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Unread 11-19-2011, 02:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

There is a lot of Myth associated with the Bumble Bee Capacitors and the "magic tone" that they produce. In fact many are not even Paper in Oil at all, but Mylar film. I have often wondered about this for many years and have now confirmed it at the Dr. Vintage website. I don't want to mislead anyone into thinking they are getting something they aren't, this is one reason I do not offer the Bees anymore. So be careful of what you are getting if you buy the old Bumble Bee caps. Mylar was invented in 1945 and the majority of the .022 Bumble Bee and Black Beauty 160P Capacitors still in circulation are actually made with Mylar film and have No Oil in them at all. The USA made Sprague Vitamin Q's, Goodall, Gudeman, Aerovox, Astron, and even the Russian K40y-9 and K42 capacitors are in fact a truly Paper in Oil

Here is how you can tell the difference. On the Bees that are paper in oil there will be a short metal tube on one end that they used to put the oil in. If the Bee does not have the metal tube then it is Mylar. I see that 80-90% of the Bumble Bees sold on ebay and many forums are actually Mylar. Also many of the old Bees have drifted and an .022 Bee may actually read .029-.038 far off from Original specs. Check out this link to the Dr. Vintage website and he confirms this.


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Unread 11-19-2011, 04:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

This is true, Jonesy, although I personally never had issue with Vintage Mylar Bee's whatsoever. They are still very good sounding caps.

As far as drifting, I serious doubt that someone with an original '59 Burst will take out the stock Bee's because they have drifted high or low. In fact, that might just be part of the magic.

Good points though
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Unread 11-19-2011, 04:12 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

Martin, I guess my point is that a lot of people are not getting what they really think that they are getting when they buy these old Bumble Bee caps. Many sellers either don't know or do not reveal what the actual readings are or if they are in fact they are really Mylar or PIO.

I probably get 2-3 emails a week where people ask me about the Bumble Bee caps because their is this such a Mystique associated with them. Some of these kids with an epi think that all they have to do is install some Bees and their guitar will sound like a 59' burst, and we both know that this is not true. I have had both types of Bees, the paper in oil with the filler spout and the Mylar Bees without it, and indeed their is a subtle difference in Tone just like with any other capacitors. Mylar poly film caps can be bought for $3 each vs spending $60-$80 dollars for a pair of .022 Bees that are not even PIO and have drifted way dark. Many other things factor into your guitar tone and I just think the whole Bumble Bee Myth has gotten blown way out of proportion.
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Unread 11-19-2011, 04:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

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Some of these kids with an epi think that all they have to do is install some Bees and their guitar will sound like a 59' burst, and we both know that this is not true.
so true
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Unread 11-19-2011, 04:29 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

And in regards to the drift factor, that is usually due to the fact that the Bee was used in high voltage equipment, pulled from salvaged circuits and then later re-sold as a Tone cap. The Bees in an original 59' probably still read within specs because your guitar pu's produce far less than 1/4 of a volt, so the oil in the 400V cap hasn't gotten over heated and cooked. Most NOS .022 Bees should read somewhere around .018-.024 the red red orange black yellow Bees were originally 20% when new. I have an .022 Bee here in my cabinet that actually reads .038 uf because it was pulled from old audio gear.
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Unread 11-19-2011, 04:46 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

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Originally Posted by jonesy View Post
The Bees in an original 59' probably still read within specs because your guitar pu's produce far less than 1/4 of a volt, so the oil in the 400V cap hasn't gotten over heated and cooked. Most NOS .022 Bees should read somewhere around .018-.024 the red red orange black yellow Bees were originally 20% when new. I have an .022 Bee here in my cabinet that actually reads .038 uf because it was pulled from old audio gear.
True to a degree but not across the board. We've been privy to a fair amount of vintage guitars with original Bee's and Black Beauty's and some actually drifted high. I recall a late 50's Junior we worked on in Dallas back in April that had an original harness with Bee that metered .030.
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Unread 11-19-2011, 04:55 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

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True to a degree but not across the board. We've been privy to a fair amount of vintage guitars with original Bee's and Black Beauty's and some actually drifted high. I recall a late 50's Junior we worked on in Dallas back in April that had an original harness with Bee that metered .030.

Yeah that .022 Bee could have originally read .025 -.028-ish when new (+- 20% on .022) and due to heat and other factors drifted a little darker. Their are always exceptions. Some Bees have small cracks in the bake-lite case and that will dry up the Oil or Mylar film and cause them to drift dark as well.
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Unread 11-19-2011, 04:58 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

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Yeah that .022 Bee could have originally read .025 -.028-ish when new (+- 20% on .022) and due to heat and other factors drifted a little darker. Their are always exceptions. Some Bees have small cracks in the bake-lite case and that will dry up the Oil or Mylar film and cause them to drift dark as well.
Indeed
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Unread 11-19-2011, 05:46 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

I checked a set of Black Beauty 160P's from a '64 335 today, and both measured out just over .029μf. Not sure if that means they were originally that far off or have drifted up together over the years - just mentioning it because it was fresh in my mind.
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Unread 11-19-2011, 06:04 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

interesting...

here you have a pic of my set of Dave Stephens VL pickups with a bee taken from a 1957 Les Paul Junior. I think I can see the tube/ blob for the oil on the left hand side of the cap...

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Unread 11-19-2011, 06:35 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

Very interesting, just picked up a set of .022's and .047's. All 4 for 40 so thats not too bad. Looks like one in the pic has the tube but one looks like the leg runs in flush. Geat input jonesy, always a step ahead brother

Ill post pics when they come and hopefully i have 1 of each, id like to test back to back. your timing is uncanny

Heres all i have for a pic for now, and i were told they have the circle and No.2 embossed in the body, i noticed the mylar in the OP pic above has letters embossed, is this of any relevance do you think?

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Unread 11-19-2011, 07:00 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

Great input & pics keep it coming!
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Unread 11-19-2011, 07:32 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

Good information to know when buying Bumble Caps.
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Unread 11-19-2011, 07:50 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

Bee's will always be sought after, if for no other reason, to restore older guitars. Both the Mylar and PIO versions sound good. I've personally used both and have them installed in my historics. The prices are definitely going up and the pickings are getting slim. Glad we had the vision to stock up on them
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Unread 11-19-2011, 08:00 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

Even the NOS paper in oil caps from the 60' & 70's like the Vitamin Q's and Vintage Ceramic disc caps are drying up and getting harder to find all the time. I have some stashed back so I can at least upgrade my own guitars
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Unread 11-19-2011, 08:09 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

What do I do now?- Search out some genuine Bees or stick with the stock ceramics in my '04 LP Standard?
Will the punters at my local drinking den notice the difference when all our amps are set to 11( not to mention an animal on drums ) ?
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Unread 11-19-2011, 08:36 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

Good Oil filled caps can still be had for $5-$15 each if you look around and are probably the best bang for your buck tone wise. They will still read within specs, and have that warm smooth PIO tone. The Mojo Vitamin T's are a new production oil filled cap and have gotten good reviews and seem to be gaining popularity.
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Unread 11-19-2011, 08:46 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonesy View Post
There is a lot of Myth associated with the Bumble Bee Capacitors and the "magic tone" that they produce. In fact many are not even Paper in Oil at all, but Mylar film. I have often wondered about this for many years and have now confirmed it at the Dr. Vintage website. I don't want to mislead anyone into thinking they are getting something they aren't, this is one reason I do not offer the Bees anymore. So be careful of what you are getting if you buy the old Bumble Bee caps. Mylar was invented in 1945 and the majority of the .022 Bumble Bee and Black Beauty 160P Capacitors still in circulation are actually made with Mylar film and have No Oil in them at all. The USA made Sprague Vitamin Q's, Goodall, Gudeman, Aerovox, Astron, and even the Russian K40y-9 and K42 capacitors are in fact a truly Paper in Oil

Here is how you can tell the difference. On the Bees that are paper in oil there will be a short metal tube on one end that they used to put the oil in. If the Bee does not have the metal tube then it is Mylar. I see that 80-90% of the Bumble Bees sold on ebay and many forums are actually Mylar. Also many of the old Bees have drifted and an .022 Bee may actually read .029-.038 far off from Original specs. Check out this link to the Dr. Vintage website and he confirms this.


Dr. Vintage Electrical Components used by Gibson in the 50's & 60's

http://www.doctorvintage.com/electri...pio_bee_wm.jpg

http://www.doctorvintage.com/electri...lar_bee_wm.jpg
Any chance of the sealed tube detail being copied on fakes or would it not be worth the bother?
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Unread 11-19-2011, 08:56 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

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Any chance of the sealed tube detail being copied on fakes or would it not be worth the bother?
The Luxe Bumble Bee repro's have the solder blob on one end, but it's not quite like the Oil tube on the original PIO Bees. I suppose if someone wanted to they could copy the filler tube, but there are other ways to identify a genuine Sprague Bee from a fake if you know what to look for.

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Unread 11-19-2011, 09:49 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

Here is a .01, hard to tell if there is a tube as both ends have been soldered due to the way it was cut for its original circuit, leads were added to gain length but i know there is a tube under the solder on the right leg, reads at .012uf.

Not all solder blobs are hiding something, its a tough game

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Unread 11-19-2011, 10:17 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

That looks like one of my .01 Bees with the red cloth covered wire leads that I added on, a lot of those did have the tube.
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Unread 11-19-2011, 10:29 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

You know, i think it is Its on a LP harness i have sititing Next to one of your CRL Ceramics on the bridge
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Unread 11-19-2011, 11:30 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

This is precisely the reason I specify PIO on the ones I sell vs. The Mylar ones. I sell both of course, but the PIOs are marked as such. Sprague seemed particularly schizophrenic during the mid 50s - I've got a number black beauties that are PIO as well as some alternate marking bees that are PIO, but black with silver markings. All sorts of weird and oddball stuff from that era.

I'll post pics of some of the finer examples tomorrow.

Steve
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Unread 11-19-2011, 11:42 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonesy View Post
And in regards to the drift factor, that is usually due to the fact that the Bee was used in high voltage equipment, pulled from salvaged circuits and then later re-sold as a Tone cap. The Bees in an original 59' probably still read within specs because your guitar pu's produce far less than 1/4 of a volt, so the oil in the 400V cap hasn't gotten over heated and cooked. Most NOS .022 Bees should read somewhere around .018-.024 the red red orange black yellow Bees were originally 20% when new. I have an .022 Bee here in my cabinet that actually reads .038 uf because it was pulled from old audio gear.
I'm not so sure you make that generalization. I've got NOS caps that have drifted a LOT over the years and are well out of spec and have never been used, as well as used bees straight out of tube amps that still read. 023-.026uf. The point you make about heat is valid, of course, but other factors like the molded plastic being porous and the just dry out over time contribute too.

I agree 100% about buying from somebody reputable. Its the only way you can be sure you're actually getting a usable bee.

Cheers,

Steve
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Unread 11-20-2011, 01:26 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Hi!

Thx for the clarification, Jonesy!

I was aware of the difference but I was believing the mylar BB's to be only recent repro caps...

Anyway, I find your topic really useful, especially since I've realized how ambiguous is my own relationship with mylar caps : I really like what they do in my home made fuzz and wah but finally they aren't "my cup of tea" in guitars.

So, I find great to see a vendor explaining things as you do above: "H" for "honest" and "i" for "informative" are the letters and words which come to my mind...
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Unread 11-20-2011, 03:06 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

I checked these that I have uninstalled. They look mylar to me... at least the 0.010. What do you think?



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Unread 11-20-2011, 05:23 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Hi!

Quote:
Originally Posted by freefrog View Post
Thx for the clarification, Jonesy!

I was aware of the difference but I was believing the mylar BB's to be only recent repro caps...

Anyway, I find your topic really useful, especially since I've realized how ambiguous is my own relationship with mylar caps : I really like what they do in my home made fuzz and wah but finally they aren't "my cup of tea" in guitars.

So, I find great to see a vendor explaining things as you do above: "H" for "honest" and "i" for "informative" are the letters and words which come to my mind...
Your welcome bro, glad you are finding this info on Bee's useful.
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Unread 11-20-2011, 05:24 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

Quote:
Originally Posted by 5F6-A View Post
I checked these that I have uninstalled. They look mylar to me... at least the 0.010. What do you think?

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...bumblebees.jpg

Yes the .010 Bee appears to be Mylar for sure.
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Unread 11-20-2011, 06:21 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Mylar 50's Bumble Bee Capacitors, Not Paper In Oil?????

Great thread
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Unread 11-20-2011, 07:38 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Hi!

Quote:
Originally Posted by freefrog View Post
I was aware of the difference but I was believing the mylar BB's to be only recent repro caps...
If your referring to the Luxe repo Bee's, they are PIO, not Mylar.
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