Review: Champtone Les Paul Upgrade | Jensen PIO Capacitors

Review: Champtone Les Paul Upgrade | Jensen PIO Capacitors

There is a lot of talk here and there about tone capacitors, potentiometers wiring etc for electric guitars. PIO or Ceramic? Is this cap better than that cap? what pots… It seems to be an endless debate in some circles. Well (for me anyway) the debate is settled.

 Champtone’s Deluxe Upgrade Kit

The Hyperbole From Champtone’s Website:

“Champtone Deluxe kits are an excellent upgrade to even the highest quality instruments.  You’ll hear more of your guitar come through and, therefore, be able to explore new sonic territory.  Having a well-crafted tone circuit in your guitar puts the control where you want it  – at your fingertips.  Champtone Deluxe upgrade kits are perfect for those who have a penchant for vintage-flavored tones and will get along famously with all types of players and instruments.”

And the truth is… Well, they aren’t BSing about them… The Hype turns out to be just stating facts.

This upgrade is available from Champtone in two ways. First as: Deluxe Les Paul® Control Assembly current price $99.99

Champtone Les Paul Upgrade

Deluxe Les Paul® Control Assembly http://champtone.com/

And secondly as a kit: Deluxe Les Paul® Upgrade Kit current price $69.99

Jensen PIO CTS Pots Gibson Les Paul Wire Kit

Deluxe Les Paul® Upgrade Kit http://champtone.com

This kit was purchased from Champtone after quite a bit of research was spent looking into sourcing the separate components… And it pretty much came down to: This was the best price for a set of 4 500k CTS Pots and a Pair of Jensen tone capacitors to be found (unless we wanted to buy them in bulk) and the kit comes with the bonus of some cloth covered push back wire. Champtone’s shipping was reasonable the the product arrived quickly. 

It’s just not very often that I do a review and don’t have anything bad to say at all about a product… So okay… This stuff is pricey no mater where you find it and I don’t like that… Still a pretty simple conclusion to this review here: Top quality parts at a competitive price.

These kits for the Les Paul and upgrade kits for Telecaster and Stratocaster guitars as well are available here from Champtone Custom Guitars

 

 Jensen PIO Tone Capacitors

I didn’t do all this source hunting for no reason… Some people will say it’s all BS Voodoo fake mojo that is the reason PIO Audio Capacitors are so sought after in the Guitar upgrade market… But I’m telling you… Even a half deaf old dude like me can hear the difference… A sublime difference, but difference non the less. And these Jensen/Angela instruments PIO tone caps are the $h!t. If you look at a capacitor as an analog signal processor rather than just some kind of valve to kill the high frequency it makes more sense and after playing with a lot of different capacitors these ate the “top of the line”.

Jensen / Angela Tone cap test rig

Jensen / Angela PIO vs OEM Gibson Ceramic cap Test Rig

This is an image of a control assembly I built to compare the PIO cap directly with the stock ceramic capacitor on the bridge pickup in a Les Paul Special… This was the test that made me a believer because prior to this I was one of those that said BS placebo effect mojo voodoo crap on the PIO caps. (sound clips to follow as soon as I can get a decent recording). I didn’t only rely on my own ears and playing, I handed this guitar to dozens of players and explained that the V and T was switching the caps but I didn’t tell them which was which… Heck I still haven’t told them… Every single one chose the Jensen/Angela cap as having better control and all around better “tone” one described it as the guitar comes Alive.

Jensen paper in oil audio capacitors

Going into the Bulldog Bodies LP Kit (Reviewed last month)

Back to this kit I bought from Champtone… It is going into the Bulldog Les Paul Kit (with the addition of a Push Pull for coils splitting) after I polish the finish out… just as soon as the nitro cures. Kind of nice that this is the first new review I’ve done since moving everything from the other website… Starting on a positive note is a good thing…

Oh… By the way. The guys from China (eBay Unfinished Guitar Kit Review) are sending another kit, and of course because they now know about the review this one will be hand picked and I’m sure the quality will be better and I will add the facts to my review, however to my faithful followers… Do not despair… I will also publish the entire email conversation between them and myself along with it… Quite Enlightening.

7 Comments

  1. I love what you guys are up too. This kind of clever work and exposure!
    Keep up the awesome works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to blogroll.

  2. When people talk of guitar wiring it is always about fender and les Paul guitars what about jazz arch tops wiring and especially oil and paper caps

    Angus

  3. I am a firm believer in PIO tone caps. The magic one is the Sprague Black beauty with 160P printed on it (under the value and voltage info). The 160P is the formulation of oil used for the cap when it was manufactured (as found in all the late 50’s to early 60’s Les Pauls). They are very rare indeed and most have creeped up in their value to the point that a .022 now reads nearly .035 uf or even higher. That’s where Angela / Jensen come in. I don’t know what the formulation for the oil in their caps, but it must be close; no one has ever said anything bad about them that I’ve seen. As for those who whine about the expense for the caps; if you bought a Les Paul for $3000 to $4000 (or more), why in the world would you complain about spending a $100 to make it better? Kinda like putting the cheapest tires you could find on your brand new Porsche and then complaining that the car wouldn’t corner at all. Don’t be a baby, try a high performance part for your high performance guitar!

    Additionally, the PIO caps allow the range of your volume pot to be significantly more useful. Before the new cap, the volume would drop off like a stone when moving past the #8 on the volume control. Useful full sound was only available at around 9 to 9.5; now I have useful full tone volume from 5 all the way to 10 with a sweet spot right at 8 (when using only one pickup). The only thing that was changed was the cap from a polyester and foil to an Angela/Jensen PIO. Anyone who says there is no difference is tone deaf and will most likely be a marginalized guitar player because of it.

    Keep on playing,

    Eric R.

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