Hi all,

I am new to this forum (I am French, and live in Minneapolis).

I play since 20 years, mostly for myself in my tiny man cave . I used to have a couple of 50's/60's rock bands in France before I moved here.

My gear:

- Agile AL3100 P90
- Agile AL3010SE humbuckers (50's wiring)
- Fender Stratocaster Classic 50's w/ 57/62 pickups

My amp is a "hot rodded" Blackheart BH5H that has now a point-to-point board, NOS tubes (RCA/Ge tubes, including a GZ34 rectifier), plugged into a BH112 cab w/ a WGS Reaper speaker

My pedalboard is: Wilson WMA Wah -> Fulltone Deja Vibe Stereo -> Fulltone 69 MKII -> Fulltone OCD MKIV -> Malekko 616 delay -> Mr Black Deluxe Plus (reverb/tremolo)

Here is my "problem":

When I don't put my hand on any part that is grounded (strings, tuner pegs, stop bar, etc.) there is a slight buzz.
I can ear it especially with the AL w/ humbuckers, as they are by nature quieter (to other parasitic noises) when string/stop bar are touched... so it is more obvious when I get my hands off any grounded parts.
I can ear it also on the strat' or the P90 AL, but it is less obvious, as the single coils are noisy by nature.

Now I know it is not a missing ground problem (or the noise would be worse if I touch a metal part on the guitar, right ?), and I know that every guitar, even loaded with humbuckers is subject to that king of noise... depending of where you play, the electrical installation and such (BTW, my amp is plugged on a properly grounded prong).

What is weird, is that when I don't touch any grounded part on my gear (on the guitar, or on my pedalboard, or my amp chassis and such), but I touch other thing that are grounded in my room (and again, they are NOT linked to any part of my gear !), the buzz stops !

I found that if I get my guitar further from my body (when using a strap), and I don't touch any grounded part, the buzz is quieter.

So, should I conclude that my body acts like an antenna, and brings that noise even when I am NOT touching any grounded part of the guitar ?

Any idea of how to deal with that ? shielding the cavities with copper tape ?

I've checked all the guitars' wiring... no cold solder joints, no missing grounds, etc.

Thanks for your help
You've been playing for 20 years and just realized that when you take your hands off the strings/bridge you get a buzz?

The solution to that buzz is to play the guitar.
Last edited by cheesefries at Jun 16, 2014,
Yeah, it depends on the pickups. Even if they're humbuckers, they can still hum. My old LTD m-10 hums. Playing further away from the amp could reduce the hum but as the post above said, the solution is to just play as the hum goes away and to mute the strings when you're not playing.
Quote by cheesefries
You've been playing for 20 years and just realized that when you take your hands off the strings/bridge you get a buzz?

The solution to that buzz is to play the guitar.

Well, I've been playing since 20 years in France, where everything is 220v, well grounded (at least, where I use to live... brand new apartment, thick stones/bricks walls, brand new clean electrical installation, etc.) ... so yeah, since I just moved to my house in the US, this phenomenon is pretty new to me

Like I said, I know that most guitars can buzz, even with humbuckers... I was just surprised by how it changes even if I touch something grounded that is NOT on the guitar...

If I touch somewhere near the jack socket on the guitar (on the wood !), the buzz gets louder... I am no physician, I am an amateur self-learned DIY, I didn't really know that your body can emit/radiate parasitic waves like that (well, like a big capacitor).

I also know that I just have to play... I am just curious about the phenomenon, and wonder if shielding the potz cavities can help ? (better than the usual graphite paint ?)
Last edited by TheDams at Jun 16, 2014,
Some combinations of guitar/amp/pedals hum, some don’t. Some of said combinations pick up RF interference, some don’t. I have two Ampeg amps right next to each other. The tube guitar amp is dead silent unless I plug in a certain overdrive pedal. The solid state bass amp makes everything sound like an ungrounded Chinese strat copy on one input and the other is dead silent. Circuits are funky things.

Sure, my amp is not the quietest ever... and that noise is not that bothering as I just have to play.

Oh well, I'll try to shield the cavities next weekend, and see if it improves from here.
Have you tried a new/better guitar cable?
Try plugging the amp into a different outlet in the room and in the house and see if that works.

Are there any other lights or appliances plugged in? unplug everything and see if it gets better.

It is not uncommon to have dirty power in your house. I highly suggest you get one of these and you can test all of your outlets and know they are wired correctly.
2002 PRS CE22
2013 G&L ASAT Deluxe
2009 Epiphone G-400 (SH-4)
Marshall JCM2000 DSL100
Krank 1980 Jr 20watt
Krank Rev 4x12 (eminence V12)
GFS Greenie/Digitech Bad Monkey
Morley Bad Horsie 2
MXR Smart Gate
Like Rob said - try a different cable.

Your amp could have a grounding or other el. issue, since everything hums.

And finally - it could be a house wiring issue or bad power from the company.

By order of expense:

1. Plug in at someone else's house.
2. Try different guitar cable.
3. Have the amp checked.
Sorry for the late thanks, I'm just coming back from work...

So, further investigations:

- cables are OK. Evidence Melody instruments/amp cables and Evidence Monorail patches. All tested with DMM and ok.
- guitars are OK, especially grounding (or the noise wouldn't disappear when I touch sonething grounded).
- Plugged in bathroom, where grounding is supposed to be good (with these "test/reset" prongs). Same thing, amp is a little bit less noisy, I suppose because bathroom has less parasitic stuff around.
- I checked my amp, which is a pretty simple 5W class A build (ptp board), all the grounds are fine. Solder joints look good, shinny and clean. I also tried, just to be sure, other tubes... no change, except that I found that one of my GE Blackplate is slightly microphonic .

As far as I can tell, I guess it is just myself acting as a poor antenna in my attic, where electrical installation/isolation is unfortunately not very good... prongs are grounded, but there are wire running in the ceiling (lights) and I suspect other badly isolated stuffs that potentially emit some sh*tty waves.

I might act as a big capacitor, emitting parasitic "radiations", and when I touch something grounded, I ground myself... then bye-bye buzzz, et voila .

Any other opinion ?
Ok, I'm back after a 1 week camping trip in South Dakota .

Problem solved !
As I suspected, it is not a grounding problem (actually, it is in a way: I should be grounded !). It is me acting as an antenna.

I spent 1 hour shielding the cavities (potz, toggle, jack), it took me time as I wanted a neat job.

Hum is gone
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
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I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

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Et tu, br00tz?
That's a happy ending. Sometimes there is more going on. I had the same thing happening - touch the guitar and the hum goes away. In my flat, none of the outlets are grounded. I'm actually playing into a DI box and computer now. I was at the point of desperation, when I decided to ground everything to the aluminum window frame with an alligator clip. It worked. It certainly can't be a good DC ground, but apparently makes some kind of connection with the concrete in the building.

The guitar I'm using doesn't have cavity shields, but I always install it on all my guitars if it doesn't have it. I just can't find the shield material right now so it wasn't an option.