What has more tonal impact - Pots or Caps?

rauchman

Senior member
Messages
795
Greetings,

I've been futzing with wiring for my Warmoth builds.  What has more tonal impact on sounds, capacitors or pots?

From what I've read (please correct me if my assumptions are wrong)...
250k pots generally go with single coils
500k pots generally go with humbuckers

.022 caps generally go with single coils
.047 caps generally go with humbuckers

If one starts overlapping these values (using 1 pot or cap for both SC's and HB's), which have more effect on tone/sound?

If one has a humbucker on a 250k pot but with a .047 cap, will that have more of an effect on tone vs using a 500k pot with a .022 cap?

My understanding is the higher the pot value, the more highs are in the sound
My understanding is the higher the cap value, the darker the sound will be
 

ragamuffin

Senior member
Messages
1,008
The pot's resistance is always in effect where as the caps have very little effect when the tone knob is all the way up (just when the knob is rolled back). Also I find cap value to be more up to personal preference; I like a .033 on most guitars, some people prefer higher values or even much smaller values (for instance Fralin recommends caps in around .0022) Personally I think the pot resistance switching would be more useful than cap value switching.
 

rauchman

Senior member
Messages
795
ragamuffin said:
The pot's resistance is always in effect where as the caps have very little effect when the tone knob is all the way up (just when the knob is rolled back). Also I find cap value to be more up to personal preference; I like a .033 on most guitars, some people prefer higher values or even much smaller values (for instance Fralin recommends caps in around .0022) Personally I think the pot resistance switching would be more useful than cap value switching.

Excellent info....thanks.

Does the Vol pot have more tonal impact than the Tone pot?
 

mayfly

Senior member
Messages
8,309
I find myself compelled to approach this from an engineering point of view.  Here's the equation that dictates the response of a typical R-C network that makes up the tone circuit of a guitar:

F3db = 1/(2xPIxRxC)

That is, the 3db cut-off frequency of that filter is equally dependent on both the R component and the C component.  So all other things being equal, the answer is both have equal impact.

Now when you get into real life, you have a non-ideal voltage source (i.e. magnetic pickups) driving this network.  For the above equation to work reliably, you have to choose your R large enough to not interfere with the inherit non-linearity and relatively high output impedance of the pickup.  Or at least not interfere too much.  The rule of thumb is you want a load impedance at least 10x larger than the output impedance of the source, which gives rise to different standard potentiometer values for single coil and humbucking pickups.

But to answer your question, it's both.
 

SeaGroomer

Senior member
Messages
208
How important is it to use tone caps in general? I haven't done much research into wiring since I will be letting a pro do it for me. I am using two Fralin Pure PAFs but don't have any push-pull pots for coil-splitting purposes. I wasn't *planning* on doing that, but maybe I should? I guess that's two questions...
 

stratamania

Senior member
Messages
9,481
SeaGroomer said:
How important is it to use tone caps in general? I haven't done much research into wiring since I will be letting a pro do it for me. I am using two Fralin Pure PAFs but don't have any push-pull pots for coil-splitting purposes. I wasn't *planning* on doing that, but maybe I should? I guess that's two questions...

Without a tone cap on a tone pot, it is not a tone pot.

Do you want a tone pot in addition to a volume pot?
If yes then in general for you a tone cap would be important.

Should you have a means of coil splitting your humbuckers?
No.
The question is do have a preference to be able to do so?
Entirely your preference to answer in the affirmative or not.

 

amigarobbo

Senior member
Messages
945
rauchman said:
Does the Vol pot have more tonal impact than the Tone pot?

Is that a trick question?  :icon_scratch:

Can I recommend this series of videos on assorted guitar bits? I've probably done this before.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8dp9clGe-I&list=PLO33g8sM_b8V2Z25rI2VPWFOb00X79wIn

 

SeaGroomer

Senior member
Messages
208
stratamania said:
SeaGroomer said:
How important is it to use tone caps in general? I haven't done much research into wiring since I will be letting a pro do it for me. I am using two Fralin Pure PAFs but don't have any push-pull pots for coil-splitting purposes. I wasn't *planning* on doing that, but maybe I should? I guess that's two questions...

Without a tone cap on a tone pot, it is not a tone pot.

Do you want a tone pot in addition to a volume pot?
If yes then in general for you a tone cap would be important.

Should you have a means of coil splitting your humbuckers?
No.
The question is do have a preference to be able to do so?
Entirely your preference to answer in the affirmative or not.

Ah ok,, so one is needed to make the tone pot the tone pot. I thought I heard people mention putting additional caps in there somewhere?

I don't understand what you mean by: "Should you have a means of coil splitting your humbuckers? No. "

My pickups have the 4-conductor leads, so they can be set up to be split. I was curious how useful you all found that as a feature.
 

stratamania

Senior member
Messages
9,481
SeaGroomer said:
Ah ok,, so one is needed to make the tone pot the tone pot. I thought I heard people mention putting additional caps in there somewhere?

Okay.

You may have heard people mention being able to switch from one cap to another to give tonal options. It is not needed however and the usual set up is one cap.


SeaGroomer said:
I don't understand what you mean by: "Should you have a means of coil splitting your humbuckers? No. "

To expand on this you asked previously "Should you have a means of coil splitting your humbuckers?"

I replied
"No. "
Because coil splitting is not mandatory it is only an option so it is not something you should have.

SeaGroomer said:
My pickups have the 4-conductor leads, so they can be set up to be split. I was curious how useful you all found that as a feature.

If you have 4 conductor leads, coil-splitting, running the coils together in parallel, out of phase etc are all options. Some feel some or all of those are needed. Sometimes people try to build in every option under the sun on their "custom build" but most of them are not as usable as others.

Sometimes in an HSS on a Strat for example wiring the humbucker to auto-split in bridge and middle position is done to approximate a Strat type quack or similar.

So there is no "have to" but rather more what options you might choose to use or ignore.
 

Rick

Senior member
Messages
4,539
What counts is if splitting is useful to you.  I recommend you use YouTube and find examples of splits, out of phase in phase series parallel etc.  pick what sounds good to you then try it. 
 

amigarobbo

Senior member
Messages
945
I had a Tony Iommi SG, Epiphone, but propa Iommi pickups, I found it too full phat sounding in humbucking, adding a split to both and mix and matching helped give me tonal options I preferred.

But then I like thin sounding 6 string guitars, to leave more sonic space for the real guitars,  :bananaguitar:

Maybe I shouldn't have bought a full cream sounding SG then?  :turtle:

Anyway, that sort of thing is totally subjective, innit?  :evil4:
 

rauchman

Senior member
Messages
795
amigarobbo said:
rauchman said:
Does the Vol pot have more tonal impact than the Tone pot?

Is that a trick question?  :icon_scratch:

Can I recommend this series of videos on assorted guitar bits? I've probably done this before.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8dp9clGe-I&list=PLO33g8sM_b8V2Z25rI2VPWFOb00X79wIn

Is that a trick question to my inquiry?

As I've found out, there is a difference.  From my own experimentation, the Vol pot will have more tonal impact.
 
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