Seeing as there are many elements surrounding the entire guitar system, right from the instrument to the amplifier, it is expected that at some point or other, you will have to deal with a fussy amp. Below are some possible causes and how to fix them.
Nothing quite pierces the atmosphere than an awesome electric guitar that is backed by a powerful amplifier, and in the same breath, nothing is quite s irritating and as disturbing as a distorted amplifier that produces an unwanted buzzing sound.
The truth, however, is that every amplifier will produce some form of buzzing or other when it is on. This buzz or hum may get a little too loud or intense though, and this may be quite uncomfortable to deal with.
So, what could be causing this irritating hum?
More often than not, the hum on a guitar could be cause by the type of pickup, guitar cabling, your pedal or the grounding on your guitar.
In the section below, we explore each of these reasons and see how to fix them in case they are what you are dealing with.
Identifying the reason for Amp buzz and fixing it
While the buzz on your amplifier could be traced to a myriad of troubles that can be hard to identify, you will find that there are several troubles that are almost always common, and they are documented below.
The type of pickup you are using
You may be surprised to learn that the actual reason for the buzzing in your amplifier is actually from the guitar, and not the amplifier itself.
The type of pickup is almost always the reason for a buzz on your amplifier, especially if you are using a single coil pickup. While it is not a particularly loud buzzing, it is definitely noticeable and could cause you to assume that the amplifier has some sort of problem or other.
You will notice the buzz get a lot more pronounced when the gain knob is actually turned up, or when you turn on distortion.
The buzzing gets louder because the pickup starts to works as an antenna does, and it tends to pick up on all sorts of electromagnetic interference from the surrounding environment.
If you want to get rid of this hum, you may want to use a humbucker pickup which is made to have very little or no buzzing at all since they are created to actually cancel out the effect of electromagnetic humming, allowing for your amplifier to remain quiet.
In case you want to stick to single coil pickups, you may want to upgrade to a more expensive one that is made to keep the hum quite low. However, it is important that you bear in mind that all sorts of single coil pickups will produce some sort of hum.
Aside from the type of pickup you are using, another common reason for constant humming on your amplifier could easily be the shielding.
To make certain that this is the problem, listen keenly to the sound produced and to the intensity of hum on the amp every time you touch the strings, or any other metallic part on the guitar that is connected in some way or other to the electronics.
If you notice that this is the cause for unwanted buzzing, you need to cover all the cavities in the inside of the guitar using copper tape.
You should also check the state of the electronics within the guitar to make certain that everything is exactly where it should be. If you have faulty wires, go on and have them replaced.
When this is done, you are unlikely to hear any form of interference or buzzing in the amplifier.
The grounding on your guitar
When the grounding on the guitar is poor or faulty, the buzzing effect works in reverse as when the shielding has a problem.
The buzzing is more often than not constant, and it is quite loud and unpleasant. When you touch the strings or any other metallic part on your guitar, you will notice that the buzzing ceases immediately, but resumes as soon as you let go.
If this is the trouble with your guitar, you may be experiencing a case of a lose grounding wire. To solve this problem, you need to have this wire soldered.
If you are using a Gibson guitar, you may have to take it to a professional since the grounding wire is more often than not located in the tailpiece, and it may be quite the challenge to access and repair it yourself.
Faulty Guitar Cable
While unwanted buzzing can prove to be an impossibly difficult and annoying issue, it may surprise you to learn that something as simple as the cabling on your guitar could well be the reason for your troubles.
To check whether the cable is the problem, try and use a different one if you have one. If you do not, try and bend your cable when the volume is turned up, and if it the buzzing increases or reduces, you will know exactly what you are dealing with.
If the cable is faulty, you can try and re-solder it in place. If you find the process a little complicated, get a skilled person or a professional to do it for you.
Eventually, the trouble may just be your amplifier after all. This small device is made up of a myriad of electrical systems, and just one fault could mean the difference between a simple buzz and an overly loud buzz.
If you are unable to identify the source of trouble within the amp, it is advisable that you actually take it to a professional for proper assessment and fixing. Otherwise, you may try to handle an issue with which you are not conversant and end up ruining it further. Get a professional to look at it to avoid having to replace it altogether.
Summary of Amplifier Troubles and their possible solutions
Type of pickup
Upgrading to humbucker pickups or better quality single coil pickups
Covering all cavities inside guitar using coper tape
Poor guitar grounding
Re-soldering the grounding wire
Faulty guitar cable
Resoldering cable, or having professional look at it
Have a professional assess and fix it
Simple as they may look, a guitar and amplifier are two individual components that are pretty complicated, what with the myriad of parts and electrical connections.
One of the most unwanted effects on an amplifier is overly loud and irritating buzzing, especially when you are trying to get prepared for a gig.
Unfortunately, the cause for this buzzing could be just about anything, and it is actually possible to have faults from multiple parts. The good news is that it is not too hard to identify the source of the problem.
Additionally, you can actually repair most of the issues yourself, but if they prove too complicated, it would be best to consult with a professional for help.
Can my pedal cause a buzzing noise?
Yes, if you have a pedal, it is quite possible for it to cause a buzzing sound. You may notice a hissing when the volume is high, or when the gain knob is turned up. If this is the problem, you may have to replace the faulty pedal altogether.
Can the vacuums on my tube amp be the problem?
Yes, they can. Make sure that they are working as they should.