OK, so this is a really lame question from a beginner. I've got a dead-simple guitar to wire: 1 humbucker, 1 volume, 1 killswitch and 1 coil tap. I've figured out how to add a coil tap and a killswitch, but I recently had to install a new volume pot (500k) and I can't figure it out. The knob I bought had a capacitor. Now volumes don't normally have capacitors, correct? So I removed it. I've soldered the hot wire from the pup and the output to the left terminal. There is an empty middle terminal and there is no right terminal (not sure why, it came like that). The guitar works, but the volume knob doesn't work. Do I have a faulty volume knob or a faulty wiring job? And BTW, why is it so hard to solder ground wires to the volume pot? It's a real bh to get the solder to stick to the pot. I'm using 60/40, but it's a headache and I'm worrying that I'm burning out the pots. Any advice is welcome. Thanks for the help!
When there is a capacitor on a volume control it's there to serve as a "treble bleed". (Turning a volume control down from "10" has a tendency to reduce the treble and the capcacitor is used to compensate for this).
The volume control should have 3 terminals but yours only has two? If I've followed you correctly, you have soldered only 1 terminal which contains the pickup "hot" wire and the jack output "hot" wire. I'd say that the way it is, it won't work as a volume control at all. When you say the volume control doesn't work, I'm guessing you mean the guitar is working properly but it's as if the volume is stuck on "10", correct?
Where did you get this "pot". I'm thinking it was meant for a tone control. That would only need two terminals, and would explain the cap. Unless, of course, one of the terminals is somehow internally connected to the case of the pot, but that would be lame. I hope you didn't pay to much for the thing, cause I think you need a new one.
Soldering to the back of the pots is hard for a couple of reasons:
First, there's a whole lot of metal there to dissipate the heat from your soldering iron. You usually need a pretty powerful iron to heat it up fast so you can get in and get out.
Second, that piece of metal is kind of slippery. You need to make sure it's clean, then scratch it up with some sandpaper or steel wool or something.
I don't have pots in most of the guitars I've wired recently, but when I do I avoid soldering to the back of the pots. You can collect your grounds anywhere convenient. In your case, I'd say the ground lug of the volume control (when you get a pot that has one) would work best. The pot cases are only grounded for shielding purposes. It's a good idea, especially if you haven't shielded the control cavity. You could try to find a ring terminal that fits around the shaft but I usually just use the washer that came with the pot.
Thanks for the advice. I'm gonna try the ring terminal idea. Can you get these at Radioshack? Based on the replies, it sounds like I have a tone pot, not a volume pot. When you say you replaced all your pots, what do you replace them with, rotary switches? Do they still have the same functions? Can you do volume swells with them, etc? Thanks!
When you say you replaced all your pots, what do you replace them with, rotary switches?
Do they still have the same functions?
Nope. My big strat has rail-style HBs, and a switch for each to select Off-(local)Series-One Coil-Parallel-Other Coil. The mini-strat is SHS and each rotary controls combinations of one of the singles with the appropriate hum-cancelling coil from HB, same options as on the big strat, and these are combined by a toggle for system Series/Parallel. The Rick has volume and tone functions where you'd expect them, but they're stepped and therefor...
Can you do volume swells with them, etc? Thanks!
Nope. One of these days I'll have a working volume pedal, and will be able to do swells while my hands do other things.