Planet Tone Pickups and Choosing the Right Capacitors and Potentiometers

We recently received a great question from a dedicated Australian customer who has purchased multiple sets of pickups from us, including humbucker and single coils sets. He stated, “Wiring makes a huge difference I’ve found. [I] went through a few things with my DG set, and now its not changing ever. What sort of things do you like, with my custom 50-ish set, to give it a name, should I just go plain old modern wiring with 250k pots and leave it, or would things like 300k volume, 50s wiring, or treble bleed mods make the whole thing sweeter? My orange squeezer compressor sorts out 99% of stuff, but I’m interested what your favorite wiring is for your pickups.”

Here are the answers to these questions.

At Planet Tone, we prefer 250k CTS pots on our Strats and Teles with upgraded oil caps if possible. Of course Orange Drop or similar works great too! We do like 7 way switching and those types of mods but have found that lower output pickups work better with S1 or switching that has parallel to series options.

We typically wire our pickguards so that Tone 2 controls both the middle and bridge with Tone with dedicated completely to the neck. The are other ways to wire but we found this to be an effective yet rather simple wiring scheme. Some replace the pots with no load pots which allows more of the raw power of the pickups to come through. These are great too!

Choosing the right potentiometer depends much on your desired tone and treble response.

Most use 500k pots with humbuckers but if possible we prefer 300k pots, they work great here. A while back we found NOS Gibson 300k pots that were incredible. 500k potentiometers has become the main stay and typically are a great option for humbuckers, especially for today’s higher output pickups which tend to have more mids and low ends than a traditional vintage pickup.

However for a nice PAF, a 300k potentiometer works beautifully. PAFs tend to be lower output and a lot of them come without wax potting, which tends to be brighter anyway, a well made 300k pot is a great compliment to the lower output pickup.

Interestingly enough, a lot of winders these day are making compressed and darkened pickups due to their winding techniques. This results in a lack of highs and so we are seeing more and more trying to bring the highs out with treble bleed kits, tbx, higher resistance pots, even 1k, and so on. This is not necessary. If the pickups are wound correctly. There will be nice balance and very little need for electronics to maximize the highs.

Another factor that is often overlooked is the capacitor. Remember a 22 value cap will for more concentration on higher end frequencies than a 47 value cap. A 47 value cap provides a darker lower end concentrated tone because it allows for more of a greater frequency spectrum to pass through the system than a 22 value cap. Most buyers are intrigued and feel satisfied with large caps. Often these are overkill. A 100v rated cap is perfectly fine for a guitar application.

In the end, choosing the right electronics depends much on two factors. 1. Your pickups starting base. How is the natural eq of the pickup. And based on this you would choose 2. The right potentiometer values and caps to provide the tone you want.

What are some electronic adjustments you have made that have been helpful in achieving your desired tone?

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