capacitor & pot upgrade?


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thelax
02-14-2010, 01:20 PM
ok, I heard from multiple sources that one upgrade you can do to your guitar is to upgrade the capacitor and pot

do these really make great differences in tone?

johnro6659
02-14-2010, 01:25 PM
You might not notice a huge difference but what you'll get is electronics that will last longer, feel smoother and have less noise than some of the cheap electronics that come in most major brands. I find Toggle switches fail the most I almost always upgrade those every once in a while I'll be surprised and find a quality toggle switch in a guitar.

Old Nick
02-14-2010, 01:38 PM
ok, I heard from multiple sources that one upgrade you can do to your guitar is to upgrade the capacitor and pot

do these really make great differences in tone?

Not really, the pots mat last longer but shouldn't alter you sound (unless you choose a different resistace value). Capacitors have a couple of properties that will effect the sound, their capacitance and their effective series resistance, but you'll not notice much/any difference unless you change capacitance value. It is worth buying good switches though, again it wont alter your sound, but will be far more reliable, feel better etc.
Also, don't buy pots/caps from a music store, it'll cost you approx 10 times more (for no greater quality) than if you buy them from an electronics shop.

Tackleberry
02-14-2010, 11:44 PM
Depends if its something like a gibson probably not, they are gonna use decent parts to begin with. An epi or a squier where they use the cheapest parts then yea you might see some difference.

You never know if a company is gonna use good parts or not my 1100$ carvin came with an "economy" switch and cheap pots.

A D Hays
02-14-2010, 11:55 PM
Its not going to change it enough to worry about. Ive taken pots off cheap gutiars and used them to replace broken ones on others and they sound the same.

Baby Joel
02-15-2010, 02:01 AM
Better pots can make a difference (A little), but don't spend $40 on a bumblebee capcitor, or even $10 on an Orange Drop. The circuit of an electric guitar is far too small to really be affected by the quality of capacitors.

GravyFish
02-15-2010, 03:04 AM
I would defer to the old adage, "If it isn't broken, don't fix it." If your pots work just fine, I would avoid replacing them. If you replace the pickups or change the wiring scheme, it might be worth replacing parts of questionable reliability, but if everything is in order you're not likely to gain much from swapping out equally-functioning parts. Changing your capacitor's value will impact the function of your tone knob, however, so if you're looking to get something different out of your tone pot, it might be worth fiddling around with.

littlephil
02-15-2010, 03:16 AM
Different capacitors will affect the frequencies affected by the tone cap, your guitar should already have one in the right range for a guitar tone.
There is a whole lot of mojo (crap) surrounding tone caps, and the truth is it doesnt matter what kind of capacitor you use, you wont hear the difference. The value is what matters.
Pots really only need to be changed (or just cleaned) when they get scratchy, or you want to change the value. with humbuckers, changing to a 1Meg pot will give you a brighter sound.

al112987
02-15-2010, 03:18 AM
I'd say that there is a difference. The difference that I find really comes down to this...

Gibson uses 300k pots stock in all their standard production guitars and I typically like to change them to 500k which is the traditional value for les pauls and it lets a little more brightness through. That in itself can make a pretty noticeable difference, but that is more to do with the value of the pot, not necessarily the quality of the pot. But the second thing about the pots are the taper, in some ways this is less important, but when I changed to the RS superpots in my guitar, one of the things that I really liked was the custom taper that they have so that you get nice, gradual volume changes throughout the entire taper of the pot. This isn't the case with linear pots where you don't really hear much difference until you get down to like.. 2 or 3 and it suddenly drops or log pots where you get a sudden drop off at 7 or 8 on the volume dial. But this only matters if you're the type who uses your guitar volume to clean up your sound (I do because I use a single channel amp).

As for the caps, I think that is less important, I have PIO caps in my guitar, Idk if it really makes a huge difference or not, I changed values when I went from the ceramic disk to PIO caps, I just bought some NOS Russians from Ebay, that's all those $30 Bumblebee reissues are anyway. $12 for the set on Ebay, I'm willing to spend that much for the sake of experimentation. it certainly doesn't sound worse, but decreasing the value does make the tone roll off much smoother. It just gives a much more articulate woman tone compared to the stock caps. Again, this might be due to changing the value mroe than the capacitor type.

Old Nick
02-15-2010, 04:35 AM
more expensive pots do not sound different. I have a doctorate in Electronic engineering and work as an electronic engineer, so I know about this stuff.

500K ohm is 500K ohm whether you spend 1.00 or 15 on the pot. What you're paying for is mechanical quality which has no bearing on the frequency response of an electric circuit.
Any improvements you may have heard due to upgrading to more expensive pots is purely imagined. Or due to you installing a different value of pot.

Don't buy pots from guitar shops, they charge too much for them.

KenG
02-15-2010, 11:27 AM
more expensive pots do not sound different. I have a doctorate in Electronic engineering and work as an electronic engineer, so I know about this stuff.

500K ohm is 500K ohm whether you spend 1.00 or 15 on the pot. What you're paying for is mechanical quality which has no bearing on the frequency response of an electric circuit.
Any improvements you may have heard due to upgrading to more expensive pots is purely imagined. Or due to you installing a different value of pot.

Don't buy pots from guitar shops, they charge too much for them.


Thank you for stepping in and clarifying this as a real SME.

As for capacitors, there are dielectrics better than ceramic for audio frequencies and some caps are closer to their stated value than others (tolerance) but the old BumbleBee style cap's wouldn't have any better accuracy than an equivalent one made today. (Certainly not an old Russain one made with obsolete technlogy 30 to 40 years ago ie NOS).

I'd also like to add that changing the capacitor value changes the frequency where the roll off occurs. Decreasing the Caps value shifts the cutoff frequency up higher in the audio range so the "smoothness" al112987 is referring to is probably due to the fact that you've reduced the tone controls effectiveness by raising it to a frequency where there's little signal available to act upon.