Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

the difference between paper and oil caps and the orange drop types??

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by rjtwangs, Aug 3, 2017.

  1. Old Tele man

    Old Tele man Friend of Leo's

    May 10, 2017
    Tucson, AZ
    Ding! Ding! We have a winner!
    DavidP likes this.

  2. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Friend of Leo's

    Dec 6, 2015

    Thanks for being willing to admit how it sounded to you. There are so many people who think they like science, but then they demand others' observations fit their preconcieved notions loosely based on theory, and then call that science. Science starts with observation, it's not supposed to shape observation.
    So I don't care if it's bias confirmation, or a mental illness, or coincidental temporary sunspot interference bouncing off the moon... Sound is ultimately all in our heads, and it's worth being honest about what we hear, because we never really know if we're crazy or everyone else has a tin ear.

  3. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    and that one.. pretty much is a summation of what Bill Lawrence said.... which included .. Any skilled musician can make their instrument sound how they want it...

    RLee77 likes this.

  4. Wayne Alexander

    Wayne Alexander Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    I am one of those people who hears some difference difference in the sound of tone caps with the same measured capacitance (I have a meter) in guitars. As others have said, you really only hear the tone cap when the tone control is turned down some, you don't hear it to speak of with the tone control all the way up. In summary, I don't generally like the sound texture with ceramic or the standard Orange Drop caps in guitars, they sound a little harsher to me (with the tone control in use) than polyester caps like Mallory 150s or the Sozo ones, and I usually like PIO's the best, there's a subtle "fatness" to my ears compared to the others.

    HOWEVER I am not trying to convince anyone of anything. What I do suggest is that you try several caps of different capacitance value and composition in your own guitar with your own amp, playing the way you usually do (but make sure you're rolling the tone control down enough to hear it in use) - you can just put a couple of wires on the tone pot where the cap leads go, and clip different caps onto those leads while you play. First figuree out the VALUE you like in the guitar, then take out your meter, find caps of varying composition of that same exact value, and clip them in while you play. I'd guess that you'll like some and dislike others, and you might even notice when you take a single cap and reverse which lead is clipped to which wire.

    I can't tell you what you'll hear or whether you'll care, but I can tell you that if you don't do this, you won't know what you yourself will hear from swapping caps in YOUR gear.
    tube.tone and bottlenecker like this.

  5. DavidP

    DavidP Friend of Leo's

    Mar 16, 2003
    Vancouver, BC
    Ah ha! Correctamundo -- it was a test to see if you were paying close attention to the construction/materials... So now, we can enlarge the dialogue to consider the sonic effects of waffles vs pancakes -- as an analogy to the cap materials debate (and I'm looking forward to that!)

  6. Old Tele man

    Old Tele man Friend of Leo's

    May 10, 2017
    Tucson, AZ
    You can't fool me. WAFFLES have r-i-d-g-e-s, pancakes don't...they're "flat" like, well, a pancake (wink,wink).
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017

  7. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Tele-Meister

    May 30, 2017
    Silicon Valley, CA
    When someone says that they really really can hear a difference between two caps measured at the same value, my response is: "hmmm, I wonder why that is?"

    I recall a TV program talking about language, and they said, "most people cannot hear the sound ' '". I could not hear it. It was recorded and there it was on the waveform. Now of course, it COULD HAVE BEEN a hoax, since you never know what really happens on those shows. Anyway the point was that there is one language in which this sound occurs, and people who have grown up hearing that language can hear it, while pretty much nobody else can. Wish I could remember the details.

    So, I'm willing to believe that some people can hear sounds that I can't, and vice versa. But at least there's a reason, and people so inclined might be able to figure it out. And the reason that they hear it is that it is really there.

    I do have to draw the line at cloth wire though.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017

  8. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 2, 2010
    One thing that stuck out for me in this cap comparison Ron Kirn posted was how different the player sounded from one phrase to the next when repeating identical phrases.
    This means several different things.
    1) We will sound different from one test to the next, irregardless of any gear changes.
    2) Before we can be certain we are hearing a subtle gear difference as opposed to a subtle RH technique/ LH muting difference, we need to play for enough years that we can play the same phrase exactly the same over and over with absolutely no tonal or articulation variation. Then we need to record lots of repetition to confirm our dead on perfection.
    3) Once we develop the ability to control our tone and articulation with such perfection that we can be certain that any perceptible tonal variation was caused by the gear, not the technique, we may find that we are no longer in search of that holy grail gear mod that will give us the control of our sound we want but don't quite have.

    I spent a lot of hours practicing just to get my upstrokes to sound exactly the same as my downstrokes. But not even 100% of the time.

    Given the basic fact that even pro players going over well rehearsed material still record multiple takes to get a perfect take, I think it's pretty safe to say that it is hard to play with such utter precision that there is zero variation from one repetition to the next.
    If we cannot be certain that we played exactly the same with one cap and another, already knowing that nobody seems certain that the two caps sound perceptibly different from one another, what can we really argue is certain?

    In the video above, 30% of responders failed to correctly identify the difference between a .015 cap and a .022 cap, which sounded pretty obvious to me but I didn't see the survey when it was active.
    I find a .022 cap useless and a .01 cap usable in terms of getting some usable range out of the tone pot.
    Gibson and Digital Larry like this.

  9. RLee77

    RLee77 Friend of Leo's

    May 15, 2016
    Silicon Valley
    Exactly. I've always found it nearly impossible to record two sequences and have them sound identical, even when nothing was changed.

  10. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    and that's why I keep suggesting, at least consider... the vast majority of the central focus themes in these "tone chasing" threads aren't without merit, however... whatever merit might be gleaned, is simply so subtle as to be completely lost in the sonic avalanche that represents the typical performance..

    Modman68, Gibson and Mr Green Genes like this.

  11. Old Tele man

    Old Tele man Friend of Leo's

    May 10, 2017
    Tucson, AZ
    The ONLY way to do such "testing" on anything is to start with a clean, canned/recorded, signal that can be played/repeated ad nauseum as needed, so each item is tested using the same identical input.

  12. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Friend of Leo's

    Apr 3, 2015
    Winchester, VA
    It only makes a difference if you use bidirectional cables, tonewood, and hand-wound pickups.

  13. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 2, 2010
    I use two out of three to form all my gear related opinions.
    Can you hear which two I used?

  14. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Friend of Leo's

    Dec 6, 2015

    I don't believe in A/B testing. I think the whole notion of A/B listening tests is fundamentally flawed.
    I think a lot of sonic and musical information is being processed by parts of our brain we don't consciously use. We train our conscious brains to understand some of it so we can do useful things like adjust EQs, pick out harmony parts, or do mastering if we're really good. I can't pick out the little issues that a good master corrects, but when the job is done well everything sounds better. If only a masterer could hear the problems, no one would pay for the service. Good mastering ability is just developing conscious knowledge about what we all hear and are effected by.
    Many recordists/engineers who mix records know that after you think you're done mixing, you should let the mix play while you do something else to take your mind off it. Sometimes very obvious flaws will jump out when you're not paying attention that you never heard when you were paying attention.
    In a nutshell, I think paying too much attention and trying to hear differences just makes them harder to hear. Not being able to consciously pick out a difference doesn't mean you're not effected by it.
    telemnemonics and Mr Green Genes like this.

  15. NiceTele

    NiceTele Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 20, 2012
    I guess in almost 40 years of working in electronics I have tested, compared, measured, analysed, pulled apart all types of caps. As a guitarist, I can tell you there's no difference and no advantage in any particular cap for your guitar. Save your self all the time and grief and just use a cap of the correct value as recommended by pickup makers, guitar manufacturers etc. If you are a retro nut, then by all means use whatever looks nice.
    Gibson and Digital Larry like this.

  16. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 2, 2010
    Yeah those guys and girls who can listen and fix a mix have got some kind of ear skills that we don't all share.
    Maybe some of it they were born with but most was earned through training and practice.
    When I'm on the other side of an argument I find it frustrating that players who IMO "can't hear what I (think I) hear" insist it can't exist if they can't hear it.
    When I had a pregnant girlfriend, suddenly I noticed pregnant women everywhere. I doubt there were more than before.
    When I bought a 57 Chevy I noticed the same thing, lots of 57 Chevies everywhere.
    I think of going to the county fair.
    Lots of sounds all mixed together.
    Do we focus on animal sounds?
    Tractor sounds?
    Pretty girl sounds?
    Midway game barker sounds?
    Cranky wife or kids sounds?

    Given that we sound a little different from one moment to the next, I am skeptical of judgements of subtle gear differences.
    So if I'm trying to hear some gear I set up near the edge of my chosen sound, rather than in thew middle where it's easy to stay centered.
    Set the amp so It's almost painfully bright, and try the two devices in question.
    If they both work with similar effort, they're pretty much the same.
    But if one is hard to get good sounds out of and the other is easier to the point of being comfortable, then they are different.

    I have a strange thing where it seems I listen all the time, even when sleeping.
    Certain sounds will wake me up (like a car in the yard or the furnace acting up) where I'll sleep through louder sounds that are of no concern.
    I'm also hard of hearing and sometimes have to roll sounds over in my head a few times to cross reference with possible content.
    Hearing and processing sounds is interesting stuff...
    Mr Green Genes and bottlenecker like this.

  17. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 22, 2009
    New York
    I was with you until this part...
    The 'recommended' values suck, IMO. Too much treble cut. Pretty much the only recommended values are 22nF and 47nF, sometimes you get someone who thinks they're slick and recommends 33nF. Then there's the EJ fans who will recommend 100nF... All too big, IMO. I wont use anything over 10nF as the tone gets too muffled with those larger values.

    Nothing wrong with experimenting, just focus on the right changes. People expect a difference going from 22nF PIO to 22nF Poly... They should be experimenting with cap values instead. They may find they have similar preferences to me, or they may find the bigger values work better for them..

    Dont spend $30 on a PIO. Spend $10 on 30 poly caps of different values, and play with them..
    DavidP and telemnemonics like this.

  18. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Friend of Leo's

    Dec 6, 2015

    I always remember trying to hear the bass line on the first van halen album when I was a kid. I could hear the bass at the beginning of the album, then the drums and guitar come in and it's gone. I know if the bass part had really disappeared it would not have sounded as good to me, but I couldn't pick it out. Now it's like a nose on a face. I can't imagine not being able to pick it out in the mix.

    I don't know about tone caps, but I know that every difference between the guitars I like the sound of, and the ones I don't, will be proclaimed to make no difference by someone. I've become skeptical of skepticism.
    RLee77 and telemnemonics like this.

  19. Geo

    Geo Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2003
    Hendersonville, TN
    I remember my dad cutting old capacitors in half to show me the make up and then he showed
    me how to make a capacitor which he did.

  20. tube.tone

    tube.tone Tele-Meister

    Nov 21, 2008
    Electronics laws tell me otherwise but find the coment above to be true. I notice diferences in the resonance peak sweet spot given same capacitance on a typical guitar tone control.

    I am not sure what the interaction is, the cap is just supposed to shunt hi freqs to ground... the question is, is this that simple? Just Highs to ground? Wouldn't cap size and material change that release path? I think so.

    Anyway, what does it matter? It's my guitar :)
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017

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