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Worth replacing stock caps?


Bluemoon

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I was thinking of replacing the stock caps in my LP.

 

RS Guitarworks has the Luxe repo bumblebees--though they seem pretty expensive ($40 for a pair).

 

So it is worth replacing them--does it result in that much of a difference in tone? I find my LP to be a little too bright and the tone controls get pretty muddy at lower levels. And are the Luxe caps the best way to go?

 

Thanks

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Yes it makes a difference!

Not to insult anyone else, but if you can't hear the difference between caps, you either really haven’t tried many (especially PIO caps) or have so much distortion and effects you can't hear any original tone from you guitar, or your as deaf as a post.

 

I have done a lot of tests and I’m generally a skeptical person. Before I did a whole lot of test I would have said the same thing (It can't matter), but Trust me there are many differences in the sound of caps of the same value. Especially in your scenario of getting muddy when you turn down. PIO (Paper In Oil) caps tend to not have that problem.

 

The LUX repros are nice, BUT inside they are Russian PIO caps that you can get much cheaper if you don't want them to look like vintage Bees.

I like the vintage Vitamin Qs, but you may want something warmer like the Angela Copper Foil Paper In Oil (warmer than the Aluminum Foil version) or the Jupiter beeswax capacitors (these have a great warm but clear sound)

You can find a lot of these on eBay or places like Specialty Guitar.

 

I think they are well worth the cost(except maybe the repros since your paying a lot for the look).

 

-Eddie

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1) why ?

2) why ?

 

Is the guitar not to your liking?

 

I just gave away a pair of original .047 M 200V PIO Bumble Bees caps. ...

 

I had heard that capacitors can made a significant difference,especially if you use your tone controls on your guitar a lot. I was told that the stock caps in a Standard tend to muddy the sound as you back off on the tone controls.

 

And it is fun to experiment. It is a fairly easy process to replace the caps and I can always put the stocks back on if it doesn't work out.

 

Just wanted to get some opinions before making the investment.

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Bluemoon, yes those repo Bees are worth it. I have them in my R8 & R9...and will most likely buy them for my R6, '62SG & next R9. I say most likely because I'm tempted to try out those other paper in oil caps RS has, the Tigers.

I've tried a few different caps. Vintage Bees, repo bees, Vit Qs, Orange Drops, & Tropical Fish (can't think of any others right now) and my advice is definitely get paper in oil caps. I also tried 0.047 Bees and didnt' like them because they made the guitar very dark sounding ('06 LP Standard). Stick with 0.023 (I think), you won't regret it.

 

My R9 is the nicest sounding LP I've heard and to be honest, the Bees didn't make much of a difference in that guitar...but in the R8 it was WOW.

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Bluemoon' date=' yes those repo Bees are worth it. I have them in my R8 & R9...and will most likely buy them for my R6, '62SG & next R9. I say most likely because I'm tempted to try out those other paper in oil caps RS has, the Tigers.

I've tried a few different caps. Vintage Bees, repo bees, Vit Qs, Orange Drops, & Tropical Fish (can't think of any others right now) and my advice is definitely get paper in oil caps. I also tried 0.047 Bees and didnt' like them because they made the guitar very dark sounding ('06 LP Standard). Stick with 0.023 (I think), you won't regret it.

 

My R9 is the nicest sounding LP I've heard and to be honest, the Bees didn't make much of a difference in that guitar...but in the R8 it was WOW.[/quote']

 

I assume they are easy to install, right. I replaced a lot of the capacitors and resistors in my Valve Jr. without any problem. I assume it can't be any more difficult, right?

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Worth replacing the stock caps in a Gibson?

 

Short answer: no.

 

It's generally not an expensive enterprise to do so, of course, unless you get sucked in by cork-sniffer prices on rather ordinary caps dressed up to look like something special, so you can dink with them to your heart's content.

 

You might also look into something like the ToneStyler, a Tone pot replacement with an array of 8 different cap values to select. These are about $99 and offer a lot of tonal possibilities well beyond those requiring dog hearing to notice.

 

There's also the Chandler Tone-X, a push-pull battery-powered replacement for a tone control that, upon pull activation, gives you a 16 dB boost sweepable through the mid frequencies -- the equivalent of a fixed wah. Gibson uses it in some of the Joe Perry sig guitars. About $50.

 

And finally, Gary Brawer in SF mods a push-pull tone pot with caps and resistors to allow a sweepable mid cut/boost; it's the same setup as that in the Neal Schon Sig guitars (though Neal originally used the Chandler Tone-X as well). I don't know what he wants to set up your guitar that way (or if he'll give out the information on the setup), but I'd suggest that even that is cheaper than a pair of $40 caps.

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Bluemoon,

 

I went with tthe Luxe Repros BB's because of the sound and the look as I wanted the look also. I had Vit Q's before but I thought they where a little bright and the tone knobs work much better with the Luxe BB. If I did not like the Luxe's I was only out $42 on a guitar that was $2000+ and I would have stayed with the Vit. Q's.

 

I also put in 500k CTS pots and wired it 50's style. Guitar now has a nice "woody' type sound with the great mid-range honk. This is the sound I was after and might not be what you want.

 

RS also has Jensen caps.

 

Here a couple of links to the RS Forum on info on the wiring and caps

 

50's wiring difference

 

Jensen caps VS Luxe Repros

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I started with Hovlands and saw some improvement but I pulled them out and used Orange Drops 0.022 for the bridge and 0.015 for the neck position. I also changed the wiring slighlty to connect the caps to the tone pot only and then the tone pot connected to the volume pot with a wire. This was following somebody's advice in this forum and it made a difference, the controls are a bit more useful.

 

I re-did the wiring on my Explorer using Rs Guitarworks' Super pot (500K) for volume and tone and used Mojo oil in aluminum caps and the difference is very noticeable. Even the neck pickup does not get muddy. I keep the tone at 7 on the bridge pickup and go from there depending if I want more or less treble or mix the pickups.

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I started with Hovlands and saw some improvement but I pulled them out and used Orange Drops 0.022 for the bridge and 0.015 for the neck position. I also changed the wiring slighlty to connect the caps to the tone pot only and then the tone pot connected to the volume pot with a wire. This was following somebody's advice in this forum and it made a difference' date=' the controls are a bit more useful.

 

I re-did the wiring on my Explorer using Rs Guitarworks' Super pot (500K) for volume and tone and used Mojo oil in aluminum caps and the difference is very noticeable. Even the neck pickup does not get muddy. I keep the tone at 7 on the bridge pickup and go from there depending if I want more or less treble or mix the pickups.[/quote']

 

I do the same thing with my bridge tone pot. I start it out on 7 and go from there. 10 for a little brighter sound, 4 for a little darker sound.

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The only difference from my experience with electronics is the value of the capacitor and the way it was produced. The biggest difference being between ceramic and paper in oil caps. .022 at the bridge and .015 at the neck are what I suggest. The Luxe caps are NOS paper in oil caps made in russia and then made to look like bumblebee caps. Personally I think it is more worth while to change the pots to different values as this affects the sound more in terms of brightness. Also I recommend the treble bleed circuit in order to preserve top end clarity with the volume down.

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reading all this has intrigued me

my V is incredibly bright (a little too much i might say)

its completely stock right now' date=' but what caps would have the effect of warming the tone (more bass and mids)?

 

if it matters, it's a 1991 standard

[/quote']

 

Any PIO cap will warm up the tone from your Les Paul a bit. Think of 'liquid' and 'smooth', than you've got it. They made a real difference for my Les Paul Standard, even with the guitars volume and tone knobs on 10. They're smoother than the stock, cheap ceramic caps (which tend to sound a bit harsh, especially for the bridge position). I wasn't ever satisfied with my LP tone (always too harsh/agressive/thin), untill I tried the PIO caps (.022 Vitamin Q's). I disconnected the tone from the neck pickup recentely, but it's a bit too harsh sounding again (in the upper mids), so I'm gonna put the PIO cap back to the electronic circuit.

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Add me to the list of cap converts. On a whim I picked up a set of the Luxe Bumble Bee repros today at a guitar show. Popped them in as soon as I got home and plugged in. They definitely made a difference. The treble response changed notably - not necessarily brighter but fuller and more open. But the biggest difference is in the way the tone controls work now - they seem to DO a lot more. When I roll the treble off now it isn't muffled. Instead I get that honkin' Clapton in Cream tone. I notice even a small adjustment in the tone knobs now. Before the were much less responsive.

 

I gotta admit I was surprised the caps made that much difference. I was originally going to change pots as well, but I don't think I want the extra treble 500ks would add. I don't like things too bright, so I might stop with just the cap replacement.

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Add me to the list of cap converts. On a whim I picked up a set of the Luxe Bumble Bee repros today at a guitar show. Popped them in as soon as I got home and plugged in. They definitely made a difference. The treble response changed notably - not necessarily brighter but fuller and more open. But the biggest difference is in the way the tone controls work now - they seem to DO a lot more. When I roll the treble off now it isn't muffled. Instead I get that honkin' Clapton in Cream tone. I notice even a small adjustment in the tone knobs now. Before the were much less responsive.

 

I gotta admit I was surprised the caps made that much difference. I was originally going to change pots as well' date=' but I don't think I want the extra treble 500ks would add. I don't like things too bright, so I might stop with just the cap replacement. [/quote']

 

Nice. Sounds like a good mod. How much did you pay for the caps?

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I would like to know which characteristics of capacitors contribute to the perceptual difference. Two capacitors rated 0.022 microF could be different in many different ways. Thanks.

The main factor that contributes to different characteristics is the dielectric material. Generally in audio' date=' the best material is polypropylene. I note that some prefer paper and oil dielectric for guitars, just be aware that the ones being promoted especially for guitars seems absurdly expensive (at least to me).

 

Folks, after reading this thread I did some searches and found similar threads on other guitar fora. A large portion of what I read was, shall we say, questionable. Unfortunately not many engineers are making themselves heard. Some of the (content of the) stories about the changes in sound was due to placebo effects or defect capacitors. Audible changes can be had by swapping capacitor types, but it will usually be quite subtle.

 

Also the actual tone control circuit in a guitar is utterly simple in electronic and math terms. The "50's wiring" and so on is not in any way mystical. There is zero magic involved in any of it. For you reference, the tone potentiometer and capacitor makes up a simple RC (Resistor Capacitor) circuit arranged as a variable load for the high frequency content (or in other words, a variable short circuit for the treble). You can read all about RC circuits here.

 

Lastly, someone mentioned resoldering by just reheating the old solder. There's a big chance that it'll come back to haunt one later with a (partial) failure. Always use fresh solder.

 

DJ

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Your right there isn't anything mystical here, but i'm not sure anyone is saying there is. PIO sounds different from Ceramic or Polypropylene. I think it is the very imperfection of the old type PIO caps that I think makes them sound good for a guitar tone control. Sure a tone control is a simple RC circuit, but the math represents the ideal perfect capacitor. PIO caps are quirky and sound that way.

The thing is that some "Engineers" (of which I am BTW) never actually do the listen test. I finally broke down and did some testing and the differences were amazingly clear.

 

I do think that the vintage look alike caps are crazy expensive, but you can get some decent PIO caps on eBay for a reasonable price.

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Agreed Eddie, the imperfections are what we are after to get those tonal variations in all parts of the signal chain. The mysticism aspect of these things can be found in many internet discussions where strange and confused claims are made and not a single rational explanation is presented (not only in guitar land, mind you, many hifi nuts are really far gone) - this thread is doing pretty well though :-)

 

Like you, I'm also willing to listen, and I intend to experiment a bit with guitar electronics. If you read my posting as discouraging experimentation, that was not at all the intention - my simplest response to the thread title would be 'Yes, go right ahead and try different caps and pots, just like you try different playing techniques, amps, fx etc.!'

 

There's an interesting article about capacitors in audio on Walt Jungs site. It's an oldie, but still a good one. Here are links: part 1 and part 2.

 

DJ

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