Busting Tone Control Capacitor Myths!

Discussion in 'Tonefreaks' started by Bytor1958, Feb 7, 2014.

  1. Bytor1958

    Bytor1958 Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,785
    Likes Received:
    4,908
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    2 people like this.
  2. rockstar232007

    rockstar232007 Senior Member

    Messages:
    14,794
    Likes Received:
    10,299
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2008
    Who said they didn't?

    If you're referring to whether or not they SOUND differen't compared to PIO caps? They definitely do.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Dun Ringill

    Dun Ringill Premium Member

    Messages:
    3,800
    Likes Received:
    5,349
    Joined:
    May 24, 2012
    The part about different peak values and changes with temperature really make sense to me. Good article!
     
  4. Alligatorbling

    Alligatorbling ★AstroCat★ Premium Member MLP Vendor V.I.P. Member

    Messages:
    41,318
    Likes Received:
    46,772
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    i love orange drops, i have them in just about all of my guitars.





    someone else likes them as well

    (Slash's Derrig AFD les paul) Sprague 192p Pacers
    [​IMG]
     
  5. David Collins

    David Collins Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,066
    Likes Received:
    792
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2009
    Of course they work - they're a capacitor.

    Of course the article also makes clear that they won't sound any different than a cap of any other style if the value tests the same, but that they are preferred by Gibson for their stability and consistent tolerances and good build quality - all good reasons to prefer one cap over another. If anyone takes this article to support the idea that they sound different than any other type of cap that tests of the same value at a given time however, then they completely misread the article.
     
    2 people like this.
  6. matt@msscguitar

    matt@msscguitar www.MSSCGuitar.com Premium Member MLP Vendor V.I.P. Member

    Messages:
    9,501
    Likes Received:
    6,281
    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    "All capacitors with the same value are the same. Nope. Even ceramic capacitors aren’t the same—there are two different ceramic capacitor classes, and the value can be consistent within 1% for expensive types or vary from +80/-20% for cheapos (as often found in knock-off guitars). Capacitance can also vary with frequency, temperature, and applied voltage; some ceramic capacitors are even somewhat microphonic. If your guitar uses a ceramic capacitor for its tone control and you think your guitar sounds different under stage lights then when you’re offstage, you’re probably right."
     
    5 people like this.
  7. slapshot

    slapshot Senior Member

    Messages:
    22,960
    Likes Received:
    23,631
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2010
    who ever said orange drops didn't work??
     
  8. skindley

    skindley Premium Member

    Messages:
    179
    Likes Received:
    134
    Joined:
    May 1, 2012
  9. tazzboy

    tazzboy V.I.P. Member

    Messages:
    20,178
    Likes Received:
    13,597
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2009
    Paper in Oil Caps work better.
     
  10. skindley

    skindley Premium Member

    Messages:
    179
    Likes Received:
    134
    Joined:
    May 1, 2012
    And the Ike Turner Bitch Slap of the Week Award goes to: martin6string

    [​IMG]
     
    2 people like this.
  11. David Collins

    David Collins Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,066
    Likes Received:
    792
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2009
    I have to give Craig Anderton credit for writing this article with a brilliant tactfulness, where one can read in to it several different ways depending on whether they emphasize the bold headings or look in to the details of the fine print. So let's take a moment to look in to the details of this strategically worded press release.

    Pretty straight forward, no arguments from me.

    Here we start to get a bit vague. All capacitors of the same listed value, or actual value?

    Ah, tolerances. So he's suggesting differences are due to actual value differences, which is what I've said all along. but wait…

    Now here he is bringing up other influences like frequency, temperature, applied voltage, and microphonics. Now these are general concerns of capacitors, and we know things like applied voltage aren't going to create much of an effect in a passive guitar tone circuit, so which factors are relevant to this discussion?

    Ah, stage lights - temperature. I certainly agree, a good reason to avoid certain cap types like cheaper ceramics if you want consistency, as they can certainly change dramatically with temperature changes. Of course so can the impedance of your pickups, but at least the tone cap value we can control by choosing a more stable design like the orange drops. Absolutely agree.

    Here we get vague again. He says that different cap types can effect the signal. Does he mean the different dielectrics of the same actual value will have differing effects?

    There we go - "if the capacitor value is inconsistent". So different capacitor types can affect the frequency peak because they have different tolerances and the actual value of a .022µf +80/-20% ceramic can be vastly different from a tighter tolerance orange drop. Again, I'm right there with him. Different types can indirectly affect a change, not because of direct effects of differing dielectrics, but because their actual values can be so different. Absolutely agreed.

    There we go - if there was any confusion up to this point, this should make Craig's position clear. Differences can be heard between different types, "but only because the values are likely slightly different".

    Again back to the strategically vague. Appeal to the folks accused of succumbing to placebo effect by saying there actually are good reasons to prefer a specific type of cap. Then even though he goes on to explain these reasons to be reliable construction with environmental stability and tighter tolerances, and does not make any attempt to argue that the dielectric material actually impacts tone directly, those who believe can interpret this to support their position, even though he clearly points toward true value as being the only factor of any final influence on tone. Yes, he gratuitously mentions microphonics and effects under different applied voltage with some caps in general, but note how he does not to cite these as ones of notable impact in an application like this, but sticks to value (and environmental influences which affect value) as the the only factors he directly credits as responsible for changes in this application. Tricky, but not an uncommon marketing 101 strategy - point toward shortcomings in other products without directly claiming them to have any effect in an intended application, in order to better augment the perceived attractiveness of your product.

    In case you're still not sure if he meant to imply that these peripheral factors may influence tone, I'll repeat what he clearly stated in the article - "but only because the values are likely slightly different". Again, just to be sure - "but only".

    I'm all for using orange drops - they really offer everything that Craig attributes to them. Good reliable construction, excellent tolerances, environmental stability superior to most, plus they're reasonably priced. If you think he's suggesting that they offer any tonal color to the circuit beyond these influences however, I suggest you may be interpreting what you want to hear out of the article.

    Of course I'm sure that's exactly how he meant to write it. Say no more in absolutes than what you can truly support, but couch it in enough peripheral tidbits and strategic phrasing that if readers are more comfortable with another position, they can still feel connected to what you say. Brilliant marketing writing for a Gibson press release really.

    And Skindley, I'm not trying to bitch-slap anyone with this reply. Just trying to point out in a civil way, that what is actually said in commercial press releases often tends to be strategically worded to appeal to as broad an audience (and offend as few) as possible. This release apparently served those goals quite effectively, judging by the range of ways it seems to be interpreted.
     
    6 people like this.
  12. RambleFX

    RambleFX Senior Member

    Messages:
    457
    Likes Received:
    503
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2011
    Notice he says "When rolling a tone control all the way back"? All the way back, not a little, and not all the way up. Because at guitar frequencies, the tone cap is little more than a short circuit to ground when the tone pot is at '10'.

    This is because when the tone control is all the way up, the resonant peak is dominated by the pickup's inductance and the pots' resistance to ground. Not a tone cap.

    He could have easily expanded his essay to include this information, but that wouldn't help sell his product, which is using Orange Drops as a marketable feature. Instead, he discusses the merits of Orange Drops "When rolling a tone control all the way back".
     
    3 people like this.
  13. matt@msscguitar

    matt@msscguitar www.MSSCGuitar.com Premium Member MLP Vendor V.I.P. Member

    Messages:
    9,501
    Likes Received:
    6,281
    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Why do these types of statements always end up in these discussions?
     
    1 person likes this.
  14. skindley

    skindley Premium Member

    Messages:
    179
    Likes Received:
    134
    Joined:
    May 1, 2012
    ... he first said. Then he said ...



    I love reading the contradiction.

    Just throwing this out there: ceramic cap and a polypropylene cap like the orange drops Gibson is using are constructed with different materials.

    Construction does affect the sound even when using identical cap values.


    martin6string won the bitch slap award ... not you.

    Get over yourself.
     
  15. matt@msscguitar

    matt@msscguitar www.MSSCGuitar.com Premium Member MLP Vendor V.I.P. Member

    Messages:
    9,501
    Likes Received:
    6,281
    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    All jokes aside, no bitch slapping is necessary in any regard to/from anyone. It's all a matter of opinion and taste.
     
    7 people like this.
  16. skindley

    skindley Premium Member

    Messages:
    179
    Likes Received:
    134
    Joined:
    May 1, 2012
    It's been argued that there is NO difference in caps constructed of different materials but rated at an equal value. This article gives a specific example of a problem with a ceramic cap that caps of other materials don't have a problem with (or less of a problem with). "Rolling a tone control all the way back" doesn't apply to that example.

    Promoting his product in a positive light neither helps nor hinders that fact.
     
    1 person likes this.
  17. David Collins

    David Collins Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,066
    Likes Received:
    792
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2009
    I thinks it's all a good open appraisal and fair critique of a press release for a company's product features.

    I actually agree with all that he says in this article. I am also honestly impressed with his ability to couch it in such a way as to be well received and even interpreted as being in support of positions which it actually is not once carefully read. That's a sign of an effective writer from a marketing perspective.
     
  18. David Collins

    David Collins Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,066
    Likes Received:
    792
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2009
    Spindley, you seem to have a strange drive to twist and spin everything I say, but let's clarify the misunderstandings and end the misrepresentations.

    My position has always been crystal clear - when two caps of any types are of the same actual value, there will be no detectable difference in sound. This of course does not mean that if they are rated the same but test different that they will sound the same, because if the discrepancy is enough they will of course sound different. This means if they are unstable and change enough with temperature that a difference is indeed likely to be heard, and I have never suggested otherwise. I have simply argued and offered controlled comparisons to demonstrate that the only factor of notable influence in this type of circuit is the actual capacitance value.

    It has never been argued to my knowledge that there is NO difference between caps constructed of different materials but rated at equal values. The argument has always been that there is no notable difference between caps constructed of different materials but tested at true equal value.

    I'm not clear if the nonexistent contradictions you conjure up are a result of true misunderstanding and spin you actually believe, or simply a maliciousness for what motive I can't imagine, but this is getting absurd. Please get over me.
     
    2 people like this.
  19. RambleFX

    RambleFX Senior Member

    Messages:
    457
    Likes Received:
    503
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2011
    Of course it does. Because if you don't roll your tone control down, the cap is not affecting the circuit in any measurable way. Which is why he prefaced the entire article that way.
     
    2 people like this.
  20. freefrog

    freefrog Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,170
    Likes Received:
    619
    Joined:
    May 21, 2011
    I've not replied immediately to this topic, firstly because I lacked of time yesterday and secondly, because I was sure that it would feed a new endless argument...

    I could comment the discussion above but I simply refuse to enter in an interpersonal confrontation based on POV's. Anyway, I've no free time to spend in such things (my job, health issues and family require most of my energy).

    I'll just quote a tiny bit of the article discussed here:

    To me, the word "some" is THE key here.


    It recalls that discrete components aren't perfect and that "some" of them could exhibit a non typical behaviour.


    It might explain why different people can have fundamentally different experiences with caps.




    Why do I tell such a thing again?

    Because if I refuse to adopt a "position" in this story, I've still the same destabilizing overall experience behind me.

    What is crystal clear to me is that some of my experiments (mostly the last years) were showing no difference at all between various caps of different materials and the same value... but that other caps of the same measured value and different materials sounded different during other experiments (those that I did principaly in the beginning, several years ago, and mostly with vintage caps).
    I've noticed it... even with the tone pot full up - my fascination for this futile question of caps coming from this flagrant contradiction between official theory and personal findings.

    I've tried hard to convince myself that my tests were flawed and my perceptions a pure illusion.

    My archives keep suggesting me that things are more complex than that.

    As you know, my perplexity has fed a possible graduating project for future engineers in electronics here.
    The young blokes have been encouraged to prove me wrong if necessary: if someone shows me that the differences perceived by my ears and analyzers are due to some unseen physical parm not related to caps, I won't be frustrated. I'll be relieved to understand finally what I've noticed.

    In the meantime, I'll keep stating serenely and peacefully my testimonial: in my personal experiences for several years, caps of the same measured value and different materials don't always sound the same.
    It's something that I've noticed in guitars, in home modified or home made pedals and in amps (I've recently fitted a Fender HRD with a "dual" mid cap mounted on a switch: @ the same measured 22n, the Tropical Fish and Orange Drop that I've tried DIDN'T affect the tone in the same way once wired in parallel with the original Mylar cap to give a 44n cap: the owner noticed the difference and vastly prefered the OD as giving a more transparent midrange, with less forwards high mids).

    I'm eager to read an explanation other than "it's an illusion due to freefrog's beliefs and ears" - since I trust my ears: I've trained them with guitar stuffs during 34 years precisely and they made me win a free set of pickups here.

    I've no intention nor enough time to keep discussing in this topic: I had just to say my piece.

    I wish you a nice day, whatever is your opinion about tone caps.
     
    5 people like this.

Share This Page