How to filter noise in a guitar amplifier

Written by dustin covert
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Nothing kills the tone of your guitar amp like a buzz or hum. Distracting noise takes up valuable sonic space and can be extremely annoying and frustrating. But don't get too angry; the war on buzz and hum has been going on for a long time and is simply part of playing an electric instrument. This guide will help you to troubleshoot the noise coming from you guitar amp, and hopefully relieve some stress.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Guitar amp
  • Power conditioner
  • Multiple power outlets
  • Pencil

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  1. 1

    Remove all accessories from your guitar set-up and unplug everything from the amp. Here you are trying to figure out exactly where the noise is coming from. If it is still coming from your amp, then obviously there is a problem with your amp and not your guitar or any effects that you are using.

  2. 2

    If you are using a tube amp, test the tubes to see if any of them are bad. While the amp is on and has warmed up for about two minutes, lightly tap the preamp tubes and power-amp tubes, one by one, with a pencil. Listen for noises besides the tapping of the pencil on the tube. If you hear any rattling or springy noises coming through the speakers, then that tube is bad and should be replaced.

  3. 3

    Run your amp through a power conditioner. Furman makes quality power conditioners that regulate the power coming from the main power sockets in your wall. This will help reduce spikes and drops in current, eliminate hum caused by ground loop and protect your amplifier.

  4. 4

    Run your guitar through a noise gate pedal. This pedal will automatically silence your signal when you are not playing. It does not get rid of the noise while you are playing, but at least it won't be there when you're not. DOD, Boss, DIgitech and other companies make good noise gate pedals.

Tips and warnings

  • If your amp is making too much noise no matter how clean the power is or what environment it is in, then it is best to take it to your local repair shop. Modern amplifiers have very small and complex circuits that are not as basic as those in simple tube amps, and they are pretty much impossible to fix on your own. If you don't know what you're doing, then take it to a repair shop.
  • Never make repairs on your equipment that you are not certified to make. If you are worried about the conditions of the electricity running into your home or studio, then it is best to ask a certified technician to come in and assess the situation.

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