Fake Capacitors

After reading about fake electrolytic capacitors on the ampgarage.com forum I noticed that the caps in question are the same “ELON” brand that I purchased from Weber some time ago. I used most of them in my 5 watt SLO amp. Since the day I built it there were some reliability problems that I never managed to fix completely. After playing for 10-20 minutes sound would suddenly change or it would start to motorboat when there’s input signal.

What gives them away is the way leads are terminated. On a regular cap they are soldered to the terminal on the can, but on these there’s a hole that leads to the inner cap(s). Photo below shows an ELON cap compared a F+T cap.

Fake capacitors

I opened one of the leftovers to check and sure enough it’s fake. Inside 20uF 500V ELON axial cap I found one marked as 100uF 160V G-LUXON. When I opened that one I found another one marked 22uF 400V KMG which seems to be the original cap. The worst thing about this is not re-branding or labeling a 400V cap as a 500V cap. The inner cap is most likely pulled from an old PCB because it has very short leads. Longer leads were soldered to them and threaded though holes on the largest can. So you’re effectively buying a used cap that came from who knows where and was pimped up by poor Chinese kids to look like a new cap.

It’s not my intention to discredit Weber for selling these caps. It’s apparent that they were scammed just as well. These caps may or may not work reliably, but when making an amp I always want to do the best I can and using caps that came from a trashed fridge or something doesn’t seem like a good idea. After these I have switched to European made caps like JJ and F+T. Few bucks I saved on getting these ELONs instead of some better caps don’t seem to be worth the frustration.

10 Responses to “Fake Capacitors”
  1. Tompa says:

    Please I need some advice for mod my Bogner Alchemist

  2. Sterling says:

    I thought I was moderately educated about bad caps, visited a site dedicated to capacitors. Many large companies have distributed them with the wrong electrolytic chemistry, causing them to prematurely leak or swell up. The most popular PC brands have them.
    But this… wow… i mean… wow… You see your kid’s artwork? It’s hideous, all cuteness aside. And children are “refurbishing” capacitors? That’s cheap, wasteful and burdensome. Somebody must be laughing at all the suckers who bought their “recycled materials”

  3. ron says:

    well…that is not new to me. i’m working as a QA Engineer in a counterfeit prevention lab. We inspect and test other than caps. My experience tells me Knock-offs are getting better and better with their trades and you almost cannot tell the difference even with a trained eyes.
    The only thing they haven’t done yet is copying the very die (semiconductor part) of the components. Better buy with a legit distributor and hey make sure they had electrical test and sort of—by the way stay away from ebay, go for Farnel, Mouser and RS..these guys get their parts legit and tested too.


  4. Ian says:

    Could I use that photo in a journal paper I am writing about Counterfiet components? Full acknowledgements will be given.
    Better still do you still have any of the capacitors? I would like to purchase them from you.

    • Bancika says:

      Absolutely. I’d send you some but I’ll be out of town for a couple of months.

  5. Dave says:

    I quit buying from Weber years ago. I may have one those caps sitting in my “crap bin”. I only use sprague, F&T, and JJ now.

  6. Bob Endl says:

    I put a link to your site on my site. Let me know if you have a problem with that. I have some stuff on bad caps with links.

  7. Matth says:

    I prefer fake caps whenever they’re available for all my builds. There’s nothing quite like ’em!

    • Patrick T says:

      Wow! This is a very frightening discovery! Considering the power-handling capabilities we expect of larger capacitors, the danger here just can’t be understated. This is yet another reason that “Free Trade” with countries like China is a very bad idea.

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    The idea behind this site is to share my experience with Do It Yourself approach to guitars, amplifiers and pedals. Whether you want to save a couple of bucks by performing a mod or upgrade yourself instead of paying a tech, or want to build your own piece of gear from scratch, I'm sure you will find something interesting here. Also, this is the home of DIY Layout Creator, a free piece of software for drawing circuit layouts and schematics, written with DIY enthusiasts in mind.