First, I'm (obviously) a noob...

I've basically had this problem since day one, but it became even more pronounced when I recently got rid of a Line 6 amp and got a Marshall. Maybe it's just coincidence, but I thought I should throw that fact in here.

What happens is that anytime I'm playing on the dirty channel, one or two of the open strings (NOTE - strings that I am NOT fretting or even strumming) make a ringing noise. This mostly happens on the low E, especially if I am playing a nearby string (for example, playing power chords on the 4th & 5th strings). It also sometimes happens on the G string, again especially if I am playing other strings down in that area.

I am able to find a TON of articles online about strings "buzzing", but they all seem to be referring to the strings that you are fretting and/or strumming and seem to be in regards to the noise that you accidentally make when you take your fingers off of a string that you've just picked (i.e. unintentionally perform a pull-off).

I'm not talking about strings that I'm playing making noise. I'm referring to strings that I am NOT playing making a ringing or humming noise that seems to be due to the soundwaves from the strings that I AM playing hitting them or something. Like a "sympathy ring", if that makes sense.

I only found a couple of articles online about this specific issue, and both didn't go into a lot of detail - basically said to wrap your thumb over the top of the neck to mute the E string, and/or use your palm to mute any string that's ringing out. I REALLY hope that there's a better (easier) solution out there, since it's hard enough for me as a beginner to fret the correct strings somewhat quickly - if I have to add muting annoying ringy strings with other fingers, it's going to be even harder.

Could the way that I'm picking have anything to do with it? Am I somehow creating bigger 'soundwaves' that are hitting those other strings that I'm not touching?

Also wondering if maybe I'm not stringing my guitar very well, and if that could be causing some of this. I've only done it a couple of times, but I notice that I end up only having a couple of loops around the tuning peg - seems like every new guitar that I've seen has had at least 4 or 5 loops around the peg. Maybe not having the right level of tension on the strings makes them more prone to "singing" when they catch reverb from the strings that are getting picked?

Sorry for the long post, and hope it makes sense. It's probably hilarious to those of you who know what you're doing, but man, I'm beating my head against the wall on this issue. Getting frustrating to the point where I find myself not looking forward to practicing. The ringing hum starts with the first note I hit, and by the time I get to the middle of the song, it's gotten so loud that it's all I can hear. I'm sure that I'm just sensitive to it, and paying more attention to the sound that I wish wasn't there than the actual notes being played, but dang.

First, you must figure out what's going on - is it technique or feedback? If it only happens with the dirty channel and it gets progressively louder, it might just be feedback. If you turn the sound level way down does it go away or continue happening?

Posting a video or sound file of this would help figuring it out...

If it is not feedback and just sympathetic ringing of open undamped strings, does this also happen when not going through the dirty channel? Very low sound level? Unplugged? If not, it might be feedback.

First thing to determine what is going on... then solutions may be considered.
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
A video or audio file would help definitively determine the issue, but it sounds like it's probably sympathetic vibrations.  Still try what Paul suggested to rule out other possibilities.  If it is sympathetic vibrations, there are a few things that could influence this to some degree, aside from just the resonating frequencies of the body. One thing to check is your tuning pegs.  They might be slightly loose.  Next time it happens, try holding the pegs or the keys (the knobs you turn to tune) to see if it makes it stop.  And having 2 or 3 loops around the peg versus 4 or 5 won't really make any difference here.  Another possibility is the height of your pickups.  Or it might be an imperfect nut.  Honestly though, your best bet is to learn muting.  But since you're just starting out, you can cheat a little until you get more used to the guitar: Put a hairband around the neck near the nut or tie a cloth around it to mute it.  But once you get more comfortable, you should remove it and learn to mute properly yourself.
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
If its humming/ringing then you aren't muting the strings. Strings not being played always need to be muted .

Typically while playing your palm needs to be muting strings above the one you are playing and your index should be muting those below, you'll find different ways of muting as you get used to it. You should be able to find plenty of resources online about muting.
I think that string muting is your problem, and that its use absolutely essential for good electric guitar technique. You need to learn to use both your picking and fretting hands for muting. Have a listen to the first couple of bars of this, it sounds easy, but I can't do it: