PIO caps vs. cheap ceramic caps

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
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33,034
Even if you think you hear something that legitimately arises from cap type, you have to admit that it is trivially different and not apparent in any available audio clips
One more time.
 

hunter

Silver Supporting Member
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6,917
For the few times I was cap shopping at the Radio Shack (olden days), I shopped the Shack's limited inventory with the following priorities:

value
 

budglo58

Silver Supporting Member
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2,698
I can see someone choosing a PIO cap if they wanted to keep their vintage guitar period correct . Other than that , value is the only thing that matters . Everything else is hocus pocus.
 
Messages
39
There is a difference. I can tell. So many others say they can’t or it’s no big deal, but let me assure you that I have noticed a “noticeable” difference in my guitars when I changed them from ceramic to PIO. You have to try it for yourself. And I really don’t care what others hear on a recording or not. If all you care about is what others hear then wtf are you doing, silly?
It’s crazy to me how many guitarists will try to convince you not to experiment with such things.
 

c_mac

Gold Supporting Member
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4,078
There is a difference. I can tell. So many others say they can’t or it’s no big deal, but let me assure you that I have noticed a “noticeable” difference in my guitars when I changed them from ceramic to PIO. You have to try it for yourself. And I really don’t care what others hear on a recording or not. If all you care about is what others hear then wtf are you doing, silly?
It’s crazy to me how many guitarists will try to convince you not to experiment with such things.
What do you attribute to the difference?
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
33,034
There is a difference. I can tell. So many others say they can’t or it’s no big deal, but let me assure you that I have noticed a “noticeable” difference in my guitars when I changed them from ceramic to PIO. You have to try it for yourself. And I really don’t care what others hear on a recording or not. If all you care about is what others hear then wtf are you doing, silly?
It’s crazy to me how many guitarists will try to convince you not to experiment with such things.
What do you hear?
Caps are in fact not purely capacity and incorporate a small measure of resistance and inductance, as well.
There is a small chance that you may get a slightly different response at some points of the pot's rotation.
However, with the tone on full, not rolled back, if yo think you hear a change try this:
-short out your cap with a piece of wire.
If you hear no change your cap is doing nothing.
If you are using a tiny cap for slight rolloff this does not apply, but above about .02 (I forget) there should be no change i.e. it's not the cap.
 
Messages
39
What do you hear?
Caps are in fact not purely capacity and incorporate a small measure of resistance and inductance, as well.
There is a small chance that you may get a slightly different response at some points of the pot's rotation.
However, with the tone on full, not rolled back, if yo think you hear a change try this:
-short out your cap with a piece of wire.
If you hear no change your cap is doing nothing.
If you are using a tiny cap for slight rolloff this does not apply, but above about .02 (I forget) there should be no change i.e. it's not the cap.
I’m well aware the scientific types are coming after me for this one. What I hear is something you may relate to when you have a buffer or your favorite “transparent overdrive” on and you have the level so low that it just barely wakes up your tone ever so slightly that you don’t even know it’s on until you turn it off.
Forget the multimeters and try not to think of tone as electrons moving through metal, or just band of “equalization” or sound waves on a spectrograph, or you’ll surely miss the point fellas.

I’ve switched out caps many many times in most of the guitars I’ve owned and it’s always the same. I’m not saying PIO is better than ceramic or vice versa, I went back to an orange drop in my Tele and was like oh yeah.. there is the sound I was missing.

Oh, and I’m not one to leave the tone pot on 10 all the time. That defeats the purpose of having one, if you ask me.

I’m not trying to say my ears are better than anyone else’s, in fact, I’ve punished them throughout my life enough to warn all of you to please use hearing protection. So, maybe my old ears are playing tricks on me.

I stand by my own experiences, however; for those who truly are curious as to whether there is a discernible difference between PIO and ceramic that my answer is absolutely YES. And instead of listening to tone myth-busters who speak in electrical engineering jargon, you should go ahead and experiment yourself and you may find out, like I did, that you will prefer one type over another depending on what guitar you’re using.

Then again, I’m probably just full of it. Tone is in the electrons. You might as well stick to your “stock” cap (whatever that is) I mean, why waste your hard earned $7 just to put a new tone cap in your $2,000 guitar.

cheers my fellow tone enthusiasts and goodnight.
 

VintagePlayerStrat

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,661
This thread was kinda started in jest. But I do appreciate the shared experiences.

Today, I decided to sub out some boutique pups I had in a Strat for Fender Pure Vintage 59s. I wasn't that fond of these pickups as they sounded stock in my Am050s Strat. I noticed, however, Fender was using a .1uf repro PIO cap with them.

It was the value, not the fact it was PIO, that caused me some concern. I held on to the PV59s and finally got a chance to wire up a harness for them today. The only cap I had at the value I wanted was a NOS Vitamin Q PIO labeled .047. I always measure caps before install, and it actually measured at .043 which I liked.

I had some unused CTS pots and measured them too, and went with a bridge tone pot at 244k, a neck tone at 248k and the volume at 251k. With a CRL switch, I wired it all up carefully (I'm getting better at soldering) with good rosin core solder and a good Weller soldering station.

I'm super pleased with the sound of the PV59s now as they perform in this harness, and in this guitar. The cap value (PIO or not) was key, as were the pot values and good wiring job. I adjusted the pup heights to my liking and definitely feel like the PV59s are better for me, and better in this guitar, than the boutique set was.

The boutique pups have very similar output, the pot values are almost identical. I used an orange drop .047 (which measured at .046) in that harness. Solder job was good in that one too.

But it's really that all these little things conspire to make for a satisfying tone. You get the best out of the pickups with a well planned harness used in the right guitar, IMO. The cap is just about value to me, but the PIO caps do have a use.
 
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joafink2

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
337
I've used PIO on my Les Pauls just because. Recently got into experimenting with my Jazzmaster. Can definitely notice a small difference, and it's a difference I like that is worth the extra $10 for a PIO cap. The highs seem smoother.
 

joafink2

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
337
I've used PIO on my Les Pauls just because. Recently got into experimenting with my Jazzmaster. Can definitely notice a small difference, and it's a difference I like that is worth the extra $10 for a PIO cap. The highs seem smoother.
I will add that a PIO cap might NOT be what you are after with a particular guitar. But in the case of my jazzmaster, smoothed out the highs, made them less harsh. I love how people are willing to give feedback without any personal experience or experimentation. I know its pain, but the best thing to do is buy some PIO caps, try it out for yourself and let your ears decide.
 

Surgeon

Member
Messages
1,423
The only ones who hear a difference are the ones who want to hear it.
Capacitance is capacitance, no matter how the capacitor is made.

I get that in an amplifier the way some components are made might have an effect on the noise-floor, but in a guitar? No way, people are deluding themselves. Again.
 

joafink2

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
337
The only ones who hear a difference are the ones who want to hear it.
Capacitance is capacitance, no matter how the capacitor is made.

I get that in an amplifier the way some components are made might have an effect on the noise-floor, but in a guitar? No way, people are deluding themselves. Again.
That’s your opinion.

Try for yourself or check YouTube for examples. Countless people experimenting and showing that there is a subtle difference. Whether that matters to you or not is a different story.

Like I said, I’ve tried it myself. I have nothing to gain by posting my experience. In my experience, I prefer the PIO.

No need to attack by saying people who think differently are deluding themselves. No need to throw a cyber punch at those who disagree with you.
 
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Messages
117
The only ones who hear a difference are the ones who want to hear it.
Capacitance is capacitance, no matter how the capacitor is made.

I get that in an amplifier the way some components are made might have an effect on the noise-floor, but in a guitar? No way, people are deluding themselves. Again.
Truth.
 




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