.022or .047 uF 400v. Sprague "Bumblebee" Capacitor Pulls

.022or .047 uF 400v. Sprague "Bumblebee"  Capacitor Pulls
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  • Item #: 1944

Tested Used 1960's .022 or .047 uF Genuine 400v. Sprague "Bumblebee" capacitors

These are genuine vintage Sprague "bumblebee" 400v. tubular capacitors, pulled from vintage electronics. I put them in with the NOS capacitors so people can find them, but they are used pulls. Most have been removed from Hammond organs. They are quite rare and priced accordingly.  It isn't a typo, they are really $45 each and up.  But these are the real vintage correct deal. Please note, these are individully tested to be within the stated tolerance ranges, and priced according to their features and tolerance. If you want a closer to nominal spec one, you will need to select that range in the drop down box, these are too rare for me to be sorting through them within one price point. 

Over time, these generally have drifted higher.  Of course, if you have been looking for these you probably already know that.  But remember also they will have drifted higher in vintage guitars too, and the difference in tone is quite small, just a tad darker if anything. If you are the type of person that just can't be satisfied with anything but the original, or if you are actually restoring a guitar that these came in then they are worth the asking prices. But if you are looking for some kind of magical huge 1950's tone improvement, and not restoring a vintage guitar, then my advice would be to just get a good quality tubular mylar/foil or a paper capacitor, and save these rare ones for the ones that are doing vintage restorations.

Also from time to time I make some very good and accurate reproductions from available NOS caps that were similarly constructed if I can find them. I cast those in epoxy from molds made off originals, and hand paint the stripes on a lathe. Those look and work exactly the same but go for less than half the price of pulls, if I have them available. I don't put them on my website due to availability.  (It's hard enough to find the original caps that are the right type of construction to start from) But if this interests you, please use the contact page to inquire. At the moment, I have a good selection of very accurate and good looking bumblebee reproductions available at the approximately $20 each price point. They are essentially the same construction as the difilm originals and are much closer in tolerance.  Good original "bees" in decent shape and of the correct values are hard enough to find, and I'd rather see them go into serious restorations. But if you just like the idea and don't mind a reproduction, the ones I have been makng are virtually indistinguishable both visually and functionally, and half the prices. Actually I could probably sell them as counterfeits if I wasn't so honest, and could come up with enough of the right kind of NOS capacitors to start from.

Many people think that all bumblebees were all paper-in-oil construction, but it isn't so.  Only a very few were.  Gibson used the 400v. size.  From my research, at least from 1952 until about 1961, these were made with paper internal construction and only oil-impregnated for the 600 volt versions and higher. This is plainly stated in the catalogs. Then in about 1960 or 1961 Sprague introduced the "difilm" dielectric which is a mylar and paper construction.  At that time, the voltage rating level for oil-impregnation was raised to 1600 volts. So you may find a very few old Gibsons with oil filled caps, but the vast majority of them were either paper, or paper-mylar "difilm".  The way to tell if the originals were oil filled is to look for the oil filler tube which looks like a solder blob on one end.  The non oil filled versions cost about 20 cents and the oil filled version were over 50 cents at the time, so don't bet that Gibson used oil filled ones very much unless they just had to. Also just because there is a filler tube, doesn't mean that any oil was put in it either. They may have just been using the same parts for both voltages. But hey, if you want the filler tube, I got em. And if you need the black beauty version I have an excellent supply of NOS ones still in military packaging.

The information I am giving you here is not internet hearsay, I spent a great deal of time looking them up in old catalogs to verify the technical details from the manufacturer's original descriptions.  I have also spent a lot of time looking for ones that are vintage correct and in good shape.  At least 90% of what is being offered as "bumblebees" are either not the correct versions, or have drifted too far out of specs. Ones that are correct come along only occasionally. These were originally intended for use in televisions and were similar to other capacitors that were available at the time, just epoxy encapsulated.  There is no difference between a "Black Beauty" and a "Bumblebee" except the color code stripes that told the capacitance values.  Sprague only had Black Beauty "telecaps" for sale, the whole time.  They never called them bumblebees or anything else. Guitar afficionados gave them that name because of the red and yellow stripes.  At some point the industry moved away from the color code marking and began printing the value on the cap. That is the only difference in the two. Other companies made similar tubular epoxy molded television capacitors. The number "2" in a circle from what is likely the mold ejector pins indicates Sprague. Other vendors used different numbers, but the end product looked the same, or maybe a slightly different color of epoxy.

You can choose from either .022uF or .047uF values when I can find them.  Both are the 400 volt size. (Gibson only used the .022 ones.)  Be aware, the leads are short, about 3/8 inches long, sometimes up to 1/2 inch. You may need to extend them.  Also, the .047 bumblebees are larger (see photos).  They are still 400 volts rated this is just the actual size as they were made. I test each one and mark the results on the package insert. I include a short piece of vintage style varnished cloth insulation with each one, which may appropriate to a vintage look in some installations.  The supply is very limited and when they are gone I may not be able to find them again.

Price is for a single capacitor and includes shipping by first class mail. Some of the photos may show a pot for size reference- it isn't included, just the cap and insulation.

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Price $45.00
Availability In-Stock