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

Truth in Capacitors

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Kirfew, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. Kirfew

    Kirfew TDPRI Member

    Is the hype over Orange Drops and Oil-in-paper and Tropical Fish capacitors based in fact, or is it just a load of nonsense? Do different types of capacitors actually have a readily measurable effect on the tone of the guitar?

  2. imsilly

    imsilly Friend of Leo's

    Feb 15, 2009
    Here is a picture I took 2 days ago with a camera I borrowed from a friend. I don't think it's relevant or helpful. I just think it'll be nice to add something different to these kinds of threads.


  3. bigp7099

    bigp7099 Tele-Holic

    Oct 1, 2010
    Brampton, ON
    I think its kind of spooky when saint whoever there has got their head turned looking at you
    410DeVille likes this.

  4. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Englewood, CO
    I think the best comment is the one in a signature line which says, "I use paper in oil caps because the lubrication makes the electricity go faster", or something to that effect. I think the value of the cap (.022,.047, etc) and the tone pot has far more effect on tonality than what type or brand is used. Of course some will disagree which is why this thread will get replies.

    Edit: For accuracy sake cap values are now correctly stated as opposed to my corrupted short hand caused by the fact that I just refer to them as "twenty twos" or "forty sevens".

    The sponsors and management of TDPRI express no opinion on nor takes any responsibility for errors caused by these misstatements of the correct values and as such also offers no stated forgiveness regarding this cockeyed explanation of my edit. Ipso facto in corpus delecti. :D

  5. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    You answered your question :p


  6. waparker4

    waparker4 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 9, 2011
    Philadelphia, PA
    That and the tolerance

  7. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Even a TWENTY PERCENT tolerance would make a .022 be from .0176-.0264

    I don't believe the good Lord gave anybody the ears that would really know if that difference meant Jack $#*&.

  8. Commodore 64

    Commodore 64 Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Mar 1, 2010
    Kent, OH
    The only thing that matters is the value and the voltage it's rated for.

  9. Big Dawg

    Big Dawg Tele-Meister

    Feb 19, 2011
    And if they will fit in the cavity.

  10. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

    Dec 29, 2010
    In my opinion, it's hype.

    The actual value of the capacitor (measured in µF), its leakage, and in some cases the construction of the cap are the only things that can have an effect on tone. For example, ceramic capacitors can absorb moisture from the air, and therefore vary all over the place with humidity changes. Old paper caps (the so-called PIO) can deteriorate over time and become 'leaky', that is they act as if there was a resistance across them. This tends to pass more lows and mids to ground, reducing the apparent output of the pickup and changing the tone more in favor of the mid to high end of things. And, as mentioned above, even the best caps fall within a tolerance range, their actual value will vary from whatever the target value is.

    I use poly caps in my guitars. They're stable over a zillion years, give or take a few thousand years. By choosing caps by measured value, and sometimes padding with fixed resistors, I can achieve any tone characteristic I'm looking for, and be confident it will never change. Well, it'll be more stable than my hearing, anyway.

    And, they're cheap and small.

    But, remember the golden rule: It's your guitar, use what you like.

  11. Wayne Alexander

    Wayne Alexander Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    You'll find that a large percentage of those who post in capacitor-related posts on this forum will say that the only hearable quality of a capacitor used as a tone cap in a guitar is the measured capacitance value. I cannot understand that, since I personally can hear tonal quality differences between caps made of different materials (PIO, ceramic, polyester, mica, polypropylene, and whatever that waxy stuff is in some old brown Sprague caps) - to my ears, and I am by no means alone in this perception, different types of caps which have the same measured capacitance will give you different texture/distortion characteristics. These "texture" differences are not anywhere near as significant as the differences between capacitance values, but to my ears they're definitely there. I don't care what you believe, or what you do, do what you want in this regard. But just because someone here tells you "it can't make any difference" don't believe that. Test it yourself and see if you can hear differences in cap types - it doesn't cost much, and doesn't take long. Whenever I'm building, or adjusting, a guitar, I'll grab a pile of caps of different values and types, grab a couple wires with alligator clips on them, and try the various caps with the tone and volume controls on the guitar, and on the amp, in different positions. I pretty much always will prefer one type of cap over others. To my ears, in order of preference from worst to best for my ears, ceramic caps sound harsh and grainy, polypropylene ones (like 715 series Orange Drops) sound pretty clinical, Polyester ones like Sozos or Mallory 150s sound pretty neutral and are just fine, and Paper in Oil ones, have a little "fatter" character which I tend to like the best. (All of the foregoing refer to what the guitar sounds like with the tone control turned down enough that it's rolling off a fair amount of treble). I'm not trying to sell you anything, and my advice is to see whether you personally have a preference - swap in several caps yourself and see what you conclude based on your ears.
    Opaltone likes this.

  12. stilesg57

    stilesg57 Tele-Holic

    Oct 20, 2011
    Central NC
    Don't buy the PIOs.

    Don't want to drive up demand -- and thus prices -- of PIOs for those of us who do like them :D

  13. chrisgblues

    chrisgblues Tele-Afflicted

    May 31, 2010
    I'm certain that my audience would rather I spend more time practicing guitar and singing rather than reading the pros/cons of electronic minutiae...bye.

  14. Bubbalou

    Bubbalou Tele-Meister

    Feb 28, 2012
    Euless, Texas
    Then maybe you should have obstained from reading this :lol:

  15. kidmo

    kidmo Friend of Leo's

    May 25, 2008
    Yes and yes and shame on everyone who says they don't. They just want the tonze for themselves.

    I guess I'll have to be the serious one here. Actually there is a difference. It's all in the color of the capacitor. The dark ones are dark sounding and the lighter ones sound lighter.

    Hope that cleared it up for you.

  16. Northerntele

    Northerntele Tele-Holic

    Sep 30, 2010
    New Orleans
    That's a bit creepy. I like it.:D

  17. Manolete

    Manolete Friend of Leo's

    Feb 19, 2011
    A capacitor has a single electronic purpose. If it doesn't do it correctly but the bi-products are sometimes pleasant.

    Remember that the guitar industry is now catering as a "lifestyle choice" (think Marshall fridges, Fender sound systems in VW Beetles) for rich fat middle-aged white guys who played a bit of guitar in college... these guys might suck at guitar but they hear a LOT with their wallets. Insist on using some oldschool manky capcitor in your guitar??? Good for you. Remember how it is important to re-cap your old amps? Somehow old mojo caps are good in a guitar yet cannot be trusted to work as filter caps in a 30 + year old amp of any price bracket. Funny world.

  18. LocustPlague

    LocustPlague Tele-Holic

    Sep 17, 2008
    I would like to correct this post. The only things that matter is the value (strictly MEASURED value) OR the printed spec value AND the tolerance.

    The voltage it is rated for has zero implications on a passive tone circuit in a guitar aside from the physical dimensions. Higher voltage rating equals larger physical dimensions.

  19. drvoodoo

    drvoodoo Tele-Holic

    Dec 14, 2011
    Tried a PIO. Did it alone change the sound? Can not tell since other things such as pots, switch, shielding, strings, PU height etc also were subject to change. Did all these changes combined change the tone? Yes. Slightly, but I can not say it is the cap. Lower buzz due to shielding, less bright sound due to pick up adjustment, etc. Do I like the sound? Yes! But I have greater changes in tone by using different values on the cap in that and other guitars when I have only changed the cap. I have not the ears to hear a significant difference between types. That is not to say that some people might. It all boils down to does your knowledge of a specific factor in the system make you a more inspired player? Placebo works to some extent in these matters, i.e if you play better if the guitar has a PIO use that. I usually do not care about such things as types of caps only what I hear they actually do and I use tone control ;-)

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