If your guitar amplifier constantly hums or hisses, it can be extremely frustrating trying to isolate why. The noise your amplifier makes can ruin recordings and give any live performance an unwelcome undertone. Eliminating the noise completely may not be possible, because tube amps always produce some sort of noise when they're on, but you can take steps to reduce the noise levels if it is excessive.
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Things you need
- Pencil with eraser end
Check your rig. If the problem is new, something is likely to have changed about your set up. If you've added any new effects pedals, these may be causing the unwanted buzz. If you take it out of your effects chain and the buzzing stops, you know what the problem is. You can turn down the unit's output level to try to keep the buss down to an acceptable level.
Move or disconnect any electrical items near you, as they may be interfering with your guitar's signal. Fluorescent lights are a big offender here, and many other electrical devices can have similar effects. Also, if you have a lot of things plugged into the same outlet this can cause problems, as can using batteries instead of the adaptor. Again, test this by plugging your amplifier directly into the wall socket. Any surges in the amount of power the amp is getting can also cause unwanted noise. This could be down to the particular socket you are using, so try out another one just in case. If this doesn't clear the problem up, you might have to get a power conditioner to get rid of the noise.
Test your amp out with another guitar if possible. Your guitar may be the problem. For example, the buzz could actually be coming from your strings. If you test another guitar out through your amp and the buzzing stops, you should take your guitar to a repair man. Fret buzz is a common problem, but the solution isn't always simple, and it may be wiser to have a professional look at it (see Resources for more info).
Check behind your amp. If you have a tube amp, there are a couple of additional issues. Keep your amp on, and get a pencil with an eraser on the end. Tap each of the smaller tubes with the eraser end. These tubes look a little bit like light bulbs. If a sound plays through the amp there is a microphone in the preamp tube (the little ones), and will be causing your noise issues. Get a replacement tube and the problem will be cleared up.
Tips and warnings
- Be very careful if you try to remove tubes yourself. If you accidentally touch one of the others, the oil from your skin can cause them to blow when the tube heats up. Pull the tube out directly upwards, and make sure the amp isn't plugged in when you do this. Give it time to cool off if needed.
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