Help with Capacitors!
Right, I'm a total n00b with capacitors. :adore: I've figured o that i want some Orange Drops, but that' it. What else needs to be decided, what does all this mean? :bawling:
if it means anything I plan on using 2 PRS USA 500k Push pull Tone pots and 2 CTS BareKnuckle 550k volume pots.
Any help is appreciated! Now get Nerding (please)! :D
Note: uf and ufd mean same thing (microfarad) I just prefer that later.
Originally Posted by Bainesbucker
You want to use .022ufd (capacitor's value in micro farads or 1/1000th of a Farad) and the 600v, 400v, 200v, 100v, 50 v is the voltage it can handle. Use the lowest voltage rating possible as a guitar only puts out less than 1 volt typically and the higher the voltage the bigger the capacitor's physical size. Voltage rating is the maximum voltage that particular capacitor can handle without failure. Orange drops come in two types (polyester and polypropylene which is the material it is made from). I prefer Polyester myself as I hear a tonal difference but most people will tell you that is bunk. When playing live it really doesn't matter as no one will be able to hear the small difference. The ones that can only can in a low volume bedroom environment.
The capacitor's value determines how much of the signal will be shorted to ground when the tone pot is turned down. A .022ufd capacitor will sound a little brighter with the tone knob turned down as less of the highs are shunted to ground. Likewise a .047mfd will lend a darker tone and .1 really dark (only recommended for some bass guitars).
The resistance rating of the pot effects how much the pickup will be loaded. 250K (250,000 ohms) pot loads 2 times as much as a 500k (500,000 ohms)pot. As you can see K stands for Kilo or a thousand. The less you load a pickup the fuller and brighter it will sound. 250k is typically used with bright sounding pickups like a P90 single coil pickup and 500K for darker sounding pickups like a Humbucker. You can use a 500K with a single coil P90 but it will be pretty darn bright sounding and you will notice you only turn the pot a short distance before it volume drops off rather quickly. Keep in mind these are rules of thumb and what you use is totally up to you for what tone you are trying to achieve.
Hope this is "clear as mud"
As was said...use the smaller voltage caps..unless you have/get the bigger ones cheaper. There's just no need to buy the higher voltage ones and they typically cost more..at least in the NOS market since some amp builders and modders and restorers want/need them.
I am MISTER Capacitor! Well...I'm mister mustard capacitors for vintage Marshalls.
I'll try to keep this rant to a minimum (wish me luck).
I had a Ceriatone 18/36W amp built in '06 (the prototypical 36RP with half power switch...y'all can thank me later). When I got it I found it to be a little bass heavy and boomy so I needed to swap a .022uF cap for a .010uF cap. I started shopping/researching and began to read the hype about Mustard caps. .How they were OEM in the old British amps and that they really hold some mojo. It's the magic-mojo smoke they put inside the old mustards. As soon as you let that smoke escape they're toast! lol.
I discovered that, like with everything, buying bulk is cheaper so I decided to buy mustards for the whole amp. I needed several values and found (of course) that buying more than one of each was a bargain. I could sell the left-overs and maybe get mine for free. Oh...I had to come back to this paragraph cause I forgot to add another quality the mustards impart...I've tried to describe this before and here I go again...you know how, in a vocal iso booth in a studio how, when standing in front of a $40K Neumann you can hear your breath, your mouth, your tongue, the fabric on your clothes?...like that HD super sensitive hearing thing that happens. Well that's another thing the Mustards do. It'll make a strat for example, breathe. It's like suddenly a blanket was lifted between you and the amp and now you can hear the guitar's tongue in it's mouth. You can hear it breathe. I know...ever listen to the Randy Rhodes (sp?) "Dee" outakes where he starts and then stops and takes a puff of his cigarette? Like THAT!!!!! Now remember, all (except one) of the caps I replaced, I replaced with the same values as the Mallories. The only difference was/is the brand and age of cap.
FF to now and all my amps have mustards in them..wall to wall and I definitely hear and feel a difference. When I re-capped that 36watter with mustards from Mallories the difference was pretty large. It went from (sounding awesome..until I heard it with the mustards) sounding thin and plastic and fuzzy or fizzy to sounding warm and legit with a warm mid hump that encourages harmonic feedback and just awesome warm mojo and REAL-ness. It was kinda like getting my first microwave oven as a kid. We didnt know the conventional oven was slow until we got the "radar range" back in like 1970 or something. Now who could survive without a microwave..or a cellphone...hey..back in 1970 I didnt know I needed a computer or the internet but now..when the power goes out or the internet goes down...I kinda walk around the house in circles trying different devices while walking into walls.
OK so...Mustard capacitors changed me. They also supported me when my back blew out and I was unable to work. I mean from selling them..not from playing my mustard loaded amps. The mustards support me and my family in that way now that I can stand-up for a while.
Probably around a year ago I found a thread about caps in guitars (can't remember where)...oh...so much for keeping this rant to a minimum...sorry :-(... It was by a guy in Upstate NY somewhere. He had built a box that housed a whole bunch of different caps. He could change them for different values or different brands or compositions or ages etc and the user/tester could then switch between all the caps blindly while they're part of the guitar's circuit.
This guy SWEARS that NO ONE will EVER be able to distinguish between manufacturer or material or age etc..in the same value. He even challenged/invited anyone who wants to, to come to his place with their guitar and or their favorite caps and PROMISES that NO ONE could (no one has EVER been able to) tell a mustard from an orange drop to a Russian PIO etc etc etc..of the same value.
He says that not only has no one (including him) EVER been able to tell the difference between an orangedrop and a mustard poly cap but not even completely different caps (of same value) composition and/or material!
Well I have to admit that I (Mister Mustard cap) have never tried swapping a stock POS (Piece of S#!+ not Paper On Silver lol) cap for a nice old mustard so I can't say whether mister NY is right but i have a hunch he is.
That amaing, night and day difference I noticed with the 36W is actually relatively subtle. No one is gonna rush the stage and say...WOAH!! WHAT did you do to your rig? It sounds WAY more "vintage" and warm than usual??? They might rush the stage and say...WOAH...man your playing is WICKED tonight...WHY?
The difference is almost more of a FEEL difference than an huge tonal improvment. I mean the tonal improvements I described earlier are real but you are probably gonna be the only one who really notices. Even your wife for instance, isnt gonna run downstairs and say..man that sounds amazing now what did you do? She might run downstairs and say...TURN THAT DOWN!!..or...HEY, you've been down there all DAY playing that thing...ENOUGH already!
The way I see it, my tone is always my tone. i'm always gonna sound like me but..every little thing I do to improve my tone or feel adds up to make the whole..and when all those things come together, the whole is a lot better then the prervious whole. It isnt very often that I try a new piece of gear or component that is a night and day change. If it is, I ususally don't keep it cause it isnt ME. The Mustard caps are just like an ingredient in a recipe...like salt. Salt just brings out other flavors. Salt just bumps every dish up a notch or two. Not to make it salty...you even add a pinch to sweet dishes to add depth.
SO...will a mustard .022 sound different than a Mallory or an OD or a PIO .022? Well one guy says absolutely NOT. Now, had he said the same thing about caps in amps I would be the FIRST to call him a big fat liar and I'd be booking flights to NY with a suitcase full-o-caps. Maybe I woulda caught my return flight with my tail between my legs but I doubt it. If the mustard mojo is all purely hype...welll...I owe tens of thousands of dollars in refunds. :-(
Now...I have a 2012 (or 2011?) PRS Studio that I LOVE (now that I swapped-out the underpowered 57/08 for a pup that can keep up to the NFs) but...I dont think I like it's cap or cap/resistor combo.
It isnt my first or only PRS and one of the innovations that PRS came up with (?) was to use that t bleed cap (I know he didnt come up with it but..). It works very well on my old CE and McSoapy but with the Stood (even when it had the 57/08) when I roll the guitar's vol way back to clean it up and reduce the volume it gets way too thin and bright and ice-picky. I've been meaning to, for quit a while now, replace the Studio's cap. I'll first ttry the same value in a Mustard. If that makes a nice-or any- difference I'll let yu all know that Mister NY is FOS. I have a feeling it needs a different value though not manufacturer. We'll see though...if I ever get off my lazy arse.
So that's my two (million) cents on guitar caps. They SAY...well HE says the brand or composition, in a guitar cap, will make NO difference. I kinda tend to agree. From what I've seen/heard caps do in amps is huge and subtle at the same time. I have a feeling that in a guitar the difference will be a lot less noticeable if at all.
There IS a cool cap shoot-out on youtube where you can hear the difference that different cap values can make. He also uses/tests different types of caps and I couldnt really hear the difference in types or brands only in value changes.
So for the OP...don't get TOO hung-up on Orange Drops. In amps they sound pretty sterile compared to mustards..which is desirable in some amps like Trainwrecks and high gain amp that want to be somewhat scooped with TIGHT bottom and crisp searing high end. Those are attributes that I personally don't use/want in an amp or guitar. When I open up a vintage amp (say a Traynor..seen it a couple times with old YBAs) I instantly say...oh God..and i start reaching for an iron and a handful of Mustards.
Personally, you can KEEP your OrangeDrops. I certainly wouldnt spend any more money for them than I would for Mallories..in fact I'd just leave the Mallories in a circuit instead of going with ODs..unless I was restoring an old Express or something. So yeah OP...maybe first, if you dont have caps yet...just head to RS and grab a handful of caps of different values to test. Once you settle on the value you like best then, to cure your dead cat-like curiosity. And don't forget...the 600V are WAY overkill, way big, and probably more $ than the ones you want.
Hey...if anyone wants to buy some vintage (used but test perfectly) Orange drops...I have some cheap! Seriously.
OK...rant complete. Sorry y'all. :-(
blaren, interesting you stated Orange drops sounding sterile because that is exactly my experience and I usually avoid them. Good to hear your review of Mustard caps.
Wow Bubba...you read all that? lol. I know...OrangeDrops are like pickups with ceramic magnets and mustards are like A2. Some people prefer the ceramic mags. To me and for my style (or lack thereof) ceramic mag pups are too sterile and scooped. I'm sure they're the cat's meow for some high gain thunderous pounding shred but that's not me. Sterile sounds like a bad word. It isnt always so. Sterile= pure, uncolored, unadulterated... I think of EMG active pups in that way. What's good for me isnt good for everyone.
Just like ceramic magneted pickups, orange drop caps have their place...it just isnt at MY place.
EDIT: Orangedrops sound they way they do in AMPS!! NOT in guitars...where they make NO difference..according to Mister NY anyway.
We agree on 2 areas I see. I do not care for ceramic magnet pickups. I tend to prefer Alnico II's but they are coming out with some good Alnico 5's lately.
Originally Posted by blaren
Seriously, don't waste too much time on guitar caps. If you like the way your tone control functions now, leave it alone. If you'd like more or less treble roll-off, change to a higher or lower value, respectively.
As already said, get the lowest voltage available. Material really won't matter, so don't get fooled into spending a lot of money on a cap. The important things are value (usually measured in micro or nano farads) and the accuracy of that value. Look for -/+ 5%. That means it measures within 5% more or less than the claimed value.
Now, caps in amps is a totally different arena. There are many more caps and other factors at play.
Contrary to popular belief, the pickup tone capacitor does not pass any signal components to the amp or to ground. What the tone capacitor does is shift the resonant peak of the circuit down in frequency as it is brought into the equation. The Q factor (a.k.a. “Q”) of the circuit is also reduced as the tone potentiometer is rolled down because doing so reduces the total resistance of the circuit. In layman's terms, the tone capacitor moves the frequency at which the pickup circuit is loudest down in frequency and flattens the overall frequency response of the circuit.
The pickup coil and the tone capacitor form an inductor-capacitor (LC) network. An LC network is what is known as a "tuned circuit." Every tuned circuit has a resonant frequency F0, which is equal to 1 / (2 x Pi x SQRT(L x C)), where Pi ~= 3.14, L = inductance in henries, C = capacitance in farads, and SQRT is the square root function. At resonance, a tuned circuit becomes purely resistive. The output amplitude of a tuned circuit is highest at its resonant frequency. This amplitude peak is known as the "resonant peak" of the circuit. The resonant peak is the frequency at which the pickup circuit is loudest.
The value of the volume potentiometer in a guitar sets the Q of the circuit. It does so by combining with the LC network formed by the pickup inductance/self-capacitance and tone capacitor capacitance to form a tuned circuit known as an RLC circuit. The volume potentiometer is wired in parallel with the pickup and the tone capacitor; therefore, we use the formula for a parallel RLC network to determine the Q of the circuit. The Q for a parallel RLC circuit is equal to R x SQRT( L x C), where R = resistance in ohms, L = inductance in henries, C = capacitance in farads, and SQRT is the square root function. As one can clearly see, Q increases as we increase the value of R in parallel a RLC network. Increasing the value of the volume potentiometer increases the amplitude of the resonant peak while narrowing the passband (the range of frequencies that are passed unattenuated), which has the effect of making a dull sounding pickup sound brighter. The upper bound for how bright an increase in the value of the volume control potentiometer can make a pickup sound is set by the resonant frequency of the pickup.
Many people believe that the output of a pickup is determined by its DC resistance. Paraphrasing Bill Lawrence, attempting to determine a pickup's output level by measuring its DC resistance is akin to attempting to determine a person's IQ by measuring the size of his/her feet. The output of a pickup is determined by its coil inductance and the strength and shape of its magnetic field. Pickup inductance is determined by coil dimensions, winding pattern, number of turns, and wire diameter (including insulation). The only time that one can use DC resistance as a measure of output is if both pickups use the same coil form, wire diameter, winding pattern, and magnet structure. Most seriously overwound humbucking pickups are wound using 43 gauge or smaller magnet wire. The resistance per foot rating of any given type of wire increases as its diameter decreases.
Overwound pickups tend to have less sharp resonant peak amplitudes than vintage-wound pickups because a pickup's coil resistance is electrically in series with its inductance; therefore, a pickup by itself is a series RLC network. The Q of a series RLC circuit is equal to (1 / R) x SQRT( L x C), where R = resistance in ohms, L = inductance in henries, C = capacitance in farads, and SQRT is the square root function; hence, the Q of a pickup decreases if coil resistance grows faster than coil inductance. Pickup inductance is primarily determined by the number of turns of wire that one can place on each bobbin. Most pickup makers are dealing with a fixed set of pickup bobbin dimensions; therefore, the only way to increase the number of turns beyond a certain point is to use thinner diameter wire. As mentioned above, thinner diameter wire has a higher per foot resistance rating; therefore, resistance rises faster per turn with thinner wire, which, in turn, lowers pickup Q.
Seymour Duncan is gracious enough to list the resonant frequency of their pickups. Let’s use the ’59 and JB to illustrate what I have outlined above.
- '59 Bridge: 8.13Ω
- JB: 16.4kΩ
- '59 Bridge: 6kHz
- JB: 5.5kHz
The DC resistance of the ’59 is approximately 50% of the JB's DC resistance; however, the resonant peak is only 500Hz lower. This delta (difference) is much smaller than would be expected if both pickups used the same wire, especially considering that coil inductance is based on the square of the number of turns (i.e., doubling the number of turns quadruples inductance).
Let’s perform a quick and dirty circuit analysis of the '59 and the JB. We are interested in determining if the inductance of the JB is four times that of the ’59. We cannot determine the inductance of either pickup given the information listed above; however, we can calculate the LC product, which will give us a rough idea of how much inductance has increased with respect to resistance.
Re-writing the resonant frequency equation to solve for the LC product gives us:
L x C = (1 / (F x 2 x Pi)) 2, where F = frequency in hertz, Pi ~= 3.14, L = inductance in henries, and C = capacitance in farads
L x C (’59 Bridge) = ( 1 / (6,000 x 6.28)) 2 ~= 0.0000000007
L x C (JB) = ( 1 / (5,500 x 6.28)) 2 ~= 0.00000000084
As one can clearly see, the LC product for the JB is not four times that of the ’59 Bridge, which means that the inductance of the JB is more than likely not four times of that of the ’59 Bridge. The only way that the inductance of the JB could be four times that of the ’59 Bridge is if Seymour Duncan had magically discovered a winding pattern that resulted in an unbelievable reduction in self-capacitance per turn of wire. The small LC product delta combined with a more than two to one delta in DC resistance between the two pickups tells us that the JB is more than likely wound with smaller gauge wire than the ’59 Bridge. The tonal difference between the two pickups is primarily due to the JB having a lower resonant frequency, less pronounced resonant peak spike, and a flatter response curve. The ’59 is brighter than the JB because its resonant peak is higher in frequency and the amplitude spike is more pronounced. The passband of the ’59 is also smaller than that of the JB, which focuses more of the pickup’s output around the resonant frequency.
We can get away with 250K volume potentiometers with vintage-style Fender single coils because they have relatively high resonant frequencies and relatively low DC resistances. The average vintage-style Strat single coil has a resonant frequency in the 9kHz to 10kHz range and a DC resistance in the 5k ohms to 6k ohms range, which means that vintage-syle Strat single coils have sharp resonant peak amplitudes at frequencies that are one and a half to two times higher than the average humbucker.
Finally, I would like to correct an error that was made earlier in this thread. P-90-equipped guitars use 500K volume potentiometers because most P-90s have DC resistances and resonant frequencies that resemble humbucking pickups.
Great stuff, Em7! Reminds me of the couple of phone conversations I had with Bill Lawrence years ago.
+1 That dispelled years of my unintended Disinformation gained from the web. Thank you for correction in posting this EM7
Originally Posted by garrett
WOAH!! I', starting to really like this pace :-)
The volume/tone/pickup circuit is shrouded in more mystique than just about any other circuit that is encountered by electric guitarists. Understanding the circuit is made more complex by the fact that guitarists tend to think of standard electromagnetic guitar pickups as microphones. However, non-defective electromagnetic guitar pickups do not directly pick up sound. The electrical signal that is produced by a standard guitar pickup is the result of ferrous strings cutting magnetic lines of force. The fluctuations within the magnetic field are induced into the pickup's coil as an electrical signal whose frequency components are equal to the frequencies at which the strings are vibrating (however, a pickup's output response is shaped by its resonant frequency and Q).
Originally Posted by Bubbalou
Anyone who has ever strung his/her electric guitar with non-ferrous strings has discovered that it produces little to no sound (that's why nylon string guitars use piezoelectric pickups). Electromagnetic pickups that produce an electrical signal when used with non-ferrous strings are microphonic, which is considered to be a defect. Microphronics are caused when the wire within a pickup's coil vibrates within the magnetic field (which is basically how a moving coil microphone works). Most modern pickups are potted. Potting dampens pickup coil vibrations.
By the way, I have heard many people claim that electric guitar strings are not ferrous. I don't know where these people attended school, but steel is a ferrous metal. All standard electric guitar strings are made from steel. They may be nickel coated, but the core of each string is steel.
Yes, that is the reason Pure Nickel wrap strings are not as loud due to the only ferrous material is in the core. That can be compensated to a degree by raising the pickups closer to the string itself.
Originally Posted by Em7
Some excellent posts in this thread!!!
Lot of BS abounds in the guitar world so it's nice to see some of the myths put to bed!
I really want to spend a day with some of you dudes. Some seriously smart cats here.
All of this avoids the question of how different capacitor brands affect tone (which, given that the original poster suggested that he had decided on Orange Drops, for whatever reason, seems relavent to the discussion.) Having spent much time (more or less against my will) trying to demonstrate such things, unless a capacitor is leaky, or doesn't conform to it's spec, or has series resistance, or some other defect that makes it something other than what it is supposed to be, there just isn't a demonstrable difference in how it "sounds". That's my experience anyway. For those who do find a difference, I'd be interested in what physical principle is purportedly involved.
Bingo! Given two different capacitors with the same measured capacitance, leakage current, and equivalent series resistance, any difference in tone is due to nonlinear behavior (or the phenomenon known as psychoacoustics). Most modern capacitors are designed to be extremely linear in use because they have to exhibit linear behavior at frequencies way beyond the audio spectrum.
Originally Posted by aristotle
I Just want to say thank you to everybody that has posted on this thread. There is enough knowledge in one of your post/knowledge rants to get me through A Level Physics! I believe I will be staying away from ODs, maybe looking at some NOS ones with some Mojo, what do you guys think of mixing values on Bridge/Neck PUs? Say 0.015ufd on the neck and 0.022ufd at the bridge?