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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:17 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2003 4:58 am
Posts: 947
Location: Southern Indiana
I'll start this off by saying I am a frugal but practical guy (at least I like to think so). I don't have money to burn on something that won't do me any good, yet I don't mind spending some on real improvements.

I have read that many guitar techs are recommending paper in oil caps for the tone circuit stating that this will allow less attenuation of the high end of the pickup as you roll the volume control back.

Having worked on a LOT of amps, I am really quite opinionated on what I have discovered over the years with them. A lot of what you read is BS. For instance, in guitar amps, carbon comp resistors are supposed to be the thing to have, yet I use cheaper metal film ones because they drift less, are less noisy, and sound the same to me. Also, sprague electrolytic caps are supposed to be the stuff, yet I use good quality foreign caps and find that they are smaller, have closer tolerances, handle higher temperatures, and sound as good as the spragues to me (and I don't have any problems with failures). But, I use really expensive transformers, and US speakers (or celestions) as well because I think they are worth it. I use good quality jacks and switches as well. I use alpha pots and don't have problems with those either. On my amps, I find the polystyrene yellow tubular caps generally sound the best to me (better than the orange drops) - and they are not as expensive either. I do not use paper in oil caps for my guitar amps as there are MANY caps in them and none of the great sounding classics used them in any large degree - so I can't see adding $200 to the cost of an amp for something that probably will not make it sound better. But now back to guitars!

In guitar land, these paper in oil caps are supposed to be the stuff right now. But instead of 30 cents for a cap, these beasts are $8 to about $30 depending upon the brand. Angela and Mojotone has some at fairly reasonable prices (the lower end of that scale). Anyone here actually try them to determine if they do make a difference? Right now my funds are extremely tight and I don't have $20 to blow on nothing. But I would spend it if it really made a difference. I am very skeptical. Also, people are going nuts over the old "black beauty" or "bumble bee" caps that were using in vintage guitars stating they are the same way (don't kill the high end when rolling back the volume on the guitar, and sound better on the tone). People pay BIG bucks for these as they are used in vintage gibsons and fenders. Do they really make a difference to the sound or are these strictly cosmetic changes? Has anyone tried it before I waste my money?

Just curious. I have some gutiars that sound fine when you roll back the volume and others that sound like you rolled the tone control back at the same time as the volume. I have used the treble bleed cap method and it is generally too bright when the volume is too low. A treble bleed cap with a resistor in series works better, but still is not the same as a good sounding setup that retains its brightness on its own when rolled back. I actually use the volume control on the guitar a lot with my amps. turning the amp up to the maximum volume you will use and rolling the guitar volume control does not normally dramitically decrease the overall volume, but it cleans up the distortion a lot. So the end result is, frequently you don't need multiple channels or pedals (unless you want to go to a lot more gain than the amp will do on its own). Your volume control becomes your clean and distortion. Good tube amps work that way, but sometimes my guitars just don't want to cooperate.



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 7:05 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 22, 2004 12:17 am
Posts: 1903
As for sound, I couldn't say, the only oil caps I have are in old Fender guitars and those sound good for other reasons let alone possible value of the caps.

As far as cost, I think it's all economics. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you can order sprague and all manner of other cool caps from Mouser. The problem is, you have minimim order requirements and most guitarists aren't interested in ordering 100 caps or $100 worth of anything Mouser has. (I dont' recall the exact minimums, don't quote me.)

I think the deal is, a few entrepreneurs have discovered they can order bulk quantities and then resell individual ones at a big markup on ebay and elsewhere. If I were a little mroe ambitious (and a little more of a #%$#) I'd do the same thing myself.

Seems to me someone who's already selling amps could offer a much better deal on these glamourous parts as an inexpensive way to generate interest and traffic, a few of whom might stay to buy an amp or two.

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