Technical Information on the ZEROCAP VC Variable Capacitance Cable System

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Here we present some interesting information regarding our ZEROCAP VC (Variable Capacitance) cable system and how it affects tone. This system is the first to offer variable cable capacitance, and all the tonal options it affords.

What does that mean? A regular guitar cable has cable capacitance dependent on the length and diameter of the cable, and it is fixed, and its affect on your tone is fixed. The ZEROCAP VC cable and device make the cable capacitance variable, as if the length of the cable were variable, and the tone changes with every capacitance setting.

Most customers just turn the ZEROCAP VC Device’s knob to adjust for a tone they like, but some people are curious as to just what’s happening under the hood. This page shows just that.

We connected a ZEROCAP VC Cable and a ZEROCAP VC Device to a Stratocaster with single coil pickups. The cable was 50 feet long, yielding a cable capacitance range from 72pf to 1970pf as the ZEROCAP VC Device control was varied. As you might expect, this produced a considerable tone variation.

We used our pickup test device (see The Guitar Pickup Tone Database) to measure the frequency response of the guitar and cable combination with five settings of the capacitance control. The plots appear below. Click for a larger view.

Zerocap VC Response Graphs

There are five graphs, taken with the ZEROCAP VC Device control in five different positions, as shown by the knob graphic. With the capacitance control in the full counterclockwise position (as in ‘0’ on an amp), the capacitance is minimum. With the capacitance control in the ’10’ position, the capacitance is maximum.

These curves are very revealing. The range of frequencies over which the peak varies is 3400Hz. The peak also varies in amplitude by about 9dB, due to the interaction between the cable capacitance and the natural resonance of the pickup. These responses are not due to any direct tone control, but only to the interaction of the inductive pickups and the capacitance in the cable, which one can now vary.

The sound clips are quite interesting as well. Give a listen. The variation in tone is wide ranging, and each of these tones is applicable to a musical genre. The point is that your tonal possibilities have been increased dramatically! (There is a video on our main ZEROCAP VC page with more sound samples.) The reference clip is an acoustic guitar recorded direct, to provide a wide bandwidth sample for comparison. This is the same reference clip we use in our The Guitar Pickup Tone Database.

Of course, the plots and sounds will be different for every pickup, but this is a graphic example of the flexibility of the ZEROCAP VC system.

The ZEROCAP VC system is revolutionary because never before have guitarists been able to vary the cable capacitance in real time and select the desired tone. And here you see how that’s possible and what the tonal effect is. Cool!

And this also means that with the twist of a knob you can get the sound of any passive cable on the market. See our article, The ZEROCAPTM VC as a Guitar Cable Emulator.

Go to the main ZEROCAP VC page