DIY Guitar Hum Eliminator

Written by rob billeaud
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DIY Guitar Hum Eliminator
Plain old aluminium foil makes acceptable shielding material if applied properly. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Humming or buzzing from an electric guitar, particularly one fitted with humbucking pickups, comes from one primary source: electromagnetic interference. This interference can be generated by other electronic equipment located within close proximity to the guitar or amplifier, insufficiently shielded electrical wire or cable nearby, or something as innocent as fluorescent lighting. The only way to reduce this interference, short of removing the offending source, is to properly shield the guitar's control cavity using copper tape, aluminium foil or specialised carbon-graphite impregnated paint.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Screwdriver
  • Copper tape, aluminium foil or carbon-graphite shielding paint (e.g., Stewart McDonald Conductive Shielding Paint)
  • White glue
  • Scissors
  • 1-inch paintbrush

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  1. 1

    Unscrew and remove all control plates and/or pickguards from the guitar.

  2. 2

    Carefully remove all controls from the control cavities.

  3. 3

    Apply shielding material to completely cover the backs of the pickguards removed in Step 1, and the insides of the control cavities. If using self-adhesive copper tape, adhere the tape to all surfaces, slightly overlapping it at the edges to provide full coverage. Use a finger or small roller to eliminate any air pockets. Trim the excess with scissors. If using regular aluminium foil, apply a liberal coating of white glue to all surfaces and glue the foil in place. Use a finger or small roller to eliminate any air pockets. Tear away the excess or trim with scissors. If using conductive shielding paint, first tape off the adjoining exposed surfaces with masking tape to protect the guitar's finish. Apply a liberal coat of paint with a 1-inch paint brush, making sure it does not run or drip.

  4. 4

    Allow the paint or glue to dry, if used instead of copper tape.

  5. 5

    Carefully replace the controls and reattach the pickguards and/or control plates.

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