How Capacitors Work

Capacitors are often one of the most over looked aspect in your guitar. Basically, Capacitors are the quintessential  player in the overall tone of the guitar. 

Well, What is A Capacitor?

A Capacitor (Also know as a Cap) is a passive two-terminal electrical component used to store electrical energy temporarily in an electric field

 

Capacitors Come In 3 Types

 

Ceramic- These tend to be the cheapest capacitors around and are found on most lower end guitars

Film- These are often made from Teflon, Metallized Paper, Polyester, and Polystyrene. Film Caps like Spragues' "orange drop' tend to be the preffered for modern higher end guitars

Oil-  These are often referred to as "Paper In Oil"  which are capacitors made from oil soaked paper. These are known to be in vintage instruments.

So How Does It Work In Your Guitar?

Capacitors along with the pot create an audio filter which cuts out frequencies above an adjusted point by bleeding the signal through the pot ground

We created a simple visual aid to show you what that means

In  this example you can see the signal of the guitar. As we turn down the tone knob, the signal changes, lowering the allowed frequencies, and changing the tone.

The Variable That Effects The Tone

 

Values (10uF-50uF)- The value of the cap effects the overall tonal qualities. The higher the value the more dark and lifeless the tone. The lower the value the more bright and dynamic it is.

Other Variables That May Effect Tone

Disclaimer: Now this is where the lines gets blurry and shady. Where the snake oil salesmen lurk in the shadows trying to sell you liquid Gold! Just kidding..ish. But realistically these variables tend to be more subjective and rely on individuals opinions and are not backed by scientific evidence. 

Voltage (1v-1000v)- the voltage acts like an added push. The higher the voltage the bigger the Caps size. (We use 600v Orange Drops do to their resemblance to candy)

Material (Ceramic, Film, Oil)-  Each type has their own strengths and weaknesses associated with an accurate Value reading, and each type has their own fan group.

Again, all these variables like Voltage and more importantly material are subjective. We personally disagree with the idea that those change the sound and instead believe that the value is what makes it.

So Happy Tone Hunting!


 

sean arbowComment