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Capacitor experiment. Pretty neat findings.

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by MoeTown1986, Sep 10, 2018.


  1. MoeTown1986

    MoeTown1986 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    SoMD (Mechanicsville)
    This weekend, I decided to play around with my passive basses and several capacitors. I noticed that 2 of my P basses had very low, thumpy bass tone with the tone knob rolled off. The other two had a very honky midrangey tone with the tone knob rolled off. I recenlty bought a prewired kit for one of my jazz basses with a push/pull pot for series/parallel wiring. This came with a .022 cap and I noticed it still had a LOT of aggressive mids with the tone knob rolled off.

    This got me researching and experimenting. My two honky midrangey P’s had .05 caps in them. The two super low bassy P’s had .1 caps in them. All of my J’s had .05’s besides the one I had just rewired with a .022.

    I decided to order a handful of capacitors ranging from .022, .033, .047, .068, and .10 to see what sounded best in which bass.

    My findings were, the .068 sounded great IMO in a P bass. I thought the .047 was too honky and the .10 was too flubby and undefined. A .068 seemed to be perfect in a P bass. Big fat tone with the tone knob rolled off but kept enough definition to not be muddy.

    Next on the jazz basses, I also found to .047 (or .05) to be too honky and it lost too much of the Jazz Bass growl with the tone rolled off. The .022 seemed to retain all the growl. But, was almost too aggressive and didn’t have that buttery feel you kinda look for when you roll the tone off. I tried a .033 cap in the jazz basses and they were IMO perfect. With the tone rolled off, they sounded super fat and still had that aggressive jazz growl.

    Anyone who has a couple dollars and free time should experiment. You’d be amazed what a difference changing a capacitor will do. For me, a .033 in a jazz bass and a .068 in a P Bass was pretty life changing.
     
  2. MoeTown1986

    MoeTown1986 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    SoMD (Mechanicsville)
    Oh, I also have a PJ bass. That one received a .033 cap and a push/pull series/parallel setup. Talk about tone... that thing sings and pounds and everything in between.
    4gwvvre.
     
    NKBassman likes this.
  3. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Did you also notice how, with the smaller caps, if you roll the volumes back just a smidge (and tone off, obviously) you can restore the big fat thump of a larger cap?
     
  4. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    Nice. In the past I have used a 0.1u in my P basses, but I almost never roll them down all the way. I just like having the extra range on both ends of the spectrum so that I can dial it in somewhere in the middle. :)
     
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  5. MoeTown1986

    MoeTown1986 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    SoMD (Mechanicsville)
    I didn’t! I’ll check it when I get home from work.
     
  6. MoeTown1986

    MoeTown1986 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    SoMD (Mechanicsville)
    That works, too! But, even just rolling it somewhere in the middle, you’re losing more range with a .1 than a .068. At least, I believe that’s how it works.
     
    SteveCS likes this.
  7. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    Could be. *shrug*

    I recently replaced my P bass wiring harness, which was a messy hodge-podge of years of playing around with different pickups, pots and caps, with an Obsidian Wire solderless harness/pcb. I think the stock OW harness comes with a 0.047u cap, and it definitely doesn't have the range that my old 0.1u cap used to have. But I couldn't be bothered to do anything about it, though. It sounds better now than it did before, so all is well.
     
    MoeTown1986 likes this.
  8. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Thats right. The cutoff point doesn't change, only the amount of cut. However, rolling the volumes back does progressively lower the cutoff. IME with a 0.1uF cap you already have quite a low cutoff frequency, so going lower in this way is quite limited in practical terms. But by starting high, say 0.033uF or even 0.022uF, the variation before significant volume loss happens can be heard and is useful. It is surprising, IME, how little rollback is required to get really thumpy or to dial in a tasty low-mid growl.
     
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  9. Kaplan

    Kaplan

    Jul 25, 2018
    Germany
    Thats my experience too. I used a capacitor switch subdivided in 5 steps from 0.68 to 0.22 with a jazz to find the sweet spot and finally it was 0.33. Pickups were SD Antiquities II.
     
    MoeTown1986 likes this.
  10. tadawson

    tadawson

    Aug 24, 2005
    Lewisville, TX
    The cap is one part of a basic RLC filter . . . resistance and inductance of the pickups being the other factors that will affect cutoff (and why changing volume - a resistance) - can alter the cutoff. My main point being that the same cap with different pickups may be quite different as well - one size does 'not fit all'!
     
  11. BassBeginer64

    BassBeginer64 Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2018
    Riverside Ca
    On most P bass's are using the .047. Did the .068 loose any low end? say that 70s type of growl? Did you to any Treble Bleed mods?
     
  12. MarkA

    MarkA I believe in countermelody. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    For what it's worth, in my modded Power Jazz Bass Special (a reverse P/J -- P is still at the neck but the coils are flipped around the centerline), which is passive with Wilde/Bill Lawrence pickups, I am pretty sure I have a .022 cap at the neck and a .017 at the bridge. 500 KOhm pots. Wired up like a Les Paul, with a 3-way switch. I tend to run it with the volume on the neck pickup backed off a hair and the tone pot fully open and the volume on the bridge fully up with the tone rolled off a bit. Different sounds are then accomplished with the three-way switch and hands. Depending on the room and the rig, though, I might back one or both tone knobs off a good deal more.

    It's probably a brighter setup overall than most folks run, but I find it to be pretty versatile and that I can get dubby/thumpy when I want to (or at least my version of it).

    I appreciate the OP sharing his findings! I might try some of those values next time I play around with this stuff.
     
    MoeTown1986 likes this.
  13. MoeTown1986

    MoeTown1986 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    SoMD (Mechanicsville)
    The .068 didn’t lose any low end. I didn’t do any treble bleeds on my basses. But, I have done the treble bleed on my tele and strat.
     
  14. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    One thing to remember is that treble bleed with gounded pots on Jazz Bass wiring becomes a treble cut with the other pickup soloed!
     
  15. MoeTown1986

    MoeTown1986 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    SoMD (Mechanicsville)
    I didn’t know that!
     
  16. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Of course the bleed cap is typically very small compared to the normal tone cap so its only the very high end that gets lost, but the path to ground is there...
    15366670748437032650292367186043.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2018
    MoeTown1986 likes this.
  17. MoeTown1986

    MoeTown1986 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    SoMD (Mechanicsville)
    Thanks!
     
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  18. bassdude51

    bassdude51 Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    Whatever floats your boat with caps. It up to you/us.

    From a Fender forum.................

    Fender® Forums: View topic - Tone Capacitors are your friend

    Looking for a cheap way to modify your instrument's tone? I have two words for you: tone capacitor.

    I've modified a lot of guitars and basses in my spare time. People cite a lot of different variables that contributes to an instrument's tone. However there is one variable that is often overlooked that plays a KEY role in the sound of passive instruments: the tone Capacitor. Understanding this little bugger can mean a CHEAP way to have a GREAT impact on your tone.

    Essentially, your tone control is like a volume control for a certain range of frequencies. It is the tone capacitor that selects the frequency. I won't go into the physics of how this works, but the larger the value, the greater the range of frequencies are effected (starting from the highest frequency working its way down).

    So a larger tone capacitor means you'll roll off more highs when you turn the tone know down. However, it also effects your tone while the knob is all the way up, because the tone circuit is always leaking some highs. So even if you don't use that tone knob a lot, choosing a different cap can change your instrument's basic tone. Here's a simple guide to choosing the right cap.

    .01 uf: This is the cap found in vintage 62 P basses. It will roll off a LOT of highs and give you a very boomy tone. I would NOT use any value above this.

    .05: This is the standard cap found on just about all modern fender instruments. Chances are, this is what you have in your axe.

    .03: This is the cap found on the bridge pickup for 62 jazz basses. With the tone all the way up it will have SLIGHTLY more treble, and with the tone down it won't roll off quite as much.

    .022: This is the cap used in most 70's era jazz basses. It has more of a drastic effect than the .03 cap, and you'll fine a lot more treble in your tone. I would not recommend using a cap value less than this.

    Fender uses ceramic disk capacitors. These are VERY cheap and VERY inconsistent. Because of inconsistencies in the materials and manufacturing different ceramic caps with the same value can often have differing values of up to 10 percent. Ever wondered why you pick up 2 of the same instruments and they sound different? Most people cite differences in the body wood as the cause, but chances are it's inconsistencies in cap values.
     
  19. MoeTown1986

    MoeTown1986 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    SoMD (Mechanicsville)
    Standing ovation! Well said!
     
  20. bigtone23

    bigtone23

    Dec 10, 2014
    Denver, CO
    That's a tone trick with the Peavey T40, which used treble bleeds. Middle position on PU selector, roll one volume all the way down, the active pickup is a touch darker than having it soloed with the PU selector.
     
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