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Trainwreck Thoughts by ken Fischer
Chapter 2.1 version 2.2
Before I get into the main subject matter, I would like to make a few comments.
For those who don't know, I became sick in 1988. It started with CFIDS, also known as M.E. outside the USA. Since that time my body has become a magnet for serious illness. I am disabled by these conditions, and have extremely low energy levels. If I do not respond to all questions, requests and things like that, do not feel I have ignored you. I literally just am able to take care of my daily needs for my self. Thank you for understanding.
I do not own, have access to, or even no how to operate a computer. I know this is the computer age. I guess I am a caveman!
The picture of me on this website is an old one taken many years ago by "Pink strat".
Ultimate Guitar Gear receives my articles by air mail, not e-mail. By the time something appears on the website, I have read, or given copies to friends. When you read the website, I may reply to articles not yet posted. Do not let that confuse you. As it all gets posted it will become clear (I hope!)
Well, a bunch of questions!
In chapter one I mention J.M Rolph pickups. I have been asked if these are the closest to original PAF pickups. Jim, also known as, "pickup maker to the stars", makes pickups that are the sonic equal to the originals. Jim is also the best at making pickups look aged, to look like originals. There may be others out there that can do this, but I am not aware of them.
Lindy Fralin, on the other hand, makes single coil pickups with the most chime, bell like, and complex tone I have found. It is really a matter of choice. Personally, I use both, as they both are excellent. Lindy also makes humbuckers and P-90 pickups.
Bill Lawrence pickups I use are the L90XL series. These are no longer being made. The series that replaced it are the L-500 pickups. The 500 series lacks the aggressive chord crunch of the L-90 series. The 500 series does have a very violin like lead tone, and like all Lawrence pickups, huge output signal.
also use two Duncan humbuckers, the custom shop EVH is in my opinion the best Duncan humbucker in his lineup. I also use a Pearly Gates Plus. This pickup is made by Duncan just for Fender. It has Strat string spacing, and the standard Alnico 2 magnet used in the regular Pearly Gates, is replaced with Alnico 5. The plus has a very crunchy power cord, tight bottom, but tends to be a bit bright and thin on the high end. This characteristic does make it fit well in a guitar with single coils as the other pickups, the way Fender uses them.
I hope that clears those questions up. By the way there are many other pickups I like and have used, such as Filtertrons, lipstick tubes, and so on. The question was asked about what I currently have in my personal guitars.
In chapter 2.1 I said, "Never use a ceramic disc as a tone cap in a guitar".
Of course the question became what I should use? I don't know!!! O.K., I do know! (You guys, and gals are sharp)
First capacitors come in multitude of types, values, and voltages. The Sprague Black Beauty, also known as "bumble bee caps", are really great. Of course they don't make them any more.
I have heard that Gibson has had these caps made again for the 2003 Gibson Historics, but are not being as an aftermarket item. If you have a 50's Gibson, the .02 (really .022) Black Beauty was used. I used an old Fender value, Black Beauty in my Tele. It is a .047, (Fender calls for .05, which is for our purpose, the same thing). These caps were nicknamed Bumble Bee because they had color code bands around a black body. They look sort of like a giant Bumble bee.
Let's get to the important points of choosing a modern cap. First you want the correct value. Of course, feel free to try other values than traditional ones, if you are after something different. Most humbuckers use .022 (.020), and most single coils .05 (.047). You want separate film foil, not metallized types. Mylar and polyester film works better then polypropylene film.
Since pickups put out very low voltage, the voltage rating should not matter, but it does seem to have an affect. Traditional voltage values are commonly, but not always, 200 or 400 volt ratings.
The Black Beauty caps used in old guitars were typically the 400 volt type. Another interesting point is that, if you reverse the cap end to end, it will sound different in use. I jump mine in with test clips, run the tone control through its range, and use directions my ear choose. Also, if you have many of the same type, try a bunch of them. They will vary slightly from cap to cap. It's worth the time to choose one you really like with your gear.
Lastly, some people put a bright cap from hot to slider on the volume control. This is so the highs do not roll off when turning the control down. This is very amplifier/speaker dependent.
In any case, a silver mica type is my choice, if you use one. The value judged by ear, using your guitar with your amplifier. 30PF to 220PF is the most common range. Fender once did a Tele with a .001 (1000PF) --- OUCH!
Well I hope this clears up some questions. Until the next time, All the Best. Ken Fischer
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