#1
I just installed a new bridge pickup (Duncan Alternative 8) in my Les Paul Classic Custom.

While I was at it, I swapped out the tone cap with an orange drop. The cap that was originally in it was a tiny blue cap, which I am assuming is tantalum (as apposed to the film and foil construction of an orange drop).

Since I changed the pickup first, I couldn't compare the difference between the caps, but since the soldering iron was still hot I decided to swap out the cap for the neck tone control (which still has a '57 Classic in it).

The old caps and the new caps are the same value (.022µF). The only difference is that the orange drops are 1% tolerance, whereas I'm assuming the old cap is 10%-20%.

Here's the thing: Suddenly, my neck pickup has a high-end! I'm able to do pinch harmonics that I just couldn't do before on the neck pickup. It's not even close to subtle either. After I was playing for awhile (and had been switching back and forth), I forgot I was on the neck pickup and started doing the pinch harmonics and thought I was on the bridge pickup again for a second.

The question is, how can changing the cap make such a big difference with the tone control on 10? That just doesn't make any sense to me (albeit, I'm not an electronics engineer). I'm assuming the new pickup has nothing to do with it since the effect is there with it switched to the neck only.

Any thoughts on this?
"Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." -some dude
#2
I am an electronics engineer (although I have only done a small amount of research into electric guitar circuitry).

Such a profound change, from your description, does not appear to me to be attributable simply to the type of dielectric in the capacitor if the value is the same. If the change corresponds to a new pickup just installed, then I am more likely to say that the pickup impedance (inductance, capacitance and resistance) would have made more of a difference in conjunction with the same value capacitor. I would be curious to see how you connected the new items into the circuit, if at all different.

Caps can make a difference depending their dielectric material, but I do not expect this much in the audible range. I expect you had a mylar, polyester or similar capacitor initially - although it could have been ceramic but they have poorer stability and tolerance (it would surprise me if the original one was tantalum, because those caps usually have very high values, much higher than used in a guitar tone circuit).

Most tone circuits adjust the series resistance of a capacitor/resistor shunt to ground, so even on 10 it has some influence in the response. There is also some cross-coupling of volume and tone between pickups(assuming you connected it the same way)
Last edited by Blademaster2 at Dec 22, 2015,
#3
Iv experienced the same thing many times. I think you would be suprised just how much an "old" cap can limit the upper range...
Two caps of the same value will still sound drastically different based on the materials/construction. The cap is also bleeding off treble ALL the time no matter if its on 10 or 2.
#4
Sure, it's possible there's a difference if the old one was really on one end of the tolerance range. A tone knob shunts treble to ground, out of the output signal, and putting it on 10 simply raises the resistance to the full value of the pot, so even on that setting it's losing some treble to ground. Hence why a 1meg tone pot sounds brighter than a 500k and why glam rockers used to play guitars without tone knobs.

I'm not certain whether it'd be that much of a difference, though.
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#5
Quote by K33nbl4d3
Sure, it's possible there's a difference if the old one was really on one end of the tolerance range. A tone knob shunts treble to ground, out of the output signal, and putting it on 10 simply raises the resistance to the full value of the pot, so even on that setting it's losing some treble to ground. Hence why a 1meg tone pot sounds brighter than a 500k and why glam rockers used to play guitars without tone knobs.

I'm not certain whether it'd be that much of a difference, though.



No doubt.
#6
Thanks for the replies.

I guess maybe the old cap was at the extreme end of the tolerance range or something and maybe there's a high resistance on the tone pot when it's at 10. Or maybe I dripped some solder somewhere and slightly shorted something? lol Both volumes and tones work as expected though.

Here is the circuit in the Classic Custom: http://www.lacemusic.com/pdf/5.pdf Everything was put in exactly as it was, as shown in the diagram. EDIT: I also used solder with a 6% silver content, but I doubt that make any difference.

The new cap is a .022 1% 100V orange drop, and the old one says "223k" on it. Here is the old cap (it looks kind of green-ish in the pic, but it's bright blue):
"Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." -some dude
Last edited by Prime2515102 at Dec 22, 2015,
#7
Quote by Prime2515102
Thanks for the replies.

I guess maybe the old cap was at the extreme end of the tolerance range or something and maybe there's a high resistance on the tone pot when it's at 10. Or maybe I dripped some solder somewhere and slightly shorted something? lol Both volumes and tones work as expected though.

Here is the circuit in the Classic Custom: http://www.lacemusic.com/pdf/5.pdf Everything was put in exactly as it was, as shown in the diagram. EDIT: I also used solder with a 6% silver content, but I doubt that make any difference.

The new cap is a .022 1% 100V orange drop, and the old one says "223k" on it. Here is the old cap (it looks kind of green-ish in the pic, but it's bright blue):


Sounds more like a resistor that was in there rather than a capacitor.
#8
That's a .022 cap, if it made much difference to replace it with the same value, it was probably either way out on the edge of its range or just going bad.

I've never seen changing materials make much difference, usually you can't hear a difference. What makes a major difference is either changing values or replacing a bad cap.

You can also adjust the values of these for that reason. If you have a guitar that doesn't get enough treble, changing that cap for a different value can make it sound like a different guitar. I often see it said that the cap doesn't matter until you turn down the tone knob, but my Harmony sounded like I already had it turned down so I started playing with cap values. going from the .047 already there to a .039 did the trick, it now sounds like it should. And that's with the tone knob all the way up. I'm thinking about going on to a .022...
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...