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Bit Of A Noob Question Regarding Pots


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Hey all, I'm just getting into the DIY stuff and I'm having a good time w/it. One thing that I can't quite get is how pots work.

More specifically, I notice that when wiring a simple single conductor pickup (in a basic Les Paul configuration), I've seen two different ways to do it. One way is to run the hot wire to the center lug, ground lug 3 and then run lug 1 to the switch.

The other way, you run the hot to the #1 lug and then the middle lug goes to the switch.

I was rewiring my Ibanez AS-80 (ES-335 knockoff) and had no luck w/ the first way, but things were fine the second way. Obviously there's user error that most likely caused this (I probably messed up the first time).

So I was just wondering if there was a simple way to explain it to me. I did figure out that if I grounded lug 1, I got a reverse effect of the dial, so I think I get a little something.

Thanks in advance.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Pots are basically resistors that change resistance when you turn the knob. The lugs are usually wired the second way, with hot into #1, out from #2 and ground to #3. when wired like this, the pot creates what electronic-studied people call a voltage divider.

when you send a signal through a resistor, the voltage drops by a certain amount. when the signal is turned into audio it means the volume drops. your pot basically looks like this picture:


the jagged lines are resistors, which change as the pot is turned. the bigger the resistor on top the lower the volume.

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