Historic Gibson Faux Bumblebee Caps

Pythonman

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I've tried cap swapping many times. Last one I tried was a 2006R9 I bought last year. It had stock everything so after doing the 50s wiring with stock parts I then swapped in some Russian PIO caps. The sound changed, got a little softer in the highs but the mids really opened up. Swampy and deep woman tone with pots rolled off compared to murky-mud with the stock caps. Then I swapped in a NOS Sprague Mylar Film Black Beauty set and again the sound changed, this time was a little snappier sounding with the tone and volume full up, good sweet honkin middle tone and the best woman tone ever with the tone knobs down. I had no problem hearing differences with cap changes and never have. What's the big deal??
I suppose the non-hearing engineers don't believe a transistor circuit sounds any different that an old fashioned tube based circuit either?? All amps sound alike cause basically they all do the same thing etc?? Kills me!!
 

JMB1984

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I think you're reading me wrong. I don't think Gibson tests its pots, pickups or caps...
In the case of pots, this has actually changed recently (at least the past two years). For the Memphis Historics Gibson has been measuring matched sets of pots at 550K +/-5%.

Though it would be nice if the CS would do the same.
 

EpiLP1985

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I've tried cap swapping many times. Last one I tried was a 2006R9 I bought last year. It had stock everything so after doing the 50s wiring with stock parts I then swapped in some Russian PIO caps. The sound changed, got a little softer in the highs but the mids really opened up. Swampy and deep woman tone with pots rolled off compared to murky-mud with the stock caps. Then I swapped in a NOS Sprague Mylar Film Black Beauty set and again the sound changed, this time was a little snappier sounding with the tone and volume full up, good sweet honkin middle tone and the best woman tone ever with the tone knobs down. I had no problem hearing differences with cap changes and never have. What's the big deal??
I suppose the non-hearing engineers don't believe a transistor circuit sounds any different that an old fashioned tube based circuit either?? All amps sound alike cause basically they all do the same thing etc?? Kills me!!
Your comparison of complex dissimilar amplification circuits to a passive component such as a capacitor, executed with tired smugness as unoriginal as your stance of hoodoo mojo hearing capabilities, does much to show your ignorance of electronics and engineering theory.

Then again, I only trudged through 4 years at the most prestigious private technical university in New York State to falsely boost my "Street Cred" on a guitar forum.
 

Pythonman

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Your comparison of complex dissimilar amplification circuits to a passive component such as a capacitor, executed with tired smugness as unoriginal as your stance of hoodoo mojo hearing capabilities, does much to show your ignorance of electronics and engineering theory.

Then again, I only trudged through 4 years at the most prestigious private technical university in New York State to falsely boost my "Street Cred" on a guitar forum.
Genius, Ok Skyler I wasn't comparing anything complex with a passive component. :lol:
And if an amplifier circuit, whether solid state or tubed is either complex or dissimilar to one another to YOU well, there's always Devry or ITT I guess. Drawing out the tin eared engineers is SO SIMPLE!!:wave:
 

EpiLP1985

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I suppose the non-hearing engineers don't believe a transistor circuit sounds any different that an old fashioned tube based circuit either?? All amps sound alike cause basically they all do the same thing etc?? Kills me!!
Comparing ones inability to hear the non-existent differences between passive components depending on their composition is not analogous to the monumental difference in transistor based and vacuum tube based amplification.

No one denies you heard a difference, it's just that your reasoning for hearing it is ridiculous. Cap composition doesn't affect tone, it affects cap value, which affects tone.

I'm not trying to call you an idiot, I'm just trying to say your fundamentals and theory are flawed. Your just foolish, not stupid. I used to keep a fairly large stash of Bees, BBs, Tigers, Qs, etc. Now I don't. Mainly because they are not necessary. This was born out of education in circuit design and basic electrical engineering theory.
 

Pythonman

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Comparing ones inability to hear the non-existent differences between passive components depending on their composition is not analogous to the monumental difference in transistor based and vacuum tube based amplification.

No one denies you heard a difference, it's just that your reasoning for hearing it is ridiculous. Cap composition doesn't affect tone, it affects cap value, which affects tone.

I'm not trying to call you an idiot, I'm just trying to say your fundamentals and theory are flawed. Your just foolish, not stupid. I used to keep a fairly large stash of Bees, BBs, Tigers, Qs, etc. Now I don't. Mainly because they are not necessary. This was born out of education in circuit design and basic electrical engineering theory.
Ahaa! Thanks for only insinuating I'm foolish. I appreciate that. Now you wrote about the inability to hear non-existent differences between passive components? Let's compare apples to apples this time, OK? Do you as an electrical wizard agree that PAFs qualify as a passive? Certainly they don't require a battery powered circuit to amplify them like EMGs right? Course not. Now then you tellin me that a real, REAL PAF that measures 7.86Kand a Seymour Duncan '59 that measures 7.86K sound identical? If not then explain why please.
 

EpiLP1985

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Ahaa! Thanks for only insinuating I'm foolish. I appreciate that. Now you wrote about the inability to hear non-existent differences between passive components? Let's compare apples to apples this time, OK? Do you as an electrical wizard agree that PAFs qualify as a passive? Certainly they don't require a battery powered circuit to amplify them like EMGs right? Course not. Now then you tellin me that a real, REAL PAF that measures 7.86Kand a Seymour Duncan '59 that measures 7.86K sound identical? If not then explain why please.
It wasn't an insinuation. It was a statement.

Again you deflect by making yet another ridiculous, non-analogous comparison between capacitors and pickups. Pickups are a system of components interacting with one another from an electro-mechanical standpoint. Capacitors are not. I've played great sounding PAFs and great sounding SDs. I've also played abysmal PAFs. Caps and pickups aren't an apples to apples comparison as you so eloquently stated. I'm not sure where your head is at before you post, or how strong you feel your points are when you dream them up, but you are most certainly missing my point.

Passive tone controls are simple low pass filters. Period. I'll concede that cap composition, in the case of certain dialectic materials in caps being deficient in their ability to bleed treble to ground, can affect tone. This does not mean an old PIO cap has some elusive mojo. It means it's a subpar capacitor. Differences in tone between caps are the product of rated value variances from drift, tolerances, etc.

It's as simple as that. No poor analogies needed. No explanation of tube amp circuitry or history lesson on PAFs required. Guitar players are some of the most dogmatic people around. Your hearing something no doubt. It just isn't what you think or hope it to be. It does however translate to X amount of dollars saved by those with even a passing knowledge of basic EE.
 

Pythonman

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It wasn't an insinuation. It was a statement.

Again you deflect by making yet another ridiculous, non-analogous comparison between capacitors and pickups. Pickups are a system of components interacting with one another from an electro-mechanical standpoint. Capacitors are not. I've played great sounding PAFs and great sounding SDs. I've also played abysmal PAFs. Caps and pickups aren't an apples to apples comparison as you so eloquently stated. I'm not sure where your head is at before you post, or how strong you feel your points are when you dream them up, but you are most certainly missing my point.

Passive tone controls are simple low pass filters. Period. I'll concede that cap composition, in the case of certain dialectic materials in caps being deficient in their ability to bleed treble to ground, can affect tone. This does not mean an old PIO cap has some elusive mojo. It means it's a subpar capacitor. Differences in tone between caps are the product of rated value variances from drift, tolerances, etc.

It's as simple as that. No poor analogies needed. No explanation of tube amp circuitry or history lesson on PAFs required. Guitar players are some of the most dogmatic people around. Your hearing something no doubt. It just isn't what you think or hope it to be. It does however translate to X amount of dollars saved by those with even a passing knowledge of basic EE.
You're the one that's deflecting. You started to answer my simple question by calling pickups a "system of components interacting with one another". So finish the explanation and spare us the diatribe and ego stroking. I never spoke about mojo or dogma or any of your other issues.
Lets consider sticking to the conversation for a change or are you too preoccupied with your self worth as a learned electrical scientist that it's impossible, hmmm?

You postulate that a PAF is a system of components interacting with one another? A Seymour Duncan 59 pickup is a system of pretty much the same exact components interacting with one another too, right? So, if the two pickups measure the same, should they sound the same or NOT? If NOT then WHY? Forget about the capacitors for now. Please re-read the last paragraph twice and try to stay on track.
 

wizard1183

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It wasn't an insinuation. It was a statement.

Again you deflect by making yet another ridiculous, non-analogous comparison between capacitors and pickups. Pickups are a system of components interacting with one another from an electro-mechanical standpoint. Capacitors are not. I've played great sounding PAFs and great sounding SDs. I've also played abysmal PAFs. Caps and pickups aren't an apples to apples comparison as you so eloquently stated. I'm not sure where your head is at before you post, or how strong you feel your points are when you dream them up, but you are most certainly missing my point.

Passive tone controls are simple low pass filters. Period. I'll concede that cap composition, in the case of certain dialectic materials in caps being deficient in their ability to bleed treble to ground, can affect tone. This does not mean an old PIO cap has some elusive mojo. It means it's a subpar capacitor. Differences in tone between caps are the product of rated value variances from drift, tolerances, etc.

It's as simple as that. No poor analogies needed. No explanation of tube amp circuitry or history lesson on PAFs required. Guitar players are some of the most dogmatic people around. Your hearing something no doubt. It just isn't what you think or hope it to be. It does however translate to X amount of dollars saved by those with even a passing knowledge of basic EE.
It seems what you're saying is building the same circuitry using the same type of components and values would sound exactly the same wouldn't it? While they might sound close, there are differences. The question is why? Why can you not build a retro amp using high quality components and still not hit where the vintage hits? There's more to it than just values and components. Perhaps the wear makes it sound as it does? The pickup magnets have gotten a little weaker to say that 7.86 will be different than a new 7.86?

It really suck 59s are so expensive. Gibson should buy one (a good one, not a dog) and dissect the crap out of it to find what exactly makes them sound like they do? Take a brand new same cap value capacitor and install it in a 59 and see if their indeed is a difference in tone. Keep the pick ups in but change the pots, see if their is a noticeable difference. There a lot they could do. If they actually bought one and dissected it, and figured hot to closely resemble the tone +/- 5% Id think ppl would pay more for that than simply looks.
 

DADGAD

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Now I'm outraged.

Not really. I'm going to just play what I got. I bet Page, Beck, and Clapton never talked EE stuff when they were doing their most impressive works. I'm betting a different pick would have more effect on Page's tone than different caps.
 

LPCollector

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My problem is with the marketing that Gibson is implementing.

"Historic Spec" is actually correct and legal.
They are Spec'd for a Historic.
However, the marketing implies (but doesn't directly say) that they are historically correct.
They are NOT historically correct, as we know.
Gibson is playing in the "Grey Area" of Marketing that has become popular in todays market place......and, I deplore it as a Sales and Marketing professional.
I don't play the "It's almost honest" game.....EVER!"

Now, I have done a little research on Sprague Bumble Bee's.
No, not the armchair quarterback type of electrical engineering theory.
More of a true experience type of tone data gathering.

....and, with all due respect, if you can't show me a bag of caps like this:

.....your opinion, IMO, is just that.

They were all tested in an Explorer, CTS 550k pots, and against current (2011) stock Gibson "Bumble Bee's".
To say that there is no "magic" in the older PIO caps is just not true, to my ears.
Think what you want, but I took the time to end the question in my mind.

My fave, in a Les Paul, came to be a set of .019 that had drifted to .024 in their 62 years of existence. So, if they drift to .029 in another 62 years (assuming the same rate of drift), I'll just roll the tone knob back a little......and celebrate my 114th Birthday.
 

David Mccarroll

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It seems what you're saying is building the same circuitry using the same type of components and values would sound exactly the same wouldn't it? While they might sound close, there are differences. The question is why? Why can you not build a retro amp using high quality components and still not hit where the vintage hits? There's more to it than just values and components. Perhaps the wear makes it sound as it does? The pickup magnets have gotten a little weaker to say that 7.86 will be different than a new 7.86?

It really suck 59s are so expensive. Gibson should buy one (a good one, not a dog) and dissect the crap out of it to find what exactly makes them sound like they do? Take a brand new same cap value capacitor and install it in a 59 and see if their indeed is a difference in tone. Keep the pick ups in but change the pots, see if their is a noticeable difference. There a lot they could do. If they actually bought one and dissected it, and figured hot to closely resemble the tone +/- 5% Id think ppl would pay more for that than simply looks.
Well, I might as well chime in again with some more uninformed comments....

With regards to your first paragraph, yes, I agree, you will get awfully close, however there is much more going on in a total circuit than just the stated or measured values of the components, with all sorts of stray capacitance and inductances happening in the interaction between the components which are probably impossible to actually measure and replicate. Having said that, Victoria can make an amp that is very close to indistinguishable from a 59 Bassman ...... for about the cost of a 59 Bassman! Likewise, I am no expert on magnet ageing, and I have had engineers swear blind to me that a magnet of such and such Teslas, Gauss or whatever value is used will be identical in every way to any other magnet of the same shape with the same magnetic strength - so either they think differently to guitarists, or we are all suffering from massive self delusion (and frankly either one could be the right answer!), so, yeah, you might have an exact A3 magnet of the exact shape and strength as the one in your hallowed PAF, but it doesn't mean it will be EXACTLY the same in character. Add the same lack of complete cloning to each component and you end up with an exponential rate of sway from the effect you are trying to achieve. Factor in the actual sensitivity of human senses (the eye can detect a light source of only 9 photons, which is a ludicrously tiny amount - I assume our hearing is more or less as sensitive), and yes, we probably can pick up minuscule changes in tone.

The same argument runs for paragraph 2 - yes, Gibson could do a forensic examination of a good 59, but they won't for starters (although I believe Ibanez actually did many, many years ago - then seemed to have ignored what they learnt), what almost everyone here seems to forget is that Gibson is not building guitars purely for our cork sniffing edification - they are building them to make money! No profit, no point. So, as our strongest and most influential sensory impact is sight, they are going to focus on appearance - that will sell guitars. Tone? Meh, it's close enough, none of those dumb bunnies out there will ever work out that our "Bumblebees" are a ten cent ceramic wrapped in cigarette paper and ear wax. They can't get Brazilian Rosewood, they are getting to the point where they will not get Honduras Mahogany - even Ebony is starting to look debatable.

So, they build something at a price point that they punt will be acceptable, make it look pretty right, make it sound, well, not too dissimilar, make sure there aren't too many glaring faults or imperfections on most of them and out the door they go. The fact that people actually ARE willing to pay what? $8K on a True Historic means that, yeah, their punt was pretty right. And, no, people won't pay the extra - lose a $300K 'Burst to make their factory guitars right? How many CS LPs do Gibson make a year? I am guessing a couple of hundred? So, try to return the $300K they blew plus expenses, spread over a couple of hundred guitars per year for let's say five years? I'd be guessing by the time they add up their costs, stick a margin on that and some spin and you are probably looking at a couple of thousand more per guitar, and, no, that is a punt that I really doubt they would be willing to risk.

Again - Gibson are a commercial exercise - they are in it to make money - if they didn't, the doors would close, so perhaps we should just be thankful that they make a perfectly acceptable Les Paul Historic at a merely extortionate price, rather than not.

Otherwise, anyone for pancake bodies and three piece tops?
 

EpiLP1985

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First things first. I need to apologize to Pythonman for my candor over the last 4-5 posts I put up. It has not been representative of the type of person I am or my preferred method of rational discourse. Ad hominem attacks on a person's personality or intelligence should be reserved for pissed off teenagers.

With that said, let's answer some of the posts that have surfaced while I slept....

...between passive components depending on their composition...
This was a poor generalization and almost invited what followed...

Let's compare apples to apples this time, OK? Do you as an electrical wizard agree that PAFs qualify as a passive?...Now then you telling me that a real, REAL PAF that measures 7.86k and a Seymour Duncan '59 that measures 7.86k sound identical? If not then explain why please.
You postulate that a PAF is a system of components interacting with one another? A Seymour Duncan 59 pickup is a system of pretty much the same exact components interacting with one another too, right? So, if the two pickups measure the same, should they sound the same or NOT?
To succinctly answer your point: There are many other factors at play in a guitar pickup than in a capacitor. Things that are not associated with composition of individual components in the pickup, such as winding pattern and potting, have an effect that is separate from the metals, plastics, wire, etc. So short answer: NOT.

On the contrary though, there are many current pickup winders who most certainly can craft PAF style pickups that demolish the worst examples of the style and rival or exceed the best of the originals. And yes, they use all the same materials. No mojo, just hard work and dedication to the mechanics of the wind and the theory behind the construction.

Again, this is a poor comparison when talking about caps. Similar to your original comparison...

I suppose the non-hearing engineers don't believe a transistor circuit sounds any different that an old fashioned tube based circuit either?? All amps sound alike cause basically they all do the same thing etc?? Kills me!!
This, along with the pickup discussion, doesn't really relate, or get at the heart of, the argument about caps.

Again, I apologize for any bluntness or obtuseness. Rational debate requires that you be civil and I was not. I shouldn't have assaulted your intelligence or character, especially since I don't know you.

I think we will most likely disagree until the end of time, but that doesn't make the arguments any less interesting! So Pythonman, I think I can safely say that we will likely not sway one another, but that's okay. I'll still play guitar and so will you.

Continuing...

Why can you not build a retro amp using high quality components and still not hit where the vintage hits? There's more to it than just values and components.
Plenty of companies do. Remember that the vintage tone we all love and crave is often times born out of degraded/drifting components, resulting in parts values different than the original design intended. That's not magic, that's just life. Components degrade over time and can affect performance. The fact that these things have a "positive" affect on tone precludes "magic" and "mojo" and can be replicated by the savvy designer if they are willing to study the circuit and compensate with appropriate parts. Engineering is a beautiful thing. The Leo Fenders and Jim Marshalls and all the other famous and influential designers of equipment had a profound respect for using what was available to them at the time to make a great product. No magic, just sound engineering principles. It still holds true today and many boutique amp makers are crafting amplifiers that stand toe to toe or exceed the performance of vintage examples. It's all very practical. Sometimes good tone is boring from a technical standpoint. There isn't anything inherently wrong with that.

My thoughts exactly...

...I bet Page, Beck, and Clapton never talked EE stuff when they were doing their most impressive works. I'm betting a different pick would have more effect on Page's tone than different caps.
Agreed.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

They never went on the internet to discuss the minutia of guitar playing. They just rocked it. Can you picture Duane Allman asking his crew to make sure he had such and such caps in his guitars? He was savvy enough to recognize the quality of a good PAF pickup though...

My problem is with the marketing that Gibson is implementing.
Agreed.

No, not the armchair quarterback type of electrical engineering theory.
More of a true experience type of tone data gathering.
Your being presumptuous here, the reason I hold the opinion I do is directly related to the fact that I have owned a very sizable collection of various vintage tone caps. Bumblebees, Black Beauties, etc. As a matter of fact, one of my best grades in school came from a research paper I submitted for my Advanced Electronics courses. I made a rotary switch box and tested and graphed the performance of many of them, most notably a set of 10 Bumblebees I acquired from my local electronics shop (That special, old school kind of shop that smelled like old tubes and components.) It was fun and informative and shaped my opinion.

It is only MY opinion of course, shaped by empirical evidence and backed by theory that I am promoting. I should not have pushed, nor presented it, as indisputable fact. Even if I believe it to be that way.

To say that there is no "magic" in the older PIO caps is just not true, to my ears.
Think what you want, but I took the time to end the question in my mind.
This is key, because I have conceded that people most certainly will hear a difference if they change a cap that has drifted +/- 21% of rated value over time. The "magic" is related to the change in cap value, as well as what may be an intrinsic deficiency in PIO caps to bleed highs to ground, and not some unknowable force. That's all I am saying. Think of it as me justifying the "magic" with a known, verifiable quantity. With this in mind, adjusting a modern cap value to compensate for and replicate that quantity is doable. I think most people would be surprised by blind tests involving this consideration.

I'm not touting engineering theory and the study of electronics to distance myself from the community here, I'm just saying that with a little research and work, the "magic" can and should be replicated.

Wouldn't you rather Gibson, in the absence of a real vintage cap, offer a modern cap tuned specifically for those historic circuits, rather than some disingenuous motive to cash in on the aesthetics of a vintage piece of gear?

With that said, i'm all done. Hopefully I didnt bore you to death and once again, I apologize to Pythonman or anyone else I may have inadvertantly (or in the case of Pythonman) or purposefully insulted.:dude:
 

Pythonman

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Now I'm outraged.

Not really. I'm going to just play what I got. I bet Page, Beck, and Clapton never talked EE stuff when they were doing their most impressive works. I'm betting a different pick would have more effect on Page's tone than different caps.
Me too, I've outraged myself over the minutia in the past. I'm going to apologize for being a geek (or foolish person) that can hear slight differences in caps in a guitars simple wiring harness. The differences are there, but they are awful small scale. Subtle maybe but distinguishable. I've come to the same conclusion Duaneflowers has that maybe Gibson know's just a smidgen more than the average geek like me how to design and setup a harness/pickup system that for whatever reason works reasonably well at worst, and pretty good usually. Both my 2011 R9 and 2014 R8 are staying stock because they have the SOUND already. If I go messing around with caps at this point, sure I'll hear a difference but difference doesn't always equate to better.
 

Dok Martin

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Re: caps and capacitors

Had a longer discussion about this with a friend who is an engineer (with a doctor's degree - go figure). He said that the misconception about these parts is to assume that they are IDEAL caps and capacitors and only do what the numbers say. In the real world that is never the case. Especially not if they are made from "inferior" materials like the ones used in the 50s.

You cannot expect an old capacitor to work like a computer, they don't. That would be like assuming that all single malt scotch whiskies taste the same because they all contain 40% alcohol. In the real world these parts "misbehave", they don't work in a linear fashion. Which is where the fun comes in.

He just shrugged and said of course paper-in-oil will sound different than ceramic. Ceramic is way more reliable in its behaviour, which is good if you're an engineer but rather boring if you make music.

Just an educated opinion. :)
Cheers!
 

rockinlespaul

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A close forum friend just hooked me up with a tin full of vintage bee's. :dude:

Can't wait to put them to good use. :thumb:
 


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