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Capacitors for my Les Paul Project


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I have looked through multiple forums and searched all over, but I am a bit confused on the whole capacitor thing. I have recently bought a Les Paul Body and have bought all the parts for it, so I am just getting the little pieces and bit and bobs I am needing to finally take it in to the tech and get it all put together. I've pretty much got to decide with a capacitor now, which I know there are loads out there, I know about the Bumblebees and the Vitamin Q's, but I just can't decide on one as I am not sure about the tone I will get. I am not to guitar-literate, pretty much just love to play...


What I am asking is if someone can tell me maybe what cap would best suit what I am looking for. I play a lot of heavy music (hardcore/metal). I've bought the Burstbucker Pro's for both neck and bridge positions and the pot's I have the typical size a Les Paul usually comes with, which I believe are the 250k's, can't remember just now(kinda stuck on an oil rig, so I can't exactly go to my room and check! sorry!) I want a nice clean sound that sounds good clean or with distortion, and nothing too muddy.. I am not too sure what the whole "vintage" sound is, and I may or may not nessesarily be looking for it, cause I don't really know. I'm not too sure what brighter and darker tones mean as well. I'll pretty much know the tone I want when I hear it, which I guess kinda puts me in the rut I'm in, therefore, why I am asking what I am asking!


If anyone can help me out, it would be greatly appreciated, until then, I'll just keep doin as much research as I can!



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This is a tough one to answer because you may not like what I like.

Having said that, I played around with a few caps. This may help you, then again, it may not.



One thing you should look out for with caps is their value. You probably want .022 uF caps.

I tried .047 vintage Bees and the guitar sounded too dark, or muffled, when I rolled the tone down.

.047 would be better on a single coil pickup.


Pots - Gibson USA Les Pauls use 300K linear in the volume positions and 500K audio(log) in the tone positions.

That's another thing you could do, get 500K volume pots.

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Thanks guys for the help, I did know of values in caps, but wasn't too sure what was best was for what I was looking for. I know Les Pauls usually use a .022uF. I'll definetly look into getting 500K pots for the volume, as I read yesterday that that was what was used. Tim, if you can let me know what it is you like, it might help me out with what I am looking for, and if I don't like it, at least I know what I am not looking for! Any advice is good advice in my eyes! I was thinking of just buying what I think is what I'm looking for, then getting a solder gun and then goin from there and putting new caps on and whatnot, I can manage the solder bit, just once the guitar is all installed, I couldn' wire it all up myself though! I did check out that link and that's what gave me that idea!



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The best place online to get the part is: http://www.rsguitarworks.net/rsstore/index.php


Here's a link to the caps : http://www.rsguitarworks.net/rsstore/index.php?cPath=45_67


There's A500k (Audio) is better than Gibson use these for the tone control :




Now for the B500k (Linear) Linear is used for volume, RS Guitar works offers a "super pot", that isn't listed as Linear but works like a Linear for the volume control :




These are long (brass) shaft and are not the cheap CTS pots you can buy at local shops. They are custom made for RSG and are amazing.


I love them, FYI these are long shaft, unless you have a historic Les Paul you'd need short shaft potentiometers.


Vintage Les Pauls had CTS potentiometers.


RSG has pre-wired kits :http://www.rsguitarworks.net/rsstore/index.php?cPath=47


If you're using Seymour Duncan pickups the pre-wired kit would need some modifying.


Here's a quick explanation of values from http://www.stewmac.com :


Your tone is affected by the control pots you use. Not just the tone control — the volume pot influences tone, too.


250K vs. 500K pots

250K pots give a slightly warmer tone than 500K because the 250K bleeds off some of the high frequencies.


250K = warmer

500K = brighter

1 Meg = brightest


Usually, 250K pots are used with single-coil pickups and and 500Ks are used with humbuckers. If you want to hear your guitar "wide open" with all the highs, try 1 Meg pots.


25K pots are used with active systems.


Uh that's all I can think of right now, I didn't much sleep last night ='(.


Good luck.

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Thanks for all those links, I'll check out pots and all, I was thinkin of getting higher value pots! If I were to get a 1 meg pot, does that mean it's the best sounding? As well, any suggestions as to my original question? Thanks for all the advice dudes! As well, would I need a treble bleed for my volume pots?

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Wow 1meg, that would probably be all crunch and mostly treble. This maybe overkill, but you never know you may like the sound.


The treble bleed mod is done only to the tone potentiometer. Maybe add this after (it's easy) the guitar is wired. See how it sound first. The treble bleed mod requires a resistor.


I have the repro Luxe BumbleBees :




I'm not crazy about the BumbleBees, but I have to say they are definitely better than the stock Gibson ceramic caps. The Lux are expensive, you could try inexpensive caps so you can try a variety.


Kinda hard to advise you on what sounds good, since it's subjective.


There's various way you can wire the components to get unique sounds.


I have my caps grounded to the pots from the center lug instead of linking volume to tone via cap.


That's not a treble bleed mod, but alot less volume is sucked out from the tone potentiometer.


Here's the diagram for the spin-a-splits Alien8 was talking about :




Good luck.

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ALIEN8 Posted: September 29, 2008 10:26:11 AM

No Caps, run them wide open! If you're lucky enough to have 4 conductor p/u's you can turn the tone pots into coil splitters!!


xdamerx Posted: September 29, 2008 3:38:00 PM

Thanks for all those links, I'll check out pots and all, I was thinkin of getting higher value pots! If I were to get a 1 meg pot, does that mean it's the best sounding? As well, any suggestions as to my original question? Thanks for all the advice dudes! As well, would I need a treble bleed for my volume pots?



Not to be a jerk or anything, but I did... You honestly don't need tone controls - especially for metal. Turn them into something useful for metal, like using single coils for that sweet bell like tone when you clean things up. The axe will look and play like stock, it just sounds different than normal when you roll back on the tone.

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Yea, I guess I really don't want all crunch. I just want a tone that will sound nice and heavy when played with distortion, and nice and clean when played clean. I am looking at vitamin q's just now, but they are showing to be hard to find at .022uf 400v. I've found some on ebay with 200v. How much does the voltage(i think thats what the "v" stands for) matter, as I've read that it doesn't really make that much of a difference. I am looking now to just get a decent capacitor, get my guitar together so it's playable, then playing around with the caps once its all done. Think I'm gonna go for the 500K pots for the volume. Does the brand make a huge difference at all, or is it kinda the same throughout, I bought my pots off a shop whos tech is the tech for chad kruger(I'm not a big fan, but I'm assuming the tech is good), and the majority of his parts were All parts, so I am to assume that the pots I bought were All Parts. Am I better off getting stock Gibson pots?

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The voltage rating will only make a diff on the physical size of the capacitor - most ratings are OK in a guitar (which is like 1V), but the caps start getting too big as the voltage rating gets higher - anything in the 50V-200V is most likely fine - 400V MAY work (i.e. will it fit in the cavity?), but I would chose the 200V or less.


Paper/oil work the best for "audio" applications because they have a nice linear roll-off. On the web there is a site where some guy tested types (for use in audio applications) with a scope (graphs) for the "cleanest" results - I will see if I can dig it up again. EDIT: http://members.aol.com/sbench102/caps.html


Anyway, the "cleanest" MAY not be what we/you want in a guitar - people like a bit of distortion (compared to say a hi-fi amp). Polypropelene and film/foils also did very well - just a tiny bit less linear. For your build I would go with the Vitamin Qs (more modern paper/oil but mil spec) - they seem fairly accessible, and plenty of people like them. Mullard Trops (poly/film) are a modern classic part too - and seem easy to find. For modern specs go with Orange Drops 225P.


The tolerance rating of a cap makes a diff too - 10% is good, 5% is better - 20% is pretty crappy.


I recently tried a few different ones in my Traditional, starting with the stock ceramic 223Ks (ceramics tested the worst on that site I mentioned - very non-linear), then the "green chicklets" like at Radio Shack, & currently the Orange Drop 225Ps (poly/film). Really did not note any big tonal change. I have a few Mullard Tropical Fish coming in too. I like a nice clean sound, and so far so good - plus the 225Ps give me "quality" peace-of-mind. I have a .022 in neck & a .033 in my bridge PU just because - I will decide when the mullards (.022s) come in what to stick with.


As for "darker or brighter" - the caps come into play here due to the frequencies they roll-off thru the tone pot to ground. A lower uF number (i.e. .015 vs .022) means only frequencies higher then .015 are what are being dumped - so more range of treble freqs are being dumped by the .033 then the .022 then the .015. A .033 should give you a darker tone then a .015 because "only" lower freqs are left behind. (note: Strat caps usually are .047 because the single coil PUs are brighter then humbuckers)


I could not find a decent pair of Qs to try - probably will eventually, but not too concerned. IF I had an older model I would go for a more vintage part, but for an '08 - the 225P work fine.

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Thanks a lot for that, I am really considering the Vitamin Q's but having a bit of a hard time finding them online! Can't really find out if the local shops here have them as I'm kind of on a oil rig in the middle of a sea just now, so all I can do is wait. I know "cleanest" isn't exact what I am looking for, but I don't want to have a muddy sound, especially with distortion, as that can happen easily. I just want to plug my guitar in and say to myself, "that's sweet!!". Any ideas of where I can find some Vitamin Q's that aren't on ebay, as I don't have an ebay account. Thanks for all the advice guys once again!

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