Recently I found myself working in the depths of the North of England when my trusty white Strat developed an irksome complaint. The volume control started making an awful crackling noise whenever I turned it!
The consequences of such a malady are dire indeed:
No more sensitive Jeff Beck volume swells! (or as my old teacher Pete Friesen used to call them, ‘whale sex’ noises)
No more Yngwie Malmsteen’s Black Star!
No more Cathedral by Van Halen!
And more pressing to the gig at hand, I was unable to silence my guitar volume after songs without causing a crackle, I was unable to make those small adjustments to the volume control to find the sweet spots of tone and the right level of overdrive for the particular passage. What a pain!
There are two diagnoses for this issue as suggested by a tech friend:
1) ‘Dirt and corrosion are interrupting the contacts on the pot – spray some contact cleaner on the offending parts.’
2) ‘Not all dirt and corrosion is fixable with contact cleaner. If you have a scratchy volume control, it may be best to replace it. Pots are cheap and the replacement job is a pretty easy one.’
We stopped by, had a cup of tea and a chat while they replaced the pot right away – great! After a quick string change, Liz even showed me some very tricky one-fingered tandem country bends (still working on those!).
Instant guitar repair + free guitar lesson + cup of tea = well worth a visit!
I wholeheartedly recommend these guys. They’re extremely knowledgeable (when I arrived they were in the middle of rebuilding a vintage VOX amp practically from scratch).
Now if only they’d open up shop down here in London…
Some classic volume swell songs:
Jeff Beck, a true original:
Eddie rocks it!
Yngwie at 0:50: