Les Paul Jr Capacitor Upgrade

Jackie Treehorn

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,343
A guitar tone circuit is just about the simplest LCR circuit. In LCR circuits the only measurable things that count are inductance, capacitance, and resistance. None of those other things count when calculating the response curves. The calculated response curves follow the measured response curves to more places than I can reasonably type.

Unfortunately if you can't measure it - it isn't real. I'd LOVE for mojo to be a real thing. But it isn't.

Here's the question if you're trying to sort out real truth from a sales pitch or determining if something is true or false in the real world. It's simple - can the thing that you are stating be objectively measured? That is all. Period. Full stop. The end. If it cannot be measured it's just BS ie. mojo. Mojo may make you happy (and that's fine!!) but it's not actually REAL in the real world. It's just in your head. Dozens of double blind tests in audio have found this to be true. Over and over again.

Pickups? Different magnets have totally different magnetic fluxes and permissivity. This is measurable. Different numbers of windings (you can have the same dc resistance with diff windings of diff wire gauges) and the winding pattern dramatically effect inductance and capacitance. This is measurable. Coil size and spacing have dramatic effect on how the string is magnetized and the coils are activated by the magnetic flux. This is measurable. These *measurable and objective* differences explain why different pickups sound different.

Speakers have about a gaziliion *MEASURABLE AND OBJECTIVE* parameters that effect sound transmission other than just size. Magnetic flux (measurable), free air resonance (measurable), permissivity (measurable), cone torsional strength (measurable), cone reflectivity (measurable) . . . I can go on and on. All of these are *objectively measurable*.

The human ear is the absolute worst tool for objective testing. It has been shown time and time again that differences between wires/capacitors/power cables/mojo component du jour that were "completely obvious" in previous testing were completely indistinguishable when tested in a double blind environment. And if if can't be heard in double blind testing and objectively measured then it is simply not real.

Capacitors in millivolt level guitar circuits fail the test of objective measurability. Two non-defective capacitors with the precise same capacitance will be indistinguishable because there is no measurable difference between them that can possibly have any effect audio in the human hearing range or anywhere near it. You don't get skin effects and inductance effects from capacitor construction at these sizes until you are WAAAAAAY up into the 500KHz range. This is objectively measurable. Period. Full stop. End of story.

Anyone that tells you different is trying to sell you something.

Yes, different types of capacitors measure differently when holding their capacitance constant. Look at the datasheets. Why do you think different types of capacitors exist?

It seems pretty out of touch given your experience at 5ghz to not know that capacitors of differing electrical properties, measurable, are available.

If it’s in the circuit, it counts...it matters. You saying only this or that matters is your opinion. If you really care what’s happening you need to take an inventory of every element.

It hasn’t been demonstrated to me that these differences are inaudible as you suggest. So, I use what sounds best. This has nothing to do with mojo, hype, etc.
 

vortexxxx

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
11,405
It's just physics brother . . . at the millivolt level of a guitar there are *ABSOLUTELY ZERO* differences between capacitors of different makes as long as their *values are the same*. Period. As long as the capacitor isn't leaky (like paper in oil) they are identical. A leaky cap isn't just capacitance - it's a resistor as well. If you like the tone of a leaky cap just get a ceramic and bypass it with a ~1M resistor. It will be the same.

What I'm saying is that the construction of the cap plays ABSOLUTELY no part in the sound of a simple LCR filter like a guitar tone cap. That's why it's called a LCR circuit - impedance, capacitance, and resistance are all that matter to that filter. Period. Mojo isn't included in the calculations, nor is any other characteristic of the capacitor at this signal level and impedance.

I used to build high speed electronic devices for a living. If you can't see any differences in a circuit at 5Ghz then no human could ever hear or even sense any difference. It's nothing more than snake oil and placebo.

Sorry to be such a party pooper but the scientist/engineer in me starts running in circles with stuff like this.
The difference is minute but exists. Each material acts like a filter and allows certain frequencies to bleed through. It's just the nature of the material. There is no 'best' for everything guitar wise though. I preferred ceramics in my Les Paul Special and I have a huge stash of all types. To many people the bleed through is inconsequential though.
 

Timtam

Member
Messages
2,833
Different capacitor types absolutely change the tone of the guitar, even on 10 the cap is loading the pickup. Unless you have a no load pot. When it comes to capacitors in guitars, orange drops would not be my first choice, as they don’t really sound much different than a ceramic. The ones that sound really good to me are the old paper, style, not necessarily the paper in oil, but paper Mylar. The sprague 160p for example is what usually works for me, but similar construction caps of that era/construction. To me, getting the right type of cap is crucial to having a usable tone control. The value sets the range of frequencies, which to me is secondary because if it doesn’t sound right, I’m not going to use the tone control. If the cap is good, even a .1 can have a really usable range. In a jr, without a neck pickup, I would definitely buy a lot of different caps to sample. They are cheap. The Russian mbm surplus cap is dirt cheap and sounds pretty close to the old style.

Do you have any measured evidence to support your opinion that capacitor type - for capacitors of the same measured capacitance value - makes an audible difference in a passive guitar tone circuit ? A double-blinded test like that below for example (the result of which is contrary to your assertion BTW, for the capacitor types tested). If not, it would be simple for you to test your opinion in the same way.
 

Timtam

Member
Messages
2,833
Just got of the phone with Gibson. He verified that my current capacitor is .022, but that an .022 orange drop would actually be an upgrade.

So presumably he had some data to support that statement ? It's pretty simple to prove or disprove. If he's telling you something is true that he doesn't actually know is true, there's a 3-letter word beginning in 'L' for that.

I'm actually gobsmacked that Gibson would say that BTW.

How much did he want to charge you for this "upgrade" ?

And how much did you pay for the Gibson guitar whose capacitor is now - according to Gibson - apparently of inferior quality ? For want of a part that likely costs them a few cents more (although in reality makes no difference).
 
Last edited:

pipedwho

Member
Messages
1,681
No, the Gibson rep is right. Because the 300k pot would be linear taper. A 500k (audio taper) absolutely would have a different character with volume swells.

In my experience, a 300k (linear) or an RS 280k super pot allows plenty of bright from a bridge P90. YMMV. Of course, what do I know? I have at 250k volume pot for my Tele's TV Jones Classic (neck)!
The Gibson rep said the only change would be the taper. That is not the case. If you go from a 300k to a 500k pot, irrespective of the change in taper, the pickup will sound slightly brighter.
 

pipedwho

Member
Messages
1,681
The difference is minute but exists. Each material acts like a filter and allows certain frequencies to bleed through. It's just the nature of the material. There is no 'best' for everything guitar wise though. I preferred ceramics in my Les Paul Special and I have a huge stash of all types. To many people the bleed through is inconsequential though.
This is only true to specific cases such as high power transfer and radio frequency applications. Neither of which are applicable to the audio frequency signal levels in a guitar. The only audible difference between two guitar tone caps is if the values are different (or one cap is faulty).
 

pipedwho

Member
Messages
1,681
Yes, different types of capacitors measure differently when holding their capacitance constant. Look at the datasheets. Why do you think different types of capacitors exist?

It seems pretty out of touch given your experience at 5ghz to not know that capacitors of differing electrical properties, measurable, are available.

If it’s in the circuit, it counts...it matters. You saying only this or that matters is your opinion. If you really care what’s happening you need to take an inventory of every element.

It hasn’t been demonstrated to me that these differences are inaudible as you suggest. So, I use what sounds best. This has nothing to do with mojo, hype, etc.
Yes, but a guitar does not run past about 15kHz maximum and is not pulling appreciable power through the cap. So the part of the data sheet where these parameters are valid for a guitar tone circult will show they are basically identical to each other within the tolerances of the system over temperature for the same capacitance values.

There is a huge difference between a guitar tone circuit and applications where these parameters matter such as power transfer, RF coupling, sample and hold circuits, crystal temperature compensation, etc.
 

Jackie Treehorn

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,343
Do you have any measured evidence to support your opinion that capacitor type - for capacitors of the same measured capacitance value - makes an audible difference in a passive guitar tone circuit ? A double-blinded test like that below for example (the result of which is contrary to your assertion BTW, for the capacitor types tested). If not, it would be simple for you to test your opinion in the same way.


I picked out the bumblebee when I did that test you posted.
 

Jackie Treehorn

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,343
Yes, but a guitar does not run past about 15kHz maximum and is not pulling appreciable power through the cap. So the part of the data sheet where these parameters are valid for a guitar tone circult will show they are basically identical to each other within the tolerances of the system over temperature for the same capacitance values.

There is a huge difference between a guitar tone circuit and applications where these parameters matter such as power transfer, RF coupling, sample and hold circuits, crystal temperature compensation, etc.

No, esr, esl, dialectric absorption elements are not frequency dependent.

The guitar circuit being different is irrelevant to the point I’m making.

Different types of capacitors, even when their nominal capacitance is held constant, can have other, differing, measurable properties.

Therefore, it is absolutely possible that they will behave differently in whatever circuit you place them in.

In a guitar, yes, they matter BECAUSE they are in the audible range. If you changed the tone cap to 10 pf, and put it in the guitar circuit, you’d have a better argument.
 

GibSG

Member
Messages
1,457
If you want a good capacitor upgrade use Pro Audio Capacitors better than "orange drop-like". We use those capacitors for pro audio passive filters :

https://www.ebay.com/itm/TWO-CORNEL...tar-or-bass-tone-CAPACITORS-caps/153196288183

s-l1600.jpg



https://www.ebay.com/itm/1pcs-SCR-MKP-0-033uF-0-033-F-33nF-630V-5-Capacitor-For-Audio/161403961710

s-l1600.jpg
 

newfiesig

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
900
So presumably he had some data to support that statement ? It's pretty simple to prove or disprove. If he's telling you something is true that he doesn't actually know is true, there's a 3-letter word beginning in 'L' for that.

I'm actually gobsmacked that Gibson would say that BTW.

How much did he want to charge you for this "upgrade" ?

And how much did you pay for the Gibson guitar whose capacitor is now - according to Gibson - apparently of inferior quality ? For want of a part that likely costs them a few cents more (although in reality makes no difference).
To be fair...

1. He wasn't selling me anything. He just suggested I go out and get an orange drop
2. He didn't have any demonstrative data to back up his claim (he was a low level tech, I would argue) and simply said alluded to it being an upgrade that a lot of people seemed to benefit from. I doubt he's ever put one in himself
3. My guitar was actually cheap, purchased off a local dealer on sale 7 years ago. Not sure what the original price was exactly, but it was seemingly MUCH less expensive than the visually identical '19 model. I was curious as to what was difference (besides the case) and all I can find is "hand wired with orange drop capacitors"

I don't have a dog in the race, just curious as to whether or not the upgrade would be worth it before messing with a stock guitar. Reading through this thread alone, you can see my confusion.
 

GibSG

Member
Messages
1,457
A guitar tone circuit is just about the simplest LCR circuit. In LCR circuits the only measurable things that count are inductance, capacitance, and resistance. None of those other things count when calculating the response curves. The calculated response curves follow the measured response curves to more places than I can reasonably type.

Unfortunately if you can't measure it - it isn't real. I'd LOVE for mojo to be a real thing. But it isn't.

I'll repeat this from the last time that we chatted about this :D

Here's the question if you're trying to sort out real truth from a sales pitch or determining if something is true or false in the real world. It's simple - can the thing that you are stating be objectively measured? That is all. Period. Full stop. The end. If it cannot be measured it's just BS ie. mojo. Mojo may make you happy (and that's fine!!) but it's not actually REAL in the real world. It's just in your head. Dozens of double blind tests in audio have found this to be true. Over and over again.

Pickups? Different magnets have totally different magnetic fluxes and permissivity. This is measurable. Different numbers of windings (you can have the same dc resistance with diff windings of diff wire gauges) and the winding pattern dramatically effect inductance and capacitance. This is measurable. Coil size and spacing have dramatic effect on how the string is magnetized and the coils are activated by the magnetic flux. This is measurable. These *measurable and objective* differences explain why different pickups sound different.

Speakers have about a gaziliion *MEASURABLE AND OBJECTIVE* parameters that effect sound transmission other than just size. Magnetic flux (measurable), free air resonance (measurable), permissivity (measurable), cone torsional strength (measurable), cone reflectivity (measurable) . . . I can go on and on. All of these are *objectively measurable*.

The human ear is the absolute worst tool for objective testing. It has been shown time and time again that differences between wires/capacitors/power cables/mojo component du jour that were "completely obvious" in previous testing were completely indistinguishable when tested in a double blind environment. And if if can't be heard in double blind testing and objectively measured then it is simply not real.

Capacitors in millivolt level guitar circuits fail the test of objective measurability. Two non-defective capacitors with the precise same capacitance will be indistinguishable because there is no measurable difference between them that can possibly have any effect audio in the human hearing range or anywhere near it. You don't get skin effects and inductance effects from capacitor construction at these sizes until you are WAAAAAAY up into the 500KHz range. This is objectively measurable. Period. Full stop. End of story.

Anyone that tells you different is trying to sell you something.

A tone control is only a 1st order low pass filter (-6dB/octave), very simple passive circuit.
 

Totally Bored

Member
Messages
9,544
I don't have a dog in the race, just curious as to whether or not the upgrade would be worth it before messing with a stock guitar. Reading through this thread alone, you can see my confusion.

Stop :omg
Turn the computer or smart phone off.
Swap out the cap and see for your self
The swap out the pots and see for your self


3 pages and 53 posts and your never gonna know until you do it.


My take ( because I've done this. )

If you don't use the tone knob it aint gonna make a difference
if you swap out the cap to another cap with same value it's gonna sound the same
If you swap out the pots its will sound brighter. Do you want brighter ?


Good luck :aok
 

Jarick

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,771
If the current pots aren't noisy and you like the tone, don't bother. A different capacitor with the same value is not going to make a difference IMO.

Now if the pots are crackling or it sounds too dark or bright, then I'd plan out a new set of pots and likely put in an orange drop at that time.
 

pipedwho

Member
Messages
1,681
No, esr, esl, dialectric absorption elements are not frequency dependent.

The guitar circuit being different is irrelevant to the point I’m making.

Different types of capacitors, even when their nominal capacitance is held constant, can have other, differing, measurable properties.

Therefore, it is absolutely possible that they will behave differently in whatever circuit you place them in.

In a guitar, yes, they matter BECAUSE they are in the audible range. If you changed the tone cap to 10 pf, and put it in the guitar circuit, you’d have a better argument.
The effect of those properties (esr, esl, and dielectric absorption) are so far below the thermal noise floor in a guitar tone circuit that the change can’t be measured or heard.
 

COYS

Member
Messages
6,279
So what would you recommend I do (if anything)? Currently all stock (300k volume, 500k tone, stock capacitor).

There's no point in changing working components for other components of the same value. If there's something about the tone you don't like, changing the values of pots might help. If there's something about the tone knob's sweep you don't like, changing the value of the cap might help. Replacing working components with costlier ones of the same values in search of a vague notion of "better" won't net you anything.
 

Timtam

Member
Messages
2,833
I picked out the bumblebee when I did that test you posted.

Well if you looked at the results of that test, you would see that would make you just about the only one of the many people who submitted their answers who could pick the difference vs ceramics. So you either have very special ears that can hear things that no one else can (in which case no one listening to your music could tell the difference), or you're pulling our leg.

So I repeat the request that you set up the same youtube experiment with some other different capacitor types of the same measured value (including the ones that you suggest are superior). Have someone else do the switching (so that the test is double-blind). Invite others' answers, and see if your ears are as unique as it seems, or if maybe others share your golden ears. Otherwise the rest of us who hear no difference in the video I posted are likely to conclude that you're just blowing smoke. And furthermore that there's absolutely no point in us mere mortals with regular ears preferring some capacitor types over others. ;)
 

JPH118

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,561
A tone control is only a 1st order low pass filter (-6dB/octave), very simple passive circuit.


To add to the fun, in a typical RC-filter guitar tone control, the signal bled off from lowering the tone pot passes thru the capacitor to ground... the actual guitar signal that leaves your instrument does not pass thru that cap. You get a slight variable frequency peak based on the pot resistance combined with the capacitor value, but that’s it, and it’s negligible with the pot at 10 anyhow.
 

Jackie Treehorn

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,343
The effect of those properties (esr, esl, and dielectric absorption) are so far below the thermal noise floor in a guitar tone circuit that the change can’t be measured or heard.

Thermal noise...far out! It’s difficult to hear those subtle differences over the bong gurgling, don’t know about thermal noise.
 




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