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Thread: how does the value of a tone capacitor affect tone? whats a good cap for an sss strat

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    Mojo's Minions Quencho092's Avatar
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    Default how does the value of a tone capacitor affect tone? whats a good cap for an sss strat

    i finally finshed installing my pickups and wiring the whole pickguard, but i was just curious, how does the capacitor affect tone? I figured it had something to do with the range of high frequencies that the tone pot would modify, just want a thicker sound out of my strat. (ant II sss)

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    CheapGuitarologist ArtieToo's Avatar
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    Default Re: how does the value of a tone capacitor affect tone? whats a good cap for an sss strat

    Thats pretty much correct. The value of the cap determines the frequency point at which the tone control works. You could, for instance, put in so large of a cap, that the turn-over point would be below the lowest frequency the guitar produces. At that point, you've basically created another volume control.

    So, the value of the cap determines whether or not you roll-off just the very top end, or maybe you want to come all the way down into the mid-range frequencies.

    The actual value you select is somewhat dependent on the p'ups you have.
    You can use the SD schematics as a starting point, or someone else will offer some specific values.

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    Mojo's Minions Quencho092's Avatar
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    Default Re: how does the value of a tone capacitor affect tone? whats a good cap for an sss strat

    i use a .02 uf cap right now, and its good, but i want to fatten up the tone a bit. what would you recommend

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    CheapGuitarologist ArtieToo's Avatar
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    Default Re: how does the value of a tone capacitor affect tone? whats a good cap for an sss strat

    Heh-heh . . . don't let the "Super Toneologist" moniker fool you. It may simply mean that I talk too much.

    We'll have to wait for someone else to correlate "fatten" to microfarads.

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    Default Re: how does the value of a tone capacitor affect tone? whats a good cap for an sss strat

    But remember that the capacitor has essentially no effect when the pot is adjusted in the "most high frequencies position". If you want to change the tone in that position, you have to do something else. This is one reason why guitarists often change their pickups.

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    CheapGuitarologist ArtieToo's Avatar
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    Default Re: how does the value of a tone capacitor affect tone? whats a good cap for an sss strat

    If you mean, when the tone control is on "10", thats not actually correct.
    The resistor/capacitance load is always in the circuit to some degree. Thats why some folks use "no-load" tone pots. A pot that has the carbon resistance trace scratched out, or painted over, at one end.

    Or, you can simply double the value of the tone pot to isolate the cap a bit more. If you have a 500k tone pot now, and you double it to 1 meg, your tone pot will operate exactly the same from 0 to 5, the it will go farther "out" of the circuit from 5 to 10.

    There's a lot of options on how to configure it to suite your tastes.

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    Default Re: how does the value of a tone capacitor affect tone? whats a good cap for an sss strat

    but which cap is bassier-.047 or .022? as in which cuts the most frequency range out of the highs? I want to try 2 different caps- a bassier capable cap for the bridge on my strat and a thinner sounding cap for my already bassy bridge pickup.

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Fresh_Start's Avatar
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    Default Re: how does the value of a tone capacitor affect tone? whats a good cap for an sss strat

    I can't find the graphic right now, but a .047 allows lower frequencies to pass to ground than a .022. Therefore, it would be darker/warmer/muddier, depending on your pickups, guitar, amp, and perspective

    A .015 for the neck pup and a .033 for the bridge would be a good start IMHO. You might as well get some Vishay/Sprague "Orange Drop" caps while you're at it: Mouser Electronics - Orange Drop page I've been getting the "225" polyester ones but don't think you'd hear the difference with the 215 polypropelene caps. I did hear a difference compared to Radio Shack film caps.

    You can also buy them from Black Rose Customs, Callaham Vintage Guitars, or Lews Guitars. Lew & John at Black Rose are both forum members.

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    Default Re: how does the value of a tone capacitor affect tone? whats a good cap for an sss strat

    Artietoo: true, if you can hear some difference in going from say 8 or 9 to 10, there will be some difference in going "past 10" by using a larger value pot. Seems like a pretty small difference to me, and one you can mostly make up for with the tone control on the amp. Sure, I know, adjusting the damping on a resonant circuit is not the same as adjusting the location of a break point with a tone control, but if we are talking about small differences to begin with, the correction does not have to be perfect to make the difference even smaller.

    Q2: But anyway, the major difference in doubling the capacitor value will be heard with the tone control at the lower numbers. More highs will be cut with the larger value. At 10 the full value of the 250K pot is in series with the cap, and both capacitors have an impedance small compared to 250K, at, for example, 2 KHz (1.7K and 3.6K, approximately), and so it would be very hard the hear the difference.

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    Default Re: how does the value of a tone capacitor affect tone? whats a good cap for an sss strat

    Quote Originally Posted by Quencho092
    but which cap is bassier-.047 or .022? as in which cuts the most frequency range out of the highs? I want to try 2 different caps- a bassier capable cap for the bridge on my strat and a thinner sounding cap for my already bassy bridge pickup.
    The larger the cap value, the more highs it will cut. Doubling or halving a caps value will move the corner frequency up or down (assuming the cap's tolerance to be good) an octave, this will amount for a 6dB change in the slope (say if the first slope is ... corner is at 800Hz (-3dB), then 1.6kHz -6dB, 3.2kHz. -12dB, 6.4kHz. -18dB, 8kHz. -20dB ((the decade)), etc;
    Then the second slope (cap doubled) would be corner 400hZ. (-3dB), then 800hZ. -6dB, 1.6kHz. - 12dB, 3.2kHz. - 18dB, 4kHz. - 20dB ((the decade)), etc. A subtle but noticeable difference, the second thing this does it move the resonant peak that's created behind the corner frequency ... this resonance only comes into play with the tone control all the way down, as soon as the control is turned up the resonant boost starts to be damped.
    A 473 will cut more highs than a 223, if what you are looking for is more of an active type effect without changing the character of the pup, then increasing your cap value to lower the corner Fc and then trimming the attenuation level with a resistor will give you a broader slope with the hi cut you want, but without the resonance change. This is good because it will reduce the brightness of the pup without changing the character of it G&L did this on their ASAT. If you just want an *on all the time high trim* then you might be better off just soldering a small value cap to ground from the bridge hot, of course this would also affect the other pups when combined with it, but then so do the tone controls.
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