The Capacinator

May 9, 2015 by Greg

After watching several videos and talking to Dino about ways to compare tone capacitors in guitars, I ended up designing this comparison tool.

I completed this project today. It took about 3 or 4 hours. It has six different capacitors in it and a tone knob.

box-complete

Two small packages arrived today containing the parts that I needed to complete the project, along with some VENUSBLASTER parts and tools.

parts-5-9

I traced the box and created a template for drilling the holes.

box-template

All drilled up with 3/8″ holes…

drilled-box

The parts are attached and ready to start wiring.

box-pre-assemblybox-ready-to-solder

All wired up. I currently have the following capacitors wired into the box:

  1. Cheap ceramic disk 0.022uF
  2. Orange Drop 0.022uF
  3. Del Ritmo Vitamin Q Black Candy 0.022uF
  4. Emerson paper in oil 0.022uF
  5. Orange Drop 0.015uF
  6. Orange Drop 0.047uF

box-soldered

Fortunately I wired everything right the first time, so the first test was successful.

box-pluggedbox-w-tele

I am probably going to replace the ceramic one and the 0.047 with the following black ones…

Emerson_Paper-In-Oil_Capssprague027

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Update June 24, 2015

I found a 12-position rotary switch at Antique Electronics, so I replaced the 6-position one and added some more capacitors. I now have the following ten in there:

1) Metal Film Tubular 0.0103uF
2) Orange Drop 0.015uF
3) Emerson paper in oil 0.022uF
4) Sprague vintage pull (pictured above) 0.027uF
5) Metal Film Tubular 0.0333uF
6) Orange Drop 0.047uF
7) Metal Film Tubular 0.0683uF
8) Metal Film Tubular 0.1uF
9) Orange Drop 0.022uF
10) Del Ritmo Vitamin Q Black Candy 0.022uF

I’m gonna play with it now on the tele through the AC15.

IMG_20150624_1916283_rewind

 

19 thoughts on “The Capacinator

  1. SWEEEEEET. Jesus that looks great, dude! Nice job. I’m impressed you put that together so quickly.

    Where are the sound clips? So curious to hear if you can tell any difference between those .022uFs

    Inspirational.

    1. And thanks for taking pictures of the process. I love that. It’s so helpful to see the work you put into it, and to be able to check out the insides.

  2. I’m trying to follow the wiring, and I’m wondering if that ceramic disc is sitting in a weird place in that picture. Does the yellow wire go from the #2 on the pot to that selector switch? It looks like the ceramic .002 is attached to the pot, but that doesn’t seem to make any sense.

  3. Yeah, the ceramic disk is hiding the connection of the middle lug on the pot, which goes to the common lug on the rotary switch. There’s black shrink tubing around one leg of the ceramic disk.

    The differences between the .022s is very subtle. I need to play with it some more, but I am liking the Emerson the most I think, because of the round bassy tone when the knob is all the way down. The ceramic one has a crappy tone. It sounds dirty. The .015 is too low for the tele, meaning it doesn’t get dark enough on 1, especially for the bridge. The .047 is better for the tele. I ordered a Sprague .027uF Black Beauty “pull” on ebay, and I’m thinking of getting a .033uF Emerson to put in there.

    1. I like the look of the Emerson .033uF. seems like that’s going to be nicely brown. Really wish you could test the Lollars with it. Are you for sure getting Lollars?

      1. Yes, I’m definitely getting Lollar Imperials. The real test will be with the Lollars in the guitar. I’m anxious to hear the differences from the ice pick tele. I’ll probably buy an Emerson .047uF when I get new electronics for the orange tele.

  4. I got the Sprague .027 in the mail today and wired it into the box. It was maybe a little darker sounding than the .022s, but not a lot. They all sound the damn same on my tele. The only ones that I can really hear differences with are the different capacitance levels – .015 and .047. This is starting to feel like a waste of time and monEy. I’m not going to buy any more caps unless I feel like I want to get one in the .033 range.

    1. wow, interesting. I guess that makes sense, at least from a physics point of view (.022uf is .022uf no matter what) but I can’t say that I really understand why the different materials don’t make a difference. Seems like they must, but maybe it’s just too imperceptible?

  5. Yeah, the differences between caps of the same value is pretty imperceptible to me. I think it helps to be able compare different values though. I should have just bought the 20-dollar Decade Box.

  6. I was using this today to compare the cap in my tele with the .047, and the cap in my tele is definitely not an .047. It sounds pretty much like a .022, which is really too low for that tele. I’m thinking of just doing all new electronics except the pickups and jack for now. Eventually I will probably get Fralin Blues Specials.

    This really is a useful tool for comparing what’s in your guitar with other caps. I’m glad I made it.

  7. While this doesn’t seem realistic, it would be nice to make this modification to the tone pots used to connect to the Capacinator (the ones in the guitar). It removes the capacitor completely, giving you the truest test of the new caps in your setup:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN3SlH-cEAg

    But also an interesting mod in itself, should you ever want no capacitance.

  8. That’s one of those things where the difference in sound is nearly imperceptible. Did you hear any difference in that video? I didn’t. It’s an interesting idea, but if you really want to remove the tone pot from your guitar signal for testing an outboard tone control, then you can just unsolder the lead to it temporarily. I wouldn’t even bother, personally. I have a 250K tone pot in my tele, which is supposed to reduce high frequencies, but I think only a dog could hear the difference. To me it is good enough to just turn the pot up all the way to “bypass” it.

      1. I had tested both of those before on the tele. The black candy didn’t really sound different from the other 022s. The sprague sounded like it was a tad darker, though my brain might have been trying to hear it that way since it is an 027. I’m going to do a thorough test after I get the VB set up with the tonepros TOM later this week.

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