How to Install Volume Control Knobs in Strat Guitars

Written by matt mckay
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How to Install Volume Control Knobs in Strat Guitars
Installing knobs on a Strat-type guitar involves careful removal of the old knobs. (detail of electric guitar image by Thor Jorgen Udvang from Fotolia.com)

Installing volume knobs on a Strat (Fender Stratocaster or Strat-type) guitar involves careful removal of the old knobs to avoid damage to the guitar's surface or internal potentiometer. Standard Strat-type guitars have one volume and two tone controls and are friction-mounted onto split volume and tone potentiometer shafts. Special models may use the setscrew type of knobs, mounted on solid shafts. You will be able to differentiate between the types by viewing the side of the knob for the presence of a visible setscrew head.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Cotton fabric (T-shirt)
  • Spoon (optional)
  • Small screwdriver or hex wrench (for setscrew knobs)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Grasp the knob with your thumb and fingers and pull gently upward with a slight side-to-side motion. Many knobs are easily removed in this fashion, but proceed to the next steps if they do not.

  2. 2

    Work a piece of thin fabric (such as a T-shirt) underneath the bottom of the knob and form a pouch around the knob body. Pulling up on the pouch usually removes stubborn knobs, or you may try the next step.

  3. 3

    Place a piece of fabric on the guitar surface directly surrounding the knob for protection. Insert the tip of a spoon underneath the bottom of the knob, with the fabric underneath the rounded bottom of the spoon. Pry gently upward to remove the knob.

  4. 4

    Center the new knob on the potentiometer post and press down firmly to seat and install the new knob.

  1. 1

    Insert a screwdriver or hex wrench into the screw head and turn counterclockwise to loosen and remove the knob.

  2. 2

    Center and insert the new knob on the potentiometer shaft and hold into position.

  3. 3

    Insert the screwdriver or hex wrench into the screw head and turn clockwise to tighten and install the knob.

Tips and warnings

  • Friction-mount knobs will not install properly on solid-shaft potentiometers.
  • If the new friction-mount knobs are loose fitting, insert a guitar pick or small screwdriver in the centre of the split-shaft and spread apart slightly for a tight fit. Don't spread the shaft too far apart, though, because it may split and break.
  • Do not use force when pulling friction-mount knobs, as you may dislodge the potentiometer shaft. If one method does not work, try another. If the knob cannot be removed by the other methods, take the guitar to a qualified repair shop for evaluation.
  • Don't install setscrew knobs on split-shaft potentiometers. The set screw will damage or break the shaft.
  • Never glue a knob to the shaft; future removal or replacement may be impossible without causing damage to the knob or shaft.

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