Bourns Guitar Pots


When it comes to potentiometers, Bourns has reputation for making good stuff. They offer several different pots intended for guitar. If you’re on the market for new guitar pots, their products may be a good place to start. I decided to upgrade pots on my Ibanez RG2550EGK and below are my observations.

What models do they offer?
  • Standard, 24mm body (there’s also 17mm version), carbon element, not sealed. Look similar to Alpha or other generic pots. Cost well below 5$; don’t seem like a big of an upgrade.
  • EVH signature model, look similar to the previous but cost around 10$. They are advertised as very low friction, but it looks like most of the difference in price goes to EVH logo.
  • Model 82 Vintage, sealed, conductive polymer element, plastic casing. Cost the same as EVH but offer much more.
  • Model 95 Premium. Key features are the same as Model 82, so as price. Other than slightly different looks I couldn’t figure out the difference.
Bourns Standard Bourns EVH Bourns 82 Vintage Bourns 95 Premium
Standard EVH Model* 82 Vintage 95 Premium

* All the photos of EVH Model pots you can find are taken from the back which kinda proves that EVH logo is the most important “feature”.

I decided to try Model 95 Premium and ordered two for my Ibanez. Data sheets list all the dimensions which is a good thing when replacing an existing pot because you can figure out if the hole is big enough, if knobs will fit, etc. In my case, the only thing that needed to be done is to enlarge pickguard holes for 1mm.

What I like about them?
  • Audio taper on these is awesome, much better than stock Ibanez pots. I always thought that sudden increase of volume when going from 0 to 1 was caused by lots of gain in the amp, but with these pots it’s much more gradual. Love it!
  • Rotation friction is just right for me. A bit higher friction than stock Ibanez pots but a lot less than CTS I have on my other guitar.
  • Being sealed means that dust cannot get inside, so no periodical cleaning is needed.
What I don’t like about them?
  • They have plastic body which means you cannot use standard grounding methods – soldering to the back of the pot. Each pot comes with a solderable lug washer, but in some cases it’s not big enough to take all grounding points. Bourns provided a nice document on grounding with a diagram Les Paul style (two pickups, 4 pots) guitars but in my case I have a lot of pickups to ground but only two pots. Luckily, one of 4 poles of my multipole switch was free so I could use it as a ground bus with 6 extra lugs to use. Without it, I’d have to come up with something because there’s just not enough space on the lugs to ground everything.

These pots are definitely worth checking out. If you like controlling the amount of overdrive with volume pot, the exceptional audio taper on these will be worth the price alone. Sealed body and long life conductive polymer element come as a bonus.

4 Responses to “Bourns Guitar Pots”
  1. Bruce says:

    I’ve been using the Bourns Model 95 in a 25k ohm value with my EMG equipped Strat for about 8 years now. I have zero complaints. The friction is perfect for my style, and I love the fact that the pot is sealed and the case is plastic. My guitar was already dead quiet with the volume rolled down to zero, but the Bourns pots made it dead quiet with the volume wide open.

    The one failure I’ve ever had was a pot that became scratchy after 5 years of constant use. After searching for days on the internet, trying to find someone who had the the 25k value in stock, I finally contacted Bourns directly and asked where I could find one. I got a response the following day simply asking for my address. Two days after that I received a free replacement in the mail, directly from Bourns.

  2. Bob says:

    The main practical difference with the 82 vintage model is that the connections are wire loops rather than small metal tabs. Also the body is a little larger. Overall this makes connecting/grounding a little bit easier.

    Some of the 95 premium models come with a grounding washer with solder point – to ground a connected metal electronics plate.

    Other part variations are 250k vs 500k resistance, split verses solid shaft, long versus short shaft.

  3. Joe Palooka says:

    Well done. Many thanks.

  4. yustech says:

    Great article man.:)

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    The idea behind this site is to share my experience with Do It Yourself approach to guitars, amplifiers and pedals. Whether you want to save a couple of bucks by performing a mod or upgrade yourself instead of paying a tech, or want to build your own piece of gear from scratch, I'm sure you will find something interesting here. Also, this is the home of DIY Layout Creator, a free piece of software for drawing circuit layouts and schematics, written with DIY enthusiasts in mind.