Bumble Bee Capacitors & The 59' Myth

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

  1. nwobhm

    nwobhm Senior Member

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    My meter has a capacitance setting, just a cheap meter really.No idea what causes it. Just by tone and years of playing. I find Bees to have a warmer rounder tone with a full mid, some people describe as creamy. I find orange drops to have a wider tone, less of that creamy mid quality. More of a hifi sound.
     
  2. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    I started to post this reply a few hours ago and then lost internet service due to the ice/sleet storm that is moving through Indiana, anyways I saved my post to note pad, here's what it said....

    Well I measure all my caps new and vintage on the bench meter before testing them. So I know the Russian k-042's that are marked .022 actually read .018-.019 (Until heated up with a lighter then they read .022 because they are Hi-temp mil spec caps) the Russian K-40's that are marked .022 read more like .019-.021 that is also where most of the .022 vitamin Q's read. One batch of GOODALL .047's may read .039 and another brand may be at .043-.045.

    However IMO that is not why one caps sounds warmer or another has more sparkle than the other. That I feel is due to the material used as a dielectric. Ceramics will have different Tonal qualities than say a Paper In Oil Cap. Even different paper in oil caps will have individual sound qualities that vary from cap to cap.

    Guitar wiring and Tone is not always an exact science, I have some 1950's .01 Bumble Bee caps that are still well within their original 10% tolerance and they have a slightly different Tone than say a newer 70's Sprague .01 vitamin Q. They both sound excellent but I can tell the differnce between them when I install them in my guitar.

    No factor in the pu's the wiring and caps, the amp, eq settings speakers etc. and you have a lot of variables. Silver Mica caps are higher grade but you will never see me using them for Tone caps. I do have some High end Teflon Audiophile caps arriving from the Ukraine any day now and I am looking forward to testing them out and see what they sound like. ;)
     
  3. spitfire

    spitfire Senior Member

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    jonesy,

    Sometime when I have some time I'll have to perform some electrical tests on some caps and probably get some of the PIO or others and see what the differences are. Off hand, I can't see how these would be different.

    The reason I'm skeptical of the claims that these different types create audible differences are that caps don't usually deviate much from their ideal behavior until the frequencies are much higher than audio frequencies (I.E., radio frequencies). Especial for these relatively small cap values < 1 uF.

    I suppose it is possible that PIO caps (an old technology) might be a bit like tubes or vinyl recordings. I.E. That they actually have characteristics that deviate from the ideal, but that are ultimately pleasing.

    I do disagree with your statement that guitar wiring and tone aren't an exact science. Maybe you simply mean that the totality of it all isn't well understood by guitar players. But there are very specific reasons for any difference you can hear. It's certainly understandable that a guitar player doesn't know or even care what these reasons are. But, ultimately, if you can hear it, there is a reason and I'm sure it is probably pretty straight forward if looked at closely.

    I'm just curious if this is real. If so, then it means there's something there for me to learn and I'll then know something new about capacitors.

    If/when I get a chance to test different caps, I'll certainly let you know what I find out. Or of course, maybe someone already has and it's just a matter of finding the information.
     
  4. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    I am sure you are more educated in electronics than I am, and have scientific knowledge and rules that can apply to these types of passive analog circuits. But it is not just myself that can hear a difference in the Tone that different caps produce.

    With your theory that all capacitors should Sound the same, then why are there so many different kinds of capacitors used in the field of electronics? Mica, polyfilm, polypropylene, ceramic, paper in oil, Teflon and the list goes on. I feel it is because they all have different characteristics and react differently so why is it so hard to believe that a paper in oil cap is going to have better Tone than a cheap mylar chiclet cap??

    And when i say that it is not an exact science, I feel it is more of an art. Now factor in the player, the pu's the wiring and caps, the amp, eq settings speakers etc. and you have a lot of variables. That is what I mean by not an exact science. Cooking is not an exact science but some laws of physics do apply, think of the capacitors as the "Spices" ;)
     
  5. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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    good analogy David... honesty & humility appreciated too... :applause:
     
  6. spitfire

    spitfire Senior Member

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    Jonesy,

    I'm pretty sure even in cooking that ALL the laws of physic apply :D

    To be clear, I don't have a theory that none of this matters. Certainly I guess I'd say that's my current belief, but I don't have a theory. It's just a starting point. I'm very much open to the possibility that these matter. But if it does matter, there is a reason and this reason isn't going to be magic. I haven't planted a flag and claimed that it doesn't matter.

    It's just that since I was asking questions, I thought I'd make it clear where I was coming from and why I was asking. When it comes to stuff like this, my approach is the claim needs an explanation for me to believe it. Unless of course through actual observation it's obvious there's a difference. But even then, as in this case, I'd still like to know why.

    I will certainly admit that as an engineer, some of the claims I've heard from audiophiles can make the milk come out of my nose, so to speak. Not specifically speaking to this cap issue, but it's been my observation that often perfectly valid technical issues often get extrapolated and distorted by people that misapply what they've heard.

    There certainly are many types of capacitors and for good reasons. Often it's just cost or size. And certainly the capacitance value make a huge difference. You won't see 20,000 uF (rather large) ceramic caps just as you won't see 20 pF (rather small) electrolytic caps.

    It would be a mistake to assume that just because there are different capacitor types, that these differences necessarily would have an effect in this application. But you and others say that you hear a difference. So I certainly don't dismiss this out of hand and that's why I'm interested in this.
     
  7. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    Maybe science does not account for the "Mojo-factor" ? And all I can say is that I use my ears as a guide vs some formula and I am a "Bee-liever" in vintage Paper In Oil for the best Tone :D

    [​IMG]
     
  8. MrRhoads

    MrRhoads Senior Member

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    Well i always improvise with feeling when cooking and like the italians do it, with "passione" = passion.
    That´s when you get "IT";) IMO
     
  9. dwagar

    dwagar V.I.P. Member

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    I think it's simple, just as type of resistor can make a difference in an amp, the type of capacitor makes a difference in tone (in an amp or in a guitar). Don't need any scientific explanation, they are made out of different materials.

    IMO most PIOs sound very close to the same in a guitar. As do most Mylars, etc.

    When you get down to the tiny variances eg in PIO caps, you can either test a bunch and let your ear be your guide, or just put them in, turn up the amp, the audience won't know the difference anyway.
     
  10. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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    I think you are right there... still I can hear a very clear difference when it comes to tone caps. It is real. Happy accident? maybe but it is real.
     
  11. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    LUXE Caps uses these Russian K40-Y PIO caps (smaller silver caps)for most of their Vintage Repro Bumble Bee caps etc. If there was no difference in Tone I'm sure they would be using the cheaper Mylar caps or even Orange drops, but they don't so their must be a reason? ;)

    The Fat silver ones are Teflon FTI and the Blue-ish are KGB Russia's Finest PIO caps. I have not tested either of those types and am looking forward to seeing how they sound.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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    Jonesy do you mean KBG caps? aparently they are meantto be "inspired" in old Siemens caps
     
  13. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    Yes that is what I meant H. thanks for the correction. KBG not KGB like the Russian secret service :laugh2:

    I had never heard of them before. Description said "The Finest Russian PIO caps" so you know me I had to at least try them out, plus they look really cool. :naughty:

    I believe they are marked .025uf. I am building another Tonemojo box just so I can test out all of the new caps I just got in ;)
     
  14. MrRhoads

    MrRhoads Senior Member

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    Oh i´d like to hear how them KBG caps sound :)
     
  15. systemloc

    systemloc Junior Member

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    Spitfire: Glad to see someone else interested in the "why".

    Don't forget that caps are not ivory tower parts. First, caps will actually have different values depending on DC bias, so they may add some non-linearity. HV ceramics are particularly bad about that. Next, caps have hysteresis. Iron core audio transformers are also well known for changing tone due to hysteresis. Here's an interesting website where someone actually showed what I'm talking about using a 'scope and testing different cap types. (The "Sound" of Capacitors)
     
  16. systemloc

    systemloc Junior Member

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    Another interesting link suggests for audio quality: Polystyrene > Polycarbonate. The first site seems to show that all of the Poly's look good except Polyester, which has noticeable hysteresis. Of note is that the popular Sprague Orange Drops are polycarbonate.

    Edit: And mylar is polyester. It's just a DuPont trademark.
     
  17. spitfire

    spitfire Senior Member

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    systemloc,

    I'm familiar with those web sites. Oddly, there is very little information on this that I've been able to find. I strongly suspect that the non-linearities, as described there, are the most likely explanation for the differences people hear. Especially given the high impedance of a guitar circuit. What I haven't found is any quantitative data that would allow me to calculate the distortion this might create.

    It's on my to-do list to try to recreate these curves for various capacitors and ultimately relate this to distortion values. But I have no time to work with this right now.

    The one thing that dielectric non-linearity can explain is why a higher voltage capacitor, of the same type, could sound better, even though the voltage levels in a guitar come nowhere near the rated voltage of any of the capacitors used.

    At this point, the non-linearity of the dielectrics as described above are my working theory on what is going on. While this non-linearity is real, it remains to be seen whether it is significant enough to be heard. But again, given the high impedance of the guitar circuit, I think it is likely the guitar circuit may turn out to be particularly sensitive to this.
     
  18. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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  19. Raiseittoeleven24

    Raiseittoeleven24 Member

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    Don't mean to interrupt anything but with all this capacitor knowledge I was wondering what kind of capacitor is in my Tele? (Not a fender, it's a Partscaster.)
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Thanks!
     
  20. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    Can you post a pic? Most likely if it's a stock Fender cap it's either a little tan ceramic disc .047 or a red or green chiclet mylar cap?
     

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