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Capacitors, What Effect Do Values And Type Have On Sound


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Value makes a lot more difference than type.

i did a little test similar to the one in the video, 2 caps on a switch so you can instantly flick between them. but i made sure to match the value of the caps i was using

the results where that the caps actually sounded pretty much the same when tone was full on or full off. There were some differences in the feel of the sweep, but the same sounds were available.

The big problem i found with the cheaper ceramic disc caps was that they were inconsistent and often well below stated value. but when matched with a decent cap like an orange drop or some vintage ones they actually sounded pretty similar

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thank you all for responding :D

The main reason for this question was I have a .047mfd capacitor that I bought while preping for some seymorduncans. I changed my mind last minute and decided to buy some Lace sensors. The SDs recommended a .047mfd cap, but the Laces suggested a .022mfd Cap. I really didn't feel like buying another part if I didn't have to.

I think I'll stick with em.

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  • 2 weeks later...

You can "clean" up your humbuckers (if they have a "mooshy" sound) by installing in line resistors on your pickups. They will lower your output proportional to the size of the resistor, so its not recommended for single coils or low output, vintage style humbuckers.

the resistance of your potentiometers will also dramatically affect your sound as well.

Edited by bob123
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  • 2 months later...




F = 1/(2*Pi*R*C)

capacitor is obvious but most peo0le think the tone pot is the resistor but its not its the volume pot. so you can figure where you want the freq range to reside in. fundamental freq is 82.4hz to aprox 1.35khz after that its all overtones and undertones i generally go around 600-800hz i only like subtle roll offs. that or big fat honking ones like a .1uf cap.

also try looking into some of the mods posted on this site. i posted many myself on inline caps. and there was one {although i don't know if it was on this site or not} that had the tone pot pulling double duty. one side fed signal through cap to output jack the other fed it to ground. it was quite interesting.

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Capacitors are a controversial subject, much the same as cables, pickups and any of the other stuff people can spend millions on. A Wez rightly stated, value is the crucial factor more than anything like "tone". I have yet to hear any difference between capacitors unless the components in question varied in value or were defective in some way. Ceramic plate caps are horrendously prone to drift from temperature and age whilst being notoriously high tolerance off the bat anyway. The differences is cap "sound" is only ever relevant at high frequency, high voltages or when they are in circuits where compounded tolerance become noticeable. None of these happen in a guitar circuit. Possibly in an amp or a stompbox, but even then the design normally does not rely on a components "flavour" contribution. Oh, and the first video does not entirely demonstrate scientific method as knowing which cap is which is still a factor of course so A/B/C comparison is not possible. The "flavour" is known. Confirmation bias here we come! Components not designed or suitable for small-signal audio frequency use may "contribute" to the sound in that they do no function optimally, however it is doubtful this is either consistent or even complimentary.

Same as my attitudes to guitar woods, I call BS on tone caps. Use good quality materials and discount the unquantifiable voodoo. It's strictly for the birds. :D

I am currently in the process of redoing the wiring for one of my guitars, one of the things I am replacing is the capacitor. What effect does the Mfd value and style of capacitor have on sound and overall functionality?

To answer the OP directly pretty much as Ansil did:

The value affects the cutoff frequency of the passive first-order low pass filter created by the combination of the tone pot wiper/tag resistance and the capacitors capacitance to ground. As Ansil demonstrated, you have a variable R which is anything from zero to the track value of your pot and the value of the cap C which is constant. Unfortunately you also have to consider that this RC filter is arranged in parallel to the rest of your guitar's circuit so the impedance of the rest of that comes into play. Change the pickups (even when switching in use!) and you have a shifting value working against all your well-arranged component values.

Personally, I just pop in a "usual" value and if I don't like the sound of it in general operation then I alter it for the next value up/down. It is a good idea to consider changing a tone cap's value if you are changing pickups radically, ie. cold to hot, warm to bright. Lowering the value of the capacitor will raise the corner frequency of the tone circuit "full on".

Style of capacitor? As per my and plenty of other people's posts it means nothing in this type of circuit. Whatever is best in terms of stability (forget ceramics), cost (forget "voodoo caps") and form factor for your chosen circuit topology.

Edited by Prostheta
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