How to clean electric guitar volume knobs

Written by carl hose
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How to clean electric guitar volume knobs
Cleaning your guitar's volume and tone knobs should be part of its regular maintenance. (Guitar image by jensole from

Cleaning the volume and tone control knobs and pots on your guitar is necessary if you begin to hear scratching when you turn your knobs. While this scratching noise isn't always caused by dirty pots, in many cases it is, and a simple cleaning will cure the problem.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Screwdriver (to fit your model guitar)
  • Alcohol
  • Canned air
  • Cotton swabs

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  1. 1

    Remove the volume and tone controls from your guitar. There are typically no tools involved in this process. Volume and tone controls are firmly seated over the volume and tone pots. Pull the knobs away from your guitar to remove them. You may need to slip something flat beneath the knob for a little leverage.

  2. 2

    Spray canned air into the pot area. Hold the can 3 to 5 inches away as you apply light bursts of air to remove any dust.

  3. 3

    Dampen a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol and work it around the inside of the tone and volume pots. Be careful not to jiggle wires loose as you do this. Vintage instruments, in particular, can have wires that are brittle and extra-sensitive with age. For deeper cleaning, you will need to unscrew the pot from a bracket and gently remove it. Use the cotton swab and rubbing alcohol to clean around the pot, again avoiding the wires.

  4. 4

    Replace the volume and tone pots by seating them back into their cavities and screwing them in place. Clean your knobs with alcohol (guitar polish if they are chrome), then place the knobs back on the guitar. Push down on each knob with your finger to ensure it seats properly and snaps in place.

Tips and warnings

  • If cleaning your tone and volume pots doesn't take away the scratchy sound you get when you turn the knobs, you will need to replace your pots.

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