Bumble Bee Capacitors & The 59' Myth

Discussion in 'Tonefreaks' started by jonesy, Apr 1, 2008.

  1. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    In my search for Tone I have found that the 1950's Bumble Capacitors are considered by many as the "Holy Grail" of guitar tone. They are sometimes very expensive and often hard to find. As many of you know there are other types of capacitors that sound great and cost a lot less.
    Has anybody else been using the Bumble Bees?
    I love they way they look as well as the tone I get from them. I currently have a 1950's Sprague .047 400vdc Bee in my Custom Moses Telecaster, the TONE with the 62' reissue pickups is awesome.
    The Vintage Les Paul Harnesses I build have the .022 Bee's red, red, orange stripes, I have a harness wired up, and have sold several to players that have upgraded their Customs.

    Many Players are searching for that elusive 59' Tone, hard to really say what makes a 1959 Les Paul Sound the way it does? What do you think? The wood, pickups, caps, wire, hardware...combination of all of them? I think the pickups, Pots & capacitors had a lot to do with it...

    Actually I think it is Possible Today, under the right conditions to get a Les Paul etc. to sound as good or better than they did in 1959. You need the right guitar, right pickups and correct electronics, the amp is a whole other topic I suppose...that is what I mean when I say 59' myth, in part it is just that a myth...Good Tone is good tone no matter what year guitar it is coming out of.

    eBay Store - JonesyBlues electro-shoppe: Category 1
     
  2. J-Man123

    J-Man123 Senior Member

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    Good info.
    (How can I be the first poster?)


    J-Man1123:slash:
     
  3. J-Man123

    J-Man123 Senior Member

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    I bet the posts will come in now.


    J-Man123:slash:
     
  4. Curt1lp

    Curt1lp Member

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    Hi Jonesy,
    (IMO )
    I think that if you buy vintage foil caps (not talking ceramic etc) the differences are minor and to my ears they mostly sound great. My favourite 0.1 Strat caps are the 50s to 60s waxed paper style ones - they are mellow and I like them better than 0.1 PIO. In the 0.022 range Les Paul range I haven't found anything that really stands out in the vintage style caps, I think my favourite were the green Sangamo type 33 and the Aerovox black ones wirth cream plugs at either end.

    I am starting to go off the Vitamin Q types a bit because they sound too pure to my ears and I'm looking for a bit of honk and brassiness in the tone.

    Really if you want the 50s tone and you have the basic guitar construction correct woods etc then I think PAF replica PUPS and vintage braided wiring (along with removing the metal shield in some control cavities) is more important than the exact type of vintage style cap used. I think though that modern caps eg Orange drops/ceramics probably are a step too far away from the original if one is trying for a vintage tone.

    Don
     
  5. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    Wow this may have been one of my very first posts right after I joined MLPF?
    No one ever replied and it just got buried in the heep, it's a wonder you even found it :D

     
  6. dwagar

    dwagar V.I.P. Member

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    wow, how many guys were on here in 04/08? lol

    I'll bet you had no idea you were going to become the cap guru.
     
  7. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    Sounds like you have done some tinkering with Tone caps yourself, that is always the best way to find out. Lot's of people talk about this and that but it is all academic if you do not experiment and hear the difference for your self.

    Don have you ever tried the Russian K-42 Green cased PIO caps in .022?
    They have a brighter mid-boost and are not near as smooth as the silver cased Russian K-40 series. To my ear the Siler K-40's sound almost identical to the Q's and vintage Bees, smooth warm and vocal.
    The Green cased are marked .022 but read a lower value more like .018-ish. I did a little testing and my impression was the Green case caps were made to run in a high heat environment. So I hooked one up to my bench meter and heated it up with a lighter and it got closer to .020-.021-ish.
    At normal temp the oil is thicker and they have different characteristics.
    So at normal room temp, like in your guitar they will react different Tonally than when they are heated up. IMO these are good caps for guys that play hard rock and metal or for someone that wants a little more "Bite" in a PIO cap.

    Sorry for such a long post just wanted to pass that on to you. if you are looking for a little more "Honk" some of the Larger ceramic disc caps are not bad. The small ones just don't get it for me. The larger dime sized ones or the vintage yellow-sh Z5U's do have some Tone. Gibson used a lot of the Larger ceramic caps in the 70's & early 80's (Started getting smaller and smaller)and they are what you hear on a lot of the Classic Rock recordings from that era. Keep the Music Flowing Bro! :thumb:
     
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  8. terence_tez

    terence_tez V.I.P. Member

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    man,you guys make me feel stupid with your knowledge of guitars sometimes.actually,all the time...
     
  9. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    Ha, yeah not sure about that Don, seems like I joined MLPF in March of 08'?

    Actually no, and I really had no idea I was going to meet some many good people here like you bro :thumb:
     
  10. howard

    howard Junior Member

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    I'm reading all this but I don't quite get the 0.015 and the 0.022, 0.033. If it measures 0.033 does it give a brighter cleaner tone? And what is the standard 0.22 in the neck and bridge? Can someone help me?
     
  11. #1guitarman

    #1guitarman Senior Member

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    Howard,
    Get in touch with Jonesy, and he'll school ya on what your lookin for..He is a freakin' "encyclopedia" on the subject of Tone Caps, and a GREAT person to boot...find him here... ToneMojo.com Got your Tone-Mojo Working Baby? ...(click on the link)
    Peace,
    Chuck
     
  12. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    The larger number of the capacitor (micro farad mf vaues)the darker the cap will sound. So an .022 is darker than a .015 and a .033 is darker than an .022, or the more highs they cut off...an .047 would be even darker or more bassy sounding than all the rest.

    .015's are used on neck pickup of LP's sometimes because they sound darker by nature (than bridge pu) so a lower value cap gives you more room to spin dials on neck tone before it gets muddy sounding. Hope that helps you understand it a little better
     
  13. RevaD

    RevaD Senior Member

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    Hey jonesy, do you think you could possibly write something up that explains specific capacitor values, and related frequency roll-off?

    And do you think it's possible, via caps, to eliminate 60hz hum? Although ya might need an active circuit to do that...
     
  14. howard

    howard Junior Member

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    That's a lot clearer, cheers. At least I now know which end to look at, 0.015 and 0.022.

    I treated myself to a set of Dave Stephens vintage pafs and they're amazing, so I just want the rest of the guitar to be spot on. CTS pots will be next I suppose. Are they pretty standard or is this another minefield?
     
  15. #1guitarman

    #1guitarman Senior Member

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    Nope, you'll be "spot on" with CTS pots...What kind of lester are you putting them in??
     
  16. howard

    howard Junior Member

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    I'm putting them into an 02 standard. It already sounds fantastic but the tone pots in it now are not great, so I never touch them. They're always on 10
     
  17. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    Matching capacitors to pickups etc. is not an exact science and more of an art IMO, and I have also found that it seems vary a lot from person to person and their perception of what "Tone" should sound like.

    As far as the reducing 60hz hum issue from lights etc. I have used a 100K CRL pot in one of my mojo boxes (passive analog circuit)and that seems to help out a lot, you can also use capacitors to cut out some of the highs that cause that 60hz buzz.
     
  18. #1guitarman

    #1guitarman Senior Member

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    '02 standard...uh...Gibson or Epiphone??
     
  19. honduras

    honduras Member

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    Jonesy, will a 0.15 vitamin Q sound brighter on the neck pickup of a Les Paul with everything on 10? I currently have your aged 0.022 Q's on the neck and bridge which I'm very happy with, but a little extra bite on the neck never does any harm.
     
  20. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    With Tone on 10 you probably would not tell much difference between a .015 and an .022 due to the fact they are not really active in the circuit until you start to roll off tone control, and they begin to filter off highs.

    If your guitar is wired modern and you want a bit more "bite" or treble out of it, you could switch it to 50's wiring and that will let some of the highs through regardless of cap value. You could actually wire it 50's on neck pu and modern on bridge??
     

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