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Grounding my Fender Strat


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Hey all,

 

I have a Fender Strat (used, mexican-built) and my pickups are buzzing (less so, if I play with two pickups selected at once). I've been told that I should line the inside pick guard (am I using the right term here?) with copper foil (the self-adhesive stuff can be found for a very good price at any gardening shop, actually!) so as to reduce hum by keeping everything more grounded.

 

Does anyone have any experience in doing this? Is it a major job? Any soldering? I don't mind soldering, just curious. I just want to be able to get a better tone. I know grounding won't change my tone, directly, but it will allow me to use more settings without worrying about keeping the buzz down, and I've heard it opens up the high end moreso.

 

Help?

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I saw a photo once of David Rhodes in a studio, barefoot with a wire attached to his toe for grounding during recording (not sure what the other end of the wire was attached to). I've never tried it, but I wonder if that would work. Just don't electrocute yourself!

 

Another thing that might be rudimentary but I didn't know about until I read it somewhere is to try rotating the guitar (and yourself) to face different directions (eg. North, East, etc.). I've tried that and it can reduce the hum dramatically once you find the right orientation.

 

Good luck.

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No problem. Yeah, I'm not a "real guitarist" so I don't know how common knowledge that is. :)

 

I'm interested in a better solution too, as charming as that 60Hz buzz is in all my recordings (and I'm armed with a soldering iron, with dangerously little knowledge of how to properly use it!).

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You want to go to GuitarNuts to find out about this. Great site.

 

I've played Fenders longer than I care to admit, and sometimes their noise from RF interference is really bad. Single-coil pickups are susceptible to it. Dual-coils like Humbucking/Humbuckers are designed to minimize it, the same way balanced cables cancel noise compared to unbalanced cables. Reorienting yourself from whatever's producing the EM field will reduce it, but you'll never get rid of it without some serious effort. Shielding the pickguard alone will not stop it. You've got to shield the electronics completely, from all angles. This takes some doing, but makes an enormous difference.

 

I bought a new Strat in 2001. The first time I fired it up I was amazed at the noise it had. It made my '64 Tele seem downright quiet, which is saying something. In fact, I first thought my cord was going bad. When I realized it was the guitar, I was not happy. Back at the store, however, every other Strat I tried did the same thing.

 

I found GuitarNuts in my search for a solution. I read everything carefully, decided I could do it, bought materials from Stewart-MacDonald, and took the plunge.

 

Two pictures are attached to this message.

 

The shielding is very effective. Unless I'm close to my computer and orient that Strat just right, I never hear any RF now - none. So far nothing other than the computer has generated enough RF to get through the new shielding. Not lights, appliances, motors, you name it. That thing is quiet.

 

So if you understand rudimentary circuitry, know your way around a soldering iron, and aren't afraid to get your hands dirty, you can really lower your Strat's noise level. So low, in fact, that you'll hear components of its signal that you might never have heard before due to their having been masked by noise.

 

Definitely check it out.

Strat.zip

Strat.zip

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Hey all,

 

I have a Fender Strat (used, mexican-built) and my pickups are buzzing (less so, if I play with two pickups selected at once). I've been told that I should line the inside pick guard (am I using the right term here?) with copper foil (the self-adhesive stuff can be found for a very good price at any gardening shop, actually!) so as to reduce hum by keeping everything more grounded.

 

Does anyone have any experience in doing this? Is it a major job? Any soldering? I don't mind soldering, just curious. I just want to be able to get a better tone. I know grounding won't change my tone, directly, but it will allow me to use more settings without worrying about keeping the buzz down, and I've heard it opens up the high end moreso.

 

Help?

 

Are your grounding problems happening while your recording?

Could you answer these questions

 

1. Do you plug directly into your computer interface?

2. Are you using a laptop?

3. Does it go away when you touch the strings or if you take your finger and touch only the bridge, no strings, and then only the pick up selector or the input jack?

4. Do you have a Flat screen monitor or an old CRT? and are there any TVs in the room or florescent lights?

5. Do you have 2 prong plugs in your house vice the 3 prong american style plugs?

 

 

DONT EVER USE A GROUND LIFT TO TRY TO FIX THIS ISSUE. If you answer these questions I can help you. I deal with this problem all the time.

 

the shielding thing in a cavity is nice but only works at certain frequencies grounding your rig properly is the answer to this problem unless its RF interference from an external source not much you can do about that other then move it or turn it off and unplug it.

 

Let me know the answers so I can give you a solution.

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Hey all,

 

I have a Fender Strat (used, mexican-built) and my pickups are buzzing (less so, if I play with two pickups selected at once). I've been told that I should line the inside pick guard (am I using the right term here?) with copper foil (the self-adhesive stuff can be found for a very good price at any gardening shop, actually!) so as to reduce hum by keeping everything more grounded.

 

Does anyone have any experience in doing this? Is it a major job? Any soldering? I don't mind soldering, just curious. I just want to be able to get a better tone. I know grounding won't change my tone, directly, but it will allow me to use more settings without worrying about keeping the buzz down, and I've heard it opens up the high end moreso.

 

Help?

 

 

ALso 1 more if you unplug your guitar and hold the cable in one hand by the cable not the 1/4 inch plug and then with the other hand touch the RING/Ground not the tip. Does the noise go away? if so, it aint your guitar you need to ground your system. That basically means that everything in the studio has to have a 3 prong connection with the safety ground all connecting to the same point. Remember you cant ever get rid of noise totally you can only attenuate annoying frequencies. Unless you have alot of money to have somebody modify poorly design electronic grounding circuits.

 

let me know

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Are your grounding problems happening while your recording?

Could you answer these questions

 

1. Do you plug directly into your computer interface?

2. Are you using a laptop?

3. Does it go away when you touch the strings or if you take your finger and touch only the bridge, no strings, and then only the pick up selector or the input jack?

4. Do you have a Flat screen monitor or an old CRT? and are there any TVs in the room or florescent lights?

5. Do you have 2 prong plugs in your house vice the 3 prong american style plugs?

 

 

DONT EVER USE A GROUND LIFT TO TRY TO FIX THIS ISSUE. If you answer these questions I can help you. I deal with this problem all the time.

 

the shielding thing in a cavity is nice but only works at certain frequencies grounding your rig properly is the answer to this problem unless its RF interference from an external source not much you can do about that other then move it or turn it off and unplug it.

 

Let me know the answers so I can give you a solution.

 

 

 

 

Ah, thanks for the questionnaire! Here are my answers:

 

1- Yes, I plug directly into my FireWire Solo.

2- I am using a MacBook Pro. (but this has always happened, even when I was using a PC, with a CRT monitor, years ago)

3- I know it goes away (mostly) when I touch the strings. As for toughing just the pickup selector or the bridge pickup, I haven't tried that.

4- There is one tv in the room. I've noticed that the noise quiets down a bit when the TV is off (which is most of the time when I'm recording. I know I shouldn't be recording in a living room space, but I'm waiting until I'm done school to apply for grants to build my own studio.) And my monitor is my macbook pro's screen.

5- I'm sure that a lot of things in my house are two-prong plugs, but the jacks themselves always have the 3-prong option. I'm just saying that not everything I plug in uses all three prongs.

 

I look forward to more advice!

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Okay, Now since you are on a laptop this is a common problem. If you unplug your laptop I will take a slap bet that the ground loop goes away. If this is the case (slap) then make sure that you are using the 3 prong adapter that came with the MB's power supply not the 2 conductor.

 

Now, if you have a multi meter check to make sure the point at which your strings come into contact with your guitar (the bridge) is also grounded.

 

1. Go get a multimeter and set it for ohms now plug in your guitar but not into the interface. Now your going to check for continuity (or a connection) between ground and your bridge. So place one lead (black) on your bridge and 1 lead (red) on the sleeve (the big part) of the other end of your guitar cable that you are holding onto. if it beeps then you guitar strings are properly grounded. If it does not then you are going to have to take it to somebody and tell them to properly ground your guitar. Usually a star ground will suffice. But if you do this then you wont have to keep your feet off the ground anymore while your playing because your body presents a 30K ohm resistance to ground and your bridge is seeking ground through your guitar cable and to the powersupply path of least resistance now.

 

Now ground lifts are bad because they lift the safety ground thats connected to a chassis and floats it. Hence making YOU the ground so dont use a ground lift. People get these mixed up when trying to fix a signal ground loop and not a voltage ground loop 2 different things. Unfortunately, alot of manufactures are using the nuetral and safety ground as the same potential THATS just cheap they should be separated.

 

Also remember if they are single coil pickups they are noise buckets I replaced all mine with Humbuckers and now its WAY quiet.

Hope this helps

please let me know if you have any other questions.

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Biff Larken --

 

People buy different brand guitars to get their signature sounds. It's the basis of a decades-old, world-famous rivalry among guitar makers. If you want Fender's sound, you get a Fender; If you want Gibson's sound, you buy a Gibson, and so on. You can certainly have Fender's sound without the noise that goes with it. I thought that's why you started the thread. While you can switch single-coils for doubles, and they definitely will be quieter, they won't ever sound like single-coils. Therefore, if you do that your Strat will not sound like a Fender anymore. If the Strat's sound doesn't matter to you, I gotta wonder why you bought it.

 

If you're really not handy with a soldering iron and can't or won't learn a little about circuitry, then modifying your guitar is a bad idea. If you want to get handy with one, check out the soldering tutorial at apogeekits.com. It's the plainest set of instructions I've seen. Unless you're hopelessly inept you can complete GuitarNuts' shielding and rewiring in a couple of hours, at a cost of less than $50. If that's not for you, there are still alternatives, but none without considerable costs and long-term impact.

 

Your Strat was designed for single-coil pickups. There are other, quieter single-coils than those that come on a Mexican Strat, and which will fit into your body's existing routes. A web search on single-coil pickups will generate many places that sell 'em. Search GuitarNuts, too, for suggestions on what to buy and places to do it. Any replacement pickup will cost more than shielding/rewiring your Strat. If you replace your singles with double-coils, you'll have to re-route the Strat's body and pickguard to accommodate them. This is not a trivial undertaking, and it permanently alters things. You can buy a replacement Strat body designed for double-coils, but you'll have to prep, finish, paint, and build it. Humbuckers also employ different electronics, and you'll have to make some modifications to accommodate them, which requires that you learn a little bit about how to do that. Considering all the attendant hassles associated with these options, it'd be far easier all around just to sell that Strat and get a guitar that comes with double-coils.

 

You got some thinkin' to do, man.

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Biff Larken --

 

People buy different brand guitars to get their signature sounds. It's the basis of a decades-old, world-famous rivalry among guitar makers. If you want Fender's sound, you get a Fender; If you want Gibson's sound, you buy a Gibson, and so on. You can certainly have Fender's sound without the noise that goes with it. I thought that's why you started the thread. While you can switch single-coils for doubles, and they definitely will be quieter, they won't ever sound like single-coils. Therefore, if you do that your Strat will not sound like a Fender anymore. If the Strat's sound doesn't matter to you, I gotta wonder why you bought it.

 

If you're really not handy with a soldering iron and can't or won't learn a little about circuitry, then modifying your guitar is a bad idea. If you want to get handy with one, check out the soldering tutorial at apogeekits.com. It's the plainest set of instructions I've seen. Unless you're hopelessly inept you can complete GuitarNuts' shielding and rewiring in a couple of hours, at a cost of less than $50. If that's not for you, there are still alternatives, but none without considerable costs and long-term impact.

 

Your Strat was designed for single-coil pickups. There are other, quieter single-coils than those that come on a Mexican Strat, and which will fit into your body's existing routes. A web search on single-coil pickups will generate many places that sell 'em. Search GuitarNuts, too, for suggestions on what to buy and places to do it. Any replacement pickup will cost more than shielding/rewiring your Strat. If you replace your singles with double-coils, you'll have to re-route the Strat's body and pickguard to accommodate them. This is not a trivial undertaking, and it permanently alters things. You can buy a replacement Strat body designed for double-coils, but you'll have to prep, finish, paint, and build it. Humbuckers also employ different electronics, and you'll have to make some modifications to accommodate them, which requires that you learn a little bit about how to do that. Considering all the attendant hassles associated with these options, it'd be far easier all around just to sell that Strat and get a guitar that comes with double-coils.

 

You got some thinkin' to do, man.

 

Wow, Homina, thanks very much for this. I don't plan on changing my pickups for humbuckers, so that last option is out. I just wanted some advice on lessening the hum, and I believe I've gotten it. I know a bit about circuitry, and am willing to know more, and I'm fairly comfortable with a soldering iron, so I'm up for opening it up and doing some work there. I was just curious as to some success stories dealing with this undertaking.

 

Again, thanks to all who have replied, great advice so far!

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Yeah this is easy stuff all you have to do is open it up a run a 22 guage wire from the bridge to the case of a volume pot and then test that ground to the sleeve of the 1/4 in jack and your done.

 

Also for fun look at the hot rails pick ups they are a stacked humbucker. Anyway enjoy

CYA

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