What effect do pots and capacitors have on tone?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by brockburst, Feb 24, 2009.

  1. brockburst

    brockburst Member

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    Basically, if I have a RI guitar, other than volume...do changing pots and capactiors alter tone? And if so, by changing them, in what way would the tone be altered.

    Also, if one were to take RI pots and caps out and put in real authentic vintage pots and caps, is there any real benefit to that? Meaning any tonal improvements or for all purposes will it likely be the same.

    Since we are not talking about old wood or anything, I was wondering if an aged cap or pot or whatever would make any sort of difference. Let me know what you think to all three paragraphs. Thx
     
  2. FrankieSixxxgun

    FrankieSixxxgun Member

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    Putting in aged pots is really splitting hairs, man. Different cap and pot values have a bigger effect on guitar tone than replacing pickups though. The higher value the pot, the more open and trebly the pickup will be. The bigger value the tone caps, the more treble it cuts when you roll back the knob. The taper of the pots also affects how they sound as you roll them back.
     
  3. brockburst

    brockburst Member

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    Assume that if a Gibson Historic LP 59 RI has the same pots and caps as the vintage stuff then?
     
  4. edward

    edward Supporting Member

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    Shorthand answer: the tone will change ..."better" or "improved" is up to you.

    Change in pots' value will affect the overall brightness of the tone, generally speaking. Each pot (like caps and resistors, of which a pot is simply a variable resistor) have a tolerance value +/- a given percentage of accuracy. So a "500k" pot can measure out to as low as 350K, or up at 550K. Installing a "vintage" set of electronics only means you're getting old electronics (caps do have a shelf life and do leak over decades). Not to mention any "vintage mojo" you think you're adding to the guitar isn't accurate or vintage correct since it is not from that guitar. Net gain = zero from the collector's perspective; and from the tonal point, it is a roll of the dice as to what you'll get.

    Capacitors are really in the cicuit when you "roll them into the circuit" so to speak. With knobs on 10, they are, in effect, out of the circuit and null. So no tonal change to speak of until that tone knob is used. And for that matter, you will get a more significant tonal change from a change in the cap's value than in simply going to any "vintage" cap.

    You use the word "improvement" a few times ...remember that this is highly subjective: one man's "dark" is another's "smokey" ; one's "bright" is another's "ice pick." If I were you, I would not get hung up on "vintage" electronics but instead focus on what you want to accomplish tonally. Hope this helps you.

    Edward
     
  5. brockburst

    brockburst Member

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    it certainly does, thank you... one more for you

    dare to compare tonal differences between authentic PAF's and burstbuckers of today?
     
  6. FrankieSixxxgun

    FrankieSixxxgun Member

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    The 59 RI is gonna have the same crap that Gibson uses in all their guitars. You'll notice a tonal improvement by installed an RS kit or even some 500k CTS pots and better caps.

    No comparison. :D
     
  7. brockburst

    brockburst Member

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    Ohhh there is a comparison somewhere. Someone will stab at it.
     
  8. Polynitro

    Polynitro Member

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    I seriously doubt any benefit one could get by using vintage pots/caps would outweigh the costs...thats sssuming there is a benefit, which I doubt...Its not as if they were making better caps back then, you can still get paper-in-oil caps today if you think they are 'better' than ceramic or poly....Of course a Tele with an OG Broadcaster cap and resistor will in fact have more Mojo...I actually entertained the idea of putting a 1950 Broadcaster string tree on my 52RI to increase its mojo but, $300 for one is too much.
     
  9. plexistack

    plexistack Member

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    +1 on the RS kit.
     
  10. edward

    edward Supporting Member

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    Do you have the thousands of dollars, and the time, plus the diligence, to seek out an authentic PAF? Not trying to be cheeky, it's just that it is a moot point, IMHO. Those who actually own such a grail can chime in. For us mere mortals, we can only trust those who have heard the real McCoy(or trust their claims, anyway), as well as trust those gazillion winders (Gibson included) of "authentic PAF tone" pups. May I ask what it is you are trying to accomplish? Whether a "better" sounding guitar or an "historic RI" of some sort?

    Edward
     
  11. Polynitro

    Polynitro Member

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    +1...theres a good explanaition of PAFs somewhere on the interwebs I read once and the last sentence said something like, "Unfortunately Jimmy Page won't let anyone take his PUPs apart to let us have a look see"
     
  12. brockburst

    brockburst Member

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    Yes I have the funds and wherewithal to track down PAF's...I have tracked down three different sets of double whites with various ohm readings.
     
  13. brockburst

    brockburst Member

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    What am I trying to accomplish...hmm well for one. Good quality information, which is the entire point of the forum. Two, I have a beauty of the burst exact brockburst recreation, down to the shrunken tuner and faulty case. Everything was recreated by murphy. I am not sure if I would throw PAF's in it, although its a compelling argument. But was hoping someone with experience, instead of the nay sayers would mind comparing the tones between the two. The two being Burstbuckers of today, and real PAF"s. Granted each pup will have its nuances, just seeing if someone actually knows what they are talking about and dares to make a comparison.
     
  14. edward

    edward Supporting Member

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    OK, gotcha. And kudos to you for having the wherewithal to find and acquire real PAFs. I do recall a few (maybe two, IIRC) on this board that I have read who own PAFs ...owners, clearly the ones who can shed light to your query. Maybe repost a specific thread on "Real PAFs ...who owns them" may help get you the info/comparos you want.

    The last point you make is damning ...and true, IMHO: there are too many who claim to "know PAFs" only because they are trying to hawk their ware, or they want to justify the pups they own themselves as being "just as good." Either way, such opinions are clearly biased, if not completely inaccurate.

    So it sounds to me from what I've read so far that you want an "accurate recreation," down to the tone. That's a tall order given so many other parameters defining a guitar's overall tone, as I am certain you already know. But if this is really what you want, then I would go ahead and buy them and install them, then decide at that point. Given their hen's teeth status, you will not likely lose money on them as there will likely be another vintage collector that will take them right out of your hands should they not fulfill your expectations. This sounds like a serious project for you, and if you're willing to even entertain the thought of acquiring real PAFs, I'd say you'd regret not doing it even if an expert does say pickup brand x today is exactly like the original.

    Edward
     
  15. Lex Luthier

    Lex Luthier Member

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    Different brand pots sound different from each other. Take a new CGE pot and a CTS pot that read the same value and the CTS sounds brighter.
    Since the original manufacturer of the pots used in old Bursts is long gone (Centralab), nothing made today is going to be exactly the same.
     
  16. DC1

    DC1 Member

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    I just installed a 500K Bourns pot

    http://www.bourns.com/data/global/pdfs/95.pdf

    Part # 95Z1D-Z33-EA0/305L

    And I like it a lot. Turned all the way up it goes to only about .2 of an ohm, and the taper is really nice and smooth. It is sealed and rated to 100,000 turns.

    I also tried one of these:

    http://www.stellartone.com/Page.asp?NavID=50

    and found it to be really useful. I am able to take some bite off clean sounds without losing level or getting dull. But what really shines is using it for OD and heavy sounds. By taking off the highs without losing level, you get a much more solid distortion sound. It actually sounds clearer! I would not have expected that. Very useful device.


    dc
     
  17. brockburst

    brockburst Member

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    +1 for Edward. Resident genius.
     
  18. Robert1950

    Robert1950 Member

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    Someone mentioned putting in 'better caps'.

    Okay, what is a better cap ???
     
  19. DC1

    DC1 Member

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