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guitar EMI troubleshooting, help!


Dismay

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Ok, I'm getting ready to lay down guitar tracks, and am getting a horrible buzz from the pickups, If the guitar volume is on, I get buzz, If I turn off the volume, the buzz goes away. If I switch pickups the buzz changes sound. (this would lead me to believe that the noise is comming in through the pickups rather than the outlets) I have set up a home studio in the upper level of a duplex, the house is older and most of the outlets aren't 3 prong. There are a couple however that are, and it makes no difference which outlet I plug into, whether it's in the attic or the basement. I've tried turning off all the power circuts except for the one that the amp is plugged into. I've tried plugging into my UPS, unplugging it from the wall, and running off the battery. I can't seem to find where this interference is comming from. I've tried different guitars and different amps. And have all computer equipt off. Hmmm. I read somewhere about someone making a copper cage for the guitar player..... Hmmm. Any Idea's or help would be appreciated!

 

Jeremy Dallek

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What kind of guitar and pickups are you using? Are the pickups true single-coils, like on a vintage Strat (not hum-cancelling)? Also, does your amp have a ground switch that can be changed? Perhaps there is a problem with the ground wire inside your guitar. That should be checked. Tell us what you've got for pickups and if you've checked your guitar's and amp's ground, then we will try to help you troubleshoot the problem.
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Lisa's tips are right on... I'd add...

 

How are you recording? If you're using a PC, (or there's one on in the room, you're going to get a lot of noise from the monitor, even with humbuckers). If this is the case, try starting the recording and then turn your monitor off until the recording is done. Same with a TV.

 

I also get a lot of EM noise from my PA...

 

If you really can't stand it, and you're using single coil, strat type pickups, try replacing them with Fender's Vintage Noiseless. I have an American Deluxe Fat Strat with them in the neck and mid position, and I can stand right in front of my monitor with NO hum at all. Even when I still get hum from the "humbucker" in the bridge position.

 

I've also heard Kinman pickups have solved the "hum" problem... but I've only seen reviews on Harmony Central, not actually put them in any of my guitars.

 

guitplayer

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Originally posted by nuisancecrew@hotmail.com:

Ok, I'm getting ready to lay down guitar tracks, and am getting a horrible buzz from the pickups, If the guitar volume is on, I get buzz, If I turn off the volume, the buzz goes away. If I switch pickups the buzz changes sound. (this would lead me to believe that the noise is comming in through the pickups rather than the outlets)

 

A fairly sound deduction [no pun intended]. Now...chances are better than even that you're experiencing an 'RFI' problem rather than an 'EMI' problem. I was signed to EMI briefly in the '70s and it was no treat...but it didn't fuck up my guitar.

 

Couple things...when you change the position of the guitar [as in swing from due North to due East, etc.] does it change? If it does, then it's 'airborn'. You can attempt to find the source for the airborn interference, which can be as elusive as a neighbor's "SCR" dimmer.

 

If it doesn't change as you move the instrument, try Lisa's grounding things...you have less than zero to lose, and everything to gain. Another possibility is to run a metal "groundstrap" from the bridge of the instrument to a wristband [or in the case of one guitarist I heard of, to his 'nipple ring'...he only put the instrument down once without remembering to remove the ground wire...I don't even want to think of how much that hurt!!].

 

The 'copper cage' is called a "Faraday Cage", and they're kind of a pain in the ass to build. You have to build a cage that is entirely sealed, then drain that cage to a solid ground plane...like a cold water pipe or a copper stake you've driven 10-12 feet into the water table, whichever is closest.

 

When I've built them in the past I've done it out of 'copper screening' [similar to the shit in the screen door going to the front porch, but made out of copper], the solder the seams. The "door" should overlap a good amount, and attach to the rest of the cage at a minimum of several points. In other words, plan on being in there a while, I'd recommend bringing an empty 2 liter coke bottle [for the ladies, I'm afraid you'll have to work out your own 'aiming enablers', I've only had to deal with males in that situation...let's say setting a man up in a cage with 3 guitars, 2 amps, and a cooler with half a dozen sandwiches and a case of beer led to the coke bottle coming in handy].

 

You can only "pierce" the cage at one point, so all wires enter and exit at the same point [that includes, but is not limited to "AC" wires, guitar level wires, mic-wires, and any other damn wire you can think of. If you have more than one 'entry/exit' for the cabling, you can actually aggrevate the problem. Airborn shit is spooky on a good day to say the least.

 

Chances are you won't have to go that far...if you do, see if you can track in the basement, or at a friends house, or get a different guitar...maybe [gasp] hire a proper studio to cut guitar tracks?

 

-----

 

Fletcher

Mercenary Audio http://www.mercenary.com

Fletcher

Mercenary Audio

 

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