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How much does capacitors affect tone?

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  • How much does capacitors affect tone?

    I ordered some Jensen Paper and Oil caps to replace in my Epiphone Les Paul, more or less as a side project to learn the internal workings of a guitar. What can I expect from switching from the stock caps to these Jensens?

  • #2
    Good question. I'd be interested in knowing as well
    Originally Posted by Hopeless


    I wouldn't recommend them for metal, but then I also wouldn't recommend playing metal.









    Originally Posted by Django Sentenza


    When you've founded an entire branch of science dedicated to quantifying taste, get back to me.

    Comment


    • #3
      Just stock to Jensen? If they measure the same value? Nothing.

      But they probably won't measure the same value on a digital multimeter (DMM). Many ceramic caps have a -20/+80 tolerance threshold. That means a .022uF cap can measure from 17uF to 40uF. That makes a huge difference in the cutoff point of the Tone circuit. From a previous post of mine...

      Imagine your guitars tone is a evergreen or Christmas tree. The point is the highest frequency and the big, bushy bottom is the lowest frequency. A tone control is an axe cuts the tree at some point and makes everything above that cut disappear (this is where my metaphor fails, because the top really just fades away slowly as you roll the tone back).

      The cap value decides how high or low on the tree the cut is made. The higher the value the cap, the higher the cut. So, a .10uF cap will just take off the high treble, a .022uF will take off treble and start to take off the upper midrange, a .047uF cap starts creeping into the midrange, etc.


      The Jensen has a much tighter tolerance threshold, I believe +/-5%. That means a .022uF cap should measure within .021uF to .023uF.

      The difference in actual measure value has a much bigger effect than the composition of the cap. If the old cap measures out at .030uF and the new on dead-on .022uF, you'll retain more upper mids when rolling back on the Tone control (and a tad more when the Tone is on 10). If you have a DMM handy, measure each the stock cap and the Jensen cap while outside the circuit and it'll give you a rule of thumb of the change you made to your guitar's circuit in case you want to tweak it a little more to taste. For instance, I discovery by pure serendipity that I prefer a .033uF cap in Teles because that's when the old Ceramic cap measured to be (the newer, better, higher priced .047uF's I had switched to didn't sound as good).

      Comment


      • #4
        Just stock to Jensen? Nothing.

        What matters is the cap value. Many ceramic caps have a -20/+80 tolerance threshold. That means a .022uF cap can measure from 17uF to 40uF. That makes a huge difference in the cutoff point of the Tone circuit. From a previous post of mine...



        The Jensen has a much tighter tolerance threshold, I believe +/-5%. That means a .022uF cap should measure within .021uF to .023uF.

        The difference in actual measure value has a much bigger affect than the composition of the cap. If you have a multimeter handy, measure each the stock cap and the Jensen cap while outside the circuit and it'll give you a rule of thumb of the change you made to your guitar's circuit in case you want to tweak it a little more to taste.


        Interesting; thanks! Now I have no idea which one to choose rofl, I forget which one comes standard in the Strat.
        Originally Posted by Hopeless


        I wouldn't recommend them for metal, but then I also wouldn't recommend playing metal.









        Originally Posted by Django Sentenza


        When you've founded an entire branch of science dedicated to quantifying taste, get back to me.

        Comment


        • #5
          Yeah, as long as they measure the same, they should be similar. But it makes me feel better to have PIO or at least Orange Drops vs cheapie ceramics so I pop for the extra $2 - $4 per cap when I need to rewire a guitar.



          I have a scientific background and I'm pretty level-headed about most things, but I don't really care if my guitar actually sounds better as long as I think it sounds better.

          Originally Posted by Doctor Morbius:

          "When it comes to gear vs talent I'll be the first to admit that I sit in the Mayor's seat in Poserville."

          Comment


          • #6
            I have a .047uF cap around, so I replaced the stock .1uF in my strat with the .047, and then I found out:

            Firstly, the overall tone is about 20% more bright.

            Secondly, the tone control has a wider range of adjustment, useable tone from 2-10; Though the 10 is brighter than the previous 10 (previous 10 sounds like current 7 or 8), but with the 0.1uF, the tone control below 7 is almost too dark and muffled to use.

            I am glad I maybe answered yours. Being the anal type I went to the Fender site and looked through the parts lists for several different models. At first I just looked at the cap values but then figured it might be related to the pot values. It kind of looks like they use .1 for more vintage tones, .022 for standard stuff and .022 caps with 500K pots for humbuckers. I don't know why the parts shops all include an .047 cap as I didn't see one model with it, although I didn't look at all of them.

            Here is a breakdown of the models I looked at and the cap/pot values:

            AMERICAN STRAT TEXAS SPECIAL:
            Capacitor, .022uF - Control, 250K, Volume/Tone (3)

            AMERICAN STRATOCASTER:
            Capacitor, .022uF - Control, 250K, Volume/Tone (2), Control, 250K, No Load

            AMERICAN STRATOCASRER HH:
            Capacitor, .022uF, - Switch Pot Assembly 500K Volume, Control 500K

            '57 AMERICAN VINTAGE STRATOCASTER:
            Capacitor, .1uf - Control, 250k, Taper, (3)

            '62 AMERICAN VINTAGE STRATOCASTER:
            Capacitor, .1uf - Control, 250k, Taper, (3)

            ERIC JOHNSON STRAT:
            Capacitor, .1uf - Control 250K (all the info it had)

            JIMMIE VAUGHAN STRATOCASTER:
            Capacitor, .022uf - Control, 250k, Taper, (3)

            MARK KNOPFLER STRATOCASTER:
            Capacitor, .1uf - Control, 250K (3)

            ROBERT CRAY STANDARD STRATOCASTER:
            Capacitor, .1uf - Control, 250K, (3)

            STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN STRATOCASTER:
            Capacitor, .022uf - Control, 250K, (3)

            MEX. STD. STANDARD STRATOCASTER:
            Capacitor, MPF RDL .022 250V - Control, 250K, (3)

            STANDARD STRAT HH:
            Capacitor, .022uf - Control Pot 500K, Volume, Control Pot 500K Neck PU Tone, Control Pot 500K Bridge PU Tone

            Hopefully this is of interest to some other folks as well or I just mucked up a perfectly good thread.

            ...Greg

            Comment


            • #7
              Interesting. So would it be worth changing the stock .022 in a Strat to an Orange Drop or something of that sort?
              Originally Posted by Hopeless


              I wouldn't recommend them for metal, but then I also wouldn't recommend playing metal.









              Originally Posted by Django Sentenza


              When you've founded an entire branch of science dedicated to quantifying taste, get back to me.

              Comment


              • #8
                Interesting. So would it be worth changing the stock .022 in a Strat to an Orange Drop or something of that sort?


                It's snowing, otherwise I would be outside hunting .022 caps.
                So yes I'm planning doing it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  So, basically RS Guitarworks is snake oil?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As far as their stuff radically improving tone over other switches/pots/caps that are also perfectly functional and within spec?

                    Yeah... pure snake oil.
                    Originally Posted by Doctor Morbius:

                    "When it comes to gear vs talent I'll be the first to admit that I sit in the Mayor's seat in Poserville."

                    Comment


                    • #11


                      The Jensen has a much tighter tolerance threshold, I believe +/-5%.


                      When new, yes. Paper in oil caps don't last anywhere near aslong as cermics though.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Though the 10 is brighter than the previous 10 (previous 10 sounds like current 7 or 8)


                        I understand about values and tolerances. Makes sense. Fine. But that right there that you guys are talking about is the part I'm fuzzy on. I've always been told that with the tone pot at 10, caps have no influence, which was how I stopped worrying about caps. Is this not true? If not, I'll have to start worrying about caps again. Why don't people agree?
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                        • #13
                          I've always been told that with the tone pot at 10, caps have no influence....


                          That is absolutely not true. Proof? Just take your tone pot and cap out of the circuit and see how much brighter your pups are. It is astoundingly different.
                          I liked you better as your previous alt. Now you're just a giant walking vagina filled with sand and yeast.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I understand about values and tolerances. Makes sense. Fine. But that right there that you guys are talking about is the part I'm fuzzy on. I've always been told that with the tone pot at 10, caps have no influence, which was how I stopped worrying about caps. Is this not true? If not, I'll have to start worrying about caps again. Why don't people agree?


                            If the tone pot is of the same value, caps have little influence at 0, big influence at 10, IMO.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I understand about values and tolerances. Makes sense. Fine. But that right there that you guys are talking about is the part I'm fuzzy on. I've always been told that with the tone pot at 10, caps have no influence, which was how I stopped worrying about caps. Is this not true? If not, I'll have to start worrying about caps again. Why don't people agree?


                              Honkridge is right.

                              When your Vol or Tone knob is on 10, the pot is at FULL resistance (250K, 500K, 1M, ???) to Ground. The higher the pot value, the less signal bleeds to Ground, but it still bleeds off to Ground. And with the Tone control, it bleeds through the filter cap. So, the cap will have more influence when on 10 on a Fender with a 250K pot over some shred machine with a 1M pot, but it is always in the circuit.

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