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Humming problem. Lend me your expertise

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  • Humming problem. Lend me your expertise

    I planned on rearranging my pedal board tonight to try and iron out some of the noise thats been bothering me for a while, thinking it may just be down to a faulty pedal, or the way i'm powering them, or even the order theyre in. However, it seems like it may actually be due to some kind of grounding problem. Seeing as though i have VERY little knowledge about "ground loops" and all of that kind of stuff, i figured i'd ask you guys as you all seem to be fairly switched on. Googling helps to an extent but it's not specific enough to my problem.


    • Mexican Stratocaster
    • Hotrod DEluxe
    • 9 pedals
    • 2/3's Planet Waves DIY patch cables
    • 1/3 Amphenol patch cables
    • Cioks DC10 powering 6 pedals and generic power supplys powering the rest

    What happened:

    I moved my pedal board close to the amp (about 1.5m away) so i could sit between them. I guess that proximity wouldn't be doing any favours first up. I had only my Empress Para EQ in the signal path, and only the pedals powered by the cioks, plus one other, were powered. Various inputs/outputs were unplugged.Ie. the pedal board was not set up at all. I noticed that the hum would be affected when i moved my hand around the EQ and would decrease when i picked it up and moved it as far away as could stretch from everything. The hum would be affected when i touched the tips of any PW cables, but not the amphenol... i don't think anyway (this may have been entirely coincidental as the pedals with amphenol cables may have been the ones that weren't powered). The hum would be affected when my hands were on the guitar strings, and further so when i then touched the ins/outs. The humming was worst when my guitars volume know was below 9. In fact it was barely audible when the volume was cranked.
    Also, there was no noise whatsoever when the guitar went straight into the amp.

    I think that about sums it up.

    Anyway, i'm totally at a loss here as i really do not know what's going on, so any help at all would be much appreciated.



  • #2
    Try getting it to humm and then rotating yourself and the guitar and figure out if the humm level changes. If it does it is 60 cycle humm. What is happening is that you have external radio frequencies invading your signal chain. A good way to address a lot of these issues is by shielding your guitar. Buy some shielding tape on eBay and put it in the pickup cavities and the pick guard, this tape is removable.
    If you think a piece of gear is doing this, plug your guitar into your amp and try and get it to humm, if it doesn't, add one piece of gear at a time until it does.
    It could also be one of your cables, bad/cheap cables can cause humm if they don't shield the signal properly. The outside of the cable is supposed to pick up the interference and keep the center (where the actual signal is) free of interference. Rolling back your guitar volume allows it to be more susceptible to outside interference since it's weaker.
    So it could be a lot of things unfortunately.

    In short:
    - If it's the guitar you can shield it
    - If it's a pedal you can not use it or replace it
    - If it's a patch cable you can replace it

    Might also be helpful if you describe which pedals you are using and how you have them hooked up. digital pedals need to be on isolated power.


    • #3

      Is everything plugged into the same wall outlet? What is your exact signal chain and how is each piece powered? What "generic power supplies" are you using?


      • wesg
        wesg commented
        Editing a comment
        Does the humming go away if your generic supplies are replaced with batteries?

    • #4

      I'll look into it further when i finish work this afternoon and try to answer some of your questions.

      I do run it all from a single outlet, via a decent powerboard.

      None of my cables are really cheap. Besides the amphenol and Planet Waves patch cables i use a Vox coiled from the guitar and i think a Mogami cable to the amp.

      But as i said, the hum was affected only when i touched the Planet Waves cables (even though none of the pedals were connected), so i don't know.




      • juri
        juri commented
        Editing a comment
        I think your planet waves cables could be the culprit. Are you running any buffers?

    • #5
      You should stop humming when you play


      • #6

        Well i got rid of the hum. I actually had my pedals power board plugged into another power board which powers my amp... i moved it to a separate outlet and put the pedals back where it used to live on the other side of the room and all was well. Thanks for the replies anyhow.

        Now back to the task at hand.