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PIO caps vs. cheap ceramic caps


Platinum Supporting Member
I simply upgraded my 2018 R9 to PIO caps (Luxe) only to get rid of the fake bumble bees.
I heard no difference, the Luxe caps measured the same as the fake bumble bee caps.
Again only to make my guitar what Gibson should have done from day one. I am glad they are doing PIO now but just on reissues since there is no tone difference if the resistance is in spec.


Silver Supporting Member
The only correct experiment would be a double blind test . Everything else will be biased. If one buys a 30 dollar pio cap to replace his 50 cent ceramic one of the same value , there’s a very good chance he’s going to hear the difference even if he doesn’t. If someone else puts the caps in his guitar and blindfolds him,chances are he won’t be able to tell the difference outside of an occasional lucky guess.

Ron Kirn

He heard differences and liked PIO better. Caps were same value. Worth a listen.

completely useless... as James "JJ" Johnston pointed out if you know what you're listening to, your psyche takes over and will influence it at a subconscious level.. you are NOT in control of that. As an example, when the guy changes to the PIO cap and pickups the guitar, how do ya know if that knowledge isn't impacting his picking at a very subtle level.. It happens.. and is why the Double blind test is the ONLY valid way to make a comparison'.

Watch David Collins' video here, this is a different one than that posted above... note around 2:15 what JJ has to say...

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Some good info here, let me add a couple things.

All capacitors are made to tolerance, so you'll have some manufacturing drift. Pots are the same way, so your 250k pot could actually be 225k or 275k and still be in spec. Guitar tone, IMO, is the value of a bunch of interconnected things. Wood, pickups, electronics, strings, etc. all produce variations in the final tone of the guitar...I think most of us agree with that. Change something, and it changes the tone. You could swap necks and get a massive tone shift...or swap out a resister value and get a much smaller change. Nothing is better or worse, it's as Ron Kirn said...it's "different". It is up to you to decide if you like it or not. No two sets of ears are the same, and no two applications are exactly alike.

Many people, especially those in the "it doesn't matter PIO or ceramic", believe value is everything. That is true, to a point. If both the PIO and the ceramic cap are at say, .033uf, there will be no real change. But, change that .033uf ceramic capacitor (that is actually .036uf) with a PIO capacitor that is .047uf (but tests at .056uf) and the change could very well be noticeable.

Guitar players are strange beasts...we often hear something we really don't. But, if you "think" you hear a difference...that will be your reality. It will impact your playing. The mind is a powerful tone shaping tool, and if you think something is better...it is.

Last, I've built a couple hundred strat electronics assemblies over the years. One thing most players have in common is that they want their gear to look cool. There is nothing cooler in an old guitar than vintage looking caps. More modern high end guitars seem to have lots of Sprague Orange Caps under the hood. Which, in itself is interesting in that Sprague doesn't make these any longer. So I say...do what you want. If it's fun to change caps or swap out those ugly little ceramic capacitors with an old expensive Russian NOS cap....do it. Have fun, it's your guitar.
Orane Drops are not made new anymore?


Sprague/SBE stopped manufacturing Orange Drop capacitors in 2011. Orange drops are now manufactured by Cornell Dubillier (CDE). Any Sprague's on the market are now New Old Stock manufactured prior to 2012.

Any difference between the two?


Thanks. Any big difference between PIO, Polyester and ceramic?
IMO as a guitar player (50 years) & EE (35 years) the answer is no. Cap value and tolerance are what is important, but modern, decent caps of various types should have no problem with that.

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