Skip to content
Clear all

A Humming Buzz

3 Posts
3 Users
Forrest Greene
Active Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 5
Topic starter  

I recently upgraded an electric guitar with a new wiring harness, including pots, switch & plug, & a new pair of pickups. It sounds good, but shortly after the new components were installed, a buzzing hum started making itself heard.

Grounding problem, I said, & returned to the techs who did the installation. They couldn’t hear the buzz. Life being much like a situation comedy, when I got the guitar home, the buzz was still there. I’ve had good service from this shop, so am inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

On its return the buzz had changed both its sound & the conditions under which it appeared. Previously it was the same at all settings, & stopped when skin touched metal. Now that no longer stopped it, & it sounded different under different settings. Some were clear, some no longer worked at all. There was also a new sound, a gurgling tick-tock which sounded pretty digital to me.

I now wonder if the problem might be with the amplifier. Before I rent an amp & guitar & try out diagnostic mixing & matching, I’d like to be better informed. Here are my questions:

This is a five year old hybrid amp, part digital, part tube. How long does a typical tube last before needing replacement?

The amp never had this problem before. Could it be that, before its upgrades, the guitar was never delivering enough signal to make an existing problem audible? I also tried an acoustic-electric guitar without hearing the buzz. Again, could that be due to insufficient signal from the guitar?

Last, the guitar’s new pickups are not wax-potted. Reviews say this can, in some circumstances, cause them to become “microphonic.” I haven’t a clue what that might sound like, but is it worth considering?

Thanks for your help!

Active Member
Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 3

Most likely, it's probably your guitar but you don't need to 'rent' an amp. Just take it to your local music shop and ask them if they can connect it to an amp to test it out. They won't mind I'm sure.

Eminent Member
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 45

"can you fix my buzz (or hum)" type repairs can be so hard to diagnose, just because thereare so many variables.

to find out where the problem lies, you need to remove each aspect that could be causing the issue.. but no need to jump straight into amp renting.
First thing I would check would be would be for electrical interferance. Check things like.. is your guitar lead coiled up on top of itself on the floor? is your lead touching any power sources? (ie: resting against a power board). Is your amp plugged directly into the wall socket or is it into a powerboard? is something else in the room or house causing some form of interference?
I have the perfect example of this, If I plug my amp into the wall in my house, and I turn on the clothes washer, I get a sound like an electric razor cutting a wet steak through my amp. If I move my amp to my study, with the washer still going, I get a ticking every time the washer agitator changes direction... if I move to my bedroom, I get no interference at all. Apparently, the bedroom is on a different curcuit to the laundry.

the reason I suggest this is as follows. If you plugged a second guitar in (regardless of output) you would still hear the sound if it were JUST the amp.
If you changed the guitar, and the lead were at fault, you would also hear the problem regardless of which guitar was plugged in.
However, if your new pickups are a bit more sensitive, or the wiring has been changed, it would be reasonable for it to pick up interference from other sources. I would also check the shielding in the guitar cavity, that could cause an increase in noise too.

Microphonic pickups arent normally "noisy"...they just sound really shitty and whistle a lot.
If you tap the top of your pickup with a pick, and you hear a whistle or squeal type sound, you may have an issue there but I dont think the two things are related.