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Old 02-06-2013, 01:17 PM   #1
Reddaz
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Unhappy Anyone else shocked when they play and sing?

Do any other bassists get shocked when touching their instrument and mic and the same time, or send out small shocks to other guitarists if both are holding instruments?

This is a problem that seems to plague my band practices, and I've tried with a various combinations of active/passive basses, different jack leads and different power leads (UK 3pin btw). I thought it was my half stack for a long while, but I've tried an old practice combo and its the same thing!

It's also persisted from practice room to practice room, even at home! I've tried from The guitarists in the band don't get this problem, and nor have I experienced it playing guitar and singing myself, so I am presuming its just a bass thing? Shall I just give up and get a wireless or does anyone have any suggestions?
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:26 PM   #2
eddiehimself
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It's a problem with grounding. Your bass amp or microphone mixer may have a ground lift switch on it. If this is the case, switch ONE of them to lift (not both). That should solve your problem. Otherwise, you'll just have to try not touching your microphone.
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:33 PM   #3
Reddaz
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I've thought this, but the Ground Lift switch doesn't seem to make any difference to the level of shock or any ground hum, should open her up and take a look?

I mainly play active basses so could it be some sort of polarity issue?
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:49 PM   #4
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Try moving your mixer, pedals and amp all to different plugs. This used to happen to me and my guitarist when we were all on the same power strip.
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Old 02-07-2013, 10:20 AM   #5
amimbari
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beyond honestly trying to find out where the ground fault is, there are 2 quick and easy ways to stop it.

#1 put a wind-sock over the mic so you are not grounding to it with your lips.
#2 buy a wireless.

remember you may have that happen in a bar somewhere and have no control over the issue, a wireless eliminates all of that, and in a pinch so does a wind-sock on the mic.
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Old 02-07-2013, 10:32 AM   #6
ddhm
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The ground lift switch(s) you are flipping might be signal ground and not AC ground. You have an AC ground issue my friend not a signal one.
My 1st course of action would be to go to Home Depot and buy one of those circuit checkers... they are a buck or 2 and plug into the Edison socket. They test that the correct lines are on the correct posts in the Edison plug.
Second, verify that ALL the AC cords have grounds intact.
Lastly, It could be that a piece of gear has a chassis ground issue someplace and it has nothing to do with the AC wiring of your room/house.
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Old 02-07-2013, 10:34 AM   #7
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Ps. Putting a windscreen or sock over the mic is NOT fixing the problem. I have heard tales of that kind of problem getting much worse and musicians being injured by the shock. Fix the problem... do NOT put a band-aid on it. Well, unless you want to run the risk... that's up to you.
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Old 02-07-2013, 10:46 AM   #8
amimbari
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p.p.s I did not say it would solve the problem, it is just an easy way to continue on without risking shock for that session. Quit twisting words around.

But now that you brought it up.... he would also have to take a VOM and see how much voltage is leaking back into the mic from his guitar if it is minor or major.

Your suggestion of using a tester is grand, but here is the issue:
What if the tester shows a fault?
Is he going to tell the homeowner he will not play there anymore until they fix the wiring? Does his band go into the bar he is booked into and check the outlets with a tester while setting up?

AND what if the wiring at the bar is detected as faulty when the band gets there? does the band cancel the show and walk out the door?

What about the high paying gig outdoors running on a generator where you feel a slight buzz on your lips....with your reasoning, just another instance of " We are cancelling the show until you fix the wiring sir, sorry"

buy a wireless, problem solved on many levels, especially when you cannot do anything about it.
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Old 02-07-2013, 11:10 AM   #9
Reddaz
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Thanks for all the replies guys, I've ran some tests changing every single factor, that is:
Different basses with active/passive pick-ups,
Swapping Uber powered Half stack with a moderate combo,
Different mic's,
Different mixing desks,
Different power leads to amps,
Different jack leads and mic cables,
Different rooms in different buildings,
Sharing/not sharing the same extension or wall socket,

Essentially the only constant in every test is me touching a bass with 1 hand and feeling the buzz of electric on a mic as I touch it with the other hand. Neither of the guitarists experience this problem with their amps in the same situation so I'm stumped! I'm just going to put it down to a whole lot of bad luck in buying gear (all brand new and PAT tested I might add!), and just give in and buy a wireless when we start gigging again!

Thanks for the feedback!
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amimbari
p.p.s I did not say it would solve the problem, it is just an easy way to continue on without risking shock for that session. Quit twisting words around.

But now that you brought it up.... he would also have to take a VOM and see how much voltage is leaking back into the mic from his guitar if it is minor or major.

Your suggestion of using a tester is grand, but here is the issue:
What if the tester shows a fault?
Is he going to tell the homeowner he will not play there anymore until they fix the wiring? Does his band go into the bar he is booked into and check the outlets with a tester while setting up?

AND what if the wiring at the bar is detected as faulty when the band gets there? does the band cancel the show and walk out the door?

What about the high paying gig outdoors running on a generator where you feel a slight buzz on your lips....with your reasoning, just another instance of " We are cancelling the show until you fix the wiring sir, sorry"

buy a wireless, problem solved on many levels, especially when you cannot do anything about it.


Hostile much? Look man, I wasn't saying that you were saying "a windscreen is the fix". I was simply saying that is isn't the real fix. Don't take it personal. I thought that the O.P. was working in his house. Not the stage. I could be wrong.

After a brief re-read, it seems that he was talking about his OWN gear here brother. I'll tellya what, I'll go on your tangent.

Here's an idea: Find a plug that's wired properly and plug into that. One could use that tester I mentioned (a 2$ thing), go buy a decent wireless mic ($600), plug into a $1500 Monster power conditioner or buy a $20,000 3 phase distro system. Whatever, I'd rather start with the $2 myself.

Just be sure to get a new mic if you take that route. Lots of people are unloading all the "recently taken by emergency services" frequency stuff. That's why it's so cheap. Also, that $2 tester might save your $600 mic from being fried down the road. At least he'd know that it's not his power, right? I know that I carry one in my bass case as well as my workbox while I'm on the road.

As an audio engineer and audio visual installler, there is no way I would allow my gear to shock someone. Perhaps I'm the exception and not the rule but I doubt it. If you are playing in a place that has a sound man and he's worth his salt, you won't have that problem. I do however know that some small club owner doesn't give a crap. I do know that you aren't gonna cancel a gig. However, that high paying gig you mentioned should include a high paid sound company... they almost always do. You could then go to that mediocre paid audio engineer (we don't often make as much as you think) and tell him that you are being shocked. If he doesn't fix it, I would then go to the host and let them know. They should then call his boss and have it straightened out. That's how high paid gigs go. I mean, do you think that the audio company wants to run the risk of frying the bride or C.E.O.? Usually, it's a simple call to the guy that they rented the generator from and have him either sink a new ground, change the output of the generator or properly connect the tails.

Sure, he could meter the voltage on the mic. Here's the problem with that: it could change at any moment. The potential is there. How do I know? Because it's not supposed to pass voltage at all. If any is passing, more certainly can. That's how voltage works man. It flows like water. It finds it's way to the ground via the path of least resistance. Sometimes that's via the bassists face. Aside from that, what do you really think that the insulative properties of a wind screen are? It's foam. Not very dense foam either. They are VERY conductive when it gets a little spittle or sweat on it. Water being highly conductive and all. Just a thought.

All in all, yes. You do stop the show until it's fixed. That's what soundchecks are for. To find the problems before the show. I guess that the band you mentioned should have showed up early and done a soundcheck.

Now, back to the OP. It seems that he found a way he liked. However, logic dictates that there is something that he missed. I simply cannot imagine a situation that every single component is changed (including location) and yet the problem persists. It just isn't possible. There is still a common thread somewhere.

Oh wait, I got it, you are cursed. You either need more or less strings, man. It's the only way. I can help you. I've seen this before. You must first sacrifice a mid 80s Harmony bass in front of a picture of Cliff Burton. Then go outside, kneel and prey aloud to Jaco "Oh lord of low end, crafter of solos, PURGE THIS AFFLICTION FROM ME!" After that, get a new bass with more or less strings. Go quickly and spend hastily!
5. Profit?
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Old 02-08-2013, 05:10 AM   #11
Phil Starr
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You do need to sort this problem, though it sounds as if you have tried the right things and are treating this sensibly. From the reference to PAT testing I'm guessing you are based in the UK.

It is never OK for gear to give you a shock. It could injure you and, rarely, it could end in your death. Any shock however mild is a sign of a fault in your gear or in the mains wiring. Usually this will be in the earth wiring which your safety depends upon.

The most common cause of mic shocks is a floating earth problem where the PA is plugged in to a different circuit in the building and the earths are at a different potential. The second most common problem is where some part of the internal wiring in an amp is touching something it shoudn't, usually part of the casing. Either way there is a fault in the earth circuit as well or you would blow a fuse.

So somewhere you have an earth problem or a shorting problem or both. PAT testing should have shown either but even the best engineers miss things and faults can develop the day after a test. Sod's law operates here.

So for the OP I'm afraid you have to go back and check everything again, I can't tell you how often I have missed the obvious fault.

For anyone else reading this,

never accept shocks as normal or OK

never play if your socket tester says the wiring is faulty. and yes, be prepared to end the set if you are getting shocks and it can't be fixed.


And finally please don't give safety advice over the internet unless you are absolutely sure you know what you are talking about, giving advice that can result in someone's death or injury isn't the same as advising them on which strings to use or how to play metal.

More info here http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/colu..._your_life.html
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Old 02-09-2013, 04:24 PM   #12
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Old 02-09-2013, 11:16 PM   #13
christianonbass
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I got shocked very severely about 30 years ago. I have never sung back-up again. Seriously, I can't. That messed me up and now I have a phobia of microphones. The freaking sound man had me keep checking to see if it were fixed and I got shocked again! Then during sound check he said I needed to get closer to the mike because he can't hear me. I swear I got about 6 inches from the mike and it was like a magnet. I got zapped so freakin' hard I was on the ground...thanks for bringing back my repressed memories
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Old 02-10-2013, 07:24 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by christianonbass
I got shocked very severely about 30 years ago. I have never sung back-up again. Seriously, I can't. That messed me up and now I have a phobia of microphones. The freaking sound man had me keep checking to see if it were fixed and I got shocked again! Then during sound check he said I needed to get closer to the mike because he can't hear me. I swear I got about 6 inches from the mike and it was like a magnet. I got zapped so freakin' hard I was on the ground...thanks for bringing back my repressed memories

I've always used pop shields whenever possible.
When in HMforces in the 60s I was stationed in Cyprus you could even get a belt off the guitar pickups if you brushed against them with the soft skin of you wrist.

IF IN DOUBT GET YOUR GEAR CHECKED!
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Old 02-10-2013, 09:40 AM   #15
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Could be many things. Just have your gear checked (bass, mic, amp, mixer) in that order. And always try to use different plugs if possible.
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Old 02-10-2013, 03:34 PM   #16
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The only advice anyone should be giving is not to use it until it has been checked out and passed by a qualified engineer!
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Old 02-15-2013, 01:26 AM   #17
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I thought you meant shocked in excitment....like finally being your own Gene Simmons or Geddy Lee...
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