the most accurate 50s Centralab replica potentiometers on the market
The magic of the "old" tone is not just hidden in somewhat magical pickups. The electronic components are just as important -- especially the potentiometers used back in the golden age of guitar making.
In the late 50s, Gibson (and others) preferably used potentiometer by US maker Centralab. The audio taper of these vintage pots has become synonymous with the perfect taper. It's pretty steep on top (great to "switch" from lead to rhythm) and musically to the end. No wonder people pay $150 or more for a single vintage potentiometer.
Thus, it has been really frustrating (not only) to us that the taper of currently available pots is nowhere near the old taper. So we went door to door and asked pot manufacturer if they would be interested in teaming up with VIP to make a real Centralab replica pot. And while most of them either laughed at us or never even responded, Clement and the guys at Bourns were excited to jump in and start a project that would take more than a year and a lot of work to finish. It included us buying and sacrificing several NOS Centralab pots from the 50s and massive analysis of their taper, torque, etc.
Finally, they are here! The VIPots are exact functional copies of the old Centralab pots. With the same audio taper, the same torque and US fine spline split shaft for a direct drop-in replacement. 550kOhm with 15% tolerance, putting them in the range of all the tested NOS pots.
NEW: We are now offering 280k VIPots spec'd to pots used in Fender® guitars made in the 50s and 60s. They will have a slightly altered taper compared to the 550k VIPots that represents the optimal taper we found after testing multiple pots sourced from vintage Fender® guitars.
Here's a short sound clip showing how the tone cleans up nicely without adding any mud or cutting highs (all without treble bleeds or other weird stuff) by rolling down the volume VIPot on the neck pickup of a semi hollow guitar.
It starts at volume 10, then 8, then 6, and finally 3.
Important: Before installing your new VIPots,
please read our VIPots Installation Tips!
Check out the recent rave reviews of the VIPots in the press
Gitarre & Bass 05/18
Joey Landreth talks about how VIPots turned his guitar into a brand new instrument, starting around 22:30.
Our friend Nik Sevigny stopped by to upgrade his monster '82 ES-335 with VIPots.
“VIP pots have been life changing. I’m glad someone finally got it right!” - Eric C.
“Best pots out there!” - Tony M.
“VIP pots are a must for true vintage tone. If you’ve spent big bucks on pickups, but they’re soldered to stock, modern Gibson pots, you’re not getting the most from your pickups. Also, if you think the pickups in your guitar are the problem with your sound, there’s a good chance the stock pots are the problem instead. Give these a try and you will unleash tone you may have thought wasn’t there.” - Chad C.
“This is a big thank you for getting these made! I have real Centralabs in my 1957 LP Special so I‘m familiar with that wonderful taper. The response of the Firebird now has that same quality I love - super responsive with great clarity.” - Chris H.
“These pots are not just hype, they are the real deal. I installed them with the PIO caps ... and there was both more clarity to the tone ... but the taper of the volume and tone knobs is now spectacularly usable, noticeably different all through the range of the knobs. ... I heartily recommend this pot and cap kit.” - Michael O.
“Bottom line; These pots blew me away ...” - Les Paul Forum
“I love the even response of your pots, with just the right amount of turning resistance. Much easier to tweak those middle position, out of phase sounds when the pots respond smoothly. Well done mate, It's great some folks still care enough for the details and go to the time and trouble of getting it right!” - Jeff V.
“These pots have a great taper that makes 0-10 all usable on the volume and tone knobs, not just on-off. Highly, highly recommended!” - Michael O.
“The pots have a nice taper, just how I like it. Roll it to 10 for leads and to 7 for rhythm etc. Highly recommended.” - Mike N.
“Once again, thanks SO much for addressing these pot shortcomings that have been such an issue for so long. EVERYBODY needs these pots!!!” - Jeremy G.
“I don’t have any experience with Centralabs but have tried RS superpots, Hamer pots, and whatever CTS 500K pots that came in my replica. The VIPots are the best. Now I understand what all the hype is about with regards to vintage pots and harnesses. ... Congrats on an amazing product! I was pleasantly surprised that they improved the tone controls as well. Easy to solder. Clarity. Easy to turn. Taper is perfect. Highly recommended!” - Les Paul Forum
“I’m very happy to say that the VIpots are the best I’ve ever heard. They achieved the goal of recreating the sound, tone, taper and clarity of the Centralab pots. BRAVO! I installed with Luxe Bumblebee repro caps. I’m totally thrilled!” - Les Paul Forum
“Fantastic!” - Josh A.
“These pots are the standard if you’re after the Centralab type taper. Bye bye RS Superpots.” - Rob J.
“Awesome pots! Thanks a million man, and thank you for doing what you do. You're the hero low income vintage guitar nerds need!” - Matt W.
“I have been through many, many pot options over the last 15 years searching for the right attributes, the same attributes you list and have nailed.” - Chris H.
“My '63 SG Junior was in need of new pots so I stumbled across your site and decided to give them a try. As soon as I got the harness together and plugged it in, I was instantly satisfied. You guys completely nailed the taper and feel of a real Centralab. Can't thank you enough and I am extremely happy, as is the original P90 pickup!” - Devin H.
“I was really thrilled when I plugged my guitar in as the clarity was beautiful! Love the taper as they’re like my other guitars now. Thanks again and I’ll be ordering another set today!” - Don B.
"On my third VIP set ... As a guy who plugs straight into the amp, these pots might be the most significant improvement I’ve made to my guitar. The pot sweep is what I’ve been looking for for a long time." - Les Paul Forum
“Best pots I've ever owned” - Bobb M.
“VIP’s are the ones to buy! These are the most like vintage Centralab’s from the 50’s/60’s!” - Les Paul Forum
“I just wanted to let you know that I bought a set of your pots and installed in a semihollow 335-type with P90s and these literally are the best pots I have ever used.” - Michael O.
“I have done the CTS and the VIPs. I really, really like the VIPs. I have had them in my Knopfler Les Paul and Custom Shop SG for a few months and a dozen gigs and love them. So much so that I braved the daunting task of putting them in my '59 RI 335. Loving the results there, too. Can't go wrong with VIP." - Les Paul Forum
“Amazing pots! These pots are unlike anything else out there! These pots ... are the real deal!!” - Joseph L.
“Für mich Gibt es mich keine Alternative zu deinen Potis, ich habe jetzt 4 Gitarren mit den Poti ausgestattet, echt Alternativlos.” - Musiker-Board forum
“Meine Les Paul hat jedenfalls dermaßen an Klangqualität zugelegt, dass man es gar nicht glauben kann … Die ganze Gitarre hat an Klarheit enorm gewonnen.” - Musiker-Board forum
If you don't feel like soldering yourself, but are still lusting for the perfect VIPot experience, check out preassembled VIP wiring harnesses by our friends at Jackson Electronic Luthier®
“Just put some [VIPots] in my R8 and I don't think I can use any other pots now. They are the absolute best!” - Austin M.
“All 3 of my other guitars have vintage centralabs. These sound and operate just like them...congrats, you've absolutely nailed it.” - Johnny B.