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Thread: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

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    Default Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    What is the best way or how do you guys wire up your guitars so that you have the most use of your volume control. By this I mean that when you turn the volume down it cleans up.

    1 volume pot 1 tone control is my main setup.....what caps (value) do you use and how do you wire it up?

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    WeirdScienceologist scottish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    capacitors is a hugely debated issue that probably has a hundred threads on here if you search. orange drops are probably a good middle of the road. as for wiring...use the diagrams on the SD website, thats how i do it.

    using your volume knob to clean up distortion i think depends more on the order of our fx chain and where (if at all) you have a volume pedal placed in there.

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    Super Toneologist Pete Galati's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    The pickups you use makes a difference about what value of pots and tone cap are best.

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    Just A Minion ErikH's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    I like .022uf caps for both singles and humbuckers, if I have a tone control that is. If you have one tone control, wire it up 50's style. Rather than the volume to tone pot wire being connected to the outside lug of the volume pot (same as the pickup hot), wire it to the middle lug (same as the output jack hot). This puts the tone control after the volume control and you'll actually retain some treble when rolling back in the volume.

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    Default Re: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    Quote Originally Posted by scottish View Post
    capacitors is a hugely debated issue that probably has a hundred threads on here if you search. orange drops are probably a good middle of the road. as for wiring...use the diagrams on the SD website, thats how i do it.

    using your volume knob to clean up distortion i think depends more on the order of our fx chain and where (if at all) you have a volume pedal placed in there.
    I don't mean brands, I mean values..

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    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    Quote Originally Posted by ErikH View Post
    I like .022uf caps for both singles and humbuckers, if I have a tone control that is. If you have one tone control, wire it up 50's style. Rather than the volume to tone pot wire being connected to the outside lug of the volume pot (same as the pickup hot), wire it to the middle lug (same as the output jack hot). This puts the tone control after the volume control and you'll actually retain some treble when rolling back in the volume.
    Exactly. I use .022 Sprague Orange Drop caps in all of my guitars except my Tele, which has a Hovland .022 tone cap. I do not hear any difference between the Sprague and the Hovland capacitor when used as a tone cap in a guitar circuit.

    I use CTS 500K pots for all full size humbuckers and CTS 250K pots for all single coil Strat and Tele pickups.

    In a one volume one tone control guitar or in a Les Paul I always connect my tone pot to the middle terminal of the volume control...that's the output of the volume control and is ultimately connected to the output jack. So in a single tone control guitar you can also connect the tone control to the output jack and achieve the same effect, which is to retain highs and clarity when you reduce the volume on your guitars.

    The Boss DS-1 is a pedal that Joe Satriani and Steve Vai both use. IMO, the DS-1 works best when you dial in a tone and slight boost you can leave "on" all the time, and that gives you the sustain and overdrive you want to hear when the guitar's volume control is on 10 and which cleans up to almost a sparkling clean when you reduce the guitar's volume to 5.

    IMO, the Boss DS-1 does trick that better than any other overdrive pedal I have owned.

    But if you use the DS-1 as a stomp On/Stomp Off Distortion pedal and crank the pedal up, you start to lose that ability to go from Scream to Clean with the guitar's volume control. To me, there are better pedals if you want a Distortion pedal, but none that allow you to go from overdrive to almost sparkling clean with your guitar's volume control like the Boss DS-1 does.

    Lew
    Last edited by Lewguitar; 07-09-2007 at 10:18 AM.

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    Tone Member Brett Valentine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    I think for cleaning up the volume as you lower gain, you should consider a treble bleed circuit to keep the tone from darkening as you decrease volume. That made a big difference for me.
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    Default Re: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    I prefer the standard Stratocaster setup of one volume and two tones. I find that the most logical, but probably because it's what I'm used to. Usually when I switch to the bridge only position on my Strat, I want wide open tone and volume anyways, and that solution helps.

    That being said, it depends on the use of the guitar. For what I need, it's fine. The Les Paul idea of one volume and one tone per pickup is definitely a luxurious setup, and helps so that you can switch from neck to bridge and get a wide range of volume and tone options.

    Then there's the controls on my Showmaster: one volume and one tone only. It is usable but it might result in me having to mess with my tone and volume controls more than I prefer, which can cause me problems on songs where I need a quick switch: I then try to compensate using pickup selection instead, which isn't as fun.

    It's really up to you.

    As for capacitors and pot values, I just use what Seymour recommends, but there are websites that can tell you how to get less/more cut from your tone knobs....
    Last edited by Robert Delahunt; 07-11-2007 at 02:18 PM.
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    Default Re: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    I use .022 or .01 Radio Shack caps. Save the good stuff (e.g. Orange Drops, Sozos) for amps.

    I use either 50s wiring or the Kinman treble-bleed mod with the bypass cap and a resistor wired in serial.
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    Default Re: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    Quote Originally Posted by MattPete View Post
    I use .022 or .01 Radio Shack caps. Save the good stuff (e.g. Orange Drops, Sozos) for amps.
    Yes, but when you plug a guitar into your amp, it becomes a part of the amp's circuit. I use the best quality I can afford. It's just food for thought....
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    Default Re: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    Quote Originally Posted by TwinReverb View Post
    Yes, but when you plug a guitar into your amp, it becomes a part of the amp's circuit. I use the best quality I can afford. It's just food for thought....
    The amount of voltage through a guitar circuit is a tiny fraction compared to what is traveling through the amp circuitry. In a guitar tone circuit, all that the cap is doing is shunting high frequencies to ground. The type of cap in that scenario, with the minuscule amount of voltage involved (we're talking millivolts here) has little to no effect on the sound.

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    Default Re: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    Quote Originally Posted by ErikH View Post
    The amount of voltage through a guitar circuit is a tiny fraction compared to what is traveling through the amp circuitry. In a guitar tone circuit, all that the cap is doing is shunting high frequencies to ground. The type of cap in that scenario, with the minuscule amount of voltage involved (we're talking millivolts here) has little to no effect on the sound.
    This is pretty much true. If expensive caps make you feel good, they're worth the money, but for a guitar tone control, if you check the value of an oil & paper or Bumblebee cap with a meter to make sure you know it's actual value, and replace it with a greeny or ceramic cap of the same value, it's going to sound the same.

    I kind of like the brown 75 cent 630Volt Xicon caps that I got from Hoffman amps. The leads aren't flimsy, and they're long enough to work in the eyelet boards of SF Fender amps, and they make good tone caps for guitar..



    And they fit in guitars really well.

    Pete

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    Default Re: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    Quote Originally Posted by Lewguitar View Post
    [snip]

    IMO, the Boss DS-1 does trick that better than any other overdrive pedal I have owned.

    But if you use the DS-1 as a stomp On/Stomp Off Distortion pedal and crank the pedal up, you start to lose that ability to go from Scream to Clean with the guitar's volume control. To me, there are better pedals if you want a Distortion pedal, but none that allow you to go from overdrive to almost sparkling clean with your guitar's volume control like the Boss DS-1 does.

    Lew
    Just got a DS-1 today Lew.

    Nice pedal, with a natural sound. I might actually switch to this from my Rat pedal. Hard to say. The Rat's got a meaner edge, which I like, but the DS-1's dynamics are better.

    Pete

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    Default Re: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    Quote Originally Posted by ErikH View Post
    The amount of voltage through a guitar circuit is a tiny fraction compared to what is traveling through the amp circuitry. In a guitar tone circuit, all that the cap is doing is shunting high frequencies to ground. The type of cap in that scenario, with the minuscule amount of voltage involved (we're talking millivolts here) has little to no effect on the sound.
    Yes, but that small voltage is amplified many times over, so any small flaw in the tone will become big. Besides, it's not how much voltage the guitar makes, but how much impedance, since it becomes a part of a circuit. Try switching from a guitar with 500k pots to one with 250k pots and back during a set: you'll definitely notice! Now, yes, they're capacitors, so it probably won't matter as much, until they begin to fail. Maybe there isn't enough justification in your eyes for using high quality capacitors. That's fine. But to me it's worth the peace of mind. Beyond which, capacitors aren't expensive
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    Super Toneologist Pete Galati's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    Quote Originally Posted by TwinReverb View Post
    Yes, but that small voltage is amplified many times over, so any small flaw in the tone will become big. Besides, it's not how much voltage the guitar makes, but how much impedance, since it becomes a part of a circuit. Try switching from a guitar with 500k pots to one with 250k pots and back during a set: you'll definitely notice! Now, yes, they're capacitors, so it probably won't matter as much, until they begin to fail. Maybe there isn't enough justification in your eyes for using high quality capacitors. That's fine. But to me it's worth the peace of mind. Beyond which, capacitors aren't expensive
    Fail from what?

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    Just A Minion ErikH's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    Exactly what I'm thinkin', Pete. Fail from what? In the 20 years I've been playing, I have NEVER EVER had a cap in a guitar circuit fail.

    Again, all that is happening is the highs are being shunted to ground. If you can hear the difference between two different maker's caps of the same value, then you have better hearing than most humans.

    No need to beat this in to the ground. Different strokes for different folks. I either use greenie caps (Radio Shack) or Panasonic E series caps (if I have any) and they do the job just fine for me.

    I agree with Lew too on the DS-1. Even after modding mine it still has those characteristics. It may not get as clean as it would in stock form, but it still gets clean enough for me. It sounds even better than it did when Lew first heard it.

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    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Galati View Post
    Just got a DS-1 today Lew.

    Nice pedal, with a natural sound. I might actually switch to this from my Rat pedal. Hard to say. The Rat's got a meaner edge, which I like, but the DS-1's dynamics are better.

    Pete
    Both the DS-1 and the Rat are pedals that you can leave on all the time and adjust the overdrive with your guitar's volume control. Jeff Beck uses his Rat that way and Joe Satriani uses the DS-1 that way. I like pedals like that!

    Lew
    Last edited by Lewguitar; 07-12-2007 at 11:07 AM.

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    Glass Snuff
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    Default Re: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    Quote Originally Posted by ErikH View Post
    Again, all that is happening is the highs are being shunted to ground.
    Well.... that's really not all that's happening. The capacitor in a guitar is part of a Zobel filter. It's 'proper' value is determined by the resistance and inductance of the coil (hence different values for different pickups). In simple terms, the capacitor splits the pickup output into two parts, one of which sees only the volume control as a load, the other which sees both the volume control's max value and the value set on the tone control as a load.

    As shown in Seymour's chart in the Tips and Tricks section of his website, the load on a pickup radically changes the tone. While someone knowledgeable about these things might expect a cap to make no more than a 6 dB difference, because of its role in damping the inductive resonance of the circuit it can cause a change of 4 times that.

    If you can hear the difference between two different maker's caps of the same value, then you have better hearing than most humans.
    I think I agree with you, but since this is the Seymour Duncan Forum I'm willing to bet the hearing of those on this board is well above average. Anecdotal evidence suggests to me that most guitarists can hear the difference between a ceramic, OD, and Hovland. They may be lying to me, of course.

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    Default Re: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    Quote Originally Posted by Glass Snuff View Post
    Well.... that's really not all that's happening. The capacitor in a guitar is part of a Zobel filter. It's 'proper' value is determined by the resistance and inductance of the coil (hence different values for different pickups). In simple terms, the capacitor splits the pickup output into two parts, one of which sees only the volume control as a load, the other which sees both the volume control's max value and the value set on the tone control as a load.

    As shown in Seymour's chart in the Tips and Tricks section of his website, the load on a pickup radically changes the tone. While someone knowledgeable about these things might expect a cap to make no more than a 6 dB difference, because of its role in damping the inductive resonance of the circuit it can cause a change of 4 times that.


    I think I agree with you, but since this is the Seymour Duncan Forum I'm willing to bet the hearing of those on this board is well above average. Anecdotal evidence suggests to me that most guitarists can hear the difference between a ceramic, OD, and Hovland. They may be lying to me, of course.
    I wish that this could be properly researched and "put to rest" once and for all. Various brands of caps have been put in guitars with switches (for the best procedure for comparison) by some very experienced players. They were unable to detect much of a difference. Others feel that there is a difference...and that is OK.

    Anybody in need of a research topic?

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    Just A Minion ErikH's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Capacitors and wiring for volume control

    Although there has been "recommended" values for caps with singles vs. humbuckers, it's not a set in stone rule. A lot of folks use .022uf across the board, some .047uf, some even .033uf. It just depends on the player. Most could care less.

    I know the tone pot also presents a load and all that, but the cap is connected to ground. The signal is not flowing through it and then onward to the amp. It's sending what goes through it to ground.

    Two very good eared forum members did already did the two caps on a DPDT switch test, one a Hovland and the other an Orange Drop. They couldn't hear a difference.

    Again, it's all preference. Use what you want. That's fine.

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