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Jazz bass capacitor and electronics does it really matter?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by PeaveyPlayer, Feb 1, 2017.

  1. PeaveyPlayer

    PeaveyPlayer Supporting Member

    Jul 15, 2014
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    taking a look at eBays prewired jazz bass plates

    And the Ritcher electronics plate from best bass gear

    Does it really matter what capacitor and electronics you use?
    Or is it all the same
  2. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    If the values are the same, the tone will be the same
    bigtone23, wcriley and PeaveyPlayer like this.
  3. tbplayer59


    Jan 20, 2013
    I used to think that pots and cap made no difference. However, I just fixed up an old P I found in a pawn shop. The pots were totally shot. So I replaced them with a prewired "vintage" assembly I bought from Stewart MacDonald. The pots are the larger ones. I've never heard such a sensitive tone control before. Audible differences with small touches to the tone pot. My 76 with original electronics doesn't do this. My Squier Jazz doesn't either. So, consider me a new believer.
  4. Andyman001

    Andyman001 moderation must be taken with a grain of salt

    Feb 11, 2010
    Were the values the same as the old ones?
    Stefan Verbeeck likes this.
  5. Dean N

    Dean N

    Jul 4, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Hey, there's a TB'er that'll make a premade/wired plate to your specs.

    Check out Gord_oh's classified.
  6. tbplayer59


    Jan 20, 2013
    I don't know. The old stuff had literally rotted, corroded and fallen apart. So I didn't even bother to check. The old pots were about 1/2" diameter. So small. The "vintage" ones were CTS. I had to bore open the mounting holes just a bit.
  7. bigtone23


    Dec 10, 2014
    Denver, CO
    Electronically, on paper, it's all the same. A .047uF cap is a .047uF cap and a 250K audio pot is a 250K audio pot.
    The difference is in the details, often from manufacturing tolerances.

    Pots can swing +/-20%, making that 250K pot range from 200K to 300K. A 200K pot will make the pickup sound a touch darker and quieter vs a 300K pot.
    Unless you play with your volume and tone on 10 all the time, choosing audio vs linear taper makes a difference in application. On a cleaner tone, a linear volume pot has a more forgiving range at the higher settings, allowing finer control-which is especially nice on the volumes for a VVT bass like a Jazz for blending, but on a dirty tone, linear tapers take a lot more rotation to clean up. Same goes for tone controls, linear tones can really focus the majority of the tone change to the lower few degrees of the knob-nearly an off/on switch effect. This is why I like linear volumes and audio tones-smoother adjustments in the range where I like to use each control.
    The size of the pots is virtually inconsequential if it's a well made pot. It doesn't matter if it's the size of a dime or quarter-modern electronics manufacturing has allowed them to shrink without performance degradation.

    Same thing applies to caps: they can be +/- 20% for cheaper ones, or super tight +/- 1%. Most people hear the differences in tolerance when comparing same value caps. I don't drink the kool aid on cap materials in terms of a passive tone control. All it's doing is shunting highs to ground. A 50 cent poly will sound the same as a $30 PIO in a Pbass. Pick the value that sounds best to you. Save the $$ on the cap and apply that to the jack, pots and switches, where quality makes a difference in long term reliability and function.
    Dennis Davis and 40Hz like this.
  8. 58kites

    58kites Save a life....adopt a Pitbull

    Oct 21, 2014
    Austin Texas
    They for sure make a difference when comparing them to some very inexpensive OEM components (what is in the Squier) or worn out components.
    Prices charged by some folks selling the "vintage/classic/original" concept can be high.
    The Stew-Mac kits are priced about twice what those items are normally sold for, their complete harnesses have even higher mark ups.
    And Stew-Mac is priced much better than some kits/harnesses I've seen advertised.
    As bigtone23 said, there are very good Pots available, with tighter tolerance specs, that are made in different sizes and shapes.
    When opening up a bass and looking at what is inside, it does still seem to be that small pots equals junk, but that is just because the companies putting them in are buying junk and that junk happens to be small.
    Electronic components have obviously improved since the Precision and the Jazz were invented, and using the "music standard" CTS (or Bourns) pots is still a fine idea for those looking to stick to the vintage standard which is so commonly desired by musicians, but they are still only 3-4 dollar pots.
    Everything bigtone23 said is right, there are Pots available with tighter tolerances than the old standard CTS and Bourns Pots.
    Caps of all kinds are super cheap at electronics supply outlets.
    Some of the "original/vintage/classic" items that are being sold by many suppliers to musicians are so far marked up it is ridiculous.
    The Switchcraft #11 still seems to be the good standard for output jacks, again not an expensive item.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2017
  9. tbplayer59


    Jan 20, 2013
    No doubt I paid premium for the Stew Mac harness, but labor is expensive. Maybe if I'd known about the Art of Tone site, I would've ordered from them and wired myself.

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