Fender Pan Control

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TriodeLuvr
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Fender Pan Control

Post by TriodeLuvr »

Hello guitar experts! I'm building a piece of hi-fi gear that needs a 2-gang pan potentiometer like Fender uses in guitars. These controls are somewhat specialized now, but a similar design was utilized back in the day for the balance control in various tube preamps. I only recently discovered that these are available (I don't own a Fender), and it would solve a major problem with the gear I'm building.

Cut to the chase, I have two choices for this pot, either a Bourns 500K or an Alpha (Fender) 250K. I'm leaning toward the Alpha, because the Bourns is a 6mm shaft and probably Chinese made. The Alpha is 1/4" (like the other controls and switches) and is probably Taiwan. I've had good luck with Alpha products in the past, and the slight additional loss is probably OK in the overall design. Here are the two pots I found at AES:

https://www.tubesandmore.com/products/p ... shaft-500k
https://www.tubesandmore.com/products/p ... olid-shaft

The Bourns version might not be in widespread use (correct me if I'm wrong), but I'm hoping someone here can tell me a little about the Fender. I just basically need to know if it's been found to be reliable and good quality. Most of the time, it will just be set to the center detent, and it probably won't get a lot of use. Still, I want to be sure I'm not looking at something that's likely to be noisy or to fail in a short amount of time. Thanks!


Jack
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Re: Fender Pan Control

Post by JMPGuitars »

Alpha pots are generally good quality. But, like any company, some products are better than others.

Anyway, what you're talking about are typically referred to as blend pots for guitars/basses, and balance pots for other audio applications, and they're pretty common.

Here's a dual linear Alpha option with 50K, 100K, 500K, 1M: https://tubedepot.com/products/alpha-24 ... mm-bushing

If MN taper is required, Bourns makes good stuff. I use Alpha, CTS, and Bourns for pots, and generally have no issues.

If I was choosing between any of those brands and one that said Fender on it, I would not buy the one that said Fender on it.

If it makes you feel better, other companies charge more for the same Bourns pot. For example: https://www.bestbassgear.com/potentiome ... t-500k.htm


Bourns is probably also one of the biggest names when it comes to trim pots. They're a worldwide company, but they're American owned, and their HQ is in CA.
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Re: Fender Pan Control

Post by TriodeLuvr »

OK, I'll order both types and use the one that looks best. Thanks Josh, helpful as always!

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Re: Fender Pan Control

Post by TriodeLuvr »

Well, I ordered two of each, the 500K Bourns and 250K Alpha (Fender). These are the only values available with a solid shaft, which is what I need. One of the Bourns arrived with the terminal board broken off one gang, and one of the Alphas is misaligned internally. At the center detent, instead of measuring 3Ω or 4Ω like the others, it's about 400Ω. I'm not sure this will have a detrimental effect for my application, but it's not the way it should be. Maybe you were right about Fender. :(

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Re: Fender Pan Control

Post by JMPGuitars »

TriodeLuvr wrote:
Sun 08/13/23 3:01 pm
Well, I ordered two of each, the 500K Bourns and 250K Alpha (Fender). These are the only values available with a solid shaft, which is what I need. One of the Bourns arrived with the terminal board broken off one gang, and one of the Alphas is misaligned internally. At the center detent, instead of measuring 3Ω or 4Ω like the others, it's about 400Ω. I'm not sure this will have a detrimental effect for my application, but it's not the way it should be. Maybe you were right about Fender. :(

Jack
Center detent on a blend pot will have near 0 on one half, and full on the other half. ie. pins 1 + 2 = 2Ω, pins 2 + 3 = 500kΩ. 400Ω certainly doesn't make sense. Fender sucks. 🤷

I recently bought these Alpha pots to repair a Mesa bass head. They were fine, except one of them had a broken terminal board that likely busted in shipping.
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Re: Fender Pan Control

Post by TriodeLuvr »

That can't be coincidence. AES shipped mine in a bubble-lined envelope, apparently not sufficient to protect the pots. Please let them know that one of yours arrived broken.

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Re: Fender Pan Control

Post by JMPGuitars »

TriodeLuvr wrote:
Mon 08/21/23 3:05 pm
That can't be coincidence. AES shipped mine in a bubble-lined envelope, apparently not sufficient to protect the pots. Please let them know that one of yours arrived broken.

Jack
lol, I did. They immediately refunded the price of the broken pot. In principle had to be done, in reality, not worth the time to send the email. 😉
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