Guitar Hum/Buzz

Discussion in 'Mods and Tech Talk' started by old codger, Mar 1, 2018.

  1. old codger

    old codger New Member

    Hi Folks,

    I’m afraid that I am raising this hoary old chestnut again but I need help with this problem and searches have not given me the answer I need.

    I have an Epiphone Rivoli Bass Guitar, (Kalamazoo made, with one standard Gibson Humbucker pick-up), which I purchased in 1966. I gave up gigging about 1975 and the guitar has rarely been out of the case since then. I restrung it about 5 years ago.

    The problem is that when I plug it into an amplifier there is a hum/buzz, which increases with the turning up of the guitar volume knob and the amp volume knob. The hum subsides slightly when you touch a metal part of the fittings, i.e. the pick up, the bridge, the strings etc. I know that I am casting my mind back many years but I cannot remember that it emitted so much noise.

    Most of the answers that are given in searches for similar problems suggest that it is the “grounding” that is the problem.

    Consequently, I have taken out all of the gubbins from inside the guitar through the “f” hole. All the soldered joints appear to be well soldered with no lose wires. Taking a test meter I have tested the continuity of the ground wire by putting one probe on the ground wire where it is connected to the output jack and have placed the other probe on the pick-up plate, the bridge, the strings, and each of the volume and tone pots. All show a zero ohm reading, indicting that all ground items are connected to the final output ground wire. (The pots were touched on the outer case and not on the ground terminal).

    I have also, with the guitar plugged in, connected a piece of wire to the jack ground and touched all of the bits above, in effect giving a separate ground to each item, and there was no reduction on the hum. To me this shows that existing grounds are connected. I also put a squirt of contact cleaner inside the pots as there was some crackling as you turned the spindle. The crackling no longer exists and the spindles turn smoothly.

    I have also tried a different guitar lead with no improvement. I then tried the two guitar leads plugged into a Gibson ES335 copy and there is only a very slight hum, which disappears when a metal piece is touched. Again indicating the leads are ok. When the lead is unplugged from the amp the noise from the amp is negligible.

    The only alteration that I have done to the guitar, over the years, is to replace the “baritone” button with a standard micro on-off toggle switch. I notice that the wires to and from the choke are not screened. Should they be? This is all original wiring.

    I have been using a Marshall MG15CD practice amp and I don’t have access to any other. I am also doing this in the conservatory to eliminate any outside influences.

    Many people on the internet give suggestions but nobody appears to have reported any success.

    Any help on this would be appreciated.

    Many thanks

    Old Codger
  2. Infant

    Infant Active Member

    Hello and welcome to Gibson Talk. Are you absolutely sure its a humbucker pickup as some of these had single coils in a HB sized cover. You seem to have tried most everything except a different amp. How is the grounding in your home? Have you tried different wall outlets? Are there any dimmer switches on in the house?
  3. Jeffytune

    Jeffytune New Member

    Hello Old Codger,
    It does sound like you were quite through with your testing of the guitar itself.
    The next test would be to go down to the local music store and plug it into a couple of there amp.
    A music store will go to great lengths to make sure they have a good clean ground system in there shop.
    If it now plays without hum, the cause is in your house or amp.
  4. Jeffytune

    Jeffytune New Member

    For those of us in the states.....
  5. jimilee

    jimilee Member

    Have you checked tour grounds for continuity also. I’m guessing there’s no hum with the guitar unplugged?

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  6. SAguitar

    SAguitar Active Member

    Some good suggestions here, and our home environments are likely different than they were 30 years ago. Nowadays there are lots of noise generating devices, including dimmer switches, computers and their monitors. But since you mentioned a conservatory, I would imagine there might be less of those annoyances in there. Best of luck!


    It may just boil down to oxidation at various points of contact. Get some contact cleaner and wipe it on the drop cord jacks, the guitar input jacks, the amp jacks and all of your pedal contact points. Since you mentioned not using the guitar for some time, oxidation is probably the culprit.
  8. old codger

    old codger New Member

    Howdy Folks (an old American Greeting I believe).:)

    Many thanks for all your responses.

    To Infant. I’m pretty sure it is a Humbucker. I no longer have the original owner’s booklet but every thing I have read indicates that it is so. Wikipedia says “one large "Sidewinder" humbucking pickup in the neck position".

    I took the amp into the kitchen to use the outlets there as this is the room that has had the most electrical work done to it so the earth/grounding would have been checked by the electricians. The Fluorescent lights were switched off. The buzzing still persisted. We don’t have any dimmer switches.

    To Jeffytune. Taking it to a music store is a good suggestion but with a couple of drawbacks over here. I don’t know how friendly your music store assistance are but I don’t think ours would be that impressed if I tried to do that. They would probably like me to leave the guitar with them so that they could have a go at fixing it and charge me lots of money.

    The second problem is that all of the music stores are in the centre of towns or cities. We don’t have the luxury of your lovely “strip malls” with plenty of free parking. Our street are covered with yellow “no parking” lines and blue meanies hiding around the corner waiting to give some innocent soul a parking ticket. Just the idea of parking in the multi-storey and carting it along the roads gives me a pain in the back. I never realised how heavy this thing is. (Thinking back over the 12 plus years I was gigging we must have had muscles like Popeye carrying all this gear in and out of pubs and clubs).:(

    To Jeffytune (again). I never really thought about who populated this forum. I was just glad to find something with Gibson-Epiphone in its heading. So my apologies for using English idiosyncrasies. I am a bit surprised that you didn’t try to explain “gubbins”. ;) Lots of different meanings on the Internet but usually used to describe lots of bits and pieces, usually of electrical origin. Again it comes from Old English. A bit like me really – Old and English! :biggrin:

    To jimilee. Sorry I don’t recognise the phrase “tour grounds”, would you explain further please? Yes, with the guitar unplugged the amp is as quiet as a mouse. Even the controls have a smooth turning.

    To SAguitar. Yes; that’s why I took it out there. Try to eliminate house influences.

    To Lostventure. Yes, that could be a possibility. Electrical components must deteriate over time.

    Catching on to Lostventure's suggestion, I was wondering if the pots could deteriate. The resister still reads the correct ohms but I don’t know how to test capacitors. This circuit looks mighty simple and I am thinking if it is worth while doing a complete rewire leaving the pickup and choke were they are. The Pots and capacitors look quite reasnably priced Anybody know what would be the best screened wire to use?

    Regards to all.

    Old Codger

    P.S. A lesson learnt - attach some strong cotton to the spindles of the pots, switch and jack before pulling them through the f hole; it makes the job of pulling them back into the holes a lot easier.:mad:
  9. Jeffytune

    Jeffytune New Member

    Hello once again, I was not trying to correct you, I was only trying to help us "English challenges" Americans out a bit. I have learn so much from watching top gear over the past few years. ;)
    I understand that stores in England are different then the stores we have here. I would take your bass to the store, and buy a set of strings, maybe have them do a set up....shouldn't cost too much. Now your a customer not a moocher and surely they would what you to try it on one of there amps at that point.
    Now you have a fresh set up, new strings and you will know if it's the bass or not.
  10. Infant

    Infant Active Member

    I would go to the store and say that I want to try out some bsss amps with my own guitar.

    BTW, those came with both single coils or humbuckers in the neck position. If the screws run down the middle its a single coil, if they are skewed more toward one side its a humbucker.
  11. old codger

    old codger New Member

    Hello again.

    To Jeffytune. It’s ok. I took your original post in the spirit it was intended. I took no offence by it; it is just my weird sense of humour that when I see the funny side of something I tend to prolong it. I’ve had many conversations over the years with Americans to know that words have different meanings and you need to be careful what to say. As Winston Churchill once said “Two Nations divided by a common language”. You say Toe-mate-toe, I say Tom-mar-toe. :)

    Your suggestion about a re-set up is interesting. It is 52 years old and the only attention it has had is the strings being replaced every so often. I suppose when my kids come to sell it,:( it should be in its best condition. I’ll see if I can find somewhere that does it.

    My only concern about you now is that you have been influenced by “Top Gear”. I hope your medical contributions are up to date as I believe that Psychiatric Treatment can be expensive in the US. ;)

    To Infant. Mmmm. Very interesting! I never new that. I have put it back together now and put it in the spare room in its case. I’m off to the “land of the brave” tomorrow (Tuesday) to see if I can get some heat into these old bones of mine so I’ll check it when I come back. If it is a single coil what difference would that make?

    Thanks for your help all.

    Old Codger
  12. Jeffytune

    Jeffytune New Member

    That Okay Codger, I am a ASE Master technician, I know what they do on the show is wrong.;)

    And I am afraid it is far worse then that, you see and a child, I grew up watching Monte Python's flying circus.
  13. Infant

    Infant Active Member

    A single coil pickup will hum/buzz. Here in Canada and the US, it's 60 cycle hum. In the UK and Europe I believe it's 50 cycle hum. A humbucker eliminates the hum...hence the name "hum"bucker. :)

    Sent from my SM-T530NU using Tapatalk
  14. johnreardon

    johnreardon Active Member

    Hi Old Codger from another old codger living in Northants.

    Being British (Welsh) I understood you perfectly. Those colonials who claim to speak English should go back to school :biggrin:

    Even humbuckers will hum a bit and yes the hum will disappear when you touch the hardware on the guitar. I have 10 LPs and they all hum to a certain degree if I plug into a small amp in the house. At a gig, they work perfectly, so it could be anything (TVs, Fridges, etc) in my house that affects them

    That's not to say that there isn't a problem on your guitar. If it was me, I would find a local tech who does setups and ask him/her to give it a full check out and set up.

    I wouldn't bother with music shops as from my experience, the techs they use are not that good.

    Good luck
  15. Epitune

    Epitune New Member

    I've learned a lot from reading this thread, thanks everyone for sharing insights!
  16. old codger

    old codger New Member

    Hi Jeffytune,
    Monty Python I can forgive. It shows a sophisticated sense of humour. This was in my heyday. My father used to look at me strangely when I sat there laughing my socks off. At least my son appreciates the show. Everybody applauds the Dead Parrot sketch as the best one but the one that cracks me up is the Race for People with No Sense of Direction.


    Old Codger
  17. Infant

    Infant Active Member

    Ahhhh...Monty Python....Ministry of Funny Walks, The Argument Sketch and my favourite (since I'm Canadian) "Oh, I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay..."

    Attached Files:

  18. Jeffytune

    Jeffytune New Member

  19. Epitune

    Epitune New Member

    Or the race for people wh think they are chickens, or people with weak bladder.. :D

    If Monty Python was music, what would it sound like?

    "Faintly related" to topic...removed my stringbuzz yesterday by exchanging the factory strings on my LP (Epi) with Elixir 10-52's. Lowered the action a lot, another tuneup, guitar in tune for 24 hours and no buzz. Today is gonna be a fiiiine day!
  20. Jeffytune

    Jeffytune New Member

    Spike Jones.

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