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Thread: Use of Ceramic Caps in Gibson Custom Shop Guitars...

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    Use of Ceramic Caps in Gibson Custom Shop Guitars...

    I'm having an argument with someone and they are trying to tell me that the custom shop does not use ceramic caps in their guitars. I say they do. The 61 SG RI have ceramics and even the really expensive Custom Shop Firebirds are wired up with ceramic capacitors. Can anyone here confirm this? Can anyone please post some pictures of said ceramics in the control cavity. I've been trying to google the images but no luck. Thanks.

    PS: also, can anyone confirm the use of black shrink wrap in the control cavities as shown in the photo below? Also, can anyone here confirm the authenticity for a Custom S61 RI SG Custom. Thank You

    http://josephsantos.com/wp-content/u...2/IMG_0668.png

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    Senior Member nevetslab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cluster View Post
    I'm having an argument with someone and they are trying to tell me that the custom shop does not use ceramic caps in their guitars. I say they do. The 61 SG RI have ceramics and even the really expensive Custom Shop Firebirds are wired up with ceramic capacitors. Can anyone here confirm this? Can anyone please post some pictures of said ceramics in the control cavity. I've been trying to google the images but no luck. Thanks.

    PS: also, can anyone confirm the use of black shrink wrap in the control cavities as shown in the photo below? Also, can anyone here confirm the authenticity for a Custom S61 RI SG Custom. Thank You

    http://josephsantos.com/wp-content/u...2/IMG_0668.png

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Those are definitely ceramic caps. I can't tell you WHAT type of ceramic dielectric they are from the photo. They don't look like NPO, may be X7R. I don't think I have a parts list on any of Gibson's guitars/basses to know much further, though no doubt others here would know.

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    Old Timer olddawg's Avatar
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    I have never understood the tone control capacitor mojo thing. I’ve owned vintage guitars with the real deal. I’ve installed Asian caps from Radio Shack in others back in the day. They all seem to do the same thing to me.... roll off some treble. What mattered was the value.

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    Last edited by olddawg; 12-17-2018 at 05:55 AM.

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    Seems to me that cluster just wants to know if anyone has supporting evidence that Gibson does ship guitars with the ceramic caps installed and not trying to debate the merits of other type caps over ceramics for the guitar tone control. In fact cluster could be on your side with the past debates on the subject.

    The picture in post #1 looks like it could be that of a stock Gibson wiring job.
    By the way - That's black tubing / spaghetti not heat shrink IMO.

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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    1) not worth having an argument over.
    Why would you care what "they" think?

    2) as said above, those are definitely ceramics and by the way what´s proper to use there, given their marginal job, and nil influence of tone, besides measured value that is.

    Voltage across them is so low, a few millivolts at best, that *anything* can do a decent job there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by J M Fahey View Post
    1) not worth having an argument over.
    Why would you care what "they" think?

    2) as said above, those are definitely ceramics and by the way what´s proper to use there, given their marginal job, and nil influence of tone, besides measured value that is.

    Voltage across them is so low, a few millivolts at best, that *anything* can do a decent job there.
    Sure, you could probably get away with some gum wrapper foil,
    rolled up with a couple wires soldered on....


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    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    Surely not for everyone, but the first thing I do when I get a new guitar is disconnect the tone control. So, I've not a care in the world about what cap is in there. That said, IMO, and has others have said, a uF is a uF.

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    Old Timer olddawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Dude View Post
    Surely not for everyone, but the first thing I do when I get a new guitar is disconnect the tone control. So, I've not a care in the world about what cap is in there. That said, IMO, and has others have said, a uF is a uF.
    That's what we did when I was a kid 40 years ago... to get every last bit of output that pickup had straight into that kranked amp!

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    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    I guess I'm still a kid. Less treble is what the neck pickup is for. I don't need no stinkin' tone knob.
    Want less gain? Turn the volume down, which also gets you a little less treble.

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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Sure, you could probably get away with some gum wrapper foil,
    rolled up with a couple wires soldered on....
    We don't see it in guitars and amps, but there is something called a "gimmick capacitor", and it showed up in high frequency stuff and even TV sets. You make one with a short piece of zip cord or maybe two short pieces of insulated wire twisted together. Strip one end, and solder the two wires to the two points you want a cap between. The two wires next to each other form a small cap. Might be half a picofarad, or 1 or 2 picofarads. But that is often all it takes to stabilize a circuit. Amateur radio guys used them a lot, mainly useful in RF.

    When I was a kid, I made a Tesla Coil. It used carbon arc points as a rectifier, and to filter that supply at the extremely high voltages, we needed a cap. 500pf or so was plenty, but we needed it. Well 500pf 10,000v or higher caps were not common, so we made them. Put a pane of window glass in a wooden frame, glue a sheet of foil to either side of it, and connect wires to the foils, TA DA, a super high voltage cap.

    You really can make caps out of almost anything.

    In fact I was working in some Mesa amp once and discovered a small piece of bare wire soldered to some point, and sticking up from the board about an inch. I thought some tech was sloppy and snipped it off. Instantly the hum increased. Turns out it was supposed to be there. There was the existing hum, and they found that a short antenna - the wire - at that point in the circuit picked up the exact amount of hum, and out of phase with the audible hum. The hums cancel. Cheating? MAybe, but it solved their problem. I put a new piece of wire in place, bent it to the best angle for hum abatement, and waddaya know, hum was gone. That is kinda half a cap made out of a wire.


    Got a cap meter? Cut off a couple six inch pieces, and strip one end of each, connect to your cap meter. Set the wires apart and check the meter reading as your minimum. Now start twisting the wires together and watch the capacitance climb.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Indeed! I've made caps here at home for the fun of it. I've tried a few different materials and techniques. Novel at best. I've never used any of them in a project like a sheet of glass with foil on either side for a Tesla coil (COOL!!!). Considering you were a kid when that project happened I sure wish Steve Conner was still here to read that. He would smile for sure. Nothing new under the sun (as they say).

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    so I finally found a picture of another Custom Shop SG on line and sure enough they use ceramic caps. maybe because they were period correct. Also, is that rubber insulation tubbing or shrink tubing I see there? Is that period correct?

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    That would be common protective/insulative sheathing, made of something like PVC, used in all manner of modern appliances and non-shrinkable. As to whether it's period-correct, I doubt it. More likely a braided fiber sheath would have been used, if at all. A more experienced individual may chime in however.

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    Last edited by minim; 12-18-2018 at 03:07 PM.

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    Not sure about SGs. But in LPs the Gibson Custom Shop used ceramics in the earlier years and fake bumble-bees (polyester) in later years.
    My original '64 SG has ceramic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by minim View Post
    That would be common protective/insulative sheathing, made of something like PVC, used in all manner of modern appliances and non-shrinkable. As to whether it's period-correct, I doubt it.
    I don't know if it was used in guitars, but insulating "spaghetti" was available in the '60s. My dad had a ton of it in his workshop.

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