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Boards Shocking Me at New Rehearsal Space


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I just joined a new band a few weeks back, great original rock band (sorta 70s psychedelic, sorta Radiohead-ish). Great guys, and we practice upstairs at the guy's house (which he built). Unfortunately, I'm having a lot of power issues in his space. I can feel a tiny bit of current coming from all of my boards, sort of like a 9V battery. If I touch a very thin metal edge, there's a tiny shock. I've tried an Arturia Keylab + Laptop setup, and that works fine, no glitches, but I can feel the current. Unfortunately, my Crumar Mojo61 fares far worse. It freezes up and shuts down randomly at times. The most concerning is I can see the LEDs pulse slightly on a 1sec cycle (no, not the Leslie), and hear a little tick through the amp. It's clear there's a voltage leak somewhere in the chain. Only happens when I practice at that house. Band leader's sort of concerned about the viability of the Mojo (I'm new, he has to take my word that this has never happened before).

 

Any ideas on what causes this? I've felt it before at some venues, but it's never been bad enough to glitch my gear. Any ideas for solutions? I'm actually wondering whether it's the connection to the amp. I tried unplugging my laptop for a bit during rehearsal (battery power), and I still felt it. So the only connection point in the whole system was the audio cable. Would putting a passive DI between me and the amp be worth a shot?

Puck Funk! :)

 

Equipment: Laptop running lots of nerdy software, some keyboards, noise makersâ¦yada yada yadaâ¦maybe a cat?

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Not an electrician, nor do I play one on TV.

 

However, being on this forum for a while and what we've read, I'm curious if this might be an insufficient power issue - in other words, an extended brownout. 

 

You might try to get the voltage measured at the outlet (by an electrician...and probably someone other than the homeowner who wired it all himself).

 

If that's the case, long term solution is correct the problem that is causing the situation. Short term solution might be using a UPS with a built in power regulator. And IMHO, your bandleader isn't off base worrying about the Mojo's reliability under low voltage conditions - this is more common at dodgy venues than you might expect, and I think we've seen reports here on the forum of the Mojo being sensitive to the quality of incoming power - many electronic components are (the Mojo certainly isn't unique in that respect), but I recall seeing earlier reports of Mojo being sensitive to this. But I don't own one, and I'm hoping actual Mojo owners can chime in and correct me if I'm off base here.

 

 

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This is almost certainly a grounding issue with his power. Your gear is using you to ground instead of the electrical system.

He did his own electric, which is a phrase almost as frightening as "Barry Manilow tribute band."

I don't know how to fix this. Maybe bring a UPS to work off of when you're there?

 

EDIT: I see Tim already suggested the UPS option. For some reason not reading other people's responses before jumping in with my own isn't the foolproof strategy you would think.

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I looked into UPSs recently, and read that they're actually terrible for this. 99% of the time they just run direct through from the wall, but switch over if there's a loss of power. Furthermore, they have surprisingly terrible surge protection, your average power strip with surge protection typically has 5x the Joules that even a mid-range UPS has. I'm not convinced from my reading that a UPS will improve power fluctuations. I'd certainly want to check with someone with a lot more electrical knowledge than myself before going in that direction.

Yeah, I've seen that some Crumar devices have had power problems. However, I'm reading much more about the older double-manual Mojo, less about the Mojo61, which uses a different power supply. I've never run into this issue at any other venue before, and it's been halfway around the world with me.

Puck Funk! :)

 

Equipment: Laptop running lots of nerdy software, some keyboards, noise makersâ¦yada yada yadaâ¦maybe a cat?

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2 minutes ago, MathOfInsects said:

He did his own electric, which is a phrase almost as frightening as "Barry Manilow tribute band."

 

I don't think he did his own electric. He built the house, but as far as I know he hired someone to do wiring. I've been talking with him, and he says he doesn't really know electric. That tells me he hired someone, doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would do something that dumb and admit to not knowing how to do it.

Puck Funk! :)

 

Equipment: Laptop running lots of nerdy software, some keyboards, noise makersâ¦yada yada yadaâ¦maybe a cat?

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Well in light of that, I revert back to the old adage that the shortest path to a solution runs through correctly identifying the problem.

 

Sounds like a new electrician is going to have to fix an old electrician's work.

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1 minute ago, EricBarker said:

 

I don't think he did his own electric. He built the house, but as far as I know he hired someone to do wiring. I've been talking with him, and he says he doesn't really know electric. That tells me he hired someone, doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would do something that dumb and admit to not knowing how to do it.

Oh, got it. Well, this 100% sounds like a grounding issue in the house, or at least on that line. Maybe just bring a very, very long extension cord and run it down to wherever he's running his washer or fridge or microwave?

 

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I'd start with something like this and go from there.

 

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"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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So you suspect the house electric supply might be a danger to your keyboards?  Bring your back-up keyboards; don't bring any keyboard you highly value.

 

It's a rehearsal: you don't need your best gear.  And if the electric is questionable, you don't want your best gear there.

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Sounds like a grounding issue to me. That shouldn't be happening if the wiring is installed properly. He needs to check all his outlets with a circuit tester. Have you tried plugging your gear in another room to see if it's a widespread problem throughout his house? If it's just the room you're using then maybe the problem can be tracked down easier. Might be as simple as rewiring a problem outlet. Then again, it could be a nightmare, but definitely something he should get fixed. I wouldn't want to be plugging my gear into his power in its present condition.

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As previously posted check those outlets for any faults. Obviously any problems would need to be corrected.
You might want to or convince the home owner into installing a GFCI outlet controlling the circuit that you or your band mates are using. Further to that you might want to invest in a surge protector to protect your equipment. 
Somethings odd, electricians almost always stick to code.

 

Kurzweil PC3K8/ GSI Gemini Desktop/ CPS SSV3/ QSC K8.2/ Radial Key Largo

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This rehearsal space is a good excuse to buy a battery-powered Casio CT-S500. 😁

 

Seriously, the homeowner needs to have a licensed electrician check the wiring in his home. 😎

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Is anyone else using electric instruments at this rehearsal space? 
 

Interesting if only your keyboards would be having problems and stronger than you have experienced elsewhere in the past while no one else has any issue.

 

Could it be the specific outlets you plug into? Have you tried all the outlets other electrical things are plugged into?

 

Might not be an all out electrical problem. Might be isolated to a portion of the room. Potential for smaller remedy. 

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100% grounding issues in the guys home.

 

First thing discuss it with the guy, he potentially has a significant issue, perhaps a potentially dangerous one.  Suggest he has all his electrics tested by a different company than the one who did the install.

 

If there are faults and a simple one being a loose neutral then a spike can results which will blow any electronic circuitry that is not protected and protection does not come as standard.

 

Invest in the test gear as shown prior and not just at this guys house but anywhere you want to plug in your kit, test the power supplies.

 

Go to a DIY store and buy an RCD adaptor, plug in and then plug in your multi gang power lead that has inbuilt spike and transient circuitry.


Installing electrics, testing them and testing portable kit was part of my job when I was a Chief Engineer in the building industry.

 

Col

 

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Personally I wouldn't be using my gear in a place where I was getting regularly shocked by it.  Danger to yourself aside, that can't be good for the gear and I don't consider it my job to bring sacrificial gear to a situation where it's likely to get damaged.

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I was going to suggest picking up one of These yesterday but I chickened out because I AM NOT AN ELECTRICIAN, and grounding issues in house wiring are nothing to fool around with. But, since someone already mentioned installing a GFCI outlet I reconsidered. I would plug this into the suspect outlet and plug your least favorite keyboard into it. If it trips, get a licensed electrician to fix the house wiring.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

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Despite my "joke" above, this is a serious problem. 

If you can't find a safe place for the band to practice, let them all know why you won't be showing up. 

 

Back in the day, I had my face blown off a couple of times getting too close (or touching) a microphone while holding a guitar. Incorrect wiring was 100% of the problem. 

I saw a blue spark hit a friend in the lip, could smell the burnt moustache hair. He got too close to a mic and got hit. I had to cover lead vocals for half an hour while he went off to the restroom and puked. 

 

Wiring is not a "kinda ok" thing, it's either correct or it is dangerous. Don't play around with it. 

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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17 hours ago, EricBarker said:

 

I don't think he did his own electric. He built the house, but as far as I know he hired someone to do wiring.

 

And as others have said here, the results of contracted home work can vary wildly.  The contractor we hired to renovate our new place was our third choice; his was the only company available, vs. our first choice - which was two years out on projects (The second choice ghosted us, even after a positive '2nd date').  He and his crew did fine with drywall and interior trim plus a BA window replacement, but the electric was where things went south.  We hired in a competent, union electrician to set things straight. At least the contractor admitted to being in over his head and refunded us for his mistakes. 

14 hours ago, Konnector said:

Sounds like a grounding issue to me.

 

That makes sense.  Oddly enough, I had an experience like the OP's at the Guitar Center on Chicago's north side ( circa 1992) while auditioning a Roland D-70.

21 hours ago, timwat said:

I'm curious if this might be an insufficient power issue - in other words, an extended brownout. 

 

Could be a factor as well. Insufficient power does goofy stuff with electronic musical instruments. When I worked at TrippLite, in the mid 1990s, the staff was allowed to borrow products and testing equipment. I took home a variable voltage regulator, connected various keyboards and modules, then noted the results at different voltages.  My Korg M1 started going bonkers at 85V. The tuning drifted in odd ways, display read out in Japanese characters... It was kind of like having my old Memorymoog back.

While on a restaurant gig in 2019 my Stage 3, 76 got stuck in its power-up cycle, several times over.  My band mates were convinced the keyboard was broken, and the leader was having a hissy fit about my not having a suitable back-up keyboard in the car (my fault, though I did live 15 min. away). The Nord has been rock-solid reliable, so I suspected a voltage problem.  The club owner gladly ran an extension from my power strip to and outlet in the adjacent bar; problem solved.

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, KuruPrionz said:

Despite my "joke" above, this is a serious problem. 

If you can't find a safe place for the band to practice, let them all know why you won't be showing up. 

 

Back in the day, I had my face blown off a couple of times getting too close (or touching) a microphone while holding a guitar. Incorrect wiring was 100% of the problem. 

I saw a blue spark hit a friend in the lip, could smell the burnt moustache hair. He got too close to a mic and got hit. I had to cover lead vocals for half an hour while he went off to the restroom and puked. 

 

Wiring is not a "kinda ok" thing, it's either correct or it is dangerous. Don't play around with it. 


I knew a guy back in the day in Nashville that got shocked badly in the same situation, guitar touched a microphone and he literally couldn't move.

Our old frat band used to have to hook our distro box up to some pretty godawful frat house main power boxes.  I'm honestly surprised none of us were killed, thinking back.

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