Amp buzz w/ Telecaster... Any solutions?

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RefD
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Post by RefD » Mon Feb 11, 2008 11:07 am

fossiltooth wrote:My sure cure for recording single coil instruments in situations where a low noise floor is a necessity?

Have the player swivel in his/her chair until you find a spot where the hum disappears. Try it. Just rotate your torso. Unless you're in a building, with really sucky wiring, you will find a spot where the noise essentially vanishes.
IME, this is the best solution if you don't want to perform surgery on the guitar.
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Post by ashcat_lt » Mon Feb 11, 2008 11:29 am

BTW - that shielding article is pretty involved. It doesn't have to be major surgery, though. The most important part is to shield the pickups and wiring so they pick up less interference from outside. So, foil the pickguard and cavities. Replace the wires running to the output jack with a shielded cable. Headphone cable or a mic cable small enough to fit through the hole will work. Connect all the shielding to ground. Done.

The star grounding thing is a "best practice" kind of thing. With the voltage levels we're dealing with inside the guitar, ground loops are really a minor concern. The big "protection cap" is not a bad idea, but leaving it out doesn't affect the noise reduction, and doesn't create any greater risk than you've already got.

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Post by thieves » Mon Feb 11, 2008 11:50 am

in my practice space, the hum created by facing my power strip has recently become completley unbearable. there are a lot of wall wart type adapters in this vicinity, but none of them are new. is there something that could make them emit more 60 cycle hum than usual? is there a way i can insulate this area to keep the hum out of my pickups?
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Post by Recycled_Brains » Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:40 pm

ashcat_lt wrote:BTW - that shielding article is pretty involved. It doesn't have to be major surgery, though. The most important part is to shield the pickups and wiring so they pick up less interference from outside. So, foil the pickguard and cavities. Replace the wires running to the output jack with a shielded cable. Headphone cable or a mic cable small enough to fit through the hole will work.
i didn't find the article to be all that involved or intimidating. seems easy enough. i just found this online (company linked from the tutorial). it seems to have everything i'd need. for the sake of assurance, i would want to use the 20" of the 2-conductor shielded cable to replace what's going to the output jack, and the 5" of single-conductor insulated wire to run btwn. the solder points in the bridge pickup and control cavities, correct?
Connect all the shielding to ground.
how is this done? sorry if it's obvious, i'm just not very savy with this sort of thing, so i might as well ask.

-ryan
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Post by roscoenyc » Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:55 pm

Recycled_Brains wrote:
roscoenyc wrote:If you like the middle position you can just replace the neck pickup with a "Reverse Wound" pickup. It will work great.

does the reverse winding have any adverse effect on the sound when using just the neck pickup?

-ryan


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Post by Kindly Killer » Mon Feb 11, 2008 1:43 pm

If you change your pickups - especially in a tele - you are going to have a different instrument. If you use the middle switch position you are going to get a very different sound from the other two positions. If you shield the way WWW articles suggest you are going to greatly lower the inductance of the coils, which will give you a different sound; it will sit in the mix differently.

IMO the best solutions are, 1) what someone already mentioned - just moving and turning to find a place where hum is minimized, and 2) John Suhr's dummy coil system (can't remember what he calls it).

The first solution should work for you with a tele. If the pickups are traditional construction, there is already a fair amount of shielding going on.

All those noiseless faux-single-coil pickups are more of a stopgap for touring IMO.

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Post by joel hamilton » Mon Feb 11, 2008 8:02 pm

roscoenyc wrote:my telecasters have Fralin pickups in them. (glad you liked that guitar Joel)

I have the neck pickup "Reverse Wound" by Fralin.
Means that when I'm in the middle position I get hum cancelling.

Most of the hum cancelling pickups that I've tried don't have the full range of the single coils (Less highs mostly)

Another option is just to let that shit wail and then use something like the Waves Restoration de-noise software on it afterwards.

Little things like good cables and finding your null point can help also. I'll do almost anything to fly the single coil flag.
Oh, NOW i get it. Thanks Roscoe and Justin. Thats what I needed to know.

BTW, Roscoe, I think you could play a 2X4 with strings on it and I would be into it. You really made those couple of songs happen for thoe people I was in with, which they were incredibly, incredibly greatful. That was a super nice thing to do, man.

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Post by ashcat_lt » Mon Feb 11, 2008 8:57 pm

RB - Sorry, I didn't actually read that article. Wasn't trying to call you a dumbass or anything. The one he's got for the strat is far more involved and discusses star grounding to avoid ground loops and adding a capacitor with which to isolate the strings and other metal parts from the ground on the amp, to avoid a certain rare form of death.

It's interesting that this tele version doesn't discuss using shielded wire to run from the control cavity to the output jack. It's not a bad idea in any case. Of course, if you're not using the protection cap I guess it could just as easily be single conductor shielded wire (like a guitar cable).

The wire from the neck pickup cavity to the control cavity is meant to connect the shielding of the two areas together. Doesn't need to be shielded itself.

The shielding foil in this will be connected to ground through the case of the volume pot, along with everything else. If you choose to use shielded wire to the output jack, use the shield on that cable in place of the (probably) black wire running from back of V-pot to the jack.

As for "...greatly reduce the inductance..." um, no. Wrapping foil around the pickup itself can increase capacitance and cause a small amount of treble loss. Of course, as mentioned in the article I linked to, many Teles have their neck pickups encased in metal already, and the bridge pickups are surrounded by the metal bridge. And there's a guy over at the Guitar Nuts Forum who figured out how to minimize this issue even if you did want to foil your pickups.

A "dummy coil" will noticeably affect the overall impedance of your pickups, but they're supposed to work fairly well. Of course, they don't offer all of the sonic flexibility you'd enjoy by installing humbuckers and making a few small wiring changes...

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Re: Amp buzz w/ Telecaster... Any solutions?

Post by roygbiv » Mon Feb 11, 2008 11:13 pm

Hope this isn't too obvious of a suggestion, but..

I too was having a heinous buzz problem in my basement recordings. Was happening for my Tele, my Strat and even my goofy '70s Ovation "Viper" electric guitar. An annoying buzz/humm. Moving around for the null spot lessened the noise, but not completely.

Tried a lot of things, but ultimately started going around the house and turning off all the lights. Noticed it seemed to get better when lights on old dimmer switches were turned off (switches that were probably installed sometime in the '70/'80s).

But the real excitement came when I turned off the front porch light, which has one of those built in timer thingies.

Porch light on = buzz. Front porch light off = no buzz!

That simple.

Anyway, just a suggestion - seems some of the light switches can really generate quite an RF field, to which single coil pickups (god bless 'em!) are really sensitive.
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Post by Jim Williams » Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:24 am

You have 2 noise sources, one is hum fields, that's 60 hz, and it's harmonics of 120,183, 250 hz.

The second is EMI which is not directional as are magnetic fields. This is your buzz. Buzz is cured by complete shielding. That includes the entire cavity and under each pickup as body noise can be injcted by the belly. I use copper foil. I do wrap a couple of turns around each pickup ( my neck pickups has the covers removed to allow the tops to come through. A couple of wraps of electrical tape protects the magnet wire and allows a small space for stray capacitance. The amount of stray capacitance and it's affect on high freqencies is minimal compared to the losses incured by leaving that chrome cover on. The string wrapped around the bridge pickup creates plenty of space from the coil so no losses occur there. Shielded cable is required on the pickups. Once this is done, so is buzz. I can take my hands off the strings and no buzz.
As to hum fields, I use a dummy coil made from an old Jap strat pickup. This is also soaked on wax, completely shielded and shock mounted via latex rubber. It feeds a circuit that filters and phase reverses the pickup. This is then adjusted via a hum cancelling trimpot. I measure -80 db s/n ratio referenced to "0" db or .775 v. on my Audio Precision and since the guitar is lower in output, I have a greater than 80 db s/n on these guitars, they are silent next to Gibsons.
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Post by Seamonster » Tue Feb 12, 2008 4:09 pm

As I am not much of a guitarslinger myself but do record a fair number of them, I've added this helpful thread to my faves list. Thanks, all.

Here's a little trick that works: take a piece of wire (speaker cable, zip cord, whatever) 3 or 4 feet long, tape one end to the screw-head of a pick up using cloth tape and stick the other end in the guitarist's pants, contacting skin. Now when fingers are lifted off strings, guitarist's body is still in contact. Tighty-whities are preferred over boxers.

More secure and semi-permanent is to wrap one end of a short wire (~4") around the pickup's screw post. Leave that lead dangling out from under the pickup, then when you want to record, just twist a longer "pants wire" to its end.

I don't recall whether I made this up or read/heard about it somewhere.

This technique can also inspire electrifying performances from those guitarists who get a charge out of having something new stuck in their pants. Science has yet to determine whether the wire can also provide a more direct path for mojo to flow from loins to pickup. Optionally, hard-core types might consider snapping Abu-Ghraib-style album photos. You know who you are.
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Post by calaverasgrandes » Tue Feb 12, 2008 4:26 pm

I cant believe no one mentioned this yet. On a lot of older guitars that used to belong to guitarist/vocalists you will see electrical modifications. "Back in da day" getting shocked like hell when your lips touched the mic was alot more common. Especially when using ungrounded tube amps. The "fix" was often to cut the wire from the bridge. It will still make a sound without the wire connected, but it also isnt as well shielded. So you get a lot more hum than common. Check under the pickguard/bridge to make sure that wire is still there before you go out and spend a benjamin (or two) on some Fralins. I have fixed at least half a dozen axes with this "mod".
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Post by Recycled_Brains » Tue Feb 12, 2008 4:48 pm

ashcat_lt wrote:RB - Sorry, I didn't actually read that article. Wasn't trying to call you a dumbass or anything.
didn't think that at all man. no sweat. i am a dumbass when it comes to a lot of this type of stuff. hahaha. that's why i'm thankful for this board.

i'm going to give the shielding a shot, and then explore other options if that doesn't yield the desired result.

i'll keep you posted, and will probably have more questions at some point.

thanks everyone for making this an interesting thread.

-ryan
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Post by traveen » Tue Feb 12, 2008 6:46 pm

I used to have this trouble too, and none of the common fixes worked (shielding the pups etc).

What finally did work was getting some copper foil and glueing it to the back of the pick guard, making sure that it does not overhang and touch any of the metal parts.. ie: pots, pups, bridge, switch.

In my case, my pick guard was picking up static from my hands and fingers as I touched it, especially when strumming fast. Once I did the copper foil it solved all buzzing.

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Post by Alex Netick » Tue Feb 12, 2008 7:38 pm

I tried putting Fender noiseless pickups in my tele. They're less noisy, but they don't sound like a tele anymore. I don't know what I'll try next. I think I like the original stock pickups more than the noiseless.

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