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Tone Caps... Highly Debated yet Very Simple

capacitor electric guitar Electric Guitar Wiring guitar humbuckers single coil stratocaster switching tone wiring

Tone Caps... Highly Debated yet Very Simple

Some people don't use their tone knob at all... Others constantly are fiddling with it. How does it work? First off, the tone circuit in a passive system is a filter. It can only cut frequencies from what is available from the pickups. Anytime we speak of "boosting lows" for instance in a passive system, we are cutting other frequencies to accentuate the lows. The tone circuit in your guitar usually consists of a pot that is used as a variable resistor that sends the signal through a cap (filter) to ground. The value of the cap determines the "cutoff" frequency where this occurs. Since these caps are low pass filters, this means the higher the value of the cap, the more highs get filtered and the "darker" the sound. Remember this only happens when you turn the tone pot away from 10.  (or 11 if you are Nigel) If you never turn your tone control, then the available frequencies are only controlled by the pickups and the Pot values explained here.

What Capacitor do I choose?

[caption id="attachment_87" align="alignright" width="192"]bumblebee Bumble Bee[/caption] [caption id="attachment_91" align="alignright" width="79"]tropfish Tropical Fish[/caption] [caption id="attachment_90" align="alignright" width="66"]paperoil Paper in Oil[/caption] [caption id="attachment_89" align="alignright" width="77"]orangedrop Orange Drop[/caption] [caption id="attachment_88" align="alignright" width="76"]cerdisk Ceramic Disk[/caption] Type- There are many types of caps that make subtle changes to your tone even with the same value. This is based on their construction and materials used. What type you use is largely up to your taste. Value- this is the biggie. The common ones are .015 uf, .022uf, .033uf, and .047uf. Remember, the bigger number means that more highs will be filtered. This is also up to taste. Remember also that your pot selection plays in here. If you use a 250k pot with humbuckers and a .047uf cap..... your tone control will go very dark and very muddy. Voltage Rating- This makes me laugh. We are talking millivolts in a guitar and people always put huge caps capable of 200, 400, 600, volts in their tone circuits. A 10 volt cap will be just fine There are a few more numbers on a cap and sometimes they can be a pain to read. There is more information on this in the video below. Cap choice is largely subjective and somehow it is one of the most debated topics on the internet... Just explore them, try them, and let your own ears decide.  

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