Cheap caps worth buying?

moreles

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Finding the right cap value (and pot value) for your pickups, so that you get the tome you want, is more important than cap composition. Relative to values, the cap composition makes little to no difference. That being said, I do use PIO caps of good quality entirely for cosmetic reasons and to avoid getting crap from people who insist that other types suck. I avoid boutique caps because you can readily find good NOS Russian and even US PIO caps for under $5 on the 'bay.
 

Alligatorbling

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this is just me.... but i just use whichever ones i have laying around as long as they are the value i want. ceramic, pio, poly, whatever.


i really dont sweat the material as long as the value is correct for the application. i smile when i see folks hashing it over cap materials.... buy hey, again, thats just me.

ymmv
 

spitfire

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Thanks, Spitfire! So, do you think I'd be better off keeping the $5-10 in my pocket and spending it on beer?

Of course I'd spend it on beer first. You gotta have the proper priorities. :cheers2:

I've never gone out of my way to swap caps. However, when I've assembled some new guitars or wanted to rebuild a wiring harness, I generally use Orange Drops. Not because I necessarily believe that I would hear a difference, it's just why not, they're only a few bucks.

If $5-10 is at all significant to you, I'd spend it on something else besides tone caps.

And let's face it, most of us would be better off putting our money into guitars lessons rather than pots, caps, pickups, bridges and other sonic minutia.
 

ARandall

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I think Freefrog did some oscilliscope testing on various caps......as in measured values and various types within that. The gist of it was that the differences were quite subtle, but there.
Sort of thing you'd hear with your own guitar/rig with no-one else playing but yourself.
 

kakerlak

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I've never gone out of my way to swap caps. However, when I've assembled some new guitars or wanted to rebuild a wiring harness, I generally use Orange Drops. Not because I necessarily believe that I would hear a difference, it's just why not, they're only a few bucks.

That was kind of my line of thinking. I've got 20-something guitars and most of them I'm content to leave alone. With this one, since I'm going to be in there with a soldering iron anyway, I figured it was easy enough to switch it to '50s wiring while I'm at it and, if I'm doing that, it's not much more effort to swap caps...
 

spitfire

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That was kind of my line of thinking. I've got 20-something guitars and most of them I'm content to leave alone. With this one, since I'm going to be in there with a soldering iron anyway, I figured it was easy enough to switch it to '50s wiring while I'm at it and, if I'm doing that, it's not much more effort to swap caps...

Makes sense. Nothing wrong with just playing around with things. I think you'll find the change to 50's wiring noticeable and probably preferable.

But keep in mind that if you swap pups and caps, and switch to 50's wiring, you won't be able to tell whether caps made a difference or not.

That's a common thing I've notice on this forum:

"I swapped pickups, pots, and put in NOS PIO caps blessed by the Pope and hand delivered by 12 virgins. I know what the new pups and pots would sound like, but I just can't believe the difference these caps make."

Yeah, right.
 

Leroy

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The cap forms part of a -3db low pass filter. High frequencies are shunted to ground through the cap and are therefore no longer in the signal path. All frequencies above the point go through (not through the cap) unaffected to the amp. How then does the cap type have an effect? Simple, it doesn't.
I've yet to see any scientific evidence to the contrary. There is however, plenty of scientific research on the placebo effect. I believe in Science and mathematics, not some dude on the internet who think he/she can hear a difference.

Ask yourself why is it that the vendors peddling mojo caps can't provide any data to back up their claims? Instead of that we get meaningless buzz words like organic, warm, smooth, clear etc...
IMHO these vendors are up there with people selling miracle cancer cures.

I'll probably get banned again for suggesting that those vendors are crooks, but quite frankly I don't care.
If you make a claim about a product then you should be able to prove it.
 

Quill

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There's nothing wrong with getting a few different kinds of caps and trying them in your guitar. Some put clips on the pots, and then quickly swap different kinds and values until the right ones show themselves to be the right ones. I dunno why, all the arguing ...

Though I do agree that it's too easy to spend big money on NOS electronics. I don't mind paying $20 for a modern Jensen PIO - for example - because I always love the way they sound to my ear, AND someone who is working right now, and doing very nice work, is earning their keep making that part for me. It's good to support that work.

Do try 0.033uF on both the neck and the bridge. That's a nice value in a guitar. And don't be afraid to try 0.047uF on the bridge, if it's a very bright guitar.
 

MATTM

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The cap forms part of a -3db low pass filter. High frequencies are shunted to ground through the cap and are therefore no longer in the signal path. All frequencies above the point go through (not through the cap) unaffected to the amp. How then does the cap type have an effect? Simple, it doesn't.
I've yet to see any scientific evidence to the contrary. There is however, plenty of scientific research on the placebo effect. I believe in Science and mathematics, not some dude on the internet who think he/she can hear a difference.

Ask yourself why is it that the vendors peddling mojo caps can't provide any data to back up their claims? Instead of that we get meaningless buzz words like organic, warm, smooth, clear etc...
IMHO these vendors are up there with people selling miracle cancer cures.

I'll probably get banned again for suggesting that those vendors are crooks, but quite frankly I don't care.
If you make a claim about a product then you should be able to prove it.

:laugh2::laugh2::laugh2::laugh2::laugh2::laugh2::laugh2::laugh2:
 

ScottMarlowe

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I buy larger caps in small lots of 10 to 20 or so, and pay < $1.00 a piece for them, including shipping. One metal film polyester or polypropylene cap is as good as the next.

It's funny, you see people saying how the type of cap makes a HUGE difference, but I have yet to see anyone bother doing any scientific like double blind or ABY testing to prove it.

If a Russian PIO etc is so much better than a generic metal film poly, then setup a test system with a switch where you can use one or the other and PROVE it.

I'm with Leroy on this one, but less strident about it. It's all hand-wavy buzz word bingo.

The main thing I like about metal film poly caps is that they're big enough to be easy to handle while soldering in place. Those tiny little ceramic caps are a pain to work with IMHO.

If you want to try some different values, buy 0.010 through 0.100 sized in bulk on ebay. You can get 5 to 10 of any one kind for $0.50 or less a piece. Spend $20 or $30 and have a hundred or more caps to play with, all various sizes.
 

spitfire

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The cap forms part of a -3db low pass filter. High frequencies are shunted to ground through the cap and are therefore no longer in the signal path. All frequencies above the point go through (not through the cap) unaffected to the amp. How then does the cap type have an effect? Simple, it doesn't.

Regardless of the magnitude of any secondary cap type characteristic, your analysis is off the mark. You seem to be saying that all the cap can do is "take away" signal, and therefore there is no potential to add any anything even if the cap type made some difference in the cap behavior.

It doesn't work that way. Due to the impedance of the pickup, volume pot, guitar cable and amp, anything going on in the cap affects the voltage signal coming out of the guitar.

While the tone circuit is part of a low pas filter, there is no such thing as -3 dB, low-pass filter. While a -3 dB point is a common attenuation level for defining the corner frequency of a filter, it doesn't describe the filter.

For example if you say it's a 1 kHz, low-pass filter, the assumption is that the filter attenuates -3 dB at 1 kHz. But there are many types of low pass filters such as Butterworth and elliptical (like Chebyshev) . And for all orders, 1st (like an RC filter), 2nd order (a guitar circuit mostly), 3rd order and so on.

All of which will generally have a - 3 dB point. So while it is correct to say it's a low-pass filter. Just leave off saying it's a -3 dB filter, since that is meaningless.

I've yet to see any scientific evidence to the contrary. There is however, plenty of scientific research on the placebo effect. I believe in Science and mathematics, not some dude on the internet who think he/she can hear a difference.

I agree that as far as I know no one has proven this is real. Though that doesn't mean it isn't. There are some possible explanations for why the cap type might make a difference. For example, capacitor non-linearity (a know issue for caps operating at high voltage in amplifiers), to microphonic effects where the caps electrical properties very with vibrations.

If you make a claim about a product then you should be able to prove it.

There's all kinds of products with all sorts of claims without much proof. I see no reason to single out guitar tone caps.

I think what bothers me most about this is that since most guitar players have no understanding of the electronics, they assume that every electronic component in the guitar has a similar affect on the total output.

Therefore if different pickups make a difference, than certainly it seems reasonable that different capacitor types should make a similar difference.

I'm still open to cap type having some subtle, but real effect. But emphasis on "subtle."
 

grumphh_the_banned_one

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There's all kinds of products with all sorts of claims without much proof. I see no reason to single out guitar tone caps.
True, there is absolutely no reason to single out guitar tone caps.

You should stay far away from all products (and ideas) that are only backed up by buzzwords :)

...of course a large part of the western economy would collapse if consumers actually did that... A lot of businesses thrive on rather uninformed consumers :D
 

HogmanA

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There's nothing wrong with getting a few different kinds of caps and trying them in your guitar. Some put clips on the pots, and then quickly swap different kinds and values until the right ones show themselves to be the right ones. I dunno why, all the arguing ...

Though I do agree that it's too easy to spend big money on NOS electronics. I don't mind paying $20 for a modern Jensen PIO - for example - because I always love the way they sound to my ear, AND someone who is working right now, and doing very nice work, is earning their keep making that part for me. It's good to support that work.

Do try 0.033uF on both the neck and the bridge. That's a nice value in a guitar. And don't be afraid to try 0.047uF on the bridge, if it's a very bright guitar.


I second all the above - and especially about the larger values, I think people can miss out by sticking with .022, or .015, etc
 

HogmanA

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If a Russian PIO etc is so much better than a generic metal film poly, then setup a test system with a switch where you can use one or the other and PROVE it.

You know, some day I really intend to set up a fool proof rig, with 'fair' switching, etc, to 'prove' the point. But I am too busy to do it really. And who am I giving that time up for? For people that don't believe me to start with.

But I do intend to do it - but the emphasis will be on making the test conditions favourable for hearing the difference, instead of unfavourable.

I think people who have generally heard a difference, know what this is.

I happen to play consistently in a certain range, with a certain guitar/pickup/capacitor/amp setting combination, where the cap type makes a big difference to me (yes, potentially bigger than a pickup swap).

So someone else doesn't experience the same? It doesn't really matter.

It's a point of interest only really, and their business what individuals do or think about their guitar.

And yet - one day, you naysayers will eat your shorts! and I just hope to God that I find the time to be able to be the one that does it!!! :lol:
 

kakerlak

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I think it would be tough to rig up a real A-B-C-etc listening test b/w caps. Not b/c it's hard to wire up something like that, but b/c I have a feeling you'd be more likely to hear the result of differences b/w actual and printed values from cap-to-cap than you would any nuance in tonality from one to the next.
 

HogmanA

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People who hear a difference don't often talk about those differences, and if they do (as someone mentioned above) it is often with unclear and nebulous terms.
I think this is because it really is difficult to describe - but that doesn't mean that the effect is necessarily subtle.

However, there are things that I can describe about the differences, that aren't subtle at all.

One of my early test findings, was that changing out the original ceramic caps on my LP improved the intonation.

*my LP used to be very 'finicky' about intonation - when recording I would actually change the intonation for different guitar parts. It was a real headache sometimes. After changing out the ceramic caps, intonation just wasn't a problem. Honestly, I haven't intonated my guitar for months - it just isn't an issue, as long as it's roughly there, iot still sounds alright.





Let's consider acoustic guitars: they sound alright with very rudimentary accommodation for setting/ dealing with intonation problems. *They don't amplify the harmonics

Also, let's consider 'dead' guitar strings - when they sound out of tune. The higher harmonics are no longer being produced properly due to a cause known as inharmoncity - the strings have lost elasticity.

This is one of the reasons that I believe that capacitor types affect the higher harmonic content of the note, not the fundamental.

The harmonics are amplified when the guitar signal is overdriven, and this is precisely where these differences between cap types (and my previous issues with intonation) are.




The type of cap changes the shape of the distortion - the individual little 'teeth' of the distorted sound, and not only that - the frequency of them, plus how they interact with each other.

It is exactly the same reason (and sound) as why I:

*don't like the sound of Ernie Ball strings,

*don't like Boss distortion of any type

*don't like vintage G12 65 speakers

*don't like strings heavier than 10's on an electric

*don't like the Marshall branded ECC83 valves (at least from a certain period)

Most people would agree that my findings on those points are reasonable, and not imagined. Why not the caps as well. It's not as if it's been proven that it's impossible that cap types can't make an appreciable difference.

"Why trust one and not the other? That's politics!" [Withnail and I]
















%
 

KP11520

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The cheapest Caps that sound quite decent to me are Mallory 150's (0.022uf).

Last time I bought thirty something of them (400 volt), the price averaged 63 cents each delivered from Newark.

What I noticed most about these is they are a little less muddy in the neck pickup position than some of the other low cost Caps. How? I don't know. But that was the difference I heard. Maybe the best way to describe them is a tad bit more articulate through the entire sweep of the tone pots. For me anyway!

Certainly the winner of the "Best Value" category! :cool:

I hope this helps answer your question.
 

ScottMarlowe

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You know, some day I really intend to set up a fool proof rig, with 'fair' switching, etc, to 'prove' the point. But I am too busy to do it really. And who am I giving that time up for? For people that don't believe me to start with.

But I do intend to do it - but the emphasis will be on making the test conditions favourable for hearing the difference, instead of unfavourable.

I think people who have generally heard a difference, know what this is.

I'd think you'd want to prove to yourself that the difference you hear actually exists and isn't purely psychological. My guess is that it's all in the listener's head and they're hearing what they want to hear, but my guess is worth no more than your belief that there's a real difference. Because neither one has any real science to back it up.
 

David Collins

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You know, some day I really intend to set up a fool proof rig, with 'fair' switching, etc, to 'prove' the point. But I am too busy to do it really. And who am I giving that time up for? For people that don't believe me to start with.

But I do intend to do it - but the emphasis will be on making the test conditions favourable for hearing the difference, instead of unfavourable.

I think people who have generally heard a difference, know what this is.

I happen to play consistently in a certain range, with a certain guitar/pickup/capacitor/amp setting combination, where the cap type makes a big difference to me (yes, potentially bigger than a pickup swap).

So someone else doesn't experience the same? It doesn't really matter.

It's a point of interest only really, and their business what individuals do or think about their guitar.

And yet - one day, you naysayers will eat your shorts! and I just hope to God that I find the time to be able to be the one that does it!!! :lol:

I do sincerely hope you find the time to do such tests, and look forward to seeing what you find.

Of course I've been down that road myself, spending a rather ridiculous amount of time on testing this issue, always with the goal of providing the most favorable opportunity possible to identify a difference if there were one (i.e., real time switching with no time lag between samples, wide variety of caps compared, etc). As I'm sure you know however, with reasonable controls to eliminate peripheral influences in place I have yet to find a single person (and I've put these tests to some pretty good ears) who could identify a difference in blind testing.

I do hope you find the time for your own well controlled tests though, and look forward to seeing what methods of testing you employ, and what results you find.
 

spitfire

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One of my early test findings, was that changing out the original ceramic caps on my LP improved the intonation.

This statement right here is one of the reason I just can't take people's word for what they say they hear. The intonation of the guitar is dependent on the mechanics of the string. The fundamental frequency it vibrates at.

While the very strong magnetic field of the pickup can affect string vibration, I'm not even sure it could affect the fundamental frequency. But the cap, certainly cannot have that affect.

Cap type is not going to affect intonation and certainly not cause it to vary or be unstable.

It is exactly the same reason (and sound) as why I:

*don't like the sound of Ernie Ball strings,

*don't like Boss distortion of any type

*don't like vintage G12 65 speakers

*don't like strings heavier than 10's on an electric

*don't like the Marshall branded ECC83 valves (at least from a certain period)

Most people would agree that my findings on those points are reasonable, and not imagined. Why not the caps as well. It's not as if it's been proven that it's impossible that cap types can't make an appreciable difference.

"Why trust one and not the other?

Because the things you listed have well known and obvious differences that account for their affect on the sound or feel of the guitar. Nothing has been established to account for what some claim to hear with cap type. The cap type argument is further weakened when people make extraordinary claims like it affects intonation. At this point you lose credibility.

While I'm still open to the possibility it has an effect. It really is up to those that claim to hear it to prove it. A double blind test is a way to go about it.

Use your own rig, any way you want, just have the cap type get swapped out in a double blind fashion so there's no way for you to know which cap has been used. Go back and forth as many times as you want. I don't even care that you identify which cap is which, PIO or ceramic for example. I just care that you can identify whether you're playing cap A or B with any statistical significance.

While it would ultimately be interesting to understand how differences affect the tone, the first step is to establish if there is, in fact, any difference.

If the differences are not subtle to you, than this should be very easy to do.

I really wish someone like you, who claims to hear obvious differences, would do this. Not to catch you and prove that you are wrong, but rather, if you did it right, and hear a difference, you could prove once and for all that there are difference that can be heard.
 

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