Is capacitor brand a critical consideration?

Discussion in 'Amp Tech Center' started by mherrcat, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. mherrcat

    mherrcat Tele-Holic

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    I was looking for some 4.7uf and 2.2uf 25v electrolytics and those values don't seem common on the usual guitar amp parts sites. They seem to have 5uf and 2uf 50v caps though.

    I did find some of those exact values at a place in Arizona (not Antique Electronic Supply) but they appear to be some kind of generic; they don't mention a specific brand.

    They are considerably cheaper than the Sprague 5uf and 2uf 50v caps though.
     
  2. notmyusualuserid

    notmyusualuserid Friend of Leo's

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    No it isn't.

    Most of what's in any electronic equipment is some kind of generic. Including guitar amps.

    Some smart arse who believes they have golden ears will be along shortly to refute this post, and claim that only OIP caps will do. :)
     
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  3. Nickfl

    Nickfl Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm also in the no camp, especially for electrolytics. Some brands may be more reliable than others, or just have a longer service life, but they don't sound different.

    Also, don't worry about the difference between 2.2 and 2 or 4.7 and 5uf. Functionally no difference. And a higher voltage rating isn't a bad thing, a 50v cap in a position that calls for 25 is fine, just don't sub in a lower rated cap than the schematic calls for.
     
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  4. gkterry

    gkterry Tele-Meister

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    Nope, just marketing.
     
  5. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    No. Just no.
     
  6. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

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    As far as electrolytic capacitors go, some will have more consistent ESR ratings than others or will be better made for the duration.
     
  7. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Those who hear a difference between brands when A/B are really just testing different actual capacitor values in the guitar. Caps vary by 10% tolerance range. So if you are at the critical stage of testing caps, get a meter that can tell you what you actually have so you know.

    .
     
  8. galaxiex

    galaxiex Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I think the OP is asking about caps for amps....

    .
     
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  9. 1300 E Valencia

    1300 E Valencia Friend of Leo's

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    By the way, you'd never use electrolytic caps in a passive D/C guitar tone circuit. They are A/C, not D/C.
     
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  10. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    My only critical consideration (as a shade tree hobbyist) is to try and avoid capacitors with the word "Illinois" on them. Otherwise, its whatever you are in the mood for.
     
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  11. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    I dont think it matters much. may matter a bit on reliability, but even that is on the outside of the bell curve.
     
  12. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    Something tells me that if someone asked this exact question to Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Yngwie Malmsteen, David Gilmour, EVH, etc., their answer would be something along the lines of, "I don't know - all I care about is making music."
     
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  13. mherrcat

    mherrcat Tele-Holic

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    Well, as noted above, since there are apparently brands to be avoided, and if the choice is between an un-branded cap for $0.89 and a branded cap for $2.95, which would you feel more comfortable choosing?

    Thanks all for the input!
     
  14. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    Depends. If I'm adept at swapping caps out and I am in the mood to experiment, I'd buy the $0.89 unknown cap, especially if the choice was between an unknown vs a known with a bad reputation.

    But if its for a piece of gear that I want to get back into service and I rely on it, or I otherwise don't want to mess with maintenance issues in the future, then $2.95 isn't a price point I'd worry about.
     
  15. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes and no.

    'brand' doesn't matter, IMO, as long as you're not using one of the trash Asian ones (Be aware, there are good Asian components and bad ones)


    Composition matters. An electrolytic 1uF coupling cap will perform differently than a Film 1uF coupling cap, but it has nothing to do with the 'brand'

    As with everything, there's tradeoffs. Some compositions are more expensive, some are less stable, some will degrade more quickly over time, some have self healing capabilities, some have additional internal shielding, some are more compact, some exhibit slightly different sonics, etc. It also depends on the context in which you use them.

    As I always say in these threads, there's no 'magic bullet.'
     
  16. Wyatt

    Wyatt Tele-Afflicted

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    I would NOT buy an unbranded cap, every major manufacturer has a logo or name printed on their cap, even if it's as simple as a stylized "V". The lowest cost 2.0uF/50V, radial e-cap sold on Mouser is $1.99 if bought in bulk (Vishay/Sprague), and yet the cap in question is $.89 to the customer? Seems suspect. The caps to avoid are the crappy, generic caps that are usually only made to sell wholesale to companies that make cheap electronics and toys. These often end up in bootleg gear or counterfeited at more expensive caps. Many of these don't meet the specs, and often not even the capacitance, printed on them.

    As for Illinois, I think people give them a bad rap because they are some ubiquitous in mass-produced maps by Fender and others. But Illinois caps can be found in devices that are more sensitive, more expensive, and more important than any boutique amps (like hospital medical gear). They are a reliable, dependable brand made to a price point.

    Electrolytics have a 20% tolerance, and the difference between 1.8, 2, and 2.2 is pretty much differences in standardization practices.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
  17. galaxiex

    galaxiex Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Nvm
     
  18. mherrcat

    mherrcat Tele-Holic

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    This was my suspicion as well.

    I ended up ordering from Antique Electronics. The cost is really insignificant for the experimenting I want to do.

    I usually order from Mouser, but sometimes their choices get a little confusing, with "general purpose", "high temp" versions etc.
     
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  19. VintageSG

    VintageSG Friend of Leo's

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    Electrolytic power stage caps?, yes, it makes ( or can make ) a difference. Not sonically, but el cheapo no-name caps can and do cause problems. Signal, low voltage, low frequency caps?, nah, not so much.
    Non electrolytics?, again, in low voltage applications, providing they meet specs, don't sweat it. For anything that is safety critical, or could take out anything expensive if it went short ( or open ), saving a few Pfennigs on a capacitor is a mugs game.

    For 'X' or 'Y' class capacitors, do not try to save.

    Silver mica, tantalum and poly?, again, pennies between unknown Ebay cheapies and warranted from RS ( or whoever your supplier is ).

    My last few builds have used Sprague, F&T and a brand I'd never come across before, Yeago. They all tested within spec. I've bought party fun bags of mixed value capacitors from Ebay for dinking around with, and the electrolytics have been all over the place spec wise. The solids and foils have been OK.

    I wouldn't mind too much if a cap blebbed and splurged on a veroboard experiment, but if a smoothing cap in the PSU stage of an amp went, I'd be miffed. A basic meter is your friend.
     
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  20. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    My opinion of them is based on my own experience with them and their reputation in the DIY amp building community. Before I got into all this silliness, I relied on an amp tech to make any repairs necessary and I won the lottery with my first tube amp (a PCB Blues Jr). The caps died three years after the amp was made, costing me quite a bit in shop time to diagnose and make the repair. As I said before, when you do your own work, then a $2.95 cap isn't that big of a deal. But when you rely on professionals to make the repairs, the cost of that failed capacitor goes up exponentially.

    Does that mean I will always thing Illinois caps are unreliable? No, but as long as the DIY amp community seems to sing the same tune as I do I've got very little incentive to change my mind about them. If everyone starts singing their praises again, I may give them a try again. This is a marketplace and that's just the way reputations work in the marketplace, regardless of the product really.
     
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