How to Wire a Volume Control


One of the most common ways to wire a potentiometer, or rheostat, is as a volume control. By wiring one of the terminals to ground, it allows this standard variable resistor to have a position that will achieve maximum attenuation of the audio signal. Repairing, replacing, or installing a volume control can be accomplished with only a few tools and knowledge of the circuit on which you will be working.

Things You'll Need

  • Potentiometer
  • Soldering iron
  • Rosin-core solder
  • Insulated copper wire
  • Locate the three terminals on the potentiometer. With the terminals facing toward you, note them from left to right as "1," "2," and "3."

  • Mount the potentiometer to the circuit board or case by inserting the shaft through a properly sized hole and tightening it with the nut.

  • Solder one end of a wire to terminal 1. Solder the other end of the wire to your ground loop or to a piece of metal such as screw near where the pot is mounted.

  • Solder the input signal from your audio circuit to terminal 3. Solder a wire from terminal 2 to the output signal of your audio circuit.

  • Test the volume control by turning it. When the knob is turned all the way down, no sound should be produced. Turning the knob all the way up will produce maximum volume.

Tips & Warnings

  • Terminals 1 and 3 can be wired interchangeably, but this will alter which direction on the knob produces maximum and minimum volume.
  • When working with an electrical circuit, be sure all power is shut off to the circuit. Discharge electricity by touching the chassis of the circuit with a metal object, such as a screwdriver, while your feet are firmly grounded.

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