No announcement yet.

Quality of pot brands?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Quality of pot brands?

    I notice that Antique Electronic Supply has several brands of potentiometers. How would you rank them in terms of quality?

    Unknown Brand:




  • #2
    As all four of these have essentially the same construction, common carbon deposit resistance tracks, open covers (not fully sealed), their quality appears similar. I've had good luck with CTS and Bourns pots over the years, as well as Alpha. Alpha's pots tend to have the rotor assembly staked onto the shaft, such that you can't remove the shaft/rotor assembly from the bushing. The older CTS pots, you could fully disassemble them, which can help cobbling a failed pot from other CTS pots you have on hand to restore a pot, keeping the form factor the same on a repair. As pots tend to be product design specific, unless you can get direct replacement from the equipment manufacturer, once the equipment has been long discontinued, replacing a pot becomes a problem, as they are design-specific with regards to taper, bushing size, shaft length, shape, diameter, detents, number of elements (multigang). Switches are much the same. Too many variables to find a direct replacement, unless the pot is a garden variety form factor.

    I've always liked Bourns pots.....though the higher cost units. They have made some 'clunkers' over time, but generally, they make high quality pots.

    On the four you've highlighted, all can be cleaned easily. I often pry off the covers to get at the wafer and rotor for brushing on contact cleaner, rather than just spraying them. Though you can't do that with multi-gan pots.
    Logic is an organized way of going wrong with confidence


    • #3
      Can't do a 1 thru 4 rating, but I can tell you I've had good luck with Alpha pots within the last 20 years or so. One small problem, if you need to solder to the pot shell, you'll need to scrape/sand into the metal a bit, then use flux & a hot iron, and of course quality tin/lead solder.

      CTS has disappointed me a number of times, pots that don't start making a change 'til you've dialed up a ways. On dissection, they have a large metal section at the end of the band of carbon, so large that it takes more of a turn than you'd want, to get to the resistive zone. Often this defect is found on pots intended to use in guitars, NOT acceptable, what a hassle! Time was, CTS was the brand. Now, not so much.
      This isn't the future I signed up for.


      • #4
        The CTS dead zone is a real annoyance, as they didn't used to do this. It's my theory after looking at this that the end of the dead part of the track coincides with the beginning of useful travel in a switched pot. Maybe CTS rationalized the wafer design so that the same track is used in switched/non-switched versions. Otherwise the construction is good and the wafers can still be swapped - useful if you have a dual pot and want to have different custom values for each section. You can also clean and re-lubricate the shaft with Kilopoise or viscous grease intended for camera lenses. Some CTS pots have brass shafts and bushes and those are the ones I prefer.

        The Alpha pots have much better progression and I've used them a fair bit in amp builds, I see them often in high-end amps, too. Alpha pots are my preference nowadays for amp builds, but there are two Alpha pot manufacturers - Taiwan Alpha is the one you want. The Korean Alpha pots are poor quality in my opinion. The shell has a passivated zinc coating (CTS are tinned) and zinc is difficult to solder with regular rosin flux, hence the need to scrape it down to the steel. I did have a small spool of 'universal' solder for materials including stainless and aluminium that worked really well but it hollowed out my iron tips quickly, so back to scraping or if I have a few to do, the Dremel.

        I've bought Bourns here in the UK and apart from some specific guitar pots with rectangular bodies, they just seem to be a regular commercial pot with nothing special about them.

        The unbranded pots I've bought similar (if not the same) as the ones linked have been OK, but I've never used them in customer equipment. Just for myself for prototyping and experimental stuff. The problem is substitution by suppliers - I had a good run with these initially but sometimes I ordered them and they were clearly from a different manufacturer and different quality - sometimes gritty, sometimes play in the shaft. I have some decent ones in my parts stock but it all comes down to your supplier. I've never bought from Tubes and More so you'd have to check.