Guitar knobs are an essential component to the majority of electric guitars, that is, unless you modify your guitar to have 0 knobs & only something like an on/off button. It's possible & some of our customers have pulled it off using our latching killswitches however the single volume knob with tone delete is much more common.
But anyways, here's a few of the most frequently asked questions we've come across in relation to guitar knobs. Feel free to bookmark the page for reference or share it with a friend who might benefit from this article!
Related: What do the knobs on my Gibson SG do
A: Guitar knobs are generally easy to remove & at most, you will need a flathead screwdriver, a microfiber towel, & a thin guitar pick or two.
For guitar knobs with a set screw, all you have to do is loosen up the screw & the knob should easily slide off. If it's not coming off, try loosening the screw a bit more & carefully wiggling the knob back & forth until it starts to budge.
Guitars that have push-on knobs can be trickier since the knobs can get jammed onto the potentiometer shaft. To remove a "push-on" type of knob, simply pull lightly on the knob. If you're lucky, it will simply pop off without issue.
But if it's stuck on there, you will need to either to slide the microfiber under the knob & wrap it around the potentiometer before using it as leverage to pull upwards.
The same can be done with a guitar pick - just wedge it underneath the guitar knob & carefully pry upwards. Try prying at the 12 o clock position, then 6 o clock, then 3 & 9 to loosen it up on all sides.
These two techniques can also be used with the set-screw type of knobs if need-be.
Here's a video that showcases these 2 methods:
A: One of the most common configurations for guitars is to have 2 knobs, 1 of them is to control the volume level and the other one is to control the tone.
What does the tone knob on a guitar do?
The tone essentially changes the amount of treble or bass in the guitar's signal. If you turn it counter clockwise, you will get a bassier sound but lose some clarity & top-end frequencies.
If you turn the tone knob clockwise, then you will add in more treble & definition to your sound but lose some bass.
The perfect place to set this is all preference & depends on what suits your playing style.
Some guitars do have more volume or tone controls, such as the iconic Stratocaster. When guitars have this sort of configuration, it allows you to modify the sound to individual pickups. For example the Stratocaster has 2 tone knobs with 1 of them controlling the tone of the neck pickup, and the other 1 controlling the middle pickup.
Guitars with only 1 tone knob on the other hand will affect all pickups at the same time, it's more of a universal control.
A: Nope, there are 3 common sizes with the most common being metric-sized. This is most likely because the majority of guitars are made overseas nowadays & only the U.S. uses the imperial system of measurement (inches & miles etc.).
There are imperial-sized knobs however & these typically come form component brands such as CTS & Bourns, which both make electronic components in general.
Below is a diagram to identify these two sizes.
The 3rd option is knobs made for smooth-shaft potentiometers.
These typically don't have knurling or "teeth" & require the use of a side-screw to keep them tightened in place.
For more detailed information on sizing, see our article on potentiometer & guitar knob fitment.
A: No there's many knob variations out there such as wood guitar knobs, metal guitar knobs, some have a lower profile & are smaller, others are taller or wide. There's also different styles like barrel-types, top hats, & speed knobs but we won't go into those in this article.
The most important thing about sizing is that the knob fits the correct sized potentiometer. If the potentiometer & the knob fit together like a glove, then you can use any style of knob you like & can even make your own. Shotgun shells seem to be rather popular for making cool guitar knobs!
A: We get this one a lot in our support emails... The quickest way to find out & know for sure is to remove one of your guitar's knobs & see if the potentiometer is smooth, or if it has splines.
If your potentiometer has splines, then count the number and see the size comparison chart above to see what kind of fitment you have.
Just for reference, all of our custom guitar knobs (the ones we make) will only fit "Coarse" metric sized potentiometers. They will not fit imperial sized pots & will instead get jammed halfway on.
A: Please see the first question on how to remove your current knobs. To install knobs with a set screw, you will of course need a flathead screwdriver... Just remove the knob as per the guide above & then carefully push the new knob onto the potentiometer. If the knob sits too low or on the guitar body, you might be able to lightly tighten the sidescrew just enough to hold it in place then raise the knob until it's off the guitar body & tighten it fully.
For "push-on" type of knobs like the ones we make, do as the name states & push them on. There's no tools required but you do want to be careful with it as well. You certainly don't want to push or force a knob onto the potentiometer shaft, especially if it's a coarse-fit knob being put onto a fine-fit potentiometer.
This can result in the knob getting stuck or the potentiometer getting damaged.
Just slowly press to the desired height & adjust the angle so the guitar knobs are level to the guitar body.
So there you have it, some of the most commonly asked questions regarding guitar knobs. Do you have any insights you would like to add? Are we missing anything? We want to hear you feedback, let us know what you think or has been your experience below!
-The Iron Age Team
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