To replace or not to replace capacitors (1960 National content)

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by bt2513, Feb 17, 2020.

  1. bt2513

    bt2513 TDPRI Member

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    Greetings,

    I have a 1960 National Baron that is currently all-original. Everything plays and works great with exception of the tone control on the neck pickup. The pickup sounds very dark - almost no high end at all - with the tone control wide open. Turning it down some how darkens the tone even more to the point of being unuseable for me.

    My question: is this how they sounded originally or is this the sign of a failing/failed tone cap?

    Next question: should the tone cap be replaced? Will this devalue the guitar significantly?

    My guitars are pretty much all "players" but I certainly don't want to unintentionally or needlessly harm the original character and inherent value of it. The bridge pickup gets the most action and absolutely kills. Would like to have the neck pickup in better order though...

    Thanks for any help/suggestions..
     
  2. ArcticWhite

    ArcticWhite Tele-Holic

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    Easy enough to swap a new one in and check. If the available tones change, leave it.
    Otherwise, swap it back out.
     
    AlbertaGriff likes this.
  3. Paul G.

    Paul G. Friend of Leo's

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    Lift the capacitor off of the terminal (desolder one side only and move it so it doesn't touch anything). If the tone is the same, resolder it, that's how the guitar sounds. If the tone is noticeably brighter with the cap disconnected, it may be bad, although I doubt it.
     
    Mike Simpson and ArcticWhite like this.
  4. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Replace them!

    I will never understand the fascination with keeping old caps because they were original. They were intended to be replaced about every 10 years and being 1960...it is way over due and certainly not anywhere close to the original specs so it isn't like you will lose the original tone....you have already lost that about 50 years ago Service it so that it is healthy and protects the rest of the amps from harmful shorts. You sure wouldn't drive around on 50 year old dry rotted tires on that 1970 Cadillac you just purchased would you? Change them out.
     
  5. jrblue

    jrblue Tele-Afflicted

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    If a 60s National electric is now supposed to be a museum piece that you can't touch even when it's not working right, then, well, wow... That's a player's guitar, IMO, and should be maintained as such. Personally, I'd test a bunch of caps and go with the one that sounds best. You can save the original crappy one and put it back in if by some wild chance you end up trying to sell it to some obsessive maniac who wants original parts even when they're crap.
     
  6. ArcticWhite

    ArcticWhite Tele-Holic

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    He's talking about a guitar, not an amp.
     
    newrider1969 likes this.
  7. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Oops. I really should stop reading posts late at night and get some sleep. My inner Grand Torino comes out when I am really tired.
     
    ArcticWhite likes this.
  8. vortexx

    vortexx TDPRI Member

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    If the tone pot is on 10 the capacitor should be out of the circuit. If it is dark at 10, there is something else going on. It could be the tone pot. I'd have to look up that model as I have had Nationals from the 60s but not that model, regarding pickups, but I doubt one of the pickups should be as dark sounding as you say. I sold a mint 62 Westwood 77 with case candy to Mark M. from Devo. Generally pickups weren't marked neck and treble or whatnot back then. It could be a very over wound pickup as well. I think the most likely problem is one of the pots. It can even be the volume pot if it has degraded and is reading much lower than it should. It's very unlikely that it is the capacitor as I mentioned earlier. Did you get a chance to do any further tests?
     
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