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Help Understanding Capacitors And Resistors


jackillac92
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Hi well I recently inherited a box full of vintage capacitors resistors and other electronic components from my grandfathers estate. They were from an old NAVY radio that he had built. Well the capacitors dont have their values and they just have these capacitor codes on them and I had no idea what to do with them until I read this article.. I am trying to understand all of this but it has prooved an impossible feat so far. So my questions are.

Can I measure capacitance or resistance with a multimeter?

How do I identify a capacitor or resistors value?

What do capacitors and resistors do to a guitars sound?

What value capacitor and resistor are used inside guitars and basses?

What are OHM's?

Where can I buy capacitors and resistors localy besides radio shack?

How are capacitors wired into a guitar?

If you could explain it in lay-mans terms that would be great. Thanks

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Hi well I recently inherited a box full of vintage capacitors resistors and other electronic components from my grandfathers estate. They were from an old NAVY radio that he had built. Well the capacitors dont have their values and they just have these capacitor codes on them and I had no idea what to do with them until I read this article.. I am trying to understand all of this but it has prooved an impossible feat so far. So my questions are.

Can I measure capacitance or resistance with a multimeter?

How do I identify a capacitor or resistors value?

What do capacitors and resistors do to a guitars sound?

What value capacitor and resistor are used inside guitars and basses?

What are OHM's?

Where can I buy capacitors and resistors localy besides radio shack?

How are capacitors wired into a guitar?

If you could explain it in lay-mans terms that would be great. Thanks

All multimeters measure resistance, and some, especially better modern digital ones, measure capacitance (and inductance as well, and many other things - even temperature)

Resistors usually limit the sound level, and combinations of resistors and capacitors filter the sound - i.e. form a tone control.

Other than measuring it, components will also have either colour codes or numbers printed on them.

Actual values used in guitars and basses vary a bit - you should be able to google plenty of examples.

Ohms are the unit of measurement of resistance. Values are often expressed in kilo-ohms, abbreviated to 'k', e.g. 500k ohms is 500,000 ohms.

Music stores might sell you some, but they usually charge a lot. Local electronics repair shops might sell you some, if they don't mind depleting the stock they carry for repairs.

As for how capacitors are wired, you will need to learn how to read a circuit diagram, or schematic, or else follow one of the physical drawings you might find on the net. Basically capacitors and other components and soldered to other components to form the electronic circuit.

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The ARRL, (that's the American Radio Relay League, a large organization of amateur radio folks) has put out a quite a few books, one of them being on basic electronics principles. It's called something like "Understanding Basic Electronics".

This is a basic electronics book I found really decent - it's a quick easy read that makes sense to the beginner without dumbing down the subject matter. A bit of it spends time on radio-centric stuff, but it's a useful resource to anyone interested in electronics.

It's often available at local libraries here in the US, and it's always the book I direct people to when they desire a basic understanding of electronics/electricity.

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You can also could probably find an electronics supply shop. The one here locally has more stock than radio shack could ever dream of and for better prices. Electronics is a very fun but involved area, so you will need to do some good studying. Also, understanding things like signal flow and the like will help you to be able to design your own guitar wiring (how to wire different switches and pickup combinations, etc.).

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When trying to understand electrics (which I still don't, which is unfortunate as it's the industry I work in), then I found it a lot easier to thkn of it all in terms of water, it's a lot easier to picture what is going on in my head that way. Have a look a round the net, I'm sure there must be something similar somewhere

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The values should be printed on the parts. You may have trouble measuring capacitance with a multi-meter but resistance should be no problem to measure. The values for capacitance are so small they may not register. I had that trouble during a lab in AP physics. And actually, I have heard that analog meters are more accurate than digital because they don't have any circuitry with its own resistors and such but that type of precision shouldn't be needed for guitars.

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Was going to suggest what ToneMonkey did. The analogy of water through hoses will help you understand electronic components if you haven't much experience with them. For instance: a resistor is like pinching the hose a certain amount.

The analogy does work to some some extent. Taking it further...

Voltage = water pressure

Current = flow rate

Capacitor = a holding tank with 2 in/out pipes

Resistor = (as noted already) a restriction causing a pressure drop

Potentiometer = an adjustable valve

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Capacitor = a holding tank with 2 in/out pipes

I prefer to think of it as a big bucket with a hole in the bottom. When you pull the plug you get a rush followed by a trickle.

Except a cap is symmetrical - you can 'fill' it from either end. (analogies always fall down at some point :D )

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