Upgrading the pots in a 2021 Affinity

leispat

Squier-Meister
Oct 26, 2022
165
South East
I would like to learn to solder and figured I’d practice on my 2021 Affinity. I plan on doing 250k cts pots but I’m not sure what type to get and how many? I think I need three pots with the shaft and three of the circular ones, correct? Since the affinity is a thinner body,
Does it matter what length of shaft pots I get?
 

Hal Nico

Squier-Nut
Dec 21, 2020
927
UK
First I have to ask why do you think you need to ,"Upgrade" the pots ? They won't change the sound of the guitar.

CTS pots are decent quality but they usually have a larger diameter hole requirement so you would have to ream the PG holes. Yes you do need to make sure whatever pots you get the same shaft length.

As you are new to soldering here's what I would do. Buy some cheap ones that you match up the be correct and then get a bit of metal or plastic and drill some holes and use that as a soldering learner plate and mess around soldering wires to the cheap pots.

Buy one of these as they are a godsend for any electronic soldering jobs.


Solder Sucker



s-l1600.jpg


You use it to remove excess solder when required.

There's plenty of soldering tips/help on YT.



HTH :)
 
Last edited:

AxelMorisson

Squier-Nut
Nov 15, 2021
955
Fagaras, Romania
Dude don't kill a good guitar for soldering practice! Affinities with a bit of a good setup and care can be very nice instruments! BUT- pots can be upgraded, sure, just like any other part on any other guitar. The thing is, when to do it and why.



1) when original pots are noisy and crackle a lot, and you can't clean them/are too dirty and potentiometer cleaning spray does not help
2) when the original pots are broken- it sometimes happens in transport, they get their shaft broken (ouch) or they get a nasty kick and the slider does not..slide anymore- then yeah you gotta switch
3) when you want to build a replica of a certain period instrument- you have to stick as close to the original specs as possible ,chances are you will also get the original sound/ tones
4) when the equipment manufacturer makes a mistake. In SOME cheap guitars- yes, indeed in SOME Squires, they put in the arguably 'wrong' kind of pots. And by this I mean both in value or taper.


To change them is to know them! So let's meet the pots... they are many sizes -from those small alpha ones that sometimes come in certain Squire ranges to the larger format that comes in the vintage ones or their reproductions, and aftermarket. The physical size of the pot has nothing to do with the quality- contrary to what some people say. What it has to do with is..comfort in use and 'feel' as well as sometimes- resilience. Larger pots have a longer resistive track inside so you can easily move them in finer amounts, and are physically sturdier- in general. That said, there are a large number of poorly built large pots and also a large number of very good small ones too.
The second parameter- the most important- is their value- i.e. their maximum resistance (usual values- for actives, 20-30k, for single coils generally around 260 K, for humbuckers 500 k, for special crazy neodymium magnets or other kind of monstrosities- 1 MegaOhm.) - and equally important- the TAPER. This thing separates linear pots from logarithmic pots- and these names just tell you how they respond. Linear pots are made so that the amount of resistance is proportional to the degrees you turn it. As in, half way through it's at half way the maximum resistance. The log ones.. you guessed it, the position somehow relates to the logarithm of the value. A simple explanation with a graph is here Ș


The basics is you want LOGARITHMIC or log pots for volume. Because our hearing is logarithmic as well- so if you put a linear pot for volume you get that nasty 'volume does nothing for the fist half and then suddenly peaks up and maxes out in the very last tenth of a turn' or gives the impression of an all-or-nothing switch. Something that you don't want. Sometimes manufacturers drop one of these for volume. Cheaper , that is why. And it;s a beginner instrument, etc. This can be a very good cause for a pot swap/upgrade.

And pretty much the same , you want linear pots for tone. Tone is not linked to our loudness perception (with some exceptions but lets just say it isn't as first approximation) so lin pots are ok here. It also gives you the full range to fine tune the tone properly. Here it is rare to have the wrong pot - simply because linears are cheaper to make so..

The other "wrong pot" situation is when finding non-standard values for pots in accordance with the specification for those kinds of pickups (generally 250 k for single coils and 500 to 1K for humbuckers, much lower for actives etc)- but these are not rules set in stone. As always, do experiment and find your own... although there is a thing called "loading of the pickup"- the idea is that any pickup is in a way a small generator, and it has a preferred load that it can drive ( a certain current it likes best to put out when operating normally) while sounding as intended. No, over or under-loading a pickup will NOT damage it- but the sound. These are voiced in a certain way by the manufacturer, and if you like how they sound then keep to their recommendation. Pickup aftermarket kits come with instructions, with recommended wiring diagrams- i.e. producer's recommendation. Feel free to test, like and respect them or dislike and change them as you see (or hear) fit.

Physically pots come in standard sizes, some are Imperial some are metric, the calipers are your friend . Measure everything. Luckily, MOST Strat-style and many other guitars have pickguards made of plastic-like material so you can still enlarge the holes and fit a larger pot if needed. Can use a pair of large scissors and have one of the blades act like a reamer by turning the cutting edge against the hole margin while the spine of that blade rests on the other edge. Stepped drill bits work too! You can drive them with your hand though so you don't destroy the pickguard, things are thin..Do check they fit in the body though, some are really big and some electronic bays are really tight so YMMV. Measure first! Plan and prepare , and only then decide and find the required tools. Even wood can be carved to acomodate for larger pots and other electronics, but at least at first it's convenient to avoid that.

Good luck! (btw those CTS pots are just one option- but are nice and vintagey and large- not a bad choice but not the only by far). You will need three 250 K pots, one log or audio taper for volume, and two linear tape for tones. Check hole size... if not ok, get yer scissors ready!
 

leispat

Squier-Meister
Oct 26, 2022
165
South East
Thanks for the responses everyone! You’ve given me a lot of food for though! Would a better option for practicing soldering be to just get some bootstrap pickups?
 

Hal Nico

Squier-Nut
Dec 21, 2020
927
UK
Thanks for the responses everyone! You’ve given me a lot of food for though! Would a better option for practicing soldering be to just get some bootstrap pickups?

Bootstraps have a great rep on here so if you are not happy with the stock ones the by all means buy some but you need to know what kind of sound you would like to get close to.

I'm led to believe that if you contact Bootstrap and let them know the kind of style or guitarists you like they can advise you :)
 

AxelMorisson

Squier-Nut
Nov 15, 2021
955
Fagaras, Romania
Pickups are the spice of life when it comes to tone so yeah, most aftermarket manufacturers build stuff according to the kind of sounds you would like - things called vintage something or reissue something, or old (some year) something, are meant to sound vintage- so jazz, blues, early rock etc.-so with country (something), hot Texas (something) , modern (something) , fusion (something), metal (something) - it's all in the name. Modern sounding ones are generally hot and usually ceramics, excellent with heavy distortion while the AlNiCos are much sweeter sounding and nicer played clean. You see, there is nothing like 'the best pickup' in general. There are, at most, best pickups for a certain kind of music. For a guitarist it makes sense to have all the bases covered.. at least one AlNiCo set and one ceramic set (usually but not necessarily on different guitars). Piezo stuff is nice too- kind of pickups you add to the electrics to also have an acoustic-like sound on demand. These complicate the schematic a bit but can be very nice- again you might need or like them or not...
Underwound pickups are a thing, so is overwound. Again it has to do with the sound, the first being a little more subdued and sit nice in a mix, the latter being much hotter and prone to saturation and distortion, good for soloing etc. And then there you have the classics and the re-issues- the kind of pickups you can hear on historical records, some at astronomic prices and others more down-to-earth re-created stuff more or less identical to the ancient recipes. Vinteras are a good example of this, Fenderțs recent triplet of 50s. 60s and 70s Vintera pickups really do bring something fresh to the table and as far as Fender pickups go these are not so expensive- about 100$- but sound amazing- slipped the 60s in my Affinity.
 

leispat

Squier-Meister
Oct 26, 2022
165
South East
Pickups are the spice of life when it comes to tone so yeah, most aftermarket manufacturers build stuff according to the kind of sounds you would like - things called vintage something or reissue something, or old (some year) something, are meant to sound vintage- so jazz, blues, early rock etc.-so with country (something), hot Texas (something) , modern (something) , fusion (something), metal (something) - it's all in the name. Modern sounding ones are generally hot and usually ceramics, excellent with heavy distortion while the AlNiCos are much sweeter sounding and nicer played clean. You see, there is nothing like 'the best pickup' in general. There are, at most, best pickups for a certain kind of music. For a guitarist it makes sense to have all the bases covered.. at least one AlNiCo set and one ceramic set (usually but not necessarily on different guitars). Piezo stuff is nice too- kind of pickups you add to the electrics to also have an acoustic-like sound on demand. These complicate the schematic a bit but can be very nice- again you might need or like them or not...
Underwound pickups are a thing, so is overwound. Again it has to do with the sound, the first being a little more subdued and sit nice in a mix, the latter being much hotter and prone to saturation and distortion, good for soloing etc. And then there you have the classics and the re-issues- the kind of pickups you can hear on historical records, some at astronomic prices and others more down-to-earth re-created stuff more or less identical to the ancient recipes. Vinteras are a good example of this, Fenderțs recent triplet of 50s. 60s and 70s Vintera pickups really do bring something fresh to the table and as far as Fender pickups go these are not so expensive- about 100$- but sound amazing- slipped the 60s in my Affinity.
Yeah I was looking at the vintnera 50s.. might just go for those!
 

AxelMorisson

Squier-Nut
Nov 15, 2021
955
Fagaras, Romania
the 50s. Surf rock all the way. A tad high-centered , but with growling lows .. I liked the 60s, and some folks swear on the 70s. Truth to be told, these are archetypes of strats. I think they captured the essence of those time periods...I perhaps..gotta catch'em all (T.M.)
 

DougMen

Dr. Squier
Jun 8, 2017
8,643
Honolulu, HI
Yeah I was looking at the vintnera 50s.. might just go for those!
The Vinteras are very good sounding pickups and, at $119 are a better buy than most Fender pickups. The 50s are a slight bit warmer, and the 60s are a bit brighter and snappier. For only a few dollars more, you might also consider the Yosemite pickups, as used on the Am Performer Strat, which is my favorite Strat pickup of all time, followed closely by the PV 65 set that was on my MIM Hendrix Strat.
 


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