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Tropical fish caps . . . why so valued in wahs but nowhere else?

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by KissTone, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. KissTone

    KissTone Supporting Member

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    Just wondering about this and figured I'd post it here---when people get of woozy over truly vintage wah circuits, they love to see those 'tropical fish' striped capacitors . . . but yet you don't hear about them so much in other circuits. Why is that?
     
  2. phsyconoodler

    phsyconoodler Member

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    Cause Tantalum caps have a spikey high end that's good for the range in a wah epdal but ouch for the ears in an amp.And a burnt tantalum cap smells very,very bad so they aren't used in guitar amps anymore.They did use some in early amps and Traynor used them but they suck for guitar amps.Too hi-fi sounding.great in pedals though.
     
  3. mmolteratx

    mmolteratx Member

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    Tropical fish caps are poly film. Not tantalum. And the only reason people like them in wahs is because some old Vox/Thomas Organ ones had them.
     
    Page of Cups likes this.
  4. Shiny_Beast

    Shiny_Beast Supporting Member

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    yep, it's what the originals had
     
  5. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    Could it also be related to maximum operating voltages? I have no idea.
     
  6. Timbre Wolf

    Timbre Wolf GoldMember Supporter Gold Supporting Member

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    I'm also guessing that the answer is that they're what was used in the original.

    But I also have to say that I've appreciated "tropical fish" in a couple of guitars. They're not as smooth as paper in oil (which I also use), but they do have a certain character that is worth exploring - using the soldered-in alligator clip method for quick-exchange of various caps.

    One drawback: tropical fish are brittle.

    - Thom
     
  7. mxvin

    mxvin Member

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    had a couple in my 68 Blackline Princeton Reverb. Had to change one out as it kind of fell apart.
     
  8. phsyconoodler

    phsyconoodler Member

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    Hmmm...I thought they were tantalum.I stand corrected.
     
  9. frankie5fingers

    frankie5fingers Member

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    +1 on the brittle. I built quite a few pedals with them and broke several with very little coaxing. Sound wise I found them to be cold. I also found them to stay very close to spec (hundreds) regardless of the source. I'll assume they were well manufactured in their day. Probably more mojo than meat but there you have it.
     
  10. VacuumVoodoo

    VacuumVoodoo Member

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    "Poly"- what? Polyester or polypropylene?
    They are still manufactured by Vishay, but not painted in pretty colorful stripes. Type MKT368, metalized polyester.
     
  11. KissTone

    KissTone Supporting Member

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    Thanks for all of the replies.
     
  12. DT7

    DT7 Member

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    You can find them in older Vox amps as well. If I'm not mistaken, the originals were polystyrene...one of the most sonically correct caps out there. Better than polyester or polypropylene.
     
  13. pdf64

    pdf64 Member

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  14. Peteyvee

    Peteyvee Premium Platinum Member

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    You can also find them in some mid-70s Marshalls...and they're not very desirable either...
     
  15. t***9

    t***9 Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm sure that the Tropical Fish in my '68 (?) Vox Italian Wah contribute to it's bigger and slightly deeper voice. I've had many Vox/Crybaby Wahs from Italy that have had the Film Can Inductors but this is the first with the Tropical Fish and it stands out from the rest in a good way. Btw it's for sale in the Pedals Emporium now.
     
  16. rousejeremy

    rousejeremy Member

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    You see them as output caps on Fuzz Faces every once in a while too.
     
  17. DT7

    DT7 Member

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    The term "tropical fish" refers to how the cap was color-coded...not the manufacturer or the dielectric. There were all types of "tropical fish" capacitors running around out there...still are. It explains why a "tropical fish" cap in one amp may be different composition to one found in another amp (or pedal). But the WIMA caps came before, not after the mustards in the Vox amps. They came in two versions...first Duralit and later Tropyfoil. The Tropyfoil were polystyrene...not polyester. So if you have Tropyfoil "tropical fish" caps, the ones most folks rave about, they are polystyrene. The Mullard caps weren't even introduced until 1964...so what do you think they were using in Vox amps (and pedals) until then (and probably for awhile after)?
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
  18. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks Member

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    nobody calls the wima durolit and tropyfoil caps tropical fish caps.
     
  19. pdf64

    pdf64 Member

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    The Wima caps I've seen in old Vox stuff have been gold radial cylindrical types? eg http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/PAIR-OF-WIMA-DUROLIT-3300pF-1000v-CAPACITOR-AUDIO-/150590933830
    I guess it all depends on what is understood by the term tropical fish cap; the type I linked to seemed to accord to the prevalent type when I started in the business in the mid 80s, agree that it's likely other manufacturers used such color coding.
    Something that seems odd to me is that polystyrene is a less efficient dielectric than polyester / mylar, see http://www.rfcafe.com/references/electrical/dielectric-constants-strengths.htm
    I've not noticed polystyrene used for values much over 1nF; is anyone aware of manufacturer's info for such cap types?
    Pete
     
  20. stellablue

    stellablue Member

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    Also used in the Clark Gainster
     

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