Noise troubleshooting (part 1)

Noise is every guitarists’ worst enemy. We’ve all experienced hissing, buzz, crackle and hum. It’s frustrating but there are many things you can do to reduce noise to a minimum. In this first of two articles we’ll look at the basics, the reasons for noise and how to solve the problem.

I often get asked ”why is David’s guitar dead quiet while mine is hissing like hell?” David’s guitar is certainly not as silent as it may appear. If you’ve ever listened to a bootleg or had the chance to see him live, you’d noticed that his rig is far from silent. However, he might be dealing with other issues than you. Let’s start with some basics.

Noise is mainly caused by two things – outside interference and noisy components (usually a combination of both). Outside interference is electrical radiation being picked up by almost any component in your rig mostly due to lack of proper ground and/or shielding. Noise caused by the components them selves is often as a result of cheap or faulty parts, bad assembly etc.

Quick guide:
– Make sure your guitar and amp is connected to ground that has a clear path out of your house in into ground.
– Check every cable (instrument, patch and speaker) for bad connections and plugs.
– Make sure that no instrument or patch cable is touching any power cables.
– Check every power supply for bad connections and make sure they’re not overloaded.
– Switch off any nearby computers and assigned electrical components, radios and stereo units, cell phones and efflorescent lights.
– If possible, make sure that your amp and pedal board runs on a separate power circuit than your TV, computer, refrigerator, light rig etc.
– Be tough on your pedal board and ditch any overly noisy pedal.

Ground is what the name implies – a connection to the earth. In case of a power failure or short circuit, the ground connection will lead the electricity out of your rig, through the wall and outside into the ground, rather than the electricity going through your body, which is a substantial conductor. We’ve all heard stories about musicians being fried or shocked on stage, and although this may sound cool, it can be very serious so the ground connecting is there to avoid this.

You’ve probably experienced hearing this loud buzzing from your guitar and if you touch any of its metal parts, the buzz will change in volume and/or pitch. This indicates that there’s a bad ground connection somewhere that needs to be fixed. Unscrew the pickguard, check all ground cables and make sure they’re connected to the right parts. If the buzz is still there you need to check the power outlets to your amp and pedal board.

US power cable plugs has three pins and the lower round one is ground. Some musicians cut this one off, because the plug won’t fit into all outlets but this means you’ve cut the ground, which is like asking for trouble. As a touring musician you should always carry a converter plug (with ground) that fits into any outlet. Most European plugs have two pins with ground in the plug it self (usually two metal strips) but in any case, make sure that all extension cables have ground! The best way to check this is to always keep a circuit tester ($20 at hardware stores) in your utility kit. Plug it into the socket and check the ground connection.

The word shielding is a bit misleading and often misunderstood. It does not mean that you’re shielding your guitar from an outside source with a protective layer but a shield (like copper foil) will gather the outside electrical interference that’s causing the noise and drain it out of your guitar. For this to work, you need to make sure the shielding is connected to ground (a cable that’s either connected directly to the output jack or via a tone pot that’s again connected to the output jack) or else it will have no place to drain the noise and it won’t have any effect. In some cases your noise problems will be eliminated with a proper shielding but it will only help for some types of interference (certain frequencies) and it’s by no means a miracle cure.

60 cycle hum
60 cycle hum (or 60hz) is a loud, low frequency buzz coming from your guitar. Bad ground connection is consistent but 60 cycle hum is directional and if you walk around the room it will come and go depending on the radiation field. This kind of noise is caused by outside electrical interference and it may come from a nearby transformer, light rig, your kitchen or just about anything. Now, shielding your guitar won’t eliminate this kind of noise because it’s picked up by the pickups. Vintage style single coil pickups have magnetic poles that are exposed to any outside interference so they’re basically acting like antennas. In case you experience 60 cycle hum, you need to locate the source and switch it off if that’s possible (computers, lights, TVs, refrigerators etc) or, in case you’re on a stage (interference from ligh rigs, power sources, PA systems etc) try to find a separate power circuit.

Humbuckers and so-called “noiseless single coils” are less subjected to this kind of noise, or noise in general. Humbuckers aren’t ideal for recreating David’s tones and those of us that swear by our vintage style single coils may find it easier to live with a compromise but it’s well worth checking out EMG, Lace Sensor, Fender Noiseless, Kinman, Barden etc. Most guitarists will agree that these does not sound like vintage style single coils like Fender CS69, Duncan SSL5 etc, they lack some of that bite, the crisp top and character, but that’s ultimately down to taste.

Guitars and pickups
As we’ve talked about, a proper ground connection and shielding is vital for keeping your guitar as silent. I’ve had great success with shielding the pickup cavity of my guitars with copper foil but then again, I’m lucky to rarely encounter 60 cycle hum or bad ground connections. Again, vintage style single coil pickups is a compromise no matter what and you are bound to have some level of noise because the pickups will pickup electrical interference in addition to your strings.

From time to time you may also experience a pickup that’s microphonic. This is easy to detect as one or more of the pickups will be feeding uncontrollably and insanely loud (not to be confused with natural feedback). This means that some of the parts inside the pickup are loose and you need to pot it – reassemble the pickup and dip it in wax to keep all the parts in place. This is a complex operation so in most cases you’re better off buying a new pickup (or returning your guitar if it’s brand new).

Amps are no different from any other component in your rig but slightly more difficult to deal with and in case you’re not trained in electronics I strongly advice you to take your amp to a trained technician. Replacing a tube is easy but if you start to poke around you might end up with a serious electrical shock… worst-case death.

Assuming that your amp is properly grounded, the most common reason for noise is bad tubes, loose parts or parts that needs to be replaced. Check both the head and cab for loose construction and cracks in the wood, loose screws, dying tubes, wires etc. Old transformers and leaking/dry caps will add noise but also cause irregular current in the amp, which is not good for neither the tone nor the components, so make sure you take your amp to a tech and have this checked once in a while.

In case of microphonic tubes you might hear a vague hollow ringing coming from your amp. This is typical for a tube that’s been shaken up a bit from vibrations in the chassis and it’s time to replace the tube. If you’re unsure you can use a wooded stick (remember that metal is a conductor and should never be used!) and tap gently on the tube. If it sounds like you’re picking a rubber band it means that the tube is broken.

Again, assuming that the ground is OK and your guitar and amp is working properly with the needed shielding, it’s time to look at the signal line.

Cables acts as long antennas picking up electrical radiation, radio waves etc within a fairly vast range. Cheap instrument and patch cables are not shielded (or not shielded properly) and as you now have learned, there’s nothing to drain the interference that’s causing the noise out of the signal path. So the moral is – get good quality shielded cables!

Length is also a factor. No matter how good the cable is, the longer it is the more it will drain your signal. A 20ft instrument cable should be more than enough for most setups. I swear by my Evidence Audio Melody cables (David’s choice since 2005). I also recommend Lava, Planet Waves, George L’s, ProCo and Mogami.

Patch cables are often overlooked and one tends to use whatever’s convenient. Those multi packs with different coloured cables are strictly forbidden! Make sure all your pedals are connected to good quality patch cables that are cut as short as possible. You want to connect the pedals not clutter your board. Again, length is crucial and although your board might include only the average of 10-12 pedals, small cables can turn up to be pretty long if you add them up. George L’s, Lava Mini and Evidence Audio Monorails are ideal for boards that are frequently rearranged.

Speaker cables are perhaps even more overlooked than patch cables. Hands in the air those of you who’s never used an instrument cable between the head and speaker cab… Instrument cables are not designed for this and in worst case you might overload the cable and short-circuit the amp. Be sure to use dedicated speaker cables that are designed for more power. I strongly recommend the Evidence Audio Siren for this.

I don’t mean that you have to spend all your savings on expensive cables but keep in mind that although it’s no fun getting a cable over a pedal, it often pays off putting a little extra into it. The reason why your new pedal may sound like shit might be the cables that are attached to it. Check out this Q&A with Tony Farinella from Evidence Audio for more about the importance of good cables.

Power supplies
Feeding the right power to your pedals is crucial for eliminating noise. The wrong voltage or the wrong use of power supplies can be the main source of your frustration. A pedal board with 10-12 pedals is often hooked up to 1-2 Boss 9V adapters with most the pedals in a chain. One pedal might need a separate 18V adapter and perhaps 1-2 vintage pedals are running on battery. Batteries are noisy by nature but that’s a compromise most of us are willing to take to get that old fuzz pedal warm and smooth. Some pedals like digital delay processors are often a bit more demanding than the average overdrive and might start to distort and hiss if you place them in a power chain with other pedals. The more adaptors you keep the more they require your attention and you shouldn’t take the risk of one of them not working in the middle of a show.

The best way to power your pedals is to use one unit dedicated to power as many pedals as possible. Voodoo Lab, Cioks and T-Rex (among others) offer power supplies in all shapes and variations depending on how big your pedal board is. Each unit has separate lines for each pedal for a more consistent signal. Some of the bigger models also allow different voltages so that you can use all your pedals on one unit.

Don’t forget the power cable to your amp! Older amps often have chords that looks like a curled up snake or worse. These should be replaced immediately. Not only for noise issues but you don’t want to get an electrical shock sent through your body next time you’re unplugging your amp. A good quality power cable ensures the correct current to your amp, which again means less noise and less wear on the parts. Check out the Source from Evidence Audio or simply take your amp to a skilled technician and have him replace the old cable with a new.

It’s impossible to cover everything but I hope this answered some of your questions. Please feel free to use the comment field and share your tips and experience! Next time we’ll look at pedal boards and how to tweak your favourite tone without frustrating noise problems.

99 thoughts on “Noise troubleshooting (part 1)”

  1. I have an Ampeg SS 2×10 combo and the reverb will sometimes feedback. It sounds like the reverb is on 10 and the squealing sound grows with strength. If I jiggle the reverb pot, it will go away. Could i just unplug both cables from the reverb tank? I don’t use the reverb effect at all. Thanks.

    1. I’m not an expert on the technical side of amps but that might work. Sounds like there’s somthing wrong with the amp though so you might want to take it to a tech.

      1. I unplugged it and nothing blew up, the amp works fine. I left the reverb tank inside covered with the foam. No more ear-piercing feedback, thank goodness.

  2. I have a Blackstar combo that seems to be “echoing” internally or sort of reverberating. The actual sound coming from the speakers is great, but when I stop playing it’s sort of this low reverb tone like when your acoustic is too loud through a PA. I can touch my amp and stop the vibrating. Do you know what I can do to fix this?

    1. Sorry for my late reply.
      It’s usually a ground issue if the noise goes away when you touch the amp or guitar but I haven’t experienced a noise like the one you descrivbe. Have you tried plugging the guitar straight into the amp without any pedals? Changed the cable? Changed guitars? I really don’t know… If the noise is still there even after checking the things I mentioned, then I’d take it to a proper tech and let him look at it.

  3. Are you still responding to these comments? I have a problem where I get a crackling hum whenever I play a guitar with magnetic pickups through any amp I have, even a battery powered one. I have also used different cables. It happens with 4 different guitars, but not my acoustic guitars. They have humbuckers in them. The problem even happens outside of my house. Covering the pickups with a cast iron skillet seems to slightly help, which makes me think it is just picking up RF, but there are no power lines in the neighborhood and the problem persists in my front lawn. Any advice is appreciated.

    1. Could be a number of things but could you describe the “crackling hum” in detail? Humbuckers should pickup up electric radiation as much as single coils.

      1. There’s a slight humm in the background but that’s what I have always heard. What’s new is that it like a constant clicking noise. It’s hard to explain but there is an audible repeating clicking noise that is very uniform in the time between the clicks. If it is electric radiation is there any way to fix it considering it happens in every room and even in my front yard? It has made recording impossible.

        1. And this happens with several different guitars and amps? I’m no expert and it’s hard to tell when I’m not hearing it or being there but I assume you’ve tried different power sources? You’ve used different cables and power cables? Is this a new issue? Have you introduced any new electronics in your house? Does this happen when you plug the guitar straight into the amp or only when you have pedals inbetween?

        2. Looks like you have a bad tube. You should probably swap your preamp tubes around (swap those same type), if there isn’t any differences then replace your power tubes. In case you’re having hiss and constant noise (but not clicking noise), check if your power tubes are biased properly or it is running too hot >70%.

  4. I’ve noticed some hiss when I turn on my AMT Japanese Girl wah pedal. Any idea what could be causing it? As far as I know this was a recent development. Hiss isn’t there in the clean channel. Not too noticeable on dirty channel with gain turned halfway, very obvious when the gain is all in. I power it with a 9V battery.

    1. Could be a number of things. Keep in mind that a wah is basically a tone control so it will amplify different frequencies when you you sweep it. Try powering it with a proper adapter.

  5. Hello I had a quick question , I just bought a multi effects pedal boss me 80 and when playing with patches of high gain metal there’s a buzz coming when the processor is on the floor but on bed there’s no sound at all. And if I place my hand on strings or touch the processor then also the buzz stops completely. And I made one more observation that if I touch the head of the jack when its inserted in the guitar the buzz increases. I went to the store they said its all due to earthing and it even persists when tried with other guitars in the store. i have humbucking pickups

    Can u plzzzzzz help me out.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Sounds like there is a ground/earth issue. Hard to tell where the problem might be but probably in a cable or inside the guitar due to a bad connection. Start an elimination process and locate the source. Ground issues cause a lot of noise but it can also be potentionally lethal.

  6. Laurence Rothschild

    Hello, we have a Amp and Mic set up. 1 Guitar, two speakers. It seems we have constantly have very bad static coming of the equipment and huge noises comes through the speakers. When we get close to it it gets worse. Any comments please?

    1. Could be a number of things. What sort of pickups do you have? Have you gone through the check list above?

  7. Bjorn, to reduce the noises, the Gilmour’s Strats and the rest of his guitars has some inner isolation like aluminun paper or something like that inside to protect the electronic circuits? Mr. Phil Taylor maybe have this information I presume… Cheers. Adriano.

    1. There are no reports on his guitars other than the Black Strat, which has some extra shielding on the back of the pickguard. Keep in mind though that he’s using high quality heavily shielded cables, customized powering of his amps and pedals and the pedals that needs it has been customised for less noise. That doesn’t mean that there is no noise. You dont’ hear that on a studio or live recording because they always edit that out but when you see him live, you’ll notice that there is some hiss and low frequency hum whenever he stomps a pedal on quiet parts.

      1. Yeah I noticed that during Sorrow that there was a lotta noise coming from the speakers during the quiet parts of the intro, when I saw Dave live in Wiesbaden last year. With the Muff on that is to be expected I guess :D

  8. A colleague of mine experiences the following problem: He has around 20 guitars, assorted bass and six string, and around half-a-dozen different amps. Every now and then, every amp appears to become microphonic.. (at least it seems that tapping the cabinet itself (they’re all combos) appears to produce a response through the speaker… and, crucially, at the same time, the signal from the instrument becomes degraded to the point that the EQ is severely compromised and the quality reduced massively. Everything possible has been tried to remedy this; different cables, sockets, power supplies, you name it… but when it occurs, it occurs with every amp, and every guitar… The thing is; it will suddenly stop at random, and then everything is fine for a few weeks, even a couple of months.. but then it’ll happen again, totally spontaneously,,, Has anyone ever heard of anything like this occurring elsewhere… This guy is at his wits’ end … It is really extraordinary. Ideas welcome… So far everything possible has been tried to cure it….

  9. Cody Roland tuffnail

    Alright I have a problem only one pickup on my guitar works I can still play it now I have an amp but the problem is it sound the same both in distortion and normal without pressing the button so all in all playing sound through it perfect distortion not working but there is also a hissing in both the distortion and non distortion positions can somebody help me need to know if the amps shit or I just need a new pickup?

    1. What sort of amp is it? Have you tested with different cables? Have you plugged the guitar straight into the amp? Sounds to me that you should bring both your guitar and amp to a tech.

  10. My Les Paul creates a very loud buzz at 6000Hz, not 60Hz. It’s plugged straight into a Steinberg UR242 and then into my laptop. It’s not always, but very often. It’s so loud that I can’t play quietly or hold a sustained note. Cutting the 6KHz with eq helps to an extent but that takes away from the guitar’s tone.
    Any idea why 6KHz?

      1. I haven’t plugged into an amp for years. I don’t recall hearing that, though I was always playing very loud. I’ve tried moving as far away from the PC as possible, and tried using a few cables. I should try as many variations as I can and get back to you.

  11. Hello, I think the noise i am having is definitely the electiricity or rf interference because some times it is quiet and other times it is absolutely noisy. i used a noise gate and of course it cuts off the buzzing by when the gate is not cutting in you can still hear it when the guitar is playing.
    i live where there are electical cables next to mywindow. i know it’s not my computer because i have the computer on all day . it is only very noisy at night, because not every night.
    In fact , you can listen to my music , there is only one song that is buzzing like hell, and the others there is none.

  12. i have a acoustic hagstrom. and the pick up only seems to pick up the higher frequencies with any volume. its not battery or cables as i have tried changing them. is there anything else i can check or should i just take it to a music store. Btw its a j25-ceg. no matter how i eq it i cant seem to get a balanced sound. All the strings get heard but the G B and high E just over power the bass. thanks

    1. Don’t have much experience with this. Take it to you local shop and have them try it on different amps/PAs, with different cables.

  13. Hello,

    I have some issues with my bridge pickup which I recently put in my relatively cheap Dean guitar. It is a Schecter stock pickup with a coil split and every time I turn distortion on, if my volume is a bit high, it makes a really loud, high pitched noise even when I mute all of the strings. If my noise gate is on, it also makes the same sound but it eventually stops, until i touch a string. If I play, normal sound will be heard, but as soon as i stop there is that noise again. None of my other guitars do that on the same settings, and even the neck pickup on this guitar doesn’t do that. I really dont know what to do, i tried plugging my amp somewhere else, moving around the room, checked inside of my guitar for bad connections (they are fine) and the only way it cant be heard is by lowering the volume and/or gain.

    1. And this only happen when you have distortion? I could be wrong but it sounds to me that the mic is microphonic, meaning that some parts inside it is loose and it has to be repaired.

  14. Hi Bjorn – hope you are well!

    I have a “playing live” question for you on an issue which I am sure you have run into many times.

    Any tips on physically isolating guitar amps from physical bumps and impacts (e.g. musicians “getting into the groove” on stage) that tend to transmit through the floor/platform into the amp and cause microphonic noises especially at high gain settings?

    I would like to better isolate my amp from such bumps, and even though my Mesa amp is up in a wooden cabinet off the floor by a half-metre at least, it is still quite sensitive to any bouncing on the floor, and the resulting noises at high-gain settings are horrible. The easy answer is “don’t bounce”, I realize…. ;)

    1. Well, bouncing and running around is very different to the shoe-gazing I’m used to, LOL! I really don’t know. When you say microphonics, are you referring to the tubes? If so, then you might want to check them, although I know the Mesas tend to have some microphonics.

      1. Thanks Bjorn – yeah, bouncing on the floor a little bit is inducing tube microphonic “explosions”, which sound horrible. The tubes (pre-amp and power) are all recently replaced, and have all been double-checked. This is just my amp not liking any physical shocks or jarring. Usually I play Pink Floyd or David Gilmour’s stuff in a seated position, so not an issue.

        But my son has just recently gotten me playing AC/DC drum/guitar “duets” with him on my new Les Paul, and hence the bouncing… :D (Call it a mid-life crisis).

        Anyway, I am thinking maybe of trying an Auralex Amp/Monitor isolation riser – not crazy expensive, and perhaps it will help.

    1. Are you sure it’s the pedal? If it is, then there is something wrong. Keep in mind though that gain is caused by heavy compression, wich again will amplify any noise that’s in your rig. Make sure you’ve eliminated any possible fault or source in your rig and if everything is OK, then get your pedal looked at.

  15. I juat want to be clear that the MIM Fenders hum is n different than the American Fenders, trust me on that… They both hum like crazy… There are way too many things to do and compromise to get rid of it that I decided to switch to Gibson and I have been very happy ever since… warmer punchier tone and I can still get Gilmours tone, I guess at the end it comes to your playing when it comes to sound like someone else… I miss the tremolo arm for sure… but now when I play a Strat, they feel like a toy and the sound is just horrible… too much price to pay for the twang n my opinion…

  16. HI!

    My amp makes a very loud pop/thump when I insert the cable into the input. It doesn’t matter if the amp’s volume is turned down or up, the thump always has the same loudness. I know some basics about amp electronics and soldering, so fire away :-) Thanks!

  17. Hello,

    I am having issues with 60 cycle and 120 cycle hum with my single coil guitar and basses plugged in my tube amp and i came to the conclusion that the telephone electricity poles, which are right behind the room my set up is, is the problem which is causing interference and causing the 60 cycle hum (at night you can go outside and slightly hear 60 cycle hum as well coming from the poles) not sure where the 120 cycle hum is coming from. No matter what instrument or amplifier I use, this problem happens makes me believe it isn’t an amp or instrument issue (friends humbucker guitar makes 60 cycle hum lot quieter).

    I still have to get a outlet tester because it may be ground issue or something else, however I am near certain the electricity wires near room are one big reason for causing it. Any suggestions on how to deal with this? Humbuckers would possibly help a lot but would change the tone and cost a lot to put them in all my instruments.

    Thank you.

    1. The only way to eliminate the noise is to locate the source and remove it or, you need to find the sweetspot in your room, where the noise is least annoying. I don’t have any experience with your specific problem.

  18. Hi Bjorn, I’ve been vigorously researching a solution to my issue and came across your site. Great information, keep up the good work. I’m currently completely stumped on my issue and was wondering if you could share some of your wisdom…

    I bought a new Les Paul Studio Deluxe II and Blackstar HT 40 combo amp recently, and love the tones, but the hum/buzz i’m experiencing has made it downright unplayable for most of the 9 months i’ve had it. I’ve been slowly eliminating every possibility I could think of and feel like i’m out of good options. I made sure to plug my living room home studio equipment as recommended first, but to no avail. I then took the amp to a technician, and he insists he couldn’t find anything wrong on his end. I bought new Mogami Gold cables at 10 ft length, but that didn’t make any difference. I also bought an Eb Tech Hum X, but that didn’t work. I then bought the Hum Eliminator, but that didn’t work either. I then tried both the Hum X and the Hum Eliminator simultaneously, but that seemed to actually make it worse, so I returned both products.

    Since I bought the guitar, I had noticed that whenever I push one of the volume knobs upward, the entire signal is cut off and I am unable to hear anything until I push it back down. I’m not sure if this is related to the hum/buzz (I suppose I hear both a hum and buzz at a given time depending on where I stand), but I eventually took the guitar back to GC where I bought it to get checked out by their repair tech thinking a wire wasn’t grounded properly or something. At first he said he didn’t hear any noise and that everything worked fine on his end. I insisted that I felt the wiring needed a closer look, and sure enough, he then noticed a wire hanging out by it’s lonesome and subsequently soldered in place appropriately. Just to make sure everything worked, I brought my amp and cables to GC when I picked up the guitar to test it and make sure everything was okay. Sure enough, it sounded better than it had since the day I bought it. However, I did realized that when plugged into my amp, the same volume knob that cut off the sound when pushed upward was still doing the same thing, although strangely enough, the guitar tech then demonstrated how it actually was working on the amp he was using to test it on. Still, I only considered that a very minor issue and was just happy that the wire issue was fixed and decided to just take the guitar home so I could finally play it for the first time in several months, thinking that the issue with the knob may just be something to do with the amp and that I could always just upgrade my amp later on.

    Then when I got home and plugged everything in thinking that I would finally get to play my guitar, sure enough, the same damn buzzing was back with a vengeance, seemingly even worse than it was before! At this point, i’m pretty discouraged and sans a very expensive professional electricians job on my house, I have no idea what to do now having felt like i’ve exhausted all practical options. If I thought that getting a new guitar and amp would solve the issue, i’m actually willing to eat the loss on my current rig and just accept that’s the price to actually being able to engage in my favorite hobby peacefully. However, there’s no guarantee that will even solve my issue and I could very well just be throwing a few thousand dollars to waste tossing a huge wad of cash at the wrong problem.

    One minor note though, I was just trying every stupid thing I could find on the internet since I feel like I have nothing to lose at this point, and stuck a little bit of aluminum foil around the input jack on the guitar. I”m not sure what was happening, but if I got some configuration right, the volume knob that wasn’t working was suddenly connecting for the first time and actually producing sound. I have no idea why, or if this is related to my main issue in the buzzing, but I thought I ought to mention it anyway. Another feature of the buzzing, sometimes it would go away upon touching the metal, and other time it wouldn’t make a difference. Same thing for where I was standing. Currently, the sound does mostly go away upon touching metal and becomes mostly inaudible when I stand directly behind the amp and lift my guitar at a really weird, unplayable angle. The noise is of course worst when the amp is on overdrive, but I’m getting it on the clean channel too, and it sounds so bad, I will probably have nightmares about it for the rest of my life. Any advice is would be greatly appreciated, and thank you for taking the time to listen to me ramble on about my first world problems.

    1. Hi Tommy. Sorry for my late reply. This comment got caught in the spam filter. I’m no technician and it seems that you’ve done what you can. Noise is tricky because the source can be a number of Things and sometimes hard to detect. Sounds to me that it’s the guitar and not the amp. You’ve experienced the same issues on different amps right? I can’t think of anything specific but there will be some noise, what’s called 60 cycle hum, being picked up by the guitar’s pickups. Try to find the source and find a position where it’s least audioable. The volume pot issue is harder. Have you checked the pot, all the cables, the pickups etc? Made sure there’s no loose soldering or short circuiting? Good Luck :)

  19. Hi Bjorn. I plugged my Strat into my 2 x EL84 amp yesterday after a new set of Cobalt strings and setup by new tech. I was playing through a Univox pedal. After running through some scales to warm up, I turned up the gain to about 4, suddenly a STRANGE delay effect took over? (there are no effects, bells or whistles on this amp). It sounded as if there was dual leads happening separated by a nano second. When I turned volume down, disappears? Both EL 84 and all three 12ax7’s are new, (not gigged with yet).Never heard this issue in my 40+ yrs of playing? Any ideas?

      1. Maybe it’s Jimi’s ghost?!

        Seriously though, when you say the tubes are “new” is this happening since they were fitted? If so they could be micro phonic &/or the socket pins are loose in whis case remove the tubes (taking care to note exactly which sockets they came out of) & bend the socket pins/filaments closer with a wooden or plastic tooth pick WITH THE AMP UNPLUGGED for hours!

  20. This is an odd one. I’m playing a 60’s Traynor YGM-3 Reverb, and it’s picking up floor vibrations. When I walk next to it the amp starts picking up the floor vibrations and it will start it will start to tremlo based on the vibration of the floor. Really really odd, any thoughts?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. I’ve never experienced that so I’m not sure. I would check the tubes from any microphonics or loose sockets.

  21. Hi guys, I have an issue with my Ampeg BA115HP bass combo amp. The amp is powered on and even without my bass plugged to the amp input, I get pops and clicks from the speaker when various electrical items are powered on in my apartment. A fan and the dishwasher are two prime examples. I also get a slight, barely audible hum when the dishwasher changes cycles. What do I do and how do I eliminate these potentially damaging pops? I also get a loud pop from the amp speaker about 2 seconds after I turn the amp power switch off. Worried It could damage the speaker. Thanks for any help anyone can toss my way! Great forum here!

    1. Be sure to feed the amp right from a wall outlet and no extension cables and, if possible, try to power it from a different circuit than the items causing the noise. If this doesn’t help or is impossible to achieve, then you might want to consider a power conditioner.

  22. Hello Bjorn!
    I have a problem with a guitar noise that happens on the g string of my fender. I’ve made a video to try and help explain the issue. It happens most notably with heavy distortion but it also happens with my clean tone as well. It doesn’t matter which pickup I’m using, though the bridge pickup has the most effect on the sound.

    Any help is appreciated.

    1. The G-string is a tough one in any case but it sounds like it’s too close to the pickup pole and that the magnetic pull is too much on the string. Try raising the pickup a tad and see if that help. You might also want to lower the pickup but be careful not to mess up your setup.

  23. Hi Bjorn, I’ve only recently just discovered this site, great work!

    I have an MIM Standard Strat SSS. What I found is that whenever I have my pickup selector at positions 1,3,5, in other words when I only select single pick ups, the noise is quite audible. However by selecting positions 2 and 4 (mid+Bridge or mid+neck), the noise goes away.
    Have you had any experience with this, if so what could be the cause?
    BTW I noticed this problem follows the guitar, it happens with different Amps that I’ve tried.
    Thanks very much!

    1. That’s normal. What happens when you set the pickup selector in position 2 and 4 is that you basically got a humbucker, with each pickup having different polarity, which cancel out the noise. Read more about it here.

      1. Hi Bjorn, thank you for being here, I’ve only just discovered this site, and it’s been a huge learning experience. I have a couple questions for you, if you don’t mind.
        1. I’ve got a sustaining ring that hangs on the end of all my notes, like a very subtle high pitch static fuzz, i hear it plugged straight into the amp, and it seems to amplify when I add effects. Based on info here.. Is that a microphonic tube??
        2. Using a 5 isolated spots Trex power supply, and have 7-8 pedals to power, are there certain benefits to daisy chaining certain types of effects, and isolating others, like digital delays? Tremelo ? Etc… For ultimately getting less noise, tone loss, or interference.
        Thanks again for your amazing insight!
        Montreal Qc.

        1. Hi Nathan! Thanks for your kind words! Glad you enjoy my site :)
          1. Could be many things. Only way to be sure if it is a microphonic tube is to use a wooden stick (NOT metal) and gently tap the tubes when the amp is on. You will hear a high pitched ring if one or more of the tubes are microphonic. Could be a string that’s too close to the pickup poles. Could be a faulty cable…
          2. All pedals should be powered with isolated lines if possible. This will ensure the right voltage and ampere and as little noise as possible. There are no real benefits of daisy chaining other than convenience and as long as there is enough ampere for each pedal, there’s no real harm either. Delay pedals in particular tend to get very noisy if they’re daisy chained.

        2. Nathan, I’d like to know if you ever found a solution or answer to question 1 with the static fuzz at the end of notes, as I’m dealing with the same issue on my Vox ac15cc1. Thanks!

  24. I see that there’s another answer to Tom from another Keith, but that’s the reason I went to all caps, so I’ll assume the question, while answered pretty much the same by the other Keith, was for me. As for being knocked to the floor, that was more likely a reaction to the unexpected shock. I’ve learned to always hold the strings of my guitar, and touch the windscreen on the mic several times, if there’s a polarity problem, you’ll feel a slight tingle, and should hear a bit of hum through your amp. I’ve never heard of anyone wearing shoes, or who hasn’t just poured a pitcher; f beer on their heads being killed, or seriously injured by contact with a mic, but as to not cause anyone to be unsafe, the little Greenlee,( I stand corrected in my spelling!), is well worth the investme t, and will give you absolute insurance what the state of the electrical system is!

    Peace, Keith

  25. Well Tom, I’m not sure about the rest of the world, but in the States, clubs don’t provide much more than a stage, and if you’re lucky, a good PA, and some lighting. I’ve rarely walked into a club less than 500-1000 seats, and found an adequate electrical system. I’m not sure of the voltage, or phase in Chile, but if you go to a hardware store, most sell a very inexpensive plug in tester with 3 lights, and a little chart that tells you if the polarity, and ground are correct. Here they cost about $3.00, and work great. I’ve really never experienced major electrical issues, the worst being a painful shock on the lips because of the polarity of my amp, and the PA were reversed. I don’t think at 120v that kind of thing is serious, but will cause hum. Most PAs, and many amps have a polarity switch, so usually there’s a cure for that. Also, in 35 years, I’ve never had any equipment damage due to electrical issues, as most are polarity issues, but to insure a proper ground, I’d invest in the little tester. Greenleigh makes a dark green one for about $3.00 US, prices, and voltages may differ in Chile.
    Merry Chriatmas, Keith

  26. Hey KEITH, now you use a tester always you go out to a gig, what do you do if it isn’t grounded properly? Honestly, I don’t want to feel the experience of being electrocuted on-stage haha
    My best wishes to you and also to you Bjorn!

  27. I have a problem with my scratchplate, i’ve been doing a fender squier project and installed a 2 point tremolo onto the bridge, the pickguard i had to snip off bits to acomadate the tremolo, the problem i found is when i screw in the screws for the scratchplate there is no sound comming from my amp, when the screws are loose it works perfectly fine, i did use wire glue to shield the cavaties could that be the problem? ( maybe when the guard screwed in the compoent’s are touching the wire glue and interfairening, or is it something else? ( i grounded the jack plug and checked the wiring) any help be grateful

    [Hard to tell without looking at the guitar but it seems to me that you might have a short circuit somewhere that appears when you press down the plate. Make sure that no wires, pots or pickup edges are touching the cavity. Try to tap the pickup poles with a screw driver when you’ve fastened the plate to hear if there’s a sound. – Bjorn]

  28. Good article, these things cannot be repeated too often.

    I changed the PU´s in my PRS CE21 from the original Dragon 2 humbuckers, to SD Phat Cats, which are essentially single coils. Picked up a little too much noise.

    So I lined all cavities with copper foil, changed to some good cable for all the internal connections, used a very silvery – and expensive – solder, and lined the lids for the cavities with copper foil as well.

    Now there is even less noise than with the original humbuckers! At home , with the volume fully open and I don´t touch the strings, there is a noise so low, that you really have to listen very carefully to hear it. And at a gig is impossible to hear.

    So it really, really pays of to use that couple of hours, it is a great satisfaction every time I go on a gig.

    [Great info!. – Bjorn]

  29. Hi Bjorn – I have been getting, for a long time in my 2-year old Fender Select Strat (SSS) with stock Select pickups, a very loud “Shhhh” (not a hum) sound when my amp (Mesa Boogie TA-30) is on hi-gain settings in either the British or American channel settings.

    It is far worse when the pickup selector switch on my guitar is set either on the neck, middle or bridge positions (but much less audible in the second and fourth positions). I recently got a USB interface for recording, and I think I am also getting the same problem when I plug my guitar directly into the interface with hi-gain plug-ins in GarageBand, so I am thinking the problem may well be in my guitar itself, not the cables or pedalboard.

    Any ideas/suggestions?

    Huge thanks!!!

    [The 2. and 4. positions are hum cancelled so that’s why you experience more noise from the other positions. Single coils are exposed to electric radiation so there will always bee some noise that have to tolerate. Noise can be generated from tons of different sources. Perhaps you got some new equipment in your house, like a computer, fridge or lamp, that’s the source? Have you checked the cavity of the guitar to eliminate any loose soldering? It’s really hard to give some exact answer but I’d start with trying to eliminate as many sources as possible and so how that goes. – Bjorn]

  30. Hello I have a problem I have a Kustom KG100 head and a Marshell cabinet i also use a Gibson SG faded special. I get this unwanted noise when turning the gain up which is a horrible buzzing sound, so i fixed the general problem by using a noise gate, now when I stop playing the noise comes back for 2 seconds then stops I think it may be the noise gate opening and closing i have tried adjusting the guitar and amp volume to match the volume of the noise gate but none seem to work, does anyone have any other suggestions.

    Joshua Haddon.

    [Sounds like there’s some serious 60 cycle hum going on, which will be amplified when you crank the gain. It’s hard to tell without having heard it but follow the tips in this feature and try to eliminate other possibilities. – Bjorn]

    1. Hi Joshua, I am running the same rig, only my guitar is an Epi G400 SG, I also get the hiss noise when I move the gain past one. I found between the Volume and the Gaine I can have one at 12:00 bur the other has to be turned down. then it is not as bad, It is worse when I use a foot switch, the clean channel is really clean but when I switch to dirt it hums and hisses like crazy.

  31. Satellite Beach FL

    Thanks for the quick reply, and I will stay tuned for other reader’s comments. I finished building out the power snake, and will try it out at this week’s practice. As we aspire to efficient “load-in” and “load-outs” for gigs/rehearsal, reduced stage clutter, no noise in the signal chain, and a quiet amp between the gain rage and chunkie strumming … I am sure I will be able to report some constructive criticism from my band mates of the technique. Perhaps later versions of the snake shall incorporate a “quick connector” at the peddle board frame.

    One more note on the Trip Lite LCR-2400 power conditioner (the big heavy 3U one): it has been my secret to reducing noise. It has really helped at gigs with noisy dirty inconsistent stage power, reducing introduced lighting and interference hums to a minimum while providing a consistent tube amp sound at any venue. Worth every penny and loathing during load-in/out.

    I have been really enjoying reading through your blog and the “behind the curtains” info to the guitar setup and sounds. Again, fantastic site and I will continue to recommend it as a reference.

    [Thanks and good luck with the setup and your gigs :) – Bjorn]

  32. Satellite Beach FL

    First, awesome job and very good information. Thanks in advance for responding to the following question, and I am interested in your reader’s opinions as well.

    I have a mixed pedal board and multi-processor setup for live gigging (please no pedal purist hate). So, I have mixed 9 volt DC and 9 volt AC at 1.2 amp powering needs. I purchased a Voodoo Labs ISO 5 which is great and silences all hum from the pedals. I also have been using a Trip Lite LCR-2400 power conditioner (the 3U 10 pound one) to provide power to my Mesa Boogie; this have provided both a consistent sound and protection for this 100W tube amp (highly recommend).

    Traditionally, I see people bolt the Voodoo Labs power supply on their pedal board setup, sometimes underneath with the PedalTrain … and use the 1-foot cords to power each pedal in an isolated manner. However, I was considering mounting the Voodoo Labs remotely in my rack with the Trip Lite, which would reside by the amp or off stage … and running a 20-foot power snake with both the isolated DC lines and low-voltage AC lines to my onstage effects board layout. The power snake would be separate from my guitar line snake. This would remove the AC wall-wart clutter on stage effects layout.

    QUESTION: Is there is “best method” for routing power, and do you see any downside to this remote power supply approach?

    [Thanks for you kind words! Glad you enjoy the site :) I’m afraid that your question is a bit above my expertise. I don’t have any experience with that. Keeping power as far away from the pedals as possible is always a good rule of thumb but as to how to actually do this based on your setup I’m not sure. Anyone else has any experience with this? – Bjorn]

  33. When I plug in my acoustic with on-board preamp into my pedal board, I getting a snapping sound with each string played. With my electrics that have passive pickups, it does not occur. Do you have any suggestions to solve this problem? Thanks.

    I run guitar–>volume pedal –> Compressor –>Chorus–>Delay–>Reverb–>amp

    effects are powered by a daisy chained Ispot from Visual Sound.

    The preamp is LR Baggs, LR TCV

    [Don’t have any experience with this… sorry. – Bjorn]

  34. Hello Bjorn,

    My band and I have been trying some home recording stuff, and we’ve noticed a high pitch ringing coming from my amp when I play certain notes. It tends to come out when I play the open b-string. The ringing only sustains as long as the note I play on the guitar sustains. At first we thought it was just audible in the mixes, but we can actually hear it just coming through the amp as well. I’ve tried three different guitars (two strats and a tele) and two amps (Orange TH30 and Fender Supersonic) and the problem persists for all combinations. Could it just be the nature of the fender pickups in the guitars. Or could it be something with the room we’re using.

    Thanks a lot,

    [Sounds to me that you got a microphonic tube that needs to be replaced. Unplug your guitar. Turn up the amp and tap the tubes gently with a wooden stick (NOT METALL!!!!). If there’s a high pitch ringing sound coming from one of the tubes then you should replace it. – Bjorn]

  35. Please don’t apologise for the late reply Bjorn. If fact one should be thankful to you for your tireless replies to the endless questions posted on this site. Thanks for all your help and I look forward to the deluxe big muff review soon :)

    [Cheers, Debargho :) – Bjorn]

  36. Hi Bjorn,
    I recently bought a set of Crazy Diamond pickups for my ’57 Strat and am having them professionally put in.
    My question is: if I have the guitar shielded for interference, shall that change it’s tone significantly? Have you had Gilmourish type pickups put in a shielded Strat? I’m in two minds whether to have mine shielded or not. What would you suggest?

    [Hi! Sorry for my late reply. I’ve shielded all my Strats with copper foil covering the inside cavity of the body. It will roll off some of the high end and make your pickups sound a tad darker, due to a lower capacitance but it’s barely noticeable and it also depends on how transparent your rig is in order to hear the difference. You should however notice dramatically reduced noise. – Bjorn]

  37. Gday, I have a pedalboard of 15 pedals i was powering with a onespot power-all thingy… it was great and there was no buzzing, but since i had the pedals in storage it doesnt work? Now im using a 450ma 5 spot power box, and my reverb wont work (though light switches on) and my octave up green ringer spits out octaves that are horrible (this was my favourite pedal before!). Also there is a consistent buzz that doesnt change pitch, except when i hit a chorus or gain pedal. :/

    Is it just a power suppy issue or have my pedals been damaged somehow?

    Thanks for any assistance ;)


    [Hard to tell. Have you checked every cable, power cable, pedal inputs/outputs? Could be a number of things but start with plugging the guitar straight into the amp and add one pedal at a time with the cables and power cables you use on the board. Stop when you hear the noise and try to localise the problem. – Bjorn]

  38. Hi Bjorn
    I have a strat with the stock pickups and a Little Big Muff plugged into a Laney Lionheart 20w combo. I also have an Ibanez (HSH). I tested both guitars on the Lionheart and on a 20w Roland solid-state and whenever I switch the Muff on (Settings: volume-12:00, tone-11:00, sustain-3:00) there’s this insanely loud and constant feedback that simply won’t go away (I keep my hand on the strings at all times). The hum is gone with the humbuckers, but the feedback is still there. And the strange thing is, the feedback is much worse with the bridge pickup (on both guitars), and there seems to be almost no feedback with the neck pickup. It changes in pitch when I move around. Do you think there’s something wrong with the pedal, or just outside interference, and can it be solved by installing noiseless pickups or a hum cancelling system on the guitar?

    [Hum can be eliminated with humbuckers or by shielding the guitar. The loud feedback comes from your settings and the proximity to the amp. Big Muffs has a lot of gain and they will make a lot of feedback if you push the too hard, play too loud or stand too close to the amp. It’s just the nature of the thing. – Bjorn]

  39. I am building a pedalboard with an aluminum chassis with buttons installed into the chassis and pedals on top. I’m running A/C power inside of the pedalboard to power a boss A/C adapter and a 9V A/C adapter for a Digitech Whammy. I also want to run signal wires into the board with electrical connections for a kill switch, looping, etc. Am I going to have a problem with interference between the A/C from the wall and the signal wires? If so, what is a good way to fix it?

    [Try to keep the powering and signal cables as far away from each other as possible. It might not be a problem but then again, you can experience interference. There could be a number of reasons why you get noise but start with the basics and make sure your powering is OK and that you use good quality cables between and two and from the pedal board. – Bjorn]

  40. Seems like 12 people have just found their new guitar/amp doctor!
    Well, Bjorn, your work motivated me to experiment with equipment and embellish my playing. Analogman BC109, D’Allen 69’s and Laney Lionheart, for now, and each one of them blows me away!
    Before buying another pedal, I should upgrade my equipment with better cables. I tried the Monorails for my Fuzz>Wah>Echo setup and it sounds really nice. Next, I want to buy two more for Guitar>Pedals and Pedals>Amp.
    1. Having in mind that the BC109 is pretty loud, and -if possible- I want to get rid of the bad quality cables’ noise, do the Evidence Audio give you that and which series would you suggest for everyday practise, rehearsal, gig use? You ‘ve said you also recommend Planet Waves, how would you compare them?
    2. When my BC109 is on -my neighboors are shouting, but that’s a different story- and I roll the guitar volume off, it makes a crackling/clicking sound, and with the echo, it keeps going on, and on. And then, some loud hiss is still heard, it isn’t muted like when playing clean. Do have the same issues or is it normal?
    Last, I ‘d like to say to JAMES and JCA22H, I had a similar problem too, on any amp especially when playing loud and it was just the ticking of my arm watch picked up by my single coil PUs. Don’t know if this helps. By the time I found out, I had driven a hell lot of people mad trying to sort it out! Shit happens when you are left hand guitarist…
    And to Connor Putrefy,my old amp, did it too. But after the tubes replacement, not so much. My tech told me it was normal.
    Bjorn, good luck with your solo album,
    Greetings from Greece!

    [Hi Dimitris! Sorry for my late reply. I think the Evidence Audio cables are superior. I’ve used them for nearly ten years now and they’re a huge part of my tone. There are lots of good sounding cables out there but I’m happy with the EAs. They have a couple of cheaper alternatives that also has a more flexible cable without compromising the quality. Check out the Reveal and Forte. The click and hissing with the SunFace is normal. I’m not an expert on the technical stuff but fuzz pedals are simple circuits that reacts to all sorts of things and are very sensitive to the electronics on your guitar. Try to find a sweetspot for your setting and also, a volume pedal will allow you to lower to volume, without lowering the gain. – Bjorn]

  41. I hope any of you can help me with uncontrollable feedback problem. I just bought a Caroline Olympia fuzz (though I get the same feedback with Muff+Booster). I can’t even set the volume on the pedal above 12’o clock. Otherwise my amp start to scream like hell.

    Bjorn, in your review of the fuzz you mentioned it best sounded when the pedal volume was around 75%. I can’t get there I get too much feedback, do you?

    Here’s my setup :

    Strat EMG-DG20 pickups
    Laney cub (using the same setting as shown on this website, 15w)
    I play about 10′ from the amp.

    Here’s what I tried:

    I tried using my voodoo lab power supply and battery, no luck.
    I tried using the pedal only (away from the pedalboard), no luck.
    I tried with another guitar, no luck.
    I tried with a Classic 30, no luck, thought I could get a higher volume before it started to scream.
    I tried 2 different cables from different compagnies, no luck.

    I’m clueless. I posted a youtube video of my problem. In the video, the background noise is the the noise when the pedal is engaged (sounds like air flow).

    Any tips are welcome I’m a bit desperate.

    Thanks guys!

    [Hmmm… that’s strange. The pedal is loud but I’ve never had any issues with mine and certainly not at this low volume. Your amp settings seems fine and there’s shouldn’t be a reason for the pedal to make that kind of feedback. I don’t know if the EMGs gets microphonic, but since you’ve tried with other guitars, that’s not the case anyway. I don’t know. I’d send Caroline an e-mail and ask. Shouldn’t be this way… – Bjorn]

  42. Hello , great article but i need some clarity…please.. I just shielded my bass guitar and i does not sound any different. You said you have to ground the shielding to the out put jack right??? If the volume pot is contacting the shielding with a brass lock washer is it still needed ? Should i try it just to be sure? MY bass is a Dean Edge Q5 with EMG HZ pickups from the factory…

    [Seems like you’ve done it right but take the guitar to a tech if you’re not sure. Shielding won’t eliminate noise but it will reduce it dramatically. If there’s no change, then you’ve either done it wrong or, the noise is caused by so-called 60 cycle hum, which can’t be eliminated with shielding. Only by eliminating the source or simply turning away from it. – Bjorn]

  43. hello,
    Just stumbled upon this site and found it very intriguing indeed. Perhaps some of you may be able to help me. I own a Diezel Einstein amp which is absolute marvel in audio amplification but where we practice i get this strange noise from it when i touch the gain dial. It doesnt happen all the time. But the noise is like a crackling at first i thought it was a dodgy pot but i had the amp inspected by my local amp tech who ran the amp all day and couldnt hear a single crackle. He checked the amp and said there was nothing wrong with the amp whatsoever, the polar opposite in fact. The place where we practice is has strip flourecent lighting, could this be a factor? why just the gain knob? i must point out that the knobs on the amp are allen key adjustable, so thats an additional metal part though i didnt think that would be an issue? Like i say the crackling doesnt happen all the time. I wrote to diezel and they said replace the tubes but my tech said that would be silly as he said there is nothing wrong with tubes whatsoever. would a dodgy 4 gang plug cause this sort of almost earthing sound. Oh , he tested the earth of the amp too and it was fine, quite pickling indeed. any thoughts?
    all help appreciated
    many thanks

    [Hard to tell. Doesn’t seem like a tube-problem. Noise can be hard to detect and it’s often the strangest things that cause it. I have to pass on this one… anyone? – Bjorn]

  44. Silvio De Santis

    I had a disturbing click (frequency of 1 hz) coming out of my amp for about a month. I swapped guitars, cables, amps, it was still there. It drove me crazy as I had a $1000 Warmouth Strat (and a Fender Classic Player 60s strat) and 2 Hiwatt DR504 (one from 1979 and one from 1981). I finally figured out it came from a clip-on watch I had attached to my belt !
    I do not know if humbuckers would have made this click.

    1. In a similar vein, I was getting a moderate frequency click when my amp was on with or without an instrument plugged in. I followed several steps here, different power, removing my watch, taking my phone out of the room, etc. The problem turned out to be a Powerline Ethernet adapter that ether shares this circuit or is introducing interference through its proximity to my amp. When the adapter is unplugged the amp is nearly silent, when plugged in the noise is there. Unfortunately a surge or noise reduction device for the Powerline adapter is not an option as they are unable to do what they do when plugged into one. So, when it is time to play the guitar, the Powerline adapter gets unplugged.

  45. Good article and information, I don’t think ever thought about the difference between speaker and instrument cables.

    I am curious if James found out the cause of the clicking sound he was getting. I had the same thing happen to me when I plugged direct to the PA last weekend with a Joyo American pedal (Fender amp sim). Just the pedal alone plugged into the PA got a clicking/tapping sound that suddenly appeared after playing a whole set. At home though it sounds fine. So I am guessing something at the board was going on.

  46. I’ve been hearing this clicking sound that happens maybe every second at a constant rate when I have an instrument cable plugged into either my amp or directly into my mixing console (which is connected to my computer via firewire). It happens both with a guitar plugged in and unplugged and the cable just hanging from the input of the amp. I can’t figure it out. It’s the same for all my cables, new or old. I’ve tried plugging into different electrical outlets, and even an extension cords 20 feet from my house and still hearing the clicking sound. The only times I don’t hear it is if I try it at a different house. What could be causing this problem?

    [Well, it’s definitely not your guitar than, since the noice appears even when it’s unplugged. Have you tried different cables? Are always near your computer? Sounds like there’s some static electrical interferance that might be coming from your computer or nearby electrical components like your fridge, TV, lights etc. Could also be a transformer outside your house that’s radiating. Try to sort out what’s different when you’re at your friend’s and tro to eliminate those sources when you’re at home. If it is static buzz, then you might want to consider better shielded cables and perhaps even shield your guitar. One way to tell is to try a humbucker guitar. – Bjorn]

    1. Are you wearing a watch? I had this constant click happening at a guitar store once. Turns out my watch watch (on my right wrist) was next to the pickup, and the pu was amplifying something in the watch.

  47. my telecaster makes a scratching sound when its plugged in, is this a shielding or ground problem? I shielded my other telecaster and I also took off the chrome cover for the neck pickup and it sounded like my strait.. but, then it bugged me..because I already had that sound with my strait…thank you..and hope to hear from you, kelly

    [What do you mean by “scratching sound”? – Bjorn]

  48. I can tell you from experience that using a circuit tester,( the type with 3 leds, that tell you when you have proper polarity,and ground.). In the US, a small Greenlee tester is about $8.00, and I use one every time I plug into a new place, and this is why. In the late ’80s, I played a club with no grounds on the PA, or my amp. I found this out when during soundcheck, I was strumming some chords, and went to the mic to speak to the soundman. Next thing I knew, I was lying on the floor, about 5 feet from the mic stand! Most have experienced the very uncomfortable feeling of mic shock, but someone had somehow routed a neutral in a way that when I touched the mic with my lips, while holding my axe, I got a full 120v through my lips. This could have been deadly, and now I carry a little green tester to even jams, and check for proper line, neutral, and ground, by simply pluging the two inch tester in, and seeing that the correct lights are indeed on. It will save your sound, and gear, and possibly your life. And never play
    Peace, Keith

    1. Hey buddy, quick question, I play a lot of high gain metal, my neck pickup sounds nice, with little to no string noise when palm muted, and string skipping, but my bridge pickup just sounds a mess? They’re ibanez stock humbuckrrs. Is it my neck pickup needing potted or replaced?

  49. The stock neck pickup on my Mexican Telecaster buzzes like crazy whenever certain stage lights are in use. Can this be avoided, or do I simply need to find a different circuit for my amp?

    [As I’m sure you are aware, vintage style passive single coils are noisy by nature as they’re pretty much acting like exposed antennas picking up all kinds of interferance. Stage lights will often be a problem and Telecasters are often noisier than Strats and other guitars. It’s probably nothing wrong with the guitar or that particular model. Try to eliminate as many sources as possible and one of the upgrades you can perform is replacing the stock pickups with someone with a better shielding. Learning how to use a volume pedal and the guitar volume as well as how turn away from the source is crucial for eliminating as much noise as possible :) – Bjorn]

  50. Do I understand you are saying that a 20 foot cable is better for less noise than a 10 foot?

    [The shorter the cable the better. – Bjorn]

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