Welcome back to the Guitar Pickups 101 Series! We are coming at you with Part 7 today, and getting you schooled up on Capacitors! How do these really affect your tone anyway? If you missed any of the other parts of the series, be sure the check them out! The links are at the bottom of this article!
What Are Capacitors?
So we have already discussed potentiometers (pots) a bit, but you may still be wondering what a capacitor (cap) is. If you take a look at the pots in your guitar, you will notice that your tone control pot, has an additional piece that your volume control pot does not have, and that piece is a capacitor. The capacitor is the component that enables your tone control to adjust the level of treble, rather than just the total volume.
There are three common types of capacitors used in guitars, and the values of these capacitors are 0.022, 0.047, and occasionally 0.1. These measurements are taken in microfarads. The HIGHER the level of the CAP, the more BASS your tone will have, when you have turned down the treble of your tone.
What this means in relation to your tone, is that you can adjust the fatness of your tone by changing your capacitor to fit your tone preferences. If you like the tone adjustment that comes with most standard guitars, where the treble is slightly rolled-off but doesn’t create too bass-y of a sound, then you can stick with a 0.022 or bump up to a 0.047 for a bit more bass. If you wanted toreally cut out the treble and have a deep, bass heavy sound, then you would need to switch to a 0.1 cap.
Experimenting with caps could be a great way to craft a custom tone from your rig. You could combine a really bright, high-output pickup, with a 0.1 cap, and see what kind of awesome mid-range or bass tones you could pull out of it. On the other hand, you could go with a bright pickup and go with the softest cap you could get, and try to really dial in the treble-rich tones that you want. Lastly, you could use an active, dark-sounding humbucker, and couple it with a 0.1 capacitor, and see what kind sounds you could get out of some different amps, to really explore some dark and muddy tones.
We will continue to add more tech content in the coming weeks and months. Check back tomorrow for the latest addition to the tone education library!
Check out the other parts of our Guitar Pickups 101 Series below, and stay tuned for the next section!