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Best capacitor value for strat with vintage pickups?

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by chillaxboi, Aug 31, 2013.

  1. chillaxboi

    chillaxboi Strat-Talker

    Feb 4, 2010
    What's the best cap value for a strat with vintage pickups that is a bit too bright?

  2. mabley123

    mabley123 Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 21, 2010
    I make it easy.

    whatever was correct spec for that year is what I use. if it is a 68 or before I would use a .1uf as that is what was original and I have come to find I like the .1uf as well as any.

    my 71 4 bolt strat is a .047.

    from 69 on they used ..1uf or .047.

    also from what ive found.

    my .047 71 strat is not as bright as my 82 -62 fullerton reissue or my partscaster with 2 vintage 66 and 1 65 strat pickups and .1uf cap..

    I would try messing with the tone controls on the amp and guitar.

    I believe ( maybe im wrong ) that the pickups are most responsible for the voice.. not the cap. although roll off is different.

    I like a .1 or a .5uf-.047.. same thing. have no use for a .022 in a strat. not enough roll off.

    I use my tone controls on the guitar and amp extensively.

  3. mosiggy

    mosiggy Strat-Talker

    Nov 16, 2012
    Fayetteville, AR
    The cap only makes a difference if the tone is rolled down. That being said the greater the value of the cap the more treble will roll of as you turn down the tone.

    Sent from my mind!!!
    eco7077 likes this.

  4. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
    The most common value for Strat caps is .047. I prefer a smaller cap - .022 - because when you turn down the tone knob, it only really reduces the top end, it leaves most of the mids intact, so it makes what I hear as a warmer, fatter sound. A larger cap - .047 - tends to remove more of the upper mids when you turn down the tone knob, which is a less usable sound, as far as I'm concerned.

    A .1 cap, as the AVRIs are fitted with, is simply awful. You turn down the tone knob and way too much happens. It even has an impact on the volume, so it's not for me at all.

    But this is all opinion. Yours may be different. Caps are cheap, try two or three and see what you think. There's no right and wrong here.

  5. chillaxboi

    chillaxboi Strat-Talker

    Feb 4, 2010
    American standards come stock with one or two caps?

  6. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
    My 1999 Standard came to me with 1 cap - a .022. But I can't be sure it's the original cap, I didn't buy it new.

  7. Craig Howard

    Craig Howard Strat-O-Master

    Mar 17, 2013
    New Zealand
    Slight thread hijack but relevant...

    What would a strat sound like without (a) any cap? (b) a cap in the circuit that had been fried ? (in the soldering process)


    OLDGREYGIT Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 7, 2011
    I'm always, it seems, up to my elbows in pickup cavities.
    It's going to depend on what pickups you have, what your ears are listening for, and sadly, you will probably not find the right answer without a fair amount of trial and error.
    I found a 0.1 PIO was a bit of a one trick pony. Sounded great in one position.
    The Sozo 0.047's seem to be a great all rounder with a variety of pickups.
    However, I'm discovering the joys of tatty old NOS ceramic disc/dime capacitors at the moment.
    A 0.022 Circle D is currently in situ and is pleasantly suprising me.

  9. mojosman

    mojosman Strat-O-Master

    Mar 24, 2013
    Western Mass
    I bought a loaded pick guard from D. Allen with his Tru-62 pickups, which are as vintage as you will find. He asked me what value tone cap I wanted, and I told him to use whatever he recommended. He delivered it to me with .047 OIP tone caps. They sound awesome.

    One thing I would add is I do think that the caps themselves are important as well. In my Les Paul I bought a vintage wiring harness with high end tone & volume controls. They (*Tundratone.com) used new old stock paper in oil tone caps. The guitar came from the factory with those cheezy skinny ceramic tone caps. The PIO caps made a huge difference on that guitar. Just my two cents.

  10. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
    Presumably the tone knob would simply have no function?

  11. tjh611

    tjh611 Strat-Talk Member

    May 13, 2011
    Philadelphia, Pa
    I like .015 with vintage strat pup's. You can also run 2 different values in parallel to dial in exactly what you want

  12. fumbler

    fumbler PhD-Stratology

    Oct 22, 2009
    New Joisey!
    When the tone pot is full up, the resistance of the POT has a bigger effect on your tone than the value of the cap. The value of the cap only matters as you roll the pot down:

    0.1 microfarad (µf) is vintage spec. It will roll off ALL your highs and a lot of your mids leaving only bass.

    0.047 µf is modern spec. It will roll off ALL your highs and a lot of your upper mids leaving only lower mids and bass.

    0.022 µf is a common mod (and standard for humbuckers). It will roll off your highs leaving your mids and bass.

    0.010 µf is good if you're going for Clapton "woman-tone". It only takes off the upper highs.

    Not gonna get into a discussion of cap construction. Some say the type matters; some say only the value matters.

    (I bet you're wondering how I got that greek letter "mu" to appear :) )

  13. bigsnaketex

    bigsnaketex Strat-Talker

    Mar 12, 2013
    South Mississippi
    This may be the best description of caps that I've ever come across - I hope you don't mind if I copy and paste this to my repair manual!!

  14. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
    Agreed, that's very succinct. And true too.

  15. fumbler

    fumbler PhD-Stratology

    Oct 22, 2009
    New Joisey!
    No problem. I think a lot of people use the word "succinct" to describe me.

    Or maybe it's just the first syllable of that word. :)

  16. JohnDH

    JohnDH Senior Stratmaster

    What do Standards come with now? I thought it was 0.022uF.

    My American Special came with 0.022 caps in a 'Greasebucket' circuit, which includes another cap of 0.1uF, plus a resistor in series. The net effect is the almost exactly the same as a normal arrangement with a 0.018uF cap, and a pot that doesn't quite go down to 1 but stops about 2.

    I messed around with different values, and concluded that 0.022 is a nice compromise, which gets a good honky woman tone in parallel settings, and can get dark and jazzy with humbuckers and series settings.

  17. ripgtr

    ripgtr Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 16, 2012
    My 60 came with .1. I measured it recently, talk about drift, it read .6

    The neck pup is still bright enough (it really is not a bright strat on any pup) and rolling it off really makes it darker, like a good jazz box.
    I don't do a lot of rolling the tone around much anyway, there are a ton of tones between the 3 pups and playing technique.

    On no tone control, I had a switch on my tele that bypassed the tone and volume. Just straight from pup selector to output jack. There was a very noticeable change in volume and tone. How much if just bypassing the tone, don't know, but I would suspect a noticeable amount.

  18. Luthier-Atlanta

    Luthier-Atlanta Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 18, 2012
    Marietta, Ga.
    I would roll with a tropical fish, but I just scored an abusive amount of these 0.1uf's... I am going to give them a whirl in a few.

    Which I need all of.

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  19. simoncroft

    simoncroft Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    A friend of mine had a Tele that suddenly seemed to have more top end. None of us knew much about guitar electrics back then, so it was a long time before I worked out how it had happened. The tone pot had become loose and so stopped making a ground contact with the control plate. In effect, that switched out the tone control.

    It made a lot of difference to the sound but it was only when I tightened up the nut on the tone pot, restoring the sound to 'normal' that anyone believed I'd found the cause.

  20. FredC

    FredC Strat-Talker

    May 11, 2013
    Palm Desert, CA
    If you want to decrease the brightness of all pickups in all positions without changing anything else, run a .002uF cap to ground from the same post on the 5-way switch that feeds the volume pot. If that's still too bright, increase the value of the cap until you find a tone you like.

    Capacitors attract high frequencies and send them to ground, much like straining gravel. The smallest rocks (high frequencies) pass through the strainer and fall out to the ground. The higher the value of the capacitor, the bigger the holes are in the strainer.. allowing a larger range of the high frequencies to fall out. All a tone pot does is make the value of the capacitor variable, thereby adjusting the size of the holes in our virtual strainer bigger or smaller. So if you want an overall high frequency cut.. just add a cap to the + lead.