the electronics cover before testing! Ha ha…. :-)

    Nice job though and yes, a lot of wiring, but it appears the Anderson has a bit more tonal capability than average guitars.

  2. Rob says

    Richard, one observation/question…two strap buttons at the bottom? Is there a specially designed strap, or is it to allow ‘low slung’ playing? I would imagine if both attached to a strap, the guitar might be more stable, no? Or is there some other secret behind this design? The things I learn here….imagine….

    Rob

    • says

      A direct quote from Tom Anderson on why he put two strap buttons at the bottom:

      “I’ve never been a guitar stand guy, so the two buttons keep it from falling over when I lean it against stuff. It also does allow for a different hanging position.”

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