Scott's Guitar Blog: April 3, 2006

Dirty Pots No More!

Hi everyone, I was working on a 60’s Fender Coronado semi-hollow archtop today…very cool. Ultra-ugly stained green streaks…too cool! It had the typical crackling volume and tone pots (potentiometers) when plugged in, so they needed to be cleaned. This is no big deal; you simply spray some contact cleaner into the pot opening between the leads. This is easily done when pots are mounted to a removable pick guard but when they’re mounted on the top directly, it can be a challenge and risk to remove them for cleaning.
The problem with a seemingly simple repair on a vintage guitar like this is that the solder points, capacitors and wiring can often be fragile and brittle. Trying to take the pots out can damage the precious vintage electronics. (Especially on an f-hole instrument where removal is a tough order.) The finish can be scratched while trying to pull the pot through the hole, solvent can leak onto a label etc…A simple pot cleaning can damage these sensitive elements then your guitar has been forever devalued!

I use these really cool little tools that thread over the OUTSIDE of the pot and connect to a can of cleaner! You simply thread the cylindrical tool housing down over the extended thread, connect the hose and shoot the solvent in…no mess, no damage and perfectly clean quiet pots! Even in rare cases where the threads don’t match or there isn’t enough thread to screw it on, an O-ring over the pot shaft provides a seal and it is still an easy job to hold the housing firmly down while injecting the solvent. This also keeps solvent from being sprayed sloppily into an f-hole HOPING that it gets in the pot…Yes folks, people do that believe it or not.
These cool little units deliver a zero-risk venture on valuable, vintage instruments.