Tone cap?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by SnidelyWhiplash, Oct 16, 2007.

  1. SnidelyWhiplash

    SnidelyWhiplash Supporting Member

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    What are you guys using for tone caps for a tele these days? I know
    the Hovland and the Allesendro were popular for a while,but i think
    these are too pricey. I always liked the smaller orange drops used
    by Acme Guitar Works. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly
    appreciated.

    Thanks!
     
  2. rooster

    rooster Member

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    Sprague Vitamin Q from the '50s.

    rooster.
     
  3. Jim Collins

    Jim Collins Member

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    I've used ceramic, poly, Mallory 150, and orange drops in several guitars. My ears cannot tell a difference between two different tone caps if the actual values of the caps are the same (as opposed to the nominal values). That doesn't mean there is no difference -- it just means that my ears are not sensitive to whatever difference is there. (And I do use the tone control.)
     
  4. Pete Galati

    Pete Galati Member

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    Specialty Guitars has some nice big 1000V .05uf ceramic caps that're about the same size as Fender used to use in Telecasters. The originals were only rated 50V. The 1000V ones are just to get the same size.

    I've used those in a couple single coil Telecasters.

    In humbucker Telecasters, I've been using the brown 630V .022uf Xicon polypropylene caps that Hoffman Amps sells. Those have good sturdy leads. I don't like using Orange Drops in guitars because their leads are too stiff. The leads on the brown Xicons are just right. And the caps are also a good size, so no problems putting them in a control cavity.

    When I put together a new control plate assy for the Esquire I'm working on, I'll probably use two brown 630V .047uf Xicon polypropylene caps, but the cap attached to the 3.3K resistor will be a small ceramic .047uf cap.
     
  5. DonM

    DonM Supporting Member

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    Think of a tone cap the same way you do when you buy an effect pedal,

    its a huge part of your sound -

    don't trip off the fact that they cost .050 cents at Radio Shacks..

    Good ones are worth it..

    don't scrimp on tone especially something under $20.00 -- even though good sense tells you its a fifty cent item.

    good tone is good tone,
    we pay a 100 to 200 bucks to change our tone with stomp boxes and we freak out over Tone caps that cost more then 2 bucks and under 20.

    if you use that tone knob get one that sounds great -- and they do all sound different no mater what some pissed off engineer will butt in and say..
    they will butt right in on threads like this - yet they will not do a real life sonic evaluation using the best machine in the world to test caps -- The human EAR!
    they want to spit out theories and what the books tell em, or insist on test equipment that does not exist --

    And In the real world of Tone Nazi / Tone freaks _ I got Junior Watson and Rick Holmstrom and everybody else over here telling me what they HEAR on stage in REAL LIFE and Caps make a difference -- who do you really want to believe?????
     
  6. howlinfox

    howlinfox Member

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    I make my own, they sound great.
     
  7. SnidelyWhiplash

    SnidelyWhiplash Supporting Member

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    Thanks to all the replies.
     
  8. Uma Floresta

    Uma Floresta Senior Member

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    I'm not out to rain on anyone's parade, but IS there any data to suggest that different types of caps will make an audible difference in tone? I'm honestly not trying to start an argument!

    For my part, I usually just bypass the tone control altogether via no load pot - I think it sounds clearer and a bit more complex.
     
  9. Pete Galati

    Pete Galati Member

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    Oil & paper caps?

    I'd like to try that sometime.

    You can make a large difference in tone by putting a .001uf cap in parallel with a .022uf, and raising it's value to .023uf. You can also make a huge difference in tone by raising or lowering your pickup with half a turn of your screwdriver.

    Heck, 25 years from now, people might be claiming that ceramic caps are the Holy Grail of tone. They might be tomorrow's Bumblebee, and for ridiculous reasons like... that's what Fender put in '70s Telecasters!
     
  10. Uma Floresta

    Uma Floresta Senior Member

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    Oh yes, of course changing capacitance VALUE will make a noticeable difference. But capacitor type? Some are noisier than others when used in active circuits, but as far as tonal difference based purely on capacitor type - any articles on the subject?
     
  11. Jef Bardsley

    Jef Bardsley Member

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    I'm afraid the guitar world isn't really into white papers.

    Consider this, though. There are internal papers at capacitor companies detailing parameters that need to be constrained to produce as close as possible to an ideal capacitor. Suppose, instead, they adjusted these parameters for a euphonic effect? Bingo. "Get yer audiooophile grade caps right here!"
     
  12. Dana-L

    Dana-L Member

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    Rolling your own is entirely possible.

    Below is an image of a couple of my early hand-crafted units.

    I rolled my most recent batch of fatties in hemp paper. :)

    Cheers,

    -Dana

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Pete Galati

    Pete Galati Member

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    I think half the problem is that a lot of the people who sell guitar players caps, use hype and parameters written for selling them for other puposes. It's a lot different than using the same cap for a speaker crossover, or a tube amp. But if your market is guitar players, most won't know that none of that applies to guitar circuits.

    The more reputable places just show you what they're selling, and don't try to hype it. If you want Orange Drops, ceramics, Vitamin Q's... whatever you think you need, you can make up your own mind.
     
  14. Uma Floresta

    Uma Floresta Senior Member

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  15. malabarmusic

    malabarmusic Gold Supporting Member

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    Forgive the oversimplification, but no one has ever explained to me something I see as a contradiction in all the discussions about "good" and "bad" caps.

    In an electric guitar, a tone capacitor shunts some of the signal to ground. It doesn't pass signal to the output jack.

    In a tube amp circuit, certain capacitors are a key part of the signal path.

    So ... using a capacitor of the type that sounds "good" in a tube amp, in a guitar tone control would be shunting "good" overtones to ground -- and having a bad effect on tone. A capacitor that sounded terrible in the signal path would -- in a guitar tone control -- be shunting "bad" overtones to ground -- and having a positive effect on tone.

    Am I missing something here?

    - DB
     
  16. Uma Floresta

    Uma Floresta Senior Member

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    They shunt certain frequencies to ground based more on their value (capacitance) rather than if it is a so-called "good" or "bad" capacitor.

    I do tend to prefer the pure sound of the pickups, without any filtering.
     
  17. Jef Bardsley

    Jef Bardsley Member

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    I wouldn't introduce the idea of "good" and "bad" caps, some caps are different, is all.

    Think of it this way: an ideal cap would yield a 90° phase shift at the -3dB point. If you have a cap that only does 84°, then when in the signal path you'll get a 6° error. When coupled to ground, you'll get an error of -6°. It's going to sound pretty much the same (since we can't really hear phase), or at least, in each case it will sound different from the ideal.
     
  18. dewman

    dewman Member

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    where can you get started if you wanted to try to roll your own?
     
  19. Dana-L

    Dana-L Member

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    This link is a great place to start:

    CapSite 2007

    Have fun!

    -Dana
     
  20. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    If you want a certain amount of top end rolloff at a given pot position you had better select your cap/pot /cable combination carefully. Maybe this is why some players hear a difference. Different values count here, for sure.
    Differrent types of caps may react differently at the same pot settings YMMV.

    Personally, if a pup doesn't sound good to me with the tone pot on full, cap 'out' of the circuit, I'd rather change the pup, or amp settings.
     

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