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Difference in Capacitors

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by pedroims, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. pedroims


    Dec 19, 2007
    I am changing the stock pickup in my MIA Fender and I am adding a Lindy pickup, I found this place in the internet that offers fully wired passive harnesses, I can select between SBE Orange Drop capacitors (no extra charge), or for an up charge the offer some other caps:
    - Alessandro High End vintage repro wax and paper capacitors,
    - Vitamin Q Paper & Oil capacitors, or
    - the ultra high quality V-Cap TFTF Teflon® Film and Foil capacitors.

    Does anybody have experience with this cap and the most important thing, Do they really improve the tone versus the orange drop?

    They also have 'Alessandro High End Pots'' upgrade for $ 150

    I dont mind paying the premiums for higher quality components but do they actually do something for the sound of your bass?

  2. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    It's 99.9% snake oil and hokum. Some people swear they can hear the remaining 0.1%.
  3. You'll be throwing your money away.

    Do a search for more info. There are MANY posts on this (scam) subject.
  4. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Capacitance is measured in Farads. A Farad is a Farad, much the same that a Watt is a Watt. Unlike wattage, there are no SS vs Tube Farad arguments.......

    Until now.....
  5. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    What is your style/genre of music? The standard orange drop should be fine if you are a fingerstyle player and don't need much "mwah" or "growl." Personally I like the teflon film and foil for slap & pop, but for fretless, forget about it---got to have paper & oil! The wax ones are nice for pick style BUT not if you're going for that Carol Kaye sound---she is on record as saying she achieved her signature "muted" sound using a small piece of foam.
  6. At the voltages coming from a pickup - this is largely true.

    In certain cases (outside audio band, highly varying temperatures, high voltages, etc.) - a Farad isn't just a Farad.




    That being said...

    At audio frequencies with the voltages present from a pickup - as long as you avoid the worst ceramic dielectrics and stay away from polarised caps (tantalums or electrolytics) - everything is pretty much the same.

    A standard $0.25 film cap will be as good as any of those boutiques.
  7. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Awesomely informative post, aborgman, thanks for sharing!

    For those reading this who might not be familiar with how graphs work, most of the graphs in aborgman's post are in a range of +/- 2%. If you were to revise the graphs to show a range of, say, +/- 100%, then the lines would be a lot flatter/straighter. ;)
  8. Usually, the reason that people claim to hear differences between capacitors, in this application, is that capacitors are subject to variations in tolerance. What usually happens is that someone will start off with a ceramic capacitor, which can be as far off as 80% (!!!) and then switch to something else with a tighter tolerance like 5%, and end up with a different actual capacitance, and attribute the difference in frequency cutoff to the composition of the capacitor, rather than the difference in capacitance. If you take two capacitors of equal capacitance (Actual, not rated.), they will sound the same. All of the other factors, like leakage current and resistance, ESR and ESL, etc. do not have any significant effect in this application, where you are dealing with a couple of volts maximum, at millionths of an Amp, in audio frequency ranges.
  9. pedroims


    Dec 19, 2007
    Thanks guys..I am going to stick with the orange drop
  10. One thing that may be a factor, and is a good reason to avoid high K dielectric ceramic capacitors, is microphonics.
  11. uOpt


    Jul 21, 2008
    Boston, MA, USA
    The big format capacitors have other electrical properties than just the same capacitance under all conditions. It is possible that they sound a bit different.

    To be honest it's very easy to test with a couple caps and some crocodile clips.

    Myself I think I perceive a difference and I gotta tell you that just because a capacitor looks large (physically) doesn't mean it sounds a certain way. The ceramic discs have a certain "drive" (or roar) to them and orange drops are softer. Which one is better? Depends on what you want. Then there are the russian NOS paper-in-oil parts that were sold on TGP and they have more of that roar, that means they are opposite side of the spectrum compared to the orange drops with the small ceramic disks in between. So size != sound. And sound != which is better.

    The difference is very small, however.

    Oh and all this will depend on your guitar cable because there's significant load capacitance coming from there.
  12. wvbass


    Mar 1, 2004
    Unless your alligator clips can measure capacitance, I gotta go with line6man on this.

    Q: don't orange drops come in different tolerances? Haven't I seen 5, 10 and 20% versions? Also, I'm not sure the tighter tolerance is the one that you want. What if the capacitor the helps a vintage P bass have that magic tone is a capacitor that is way at the far end or the tolerace range?
  13. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    A few years ago I tested three different types of high tolerance caps which all had the same value.

    The caps were OD polypropylene, OD polyester, Mallory 150. Not cheap RS stuff, not expensive booteek stuff, just "good" caps.

    I had them on a rotary switch.

    There IS a subtle difference.

    Sprague OD polyester - bouncy/rubbery
    Sprague OD polyporpylene - punchy
    Mallory 150 - in between

    YMMV, etc
  14. C'mon folks. If you know how the circuit works you also know that what you hear is what DIDN'T go through the cap. Pretty hard to imagine how it could affect the sound. It drains treble from the signal, nothing more.
  15. frits51

    frits51 Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2011
    Heath, Texas
    I'm in the process of evaluating caps. I've got Sprague Orange Drop #225P and Russian paper-in-oil, each in both .047uf and .1uf values. Also, a Sprague Vitamin Q in .1uf.

    I have short alligator clip leads soldered into my bass controls where the stock 'Chiclet' cap used to be. Nothing wrong with the original sound (G&L JB2 Tribute), but I'll be changing the wiring to V-B-T with S1 switch and... push-pull switch on the tone pot to select between two caps, one a .047uf and the other a .1uf. I'm interested to see what I can get for my trouble by testing some caps of varying composition.

    I set the V-V-T to some useful position and play. I then quickly change caps via the alligator clips and play the same thing. I have repeated this procedure with several different V-V-T settings and have played different licks, low and high on the neck.

    The Orange Drop and the Russian PIO are quite different. The Russian and the Vitamin Q... not so much, but a slight difference is consistently noticeable nonetheless.

    Yes, I believe that a certain uf value will filter certain frequencies, but that may not be the whole story. Does one cap filter the fundamental and all the harmonics in the same proportions as the same value cap composed of different materials? I really don't know, but I definitely hear the differences.

    I have no interest in being right (or wrong). I just wanted to try it for myself and it's been interesting. Still haven't chosen the two caps for my rewire.

    I would go with 'mushroo's remarks (and 'aborgman's graphs if you can interpret them).
  16. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    That's one of the advantages of actually testing them.

    You don't have to "imagine" anything, you can hear for yourself.

    I've also noticed that most people who claim there's no difference haven't bothered to do any testing.
  17. paper in oil, is technically the best but at those currents etc it doesn't really make a difference
  18. wvbass


    Mar 1, 2004
    Why, technically?

    And...expectation bias. Show me some credible measurements, and then I will believe you.
    Macho McHorse likes this.
  19. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    $60.28, $49.99 and even $13.80 is absolutely insane for a tone cap in a guitar. I guarantee that nobody could tell which was which between one of those rip offs and a $0.50 cap from radio shack of the same value.

    A sucker is born every day.
  20. frits51

    frits51 Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2011
    Heath, Texas
    Ebay capacitor prices as of right now:

    Sprague Orange Drop 225P .047uf - 4.64 shipped

    Russian PIO .1uf - 4.96 shipped

    Vitamin Q .1uf - 6.94 shipped

    After reading all the controversy, I decided to see for myself. These prices are not going to hurt me and I learned something in the process.