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70's Fender Precision Capacitors - Ceramic?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Groover, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. Groover


    Jun 28, 2005
    Ohio, USA
    I noticed that 70's (and 60's) capacitors used in P basses are tan and flat (I think ceramic). Are those any good?
  2. Paul4703


    Mar 19, 2007

    No, these capacitors are poor. Firstly, if they are ceramic they are not precise values and also they can deteriorate over time. Replace them with a modern quality capacitor, basically any type that has 'poly' in it's description.


  3. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    I agree to a point.
    Many of those old basses with cermaic caps sound great; probably not due to the caps but just the same.

    Hendrix used to use "junk" coiled cords; the extra capacitance lowered the resonant frequency of the pups; technicaly bad, but you can't argue with the results

    IMO, leave the vintage stuff alone and modify the new stuff if you want
  4. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Too true! Sometimes the supposedly "bad" component or technology is a critical part of the classic sound we want to hear. Think about amp overdrive--technically an amp with low headroom is "bad", and distortion is "bad", but we love it! Guitar players even distort the speakers themselves, an absolute horror of bad practice and misused technology, but it's the source of sweet, sweet blues guitar tone. How many people ask about emulating Geezer Butler's early Sabbath tone? He played in a tuning that was too low for acceptable action and tension, especially on his short-scale bass, and he played through broken speakers. It sounds awesome.

    Swap the cap if you like, it won't hurt anything and you may like the result--but don't assume anything about which cap will sound the best to you.
  5. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    quite possibly the worst bit of advice i've seen posted on this forum. IMO, the original ceramic cornell-dubilier caps in a 70's p or j bass sound great and should never be replaced.
  6. Ceramic capacitors are about the most reliable electronic devices on the planet. I've never seen one fail except through abuse, vibration or extreme voltages -- conditions that could take out any capacitor type.

    Their values are within the specified tolerances -- no better and no worse than any other capacitor type.

    Polyester capacitors have no advantage over ceramic capacitors.
  7. As someone pointed out on a post here a couple of weeks ago, the tone capacitor isn't in the circuit between pickups and output jack, it just shunts some high end to ground. It's hard to see how the type of cap bleeding off treble could have any effect on the signal that's not passing through it, i.e. the signal actually going to the amp. I've at least imagined (and now I'm pretty sure I was just imagining it) that I've heard a difference changing the type of cap in a guitar, but I've never been able to convince myself I heard any difference when I've done it with a bass.

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