Does anyone know what's happening to the quality of CTS pots lately?
I used to have a steady supply of good CTS pots for years. But lately quality seems to be dropping rapidly. The pots used to be solid/smooth turning and pretty much noiseless when installed. Lately the pots are loose turning and scratchy sounding straight out of the package. (and I'm not talking scratchy because of overheating)
I guess we all know CTS pots can differ in quality from one supplier to the other. But this is starting to be a real pain, especially when customers bring their guitars to have their noisy pots replaced.
Cleaning spray etc does improve things a bit, but thats really not the way I want to go.
Does anyone have suggestions for an alternative to CTS pots?
We use a considerable amount of CTS pots of all shapes and sizes and haven't experienced this problem to date - all our pots are from the bigger suppliers so we probably get fresh stock - sometimes we get different shaft and collar combination (brass and alloy combinations) which affects the feel a bit but have yet to have a problem with noise from new. Maybe just go with ordering from one of the larger suppliers such as Allparts or CE Distribution (if you are a business) and store your pots in sealed containers if you are going to keep em for a longtime.
But, there are a heaps of pots out there and the Dimarzio prepacked ones are good items (from memory) with a nice feel and taper. All I know.
From what I understand is that they are made in China. I thought they were made in the USA. That could be the reason.
Just a thought.
Merry Christmas All
I use CTS pots exclusively. The reason for this is solely due to their consistently great final quality and quality control. Like Rusty, the ones I source from WD and CE Distribution are very high quality and I've not had issues with them (knock wood). It appears WD has a special run made for them and have tighter tolerance specs (for those who anguish about such things).
The 'tension' of the pot's shaft is determined by the design specifications set forth by the purchasing 'distributor'.
Coincidentally, I recently dissected a new CTS pot to see for myself if they've made any cost cutting changes. I'm just a curious cat. Regardless of the country of origin, the one I examined was very high quality. Honestly, I've only had one 'bad right out of the box' pot from CTS in the last 10 years, out of hundreds!
I hate to even bring this up, but the following is an issue we all need to keep aware of: You may have gotten a batch of counterfeit CTS pots. The low-lifes of the world seem to be making counterfeits of just about everything nowadays.
Regardless, if you're dissatisfied with the pots, your supplier has an ethical obligation to make it right. I'd let them know of this fact ASAP as they may be unaware that they got either a bad batch of pots from their supplier OR they're knock-offs. Either way, a cordial discussion is in order :)
If you have an account with CE Distribution (or their retail branch; "Antique Electronics"), you may wish to try the guitar pots manufactured by P.E.C. in Canada. At about $23@ USD (wholesale), I can't afford them myself (nor can my customers) but a deep pocketed Banker in town has them in his Benedetto jazz box and they feel like silk and have no 'signature sound' of their own. Their guitar pots also have their connecting tabs on the back of the pot instead of on the 'shaft side'. I hope that catches on with other pot makers as that design would make repair/rewire jobs sooooooo much more pleasant.
Sorry for the long winded reply.
Have a great week, Jelle :) :)
I also use CTS exclusively and get them from wdbiz.com which is the wholesale arm of wdmusic. Quality is good and so is the price if you have an account. They are less rigorous than Allparts in handing out business accounts. One hears so many things about CTS pots...some of the various claims by suppliers is that theirs are "specially made," are 550k instead of 500k, have a custom taper, are especially smooth, etc. Hard to know what's real.
As an afterthought:
Here's a link to a USA company that offers custom pots in addition to their standard line: http://www.potentiometers.com/index.cfm
Their 'house" pots are all made in the USA from components supplied by Honeywell Industrial. It also appears they handle PEC pots too.
Of particular value is an extensive FAQ section that answers many commonly asked questions regarding pots. Highly recommended to get infor or as a refresher for us guys that, by 1971, thought we knew everything there was to know about pots. Wrong!!! :)
I'm familiar with hi-fi folks who go together and form a 'buyers' group" and have pots custom made for them. This allows them to meet the minimum order requirements (from 25 up to 1,200 pieces depending upon the item) and pretty well guarantees specifications and quality.
I'm posting this ONLY as a resource and NOT to advocate the creation of a buyers' group, although it's something to think about IF Mr. Ford isn't opposed to a discussion along those lines. They are becoming popular with independent MI retailers who can then take advantage of quantity pricing discounts.
I hope some of this general information is beneficial. :)
Thanks for your in-depth replies and research - I've had no reason to think about changing my pot suppliers but it underscores to need to be alert to the fact that things change and better products come to light or are introduced to the marketplace.
CTS pots come in all shapes and sizes and due to their tolerances (and we measure/match or mismatch all pots individually before installation) it's not unusual to find "special" values such as Robbie Collins alludes to in your normal distribution of values in a bulk order - divide em up into boxes and use the different values to give a little extra volume and "poke" or calm down the output in accordance with yr customers wishes.
Buyers groups have been around in business as long as quantity discounts have been - we use a couple of groups for our bulk buying and it's a worthwhile process. Better quantity discounts and freight costs amortized against one combined shipment. Bottom line maintenance such as this is a good way to make and extra 10% without putting up prices.
Rusty,Michael,Paul and Robbie
Sorry for the late reply, busy times this most wonderful time of the year. Thanks very much for the quick replies and shared information.
Paul special thanks to you for the "long winded" replies :) Great information. Never heard of PEC pots/or that USA company before, but they do look interesting. As for the buyers group, It sounds like it would be a unique chance to get input into specifications and quality. But like you mentioned previously, I'm not sure if we're allowed/supposed to discuss that idea here?
Rusty I used to order my CTS pots from one of the biggest suppliers over here in Europe, and quality was fine for years, but for what it seems they recently just got a bad batch or something. I send them an e-mail earlier to let them know about the quality of the pots. (you have to order in big quantities, and it would be a shame to get boxes full of bad pots/counterfeits)
In the meantime I managed to get some WD pots, and they indeed work just fine (a shame the local suppliers are charging nearly $11,- for a single WD pot). I'll be sure to get some straight from WD next time.
Thanks once again!