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EMG-hz-h3/p.i.o. cap replacement?


BucksBoogie
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Brand new to this forum and I thank you for allowing me here. I have a September 2012 Epiphone Les Paul Junior. It's a single pick up at the bridge position. It had an Epi 700T in it at first, it wasn't bad, but didn't really hit the classic rock, Blue Oyster Cult, Mountain type flavors I was looking for. I replaced it with a fairly decent, but affordable, Chinese P90 humbucker. I used that for about a year, but I still wasn't getting that sound I wanted (not really sure what I was expecting for $35, but it was better than the 700T). I've just dropped an EMG hz h3 into it and it's quite a bit better, but it's still falling short. I've decided to replace the .022 cap that came with the Epi, I actually used the pot that came with the EMG and noticed no difference, so I took it back out and figured I'd keep it for a back up. I'm not electronics savvy so to speak, I can solder (even weld) with no issues, but I'm not sure about ohms, resistance, that whole deal. The 2 pots had the same numbers on each cap, so I figure it's the .022 as is listed in all the Epi/Gibson diagrams, however; every diagram for the EMG hz I can find has it listed as an .047. I'd rather try replacing the cap as opposed to buying yet another pick up this time.

I can get a Russian surplus pio cap at a great price, but which should I buy? Why I'm confused, I guess for the most part is, why would I have gotten an .022 from EMG if all the diagrams call for it being an .047 and could I be doing any damage having an inappropriate cap in place? This is my first guitar that I've to modded, it was a hundred dollar cheapie but it turned out to be a really well built guitar structurally, even the machine heads were a pleasant surprise as it stays in tune for days at a time. It's even solid wood. So much so in fact, it's like having a cinder block on a strap. I'm thinking of doing some weight reduction routing in the back and putting some veneer over it. Makes me appreciate the free shipping on it even more.

I extend a very sincere thank you for any assistance with this. I've been in a dozen forums trying to find this answer out and I haven't seen it addressed anywhere.

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Why I'm confused, I guess for the most part is, why would I have gotten an .022 from EMG if all the diagrams call for it being an .047

Almost any manufacturer of a marketable product will put a disclaimer on their documentation that says something to the effect of, "We reserve the right to change or improve product specifications without giving notice to the end user". Chances are EMG just exercised their rights and changed their supplied/suggested tone cap without telling anyone.

and could I be doing any damage having an inappropriate cap in place?

Nope. A different value tone cap will merely affect how much the treble is reduced when you wind down the tone pot (or more specifically at which frequency the highs start being attenuated). The bigger the value of the cap the lower the frequency at which the highs start being slugged.

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To expand on what Curtis is saying changing the caps will only affect the sounds the tone control makes, it will not change the fundimental tone of your pickup. For the flavors you are describing, you are going to want a decent PAF or P-90 to match what was being played back in that day. SD's Phat Cat is a humbucker sized P-90 clone that reportedly comes very close to the tone of the original soapbar sized pup.

SR

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Thank you both for the very quick and informative replies. I actually had scoped out a Phat Cat but the EMG fell into my lap out of the blue. I can still get another Epi LPJ at around the same price, so I may leave this one be and just get another Jr and put an SD into it. It's amazing to me that the Gibson LPJ is a 2 pup guitar now. I thought the whole point of the Jr was bare bones, get to the gig and let her rip or just making a guitar available to the kid with a paper route. Same deal with the Gibson SGJ, it's also a 2 pup guitar these days. Neither Gibson is priced for that kid slinging the daily news, though the Epi gives them a shot at one as well as us old timers that want something cheap to tinker with. I was originally going to buy a kit to mess with when I found the this guitar. It was $90 cheaper than the kit I was looking at. I'm just really happy that there are forums like this now. When I was young, I did some bad things to my early guitars, sadly, I didn't have anyone to turn to for this kind of information back in the late 70's. Again, thank you both for the information and your time, Rob.

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Hi Rob! You're right about the Jrs. I'm thinking of making my wife a modified SG Jr with a single bucker to play AC/DC stuff or general rock. Meat n' potatoes.

By all means try out that PIO cap, however I personally don't hold too much stock in these things. I prefer good stable high quality caps like Sprague orange drops and would only go for a PIO or "bumblebee" if I were making every single other piece of the puzzle to some vintage recipe.

Let us know how you get on.

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Thanks Prostheta. I can get it and have it delivered for less than $5. If I'm not happy with it, no big loss and I'll just auction it on Listia so can have if for free. Listia is where I scored the EMG to start with, free and free shipping to boot. Most of the bumblebees I've seen are more expensive than the cost of the guitar. I still have an EMG and Epi cap in reserve, they're both marked with 223J and are rectangular, colored a red brick color. They look identical with the same printing, so I'm guessing they were made by the same company. To be honest, when I opened the back of the guitar, I was fully expecting to see an orange drop in it and a lot of plywood. It seems that when Epiphone moved all their solid guitar making to one facility in Indonesia, they became much more uniform and consistent in the builds. Mine came out of the box set low and completely in tune, I was blown away. A plug and play Epi? Nobody saw that coming. I'd even bet the 700T pup would sound better with a better amp. Right now all I'm running it through is a DigiTech RP90 multi-effects pedal and a DigiTech 15 amp. It's when I run it clean with just some gain that it's a bit flat. I don't have the benefit of running it through anyone else's gear for now to see the difference.

If you do mod the SG, I'm pretty sure the LPJ pick guard would hide just about the entire hole at the neck. Who knows, maybe that's how the pick guard got its shape? I can't see why it would go so far to the other side of the neck.

I tried to post images of the new and old ones, but it didn't work. If not the new pick guards, definitely the old style would cover the hole. I did a Bing image search and the old ones had a huge section that doesn't need to be there. Check em out. They look like that just what it was for.

Edited by BucksBoogie
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Fair call. It's always good to try these things out, and if you're not captured by the apparent voodoo of it all you can move on. All good!

The red brick-coloured 22nF caps should pair up fine in a single P-90/vol/tone if the pots are 500kOhm. Not sure what pot values EMG throw out with their passive pickups. Perhaps look at the pickup? A hotter-than-PAF medium output pickup like a Seymour Duncan JB, Custom or whatever might get you more in that harder rock ballpark. I would increase the cap to 47nF (473J or whatever) for a humbucker though and go back to a pair of 500k pots if those that came with the EMG are different. A Jr is pretty simple and great when done well. A high output pickup is wasted on digital gear, so a good toneful vintage or medium output pickup is key.

The first areas I would focus on in modding or building a Jr is getting a nice tailpiece. That is an upgrade of itself. Beyond that and the pickup, there's not much more to alter!

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Yeah, the compensated bridge is definitely on my list of changes to make. I met a guy on line that wants to trade a tail piece and bridge for a distortion pedal and a tusc nut for a stereo chorus pedal. They're off of a Gibson SG that got destroyed at a concert. I'm not using either pedal anyhow and I got them for free, so that's a no brainer. Both the Epi and EMG tones are 500k's and both volume pots are 250. Radio Shack sells orange drops for around 2 bucks or less, but I'm not sure which would be correct, for example, one says it's a 47uF 500V and another says 47uF 50V. That's not even taking into account the barrel shaped ones with 16V or any number of types. I don't know what the V stands for and I've never seen it mentioned on a forum. I just know it's not marked as such on either cap I have now. Of course, their all so cheap, that's why I was willing to give that pio cap a shot. There's no way the old lady let's me throw $100 or more at a bumblebee. Can't say I blame her, it's not like the guitar is bringing in any revenue. I never hear any grief when I toss money at the business, but that's so we can keep eating. She's a little less patient about the axe.

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ARF. Life story right there! Can't say I disagree.

V is the dielectric breakdown voltage where the cap blows. The barrel shaped ones sound like electrolytics which are polarised. No use here. Voltage is irrelevant....it just affects the size of the cap and a 500v orange drop is a big amp cap! I don't think you'll get voltage anywhere near 50v in your instrument....

The nut might not be a direct fit and the slots might be too high or low. It can be fixed.

$100 on a cap? Never. That's more than most pickups.

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Thanks for the V info, I had no idea. I think the Radio Shack price for a the 50V is under a buck, that's the kind of mod I can live with. That way, if I don't like it, I can just yank it out and toss it.

On MyLesPaul.com, in their luthier section, there's a few guys there that either sell electronics, or have posted links to caps, pots, complete set ups, and they all have the bumblebees going near $100 and many over that. I've never bothered to check eBay or wherever because of that.

The guy gave me the dimensions of the nut and it's the same as mine. I'm aware of the baking soda and super glue method of filling if the nut is cut too deeply. Are there other methods? The thing I'm most nervous about is changing the bridge and tail piece. The idea of taking a large bore drill to the guitar face makes me a bit nervous. I have the ability to do it, but it's still a little nerve wracking. I got a diagram of a LP Standard flat top, so I'll probably use that when making my drill points. I was thinking about adding a tremolo, but I thought against it. This thing holds its tune so well I'm kinda spoiled now. I can play it 2 hours a day, everyday and only have to tune it once a week or so. I'd heard so many complaints over Epi machine heads, I thought that was going to have to be my first change.

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one says it's a 47uF 500V and another says 47uF 50V

The "u" in "uF" is western-ised typing for the Greek letter "μ", which in turn is engineering speak for "micro" or 1 millionth. The caps used in your guitar are smaller still and are measured in nF ("n" being for "nano" or 1 billionth). 47μF and 47nF differ by a factor of 1000.

Sometimes the value is printed directly on the side of the cap (0.022 = 0.022uF = 22nF = 22 nano-Farads). Other times they are printed as a code which needs to be deciphered (223 = 0.022 = 0.022uF = 22nF).

More here.

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Thanks for the new knowledge Curtisa. I only skimmed the link, but I'll be going right back and read in depth. Ask me about any aspect of an aquarium, pet nutrition or Buffalo sports, I've got you covered. This is all new to me and quite frankly, I'm loving it. My father in law used to do tv repair but he also used to work on the sound systems at a bunch of local bars in the 60's. He's 88 and I would be picking his brain for info, but he's forgotten more than I'll ever know. Nowadays, if you ask him about working on something you're likely to hear "that thing, you know, that thing there." without actually pointing at anything. He's still got a bunch of bits and pieces filling coffee cans in the basement. Maybe I go root around down there tomorrow now that I have a better idea of what I'm looking at. Again, thanks to all of you that have helped me. This has been really interesting, I'm looking forward to learning more about what makes a guitar tick. I'd bet with all the parts he has in the basement, I could probably make my own tube amp. After I'm satisfied with my guitar, we can start having that discussion :-)

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Especially on a basic Epi. There's only so far you can go with them before they become a black hole for cash. A couple of decent pots (CTS) and a Sprague Orange Drop coupled with a decent pickup does most of the work. A better-than-stock tailpiece can be of benefit. No point in splashing out on top gear all around since the rest of the guitar will not take full advantage of them.

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Amen Tim and Prostheta. That's why I'm trying to do this without spending a ton. Metaphorically, it's the '74 Catalina I bought in 1980, sure, the tranny needed replacing, but I got my first real experience working on a car with that beast. It was a monster with a 400, four barrel carb. I learned so much from that car and I'm looking at this guitar in the same way. As long as I don't drop it, I can experiment away.

Prostheta, is the Sprague made differently than most, is there a tone difference better than one they sell at Radio Shack or wherever? I'm asking because I really don't know, I know it sounded smart assish, but it was a sincere question. It's also the reason I was going to try that Russian surplus one, my inexperience. I've read lots of good things about the tonal difference they make, but then again, I've also read how terrible Epi's are built and it just doesn't seem to be the case. I spent part of the day digging in the father in laws left overs and I found a 0.047 cap, not an orange drop, dating no later than 1977. I have no idea of its actual date of manufacture date, but it's pretty old. Who knows, it might be from the early sixties. As I understand what you said Prostheta, it shouldn't matter what the V is as there's not enough juice to hurt anything, is that correct? I'm probably gonna give it a shot tomorrow, but I'll wait to hear back from you first. I also found a bunch of old tubes, GE's for the most part. I think they're probably for tv's, but I'll be hanging on to them anyhow. They fill a shopping bag, so there's gotta be something worth keeping in there. Again, we'll save that for the amp building stage.

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Also, for giggles, I went ahead and bought a Russian paper in oil cap. It was $1.69 and $1.99 shipping. Like I said before, if I don't like it, where's the loss, I spent more than that on my beer today. Heck, my can returns for the last week has it covered. If you want to check it I'll try to post a link. Sorry if it doesn't work, I tried to post a picture but it didn't work, crossing my fingers on this. http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=321157239497

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let me give you my $.02 if its worth that much

your chasing tone from the wrong end. start with your amp and work your way back to the guitar. start by finding a decent amp im not saying drop a grand on a fender twin but find a amp that will alow you to get that vintage rock sound then get some good effects after that then try tweeking your guitar for the perfect sound.

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Thanks for those 2 cents Tim, I will be aware. However, my daughter of a young 31 years was hit by a car Monday night, my only child and suffered a brutal brain injury and we are simply hoping for her survival. Be well folks, I'll be back at some point.

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Thank you my new friends. Check her out at her facebook page and see how many hundreds of people love this girl, Jacqui Dotzler. I'm not going to go into the details, it's easy enough to find. My ex wife and I were discussing that out of everyone we know, everyone has someone who just doesn't care for them, it's just a fact of life. Funny thing is, not one dislikes her, including her friends and just people who know her a bit, love her massively. I can't tell you how many broken hearts she inflicted on the boys, even though they still pine for her, they are still her friends even if they never really had an actual relationship with her. I'll be back to discuss guitars when I can bring myself to do something uplifting again. Again, thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

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Sadly, my daughter didn't make it, she passed this morning, but was pronounced yesterday when brain death occurred. The great news though, is, 3 of her organs are being used to save 6 different people with much more to come. Her heart was used for 1 man, a kidney each to a man and woman and her liver for 2 others and her pancreas was used in the same hospital early this morning for a child. That's just so far today and doesn't even count her lungs, eyes and intestines and all the tissues that can be used for weeks. I'm so proud of my baby girl, it hurts.

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It sounds like you need to take some time man. Be well and be there for the family. Check in when you're level because this early time is impossible to digest mentally. Sounds like you have a lot of love in you and that I am sure runs through the family too.

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