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can a distortion pedal make my amp buzz??


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I have a mustang that I had a JB installed about 1 year ago. Last night while playing i heard a low buzzing between songs but only when I had my distortion pedal on and it stopped when I touched anything metal on the guitar. There is no buzz at all when I turn the pedal off. Is this the distortion pedal or has something gone wrong in the wiring? Maybe a ground issue? Thnaks

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I have a mustang that I had a JB installed about 1 year ago. Last night while playing i heard a low buzzing between songs but only when I had my distortion pedal on and it stopped when I touched anything metal on the guitar. There is no buzz at all when I turn the pedal off. Is this the distortion pedal or has something gone wrong in the wiring? Maybe a ground issue? Thnaks

Sounds like bad grounding if it stops when you touch the strings/bridge etc. The distortion pedal just makes it more obvious, because it distorts everything that comes in to it. The noise is probably there whithout the pedal on, just alot quieter.

Try using a different guitar to see if thats the problem. Do you have grounded wall sockets? If thats whats its called(im Norwegian). Does the amp have a grounded power cable?

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Sounds like bad grounding if it stops when you touch the strings/bridge etc. The distortion pedal just makes it more obvious, because it distorts everything that comes in to it. The noise is probably there whithout the pedal on, just alot quieter.

Try using a different guitar to see if thats the problem. Do you have grounded wall sockets? If thats whats its called(im Norwegian). Does the amp have a grounded power cable?

I would agree with that. The distortion pedal is likely boosting a noise issue with your guitar. If it was the pedal, touching the strings shouldn't impact it. From what I understand it is normal for noise to go down when you touch the strings. That usually means your ground is ok. If it got noisier or buzzed when you touched the strings or anything metal, then that would point to a ground problem. Shielding could help reduce noise. Are you usually by a TV or computer when you play? Did you try a different outlet? Do you use a power filter for your amp and pedals? You could be picking up interference from any of those things.

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So I strapped on my other guitar, which is just an old Harmony, and it has the same buzz or hiss or whatever you want to call it as my Mustang. Also on the Harmony guitar the buzz stops when I touch something metal on it or turn the distortion pedal off. I just noticed on the Mustang that when I turn both PUPs off with the the pickup switches that it has a slight hiss then too. When I switch the PUPs on the hiss, or buzz stops until I step on the distortion. Any replies??? Thanks

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So I strapped on my other guitar, which is just an old Harmony, and it has the same buzz or hiss or whatever you want to call it as my Mustang. Also on the Harmony guitar the buzz stops when I touch something metal on it or turn the distortion pedal off. I just noticed on the Mustang that when I turn both PUPs off with the the pickup switches that it has a slight hiss then too. When I switch the PUPs on the hiss, or buzz stops until I step on the distortion. Any replies??? Thanks

Is your Mustang shielded? It can pick up the same noise as the other guitar. Did you try an outlet in a different room to see if it could be related to electrical noise? Is your treble set at max? I get noise with my pedals more with high treble.

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Is your Mustang shielded? It can pick up the same noise as the other guitar. Did you try an outlet in a different room to see if it could be related to electrical noise? Is your treble set at max? I get noise with my pedals more with high treble.

Yeah its got the copper shields. I also noticed today that when I turn the tone knob on my mustang all the down then there is no buzz. I usually keep it almost all the way up. The treble on my amp is at 9. It goes to 12.

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Yeah its got the copper shields. I also noticed today that when I turn the tone knob on my mustang all the down then there is no buzz. I usually keep it almost all the way up. The treble on my amp is at 9. It goes to 12.

If I am right (and I am sure someone will pop on if I'm not :)) a lot of noice is high range so more treble makes it more audible. Distortion pedals and gain often boost high end tone making the sound more shrill so it would make sense that it would amplify noise. Traditional Mustang shielding is a metal plate at the bottom of the pickup cavity. It is better than nothing, but not the same as having the whole cavity shielded. Most use copper foil that sticks like tape or shielding paint. You could check the ground wire for the bridge and make sure it is connected at the bridge and at the pot, but it sounds more like a shielding issue than a ground issue.

"if touching the strings improves the situation, then it is usually an electric field issue. grounding and/or shielding is inadequate"

"with a noisy outlet or noisy room (rf-wise) hum can be very annoying. Single coils with high gain and some outlet noise or regular rf noise will sound like powertools."

"So, why does the noise get quieter (or, sometimes, louder) when I touch the strings?

I've been answering that question for many years and as often as not it seems like a lot of folks just didn't get it. I think I've finally figured out why. Most folks seem to be looking at the situation backwards. They say things like, "well, when I ground the strings by touching them..." Except in some extremely rare circumstances the human body makes a lousy ground for noise. In fact, it is almost always more accurate to consider the human body a big bucket of noise! Very rarely is a person effectively grounded (how often do you play standing barefoot on a metal plate or with one hand wrapped around a water pipe?), and even when part of them is grounded internal and skin resistance will separate other parts of their body from ground.

You may be grounded well enough to be electrocuted by high voltage and still remain a noise source, instead of a ground for noise! Ohms law tells us that the current through a conductor is related to the resistance of the conductor and the voltage applied. It only takes a few milliamps to stop the heart, and it takes about 100 volts to push that much current through the middle of your body in most circumstances. So, a person's resistance may be low enough and they may be grounded well enough that a high voltage can push a lethal current through them while they remain a source of noise.

The noise (usually) gets quieter when a person touches their guitar strings because the strings are grounding the player! Almost all guitars have a wire that connects the bridge (or tremelo claw) to the ground terminal of the output jack so that the strings are gounded. When someone picks up the guitar and holds it close to them, that person's body is acting as a radiator or reflector of noise in the vicinity, "concentrating" it, if you will, close to the guitar's pickups. Then, when they touch the strings their body is suddenly much better grounded, shunting noise to ground. They go from being a radiator or reflector to being a shield. How much the noise is reduced depends on the person's internal and skin resistance – a person with high resistance may still be concentrating a bit of noise around the pickups while a person of low resistance may completely shunt the noise to ground.

If the strings are not grounded, the noise will usually actually get louder when someone touches the strings because the strings act like very good radiators to concentrate the noise from the person's body right over the pickups. If the player's body was grounding the strings, the noise would get quieter when the player touched the strings, even if there was no bridge ground wire!

Now, I realize that this may be more of a paradigm shift than some folks are able to accept, so here's a little experiment you can run to demonstrate these facts for yourself. The experiment doesn't require anything but an amplifier and an instrument cord.

Plug the instrument cord into the amp.

Make sure that the amp is plugged into a properly wired mains socket.

Turn the amp on and the gain up high.

If it's a tube amp give it a few moments to warm up.

Dress as you would normally dress to play and sit or stand where you would normally play (i.e. no sitting bare-nekid on the radiator).

Take the free end of the cord in your hands, being careful not to touch the metal plug shell (if it has a metal shell) or the long ground shank of the plug (there is no hazard here, we just don't want to be touching it right now).

Touch just the very tip of the plug lightly with your finger.

Did the noise get louder?

If your body were a ground for noise, the noise would have gotten quieter!

Now move your finger so that it is lightly touching both the tip and the ground shank of the plug.

The noise level should change – how much it changes is a function of your skin resistance. For most people the noise level will drop but will still be louder than when they weren't touching the tip at all.

Now, wrap your hand tightly around the plug so as much of your bare skin is in contact with both the tip and ground as possible.

The noise level should drop some.

Again, how much it drops is a function of skin resistance.

Lastly, if you are near your computer monitor or a television, touch just the tip of the plug again then reach over with your other hand and lay the palm flat against the screen of the monitor (while it's on).

The noise should get much louder as your hand approaches the monitor face. This is demonstrating that your body is "channeling" noise.

Once one realizes that they are not grounding the strings when they touch them, one can begin to understand the noise problem better. Now one can see why the noise getting louder as one touches the strings is indicative of either a missing or broken string ground wire or of the wires to the output jack being reversed. (With reversed output wires, touching the strings is exactly like touching the tip of the plug in the experiment above.)"

http://www.guitarnuts.com/technical/noisebucket.php

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Like I said before both of my guitars have a slight humming sound when I step on the distortion pedal to turn it on. Both of them do not hum when the distortion is off. When the distortion pedal is on and I touch the strings and/or bridge on both guitars the humming stops. Since both guitars are doing it this should mean it is not an issue with my mustang right???? when the distortion is on, if I turn the tone knob down the humming stops on both guitars. I usually keep the tone almost all the way up on both guitars.

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Like I said before both of my guitars have a slight humming sound when I step on the distortion pedal to turn it on. Both of them do not hum when the distortion is off. When the distortion pedal is on and I touch the strings and/or bridge on both guitars the humming stops. Since both guitars are doing it this should mean it is not an issue with my mustang right???? when the distortion is on, if I turn the tone knob down the humming stops on both guitars. I usually keep the tone almost all the way up on both guitars.

It is most likely noise in the power or your pickups are picking up noise nearby. Try moving your things to a different room and see if using a different outlet helps.

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  • 2 years later...

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