Recently a friend was talking about changing the capacitors in his Tone circuit, citing that the ones typically used at the factory are crap. I have no idea what this kind of mod would do. I noticed that there are some good options at Stew-Mac, including the coveted "Paper in Oil" caps.

What i'd like to know is your thoughts on this? is it a good mod or a myth? will there be a noticeable change or so subtle that only professionals behind a mixing board would notice. If any one out there has done it please pass on your experience.

Lots of opinions on this one. I think there's a difference, though it certainly is not major. If you get a chance you can solder a pair of alligator clips into your guitar and swap out tone caps quickly. That's where you'll notice the difference most readily, back to back. The value of the cap certainly matters (more than the construction) so you may as well experiment with that at the same time. I think you'll find that using a PIO cap lets you turn the tone down a bit more than the usual stock ceramic cap. Usually a stock tone pot/cap setup sounds crappy unless it's at 8-10 so a lot of people never use their tone knobs. Upgrading the pot and cap often lets you actually use the tone knob through most of the sweep. Some of that is getting a better pot if the stock one sucks, some of it is dialing in the right cap value, but I do think there is some merit to trying a few types of tone cap. They're cheap enough that you might as well try it to form your own opinion anyway.
Whatever difference there is...is tiny.
I've had an array of capacitors laid out from stock to fancy, cheap to expensive, and we've applied them via alligator clips, looking for the magic combination. In the end, we actually liked whatever the factory supplied just fine.
the material is negligible. the value is HUGE.

when your tone knob is at 10, it basically doesnt matter. the capacitor only comes into effect when your roll teh tone knob less than 10. it affects the extent or the rate at which your tone darkens. so one capacitor will make your guitar dark as night, another may do barely anything at all. its player preference and how they use thier tone knob. if you always play with your tone knob on 10, it really doesnt matter.

i reduced the value of my capacitor (makes guitar brighter) and the full range of the tone knob, 1-10 is very usable. normally, all guitars with a tone knob on 0-3 are fairly useless mudd. so i like it. also, i have a phase split switch, and with the guitar set out of phase and teh knob on 0, i get a cocked wah tone. its very cool.

so yeah, it can be used to your advantage.
Recommendations will change from person to person.

I think a good couple questions to ask are what guitar you have and what sound you wish to achieve with new pots?
Changing the cap mostly just changes the taper on the pot. If you use your tone controls a lot (I do), you get pretty familiar with whatever taper you have and instinctively know where you want it. I roll off to 8 a lot on my Strat bridge PU. Guitars are just tools to me so I don't generally get all worked up about customizing if it already gets the job done. YMMV
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
The best tone cap is nothing.

For anyone who likes tinkering, you can do that by scraping off the end of the tone pot contact track to give infinite resistance. I did it on a couple of 500K pots and couldn't hear any difference between infinite and about 450K where the track started again. However, I can see that it might have an effect in some circumstances, especially with lower resistance pots.

I think I can hear a differences between orange drops and ceramic, a bit less mud with the orange drops. But I could be deluding myself; I generally compromise and go for polyester.
Quote by JustRooster
Recommendations will change from person to person.

I think a good couple questions to ask are what guitar you have and what sound you wish to achieve with new pots?

JR- I have no idea which guitar in my arsenal i would attempt this on first. I've tried everything to get my RG620X to sound great without success. I've got Rio Grande CRUNCHBOX/Punchbox in it and it still sounds Meh. I don't think the tone capacitors will help to much with that, its just that the RG has sort of become my experiment guitar since it is pretty much my least expensive one.

As for what sound, i'm an Eightys hard rock/heavy metal guy.
If you like changing the sound of your tone circuit install a varitone. It’s a multi-position switch that lets you select from different (or no) capacitors. There are plenty of varitone kits out there, ask Google to show you.