capacitor values=tone?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by wshines1892, Sep 5, 2010.

  1. I just restrung my pbass with flats, and I absolutely love it. I keep the tone rolled all the way off and it's just this wonderfully thick warm sound that still has a nice punch to it. Now the thing is when I roll on even a little tone it seems like it just makes tthe whole thing sound clacky and sucks the low end out. I'm wondering if there's a way to change this by swapping out the capacitor for one of a different value, or maybe I just need to buy a vintage pickup to get the vintage sound? I play a lot of Motown so think of that kind of sound.
  2. A properly wired tone control cannot cut lows, as a capacitor works by blocking the passage of low frequencies to ground. (While passing high frequencies to ground.)

    If the tone control is affecting the low frequencies, there is a problem somewhere.
  3. I'm not saying it actively does this, I'm just saying the highs become so overpowering that it sounds like it.
  4. A tone control is not capable of boosting the treble either.
    It can only remove it.
  5. so there's too much there to begin with? So is this a pickup problem?
  6. Sounds like it.

    This doesn't seem like a pickup problem though.
  7. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    If you really want the Motown tone, don't turn your tone knob all the way down. That's not the tone they used, even though it sounds like it. No one will be able to hear what notes you are playing!

    The real tone sounded like this:

    What's Going On

    The tone control is wide open, but he had the string mute installed (on the bridge cover) to deaden the notes. But you need that click when you pluck a note to cut through. In the mix it will sound like the records. Also give it time, your flats wont sound so bright after a few weeks.

    Getting back to the problem... does it sound the same with the control on 10 as it does with the control on zero? If it does you probably have a bad tone pot. If it sounds thinner, something else is going on. Zero should be no highs, and 10 is bright. Are you turning it the right way? If it's bright on both ends the pot is bad.

    Is the bass stock, or was it rewired at any point?
  8. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    Uh I think he's talking about turning it up from zero. Since at zero it's cut all the highs, then turning it back up from zero, would, by definition, "boost" the treble above its original level.
  9. Ah, I was overlooking the part about the control always being rolled off.:hyper:

    However, it's still not a boost. It's a reduction in the amount of cut.
    There is a difference.
  10. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    That's what I was wondering. That's why I asked which way he was turning it. He might be thinking 10 should be dark.

    And as I pointed out, the Motown sound was not having all the highs cut out, as some people seem to think. It was just old flats and a string mute, and it was recorded direct, so they probably boosted the lows.
  11. no, it sounds dark on 0 and super bright and clacky on 10. Now I haven't given the mutes a shot yet, which I may have to do. The bass is stock, and I'd kind of like to keep it that way. I think what I'm running into is a combination of eqing problems and not using the mutes. I'm playing it direct right now, plugged into the effects return to bypass the eq, and it sounds a heck of a lot closer. The strings aren't super new either, unplugged they sound nice and dead, after months of daily use playing in a jazz band I just swapped them off my fretless jazz because I wanted to give flats on a P bass a shot and rounds on a fretless.
  12. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    That's normal. If you don't want it bright and clanky, EQ it. Or keep your tone control down a bit. Thats what it's for. It removes high end. That's what P basses sound like with a new set of flats. Give it time and they will get darker and more thumpy. It's super bright because of the way you have the amp or mixer EQ set. You have to EQ it. You can't leave it flat.

    Don't bypass the EQ.. just EQ it. Reduce the highs and boost the lows. That's; what EQ is for, to get the tone you want.

    Also, are you running through a DI box, or does the mixer have a hi-z input? Plugging into the effects return is giving you a darker tone because its low Z and is loading the pickup down and reducing the highs.

    That Motown track I posted (and it is the real thing) was recorded direct. All the Motown tracks were recorded direct. In fact most bass tracks are done that way. Just EQ it to your liking.

    As far as mutes... stock Fender P basses had bridge covers with the mute as part of the cover. People removed the covers because they didn't want the mute. As mutes became less popular Fender didn't supply the basses with covers/mutes any more.

    All you need to do it stick a piece of foam rubber under he strings. Or just wait until the strings get older.

    What kind of strings are they? I use D'Addario Half rounds on one bass and they aren't clangy and bright anymore.

    Listen to this clip. This is direct, and with very bright pickups:

    Sidewinders with half rounds
  13. mnavarre


    Jun 13, 2010
    San Diahhgo
    What kind of flats did you string up? Something like Chromes are going to be pretty clanky/growly for a good long while. La Bella's are pretty bright when new and take a while to settle in and get thumpy, like months with moderate playing. Websrtings Detroit Flats were really grindy on the D & G at first, but settled in fairly quick.

    As SGD said, time, foam and EQ are all going to help.
  14. GlennW

    GlennW Inactive

    Sep 6, 2006
    I'd try a .1uF cap first.

    I went through about 10 split-P pickups before giving up on them; I was shocked by all the high end. A bigger cap will help.

    If your bass is a mid-'90s MIM it might have one of those 4.75K pickups; that'll also lean hard towards a the clackety sound.

    If the cap isn't enough and you do have the weak pickup, the Fender Original aka '62 might be what you're looking for. The SD SPB-1 is a good value too.
  15. It is indeed a 90s MIM, 95 or so I believe. I've been fiddling with the eq a bit and I'm starting to get the sound I want. I've considered the Fender original, but I'm not quite sold on it yet and I'd like to find out what different value capacitors can do anyway.
  16. acebase62


    Jun 29, 2010
  17. GlennW

    GlennW Inactive

    Sep 6, 2006
    Since it's a P bass, trying the cap will be easy. You can remove the pickguard so it'll lay in your lap, and alligator the new cap across the leads of the cap that's in there. Their values will add in parallel, so if you have a .047 and add the .1 you'll have a .147 (which is a lot, but will still work) and you can play the bass and see how it sounds. If it's too deep snip one lead of the original cap but leave the .1 connected on both ends. That'll save you a bunch of soldering while testing. A bigger cap might be all you need.
  18. will any capacitor do as long as it's .1? because I have some polyester film caps laying around that are .1
  19. BassLife77


    Nov 13, 2009
    San Diego
    I bought caps with different values and used wires with alligator clips to compare them. on the really bright basses the .1 cap was perfect. on the fretless basses the .022 cap sounded great. your experience will vary depending on what sound you like
  20. Anything works as long as it's not polarized (For example, do not use aluminum electrolytics.)

    Polyester film capacitors are usually preferable as they have tighter tolerances than ceramics.

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