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Unread 11-10-2011, 06:18 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

There has been some interest in a list of capacitors used for Tone caps in guitars. Here are some of the ones I have used over the years...this list is just off the top off my head so I am sure I have probably missed few.

Keep in mind voltage is not a factor in Guitar Tone and is only important when these caps are used in a high voltage circuit like an amplifier. Guitar circuits have far less than 1/2 volt as your pu's generate just a tiny amount of current. All caps values are given in M or uf which is micro farads. I did list all the specific parts numbers, if you need more info let me know.


USA Paper in Oil Capacitors
----------------------------------------
Sprague .047 Bumble Bee 400-600V
Sprague .022 Bumble Bee 400V
Sprague .010 Bumble Bee 400V
Sprague .022 Black Beauties
Sprague .022 Vitamin Q 100-300V
Sprague .015 Vitamin Q 100-300V
Sprague .022 HYREL 100-300V
Sprague .015 HYREL 100-300V
Gudeman .022
Gudeman .015
GOODALL .022
John Fast .022
Cornell Dublier .022
Cornell Dublier .018
Sangamo .022
Astron .022
Aerovox .022

Polyproplyene
-------------------------
Sprague .047 Orange drops
Sprague .022 Orange drops
Sprague .022 Filmite


Russian Mil spec paper in oil, Teflon, PTEP
---------------------------------------
(silver case)
K40y-9 .047
K40y-9 .033
K40y-9 .022
K40y-9 .015
K40y-9 .010
(green enamel case)
K42 .022
K42 .015
Russian KBG .022
Russian Teflon .022
Russian K73 PTEP .022

USA Ceramic disc caps
------------------------------
CRL .02
AE .05
Sprague .1 Z5U
Sprague .01
Cornell Dublier .02

New production Capacitors
-----------------------------------
Mojo Vitamin T .047 Oil Filled
Mojo Vitamin T .022 Oil Filled
Mojo Dijon .047 Poly Film & Foil
Mojo Dijon .022 Poly Film & Foil
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Unread 11-10-2011, 06:32 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps



My generalized take on some of my favs:

Russian PIO:
A little more scooped in the mids than the Q's with plenty of sparkle. For the hybrid vintage/modern blues and or rock player (think page and peter green), the Russian PIO's produce smooth attack and and shimmery highs. Perfect for clean to overdrive, even high gain. Very similar to Q's with a "little" less warmth as you roll off due to the slightly scooped mid curve.

Russian K73 PEPT:
My favorite capacitor next to the Bee (though totally different). With a slightly pushed mid curve and clarity to match the punch that results. I find these caps great for anything from clean jazz to metal. Warm, velvet like gain coloration is to die for here Oh and for you Slash tone hunters, here is your cap of choice \m/

NOS CRL Ceramic Disk:
If you like it dirty and heavy, this is for you. These caps have a woody, almost vintage like tone and are fantastic for high gain and heavy rock/blues players alike. Articulate individual note detail and harmonics at the pinch of the fingers. For cleans, pull you volume back and if you are good with the picking hand (you have been warned), you will be astonished by the shimmery highs and ability to push into breakup when you dig in with a 1mm pick. I run these in my Zak Wylde with Jonesy's jimmy page harness and 16k passives, its just mean!
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Unread 11-10-2011, 10:09 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

[QUOTE=jonesy;3202041]There has been some interest in a list of capacitors used for Tone caps in guitars. Here are some of the ones I have used over the years...this list is just off the top off my head so I am sure I have probably missed few.

Awesome!

Thanx!

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Unread 11-10-2011, 02:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

Your welcome bro, glad to help
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Unread 11-11-2011, 12:34 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

Hey Jonesy, what do you think of the Aerovox caps from the 40's and 50's? I have one that reads:

Aerovox
.015mfd 400dcwv (working voltage...right)
Type 484K 85c
735721-165
Aerovox Corp
New Bedford, Mass USA







I was thinking about trying this in a project Les Paul in the neck position. Applicable?

Thanks man!
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Unread 11-11-2011, 12:40 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

Phil, I have not actually tested those specific Aerovox capacitors, but by the looks of how the ends are sealed it is most likely a wax & paper capacitor similar to a Grey Tiger. Check one out in your LP and see what you think. It may have a little more bite than and Oil Filled capacitor. The black band indicates that, that end should go to ground.
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Unread 11-11-2011, 01:05 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonesy View Post
Phil, I have not actually tested those specific Aerovox capacitors, but by the looks of how the ends are sealed it is most likely a wax & paper capacitor similar to a Grey Tiger. Check one out in your LP and see what you think. It may have a little more bite than and Oil Filled capacitor. The black band indicates that, that end should go to ground.
Yeah, it's definitely wax and paper. I just removed the wax to read the specs on it. I just wasn't sure how it will perform in a guitar. But trying it won't do any harm.

I'll try it and post back. This will be interesting.

Thanks bro!
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Unread 11-11-2011, 01:18 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phildog View Post
Yeah, it's definitely wax and paper. I just removed the wax to read the specs on it. I just wasn't sure how it will perform in a guitar. But trying it won't do any harm.

I'll try it and post back. This will be interesting.

Thanks bro!
Cool, I just tested Mullard Mustards and they sounded real good! Way better than the ceramic disk that came with the guitar. These mullards are out of an older Marshall board.
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Unread 11-11-2011, 04:47 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

I've just received a 0.033 Russian K73 PETP from a friend... Having never tried this kind of caps until now, I'll be grateful if someone can explain me how it sounds (in order to avoid useless soldering).


For an easier comparison: I've currently vintage PIO's in 3 axes, a tropical fish from the 70's in 1 of them, and current contemporary mylar or ceramic caps in all other guitars (I've even in one axe some ESR caps which sound... well... bad ).

Thx!
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Unread 11-11-2011, 06:21 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

The K73's have a little more grit to them than the Oil filled caps, but the .022 K73's PTEP caps I have actually sounded pretty good to me. All you can do is try it and see how it sounds to you. It only takes 10-15 minutes to solder in a capacitor. Even if you don't like ti you will have somethig to compare other caps to.
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Unread 11-11-2011, 06:24 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phildog View Post
Yeah, it's definitely wax and paper. I just removed the wax to read the specs on it. I just wasn't sure how it will perform in a guitar. But trying it won't do any harm.

I'll try it and post back. This will be interesting.

Thanks bro!
Yeah check it out and see what you think, sometimes you never know until you try one.
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Unread 11-11-2011, 10:13 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonesy View Post
The K73's have a little more grit to them than the Oil filled caps, but the .022 K73's PTEP caps I have actually sounded pretty good to me. All you can do is try it and see how it sounds to you. It only takes 10-15 minutes to solder in a capacitor. Even if you don't like ti you will have somethig to compare other caps to.
I have unscrewed the pickguard of my main Strat so often that I become cautious now... Hence my question. But that's ok, I'll try the new cap in it.

Oh, and thx Jonesy! You're the man... :-)
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Unread 11-11-2011, 10:22 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

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Originally Posted by freefrog View Post
I have unscrewed the pickguard of my main Strat so often that I become cautious now... Hence my question. But that's ok, I'll try the new cap in it.

Oh, and thx Jonesy! You're the man... :-)

Yeah Strats are not as easy to do a cap swap as a Tele or LP but the more you tinker with different caps the more you will learn.

You are very welcome bro.
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Unread 11-12-2011, 04:03 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

Well, I've mounted the 33n K73 in my main Strat instead of a 47n vintage PIO. Didn't have much time to try it but here are the findings of my ears and frequency analyzer:

Pros: the K73 is a bit clearer and a tad less muddy in the low mids, not only because of its lower capacitance but also because it doesn't generate the same "Q" factor: the PIO was giving a rounder frequency response with a wider bump in the low mids, while the Russian stuff makes the spectrum of my pickups a bit more straight and pointy, with more high mids clarity and a slightly faster attack. Good for clean sounds.

Cons: the action of the tone pot is now less subtle, with less transitional tonal shades. There's only one "sweet spot" at the expected place, where the natural resonant frequency of the pickup struggles with the second resonant peak due to the capacitor (around 3,5/10; with the PIO, the tone pot started to reflect the action of the cap at 6,5/10). The sound with the Russian cap is also less "3D", a tad stiffer. This thing doesn't add micro reverberant resonance and vocal depth like PIO's do. It acts like a more transparent filter, less toneful than PIO with drive sounds...

Of course it remains better than any gritty/muddy cheap ceramic thing and than these awful "low ESR" tiny caps that I had tried before (technical progress is definitively not always a progress in tone).
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Unread 11-12-2011, 06:56 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

Glad you tried it, and as you see each type of capacitor has it's own unique tonal characteristics.
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Unread 11-13-2011, 08:57 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Wink Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

For reference here a few pics of some of my favorite USA Tone caps that I have used in my own guitars over the years....(I added the yellow cloth over the leads)

Top row from Left to Right
Sprague .022 Vitamin Q, Sprague .022 HYREL, Gudeman .015
(All are New Old Stock PIO Axial caps)

Bottom row from Left to Right
Sprague .1M Z5u, Arco .05, Centralab .02, Cornell Dublier .02
(All are New Old Stock Ceramic Disc Radial Capacitors)


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Last edited by jonesy; 11-13-2011 at 01:45 PM.
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Unread 03-27-2012, 12:22 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

Digging up this thread for a relative question...
Jonesy,how do you distinguish which cap leg to solder where?

I have never given it a thought before and just solder any end to ground without a second though.

Is there an actual right or wrong involved in this?
How do you tell?
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Unread 03-27-2012, 12:36 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

I have used the Russian PIO caps and now I like using the Vitamin Q caps. I would like to the Hyrel Vitamin Q to see and hear what they sound like.
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Unread 03-27-2012, 08:08 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lowdown View Post
Digging up this thread for a relative question...
Jonesy,how do you distinguish which cap leg to solder where?

I have never given it a thought before and just solder any end to ground without a second though.

Is there an actual right or wrong involved in this?
How do you tell?

Most caps are not polarized unless they have a band on one end and it is marked. But as a rule if both ends are sealed it does not matter. If one end is sealed and the other end is the metal can I put the metal can side - towards the tone pot and the sealed end + towards the volume pot just so the grounded case is in the right direction.

Electrolytic caps are actually marked + and - but they are not normally used for tone caps. (anode-cathode) When a capacitor is used in a Fuzz pedal or an amp with high voltage installing it backwards could cause it to explode. That is not an issue in guitars since the current is only in milli-amps.
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Unread 03-27-2012, 01:33 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mookakian View Post

NOS CRL Ceramic Disk:
If you like it dirty and heavy, this is for you. These caps have a woody, almost vintage like tone and are fantastic for high gain and heavy rock/blues players alike. Articulate individual note detail and harmonics at the pinch of the fingers. For cleans, pull you volume back and if you are good with the picking hand (you have been warned), you will be astonished by the shimmery highs and ability to push into breakup when you dig in with a 1mm pick. I run these in my Zak Wylde with Jonesy's jimmy page harness and 16k passives, its just mean!
Thatīs a pretty good description
The CRL .02 is my favorite for everything, itīs hard to beat a bumblebee in the neck of a Les Paul but my Strat only carries the CRL .02 for all positions
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Unread 04-03-2012, 08:16 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

Thought this video with the different types of capacitors might be helpful to those reading this thread...

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Unread 04-05-2012, 02:08 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: List of Capacitors used for Guitar Tone Caps

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonesy View Post
Phil, I have not actually tested those specific Aerovox capacitors, but by the looks of how the ends are sealed it is most likely a wax & paper capacitor similar to a Grey Tiger. Check one out in your LP and see what you think. It may have a little more bite than and Oil Filled capacitor. The black band indicates that, that end should go to ground.
+1
yes, black band denotes outer foil and in high voltage hifi tube amps (or yesteryear tube medical hearing testing devices/military signal equipment) it was recommended by factory that outer foil goes to the ground for less hum. in the high voltage amps hum is caused by capacitor wrap... causing flux lines or magnetic lines (every conductor forms magnetic field as current passing through it). in the amps it's tricky sometimes to find where's the f* ground so the most manufacturers after 60's omitted outer foil markings cause practicaly difference in hum was not so audible or other things like component placement order on the board often caused more hum than caps itself. for instance mustard cap has outer foil like any other rolled foil cap but doesn't have black mark.
only electrolitics with + and minus poles should be taken seriously.
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Last edited by Mouse; 04-05-2012 at 04:54 AM.
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