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Old 19th December 2004, 05:11 PM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: North of the border
Default Fake Alps potentiometers

I've recently bought some "Alps" 20k dual gang potentiometers from Rapid Electronics in the UK. When they arrived they looked ok so I unpacked them and put them in a drawer for later use. A few days later I got an email from a Headfi denizen telling me to check my potentiometers. When I examined them they were marked "Soundwell" rather than "Alps Japan" on the back. When I compared them to a real Alps pot they had no slots in the spindle, the spindles were longer than usual, the writing on the back used lighter ink, and the slot in the interior part of the spindle bush collar was much larger. Obviously the Soundwell copies are worth much less than the real thing and I'll be asking for a refund as soon as possible.
What's more worrying is that I hear there are Soundwell pots which have been relabelled "Alps Japan" together with the genuine Alps part number and ( presumably fake ) batch number in circulation. Has anyone come across any of these?
The situation with UK catalogue suppliers is now getting quite serious. I noticed on the forums recently that some of the transistors Farnell were selling had turned out to be fakes. I would have thought, given their size and with reputations to protect, that these organisations wouldn't buy parts from anyone but the manufacturers
If it ain't broke don't fix it
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Old 20th December 2004, 10:02 AM   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Birmingham
Last week I ordered a 20K ALPs pot from Rapid but received the 50K version by mistake. I queried this and they said that they had problems with their 20K supply. They said that they had received lower quality products and that they were reordering them from the manufacturer.

BTW I got a refund on the 50K pot with problems. Very pleased with how Rapid dealt with the matter.

Does anybody know if there are fake 50K ALPs pot going around as well?

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Old 20th December 2004, 02:39 PM   #3
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: North of the border
I got in touch with Rapid this morning and they immediately acknowledged the problem. They refunded me for the whole batch of 25 potentiometers I'd ordered, even although I'd used 9 of them before I realised they weren't the real thing. So full marks to Rapid for fixing things quickly and fairly, at some cost to themselves.
I opened up one of the fakes just to seen what they were like. This is easy to do without damaging the pot. First thing you notice is that the fixing screws are black on the fakes and nickel plated on the real thing. The Alps parts are marked "Alps Japan" whereas the fakes either had no manufacturers name or were branded "Soundwell" The conductive plastic track is thinner on the fakes and the rotating contact is made up of three fairly tightly sprung silver plated contacts as opposed to eight very fine and very lightly sprung silver plated contacts on the Alps part. So the fakes will wear out more quickly than the real thing.
The fake Alps pots are much better than bog standard pots but obviously not as good as the real thing. I told Rapid I reckoned that if they sold the fakes for what they are, they would be popular and good value at half the price of the genuine Alps pots.
If it ain't broke don't fix it
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