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Fender Classic 60's telecaster "popping" noise when touching metal parts.

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by JoeWalshTele, Sep 2, 2016.

  1. JoeWalshTele

    JoeWalshTele TDPRI Member

    8
    Sep 2, 2016
    Belgium
    Hi guys,

    I just purchased a brand new Fender Classic 60's Telecaster ( MIM ) at an authorised Fender dealer. While the guitar looks and sound beautiful, I could not help but notice something strange :

    If I touch any metal part of the guitar (strings and electronics), a small " pop " will be heard through the amplifier (an orange Rockerverb). The same "popping" noise will happen if i touch any metal part on the amp ( for example the metal switches ), AS LONG AS IT IS CONNECTED to the guitar.

    The amp on its own does not make any kind of weird sounds, and when connected to another guitar with the same cords ( a fender US Stratocaster ), everything works perfectly, with no popping sound whatsoever both on the amp or the guitar.

    I brought the guitar yesterday to a very renowned guitar tech here in Belgium for a full setup, and they told me that everything looked fine and could not really solve the issue as everything seemed to be good electronics-wise... their biggest guess was that it probably was due to static build up, eventhough they did not really seem convinced themeselves.

    My biggest concern is not really the "popping" sound, as to be fair it is barely hearable while playing in context, but the fact that this could lead to some electrocution risks of some sorts. Furthermore, I just bought a brand new guitar to find myself with this kind of issue which is pretty sad to me.

    Anyway, what are your thoughts on the matter ? Is this normal/common on those models ?

    Have a nice tele-day !
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2016

  2. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    Does the new guitar behave normally in terms of the string ground - does it hum a little bit and then get a little quieter when you touch the strings or the bridge or control plate?

    Can you use a multimeter to make sure that the jack is not wired backwards? When measuring to the bridge or control plate (circuit ground/shielding) the tip of the guitar cord should read some resistance, on the order of K-ohms, whereas the ring/sleeve of the cord should be zero ohms because it's directly connected to ground. Without a cord just measure from the surface of your jackplate to the control plate - they should be continuous/zero ohms. If not the jack could've been wired backwards.

    I find that static issues usually show up as a crackle rather than a pop - technical terms of course.
     
    sosay likes this.

  3. JoeWalshTele

    JoeWalshTele TDPRI Member

    8
    Sep 2, 2016
    Belgium
    Thanks for your answer!

    Yes the guitar seems to behave normally grounding-wise : when I touch the strings (or any other metallic parts), the hum seems to decrease a bit, which tends to indicate that it is properly (or at least partially) grounded, right ? I could also notice that the cavities in the guitar were not shielded, however I think shielding them could really only reduce the hum, but not the " poping " sound, or am I wrong ?

    Concerning the electronics, I visually checked it today myself and couldn't find any disconnected/misconnected wires, and all the solderings seemed to be pretty clean and shiny. I didn't checked it with a multimeter as I trust the tech I paid, eventhough I probably should do it in order to be totally sure the problem doesn't come from there.

    I'm not sure about the jack being wired backwards; I will try to find my multimeter tomorrow in order to check that - thanks !

    Oh and one last thing I didn't notice yesterday : the " pop" also happen when I touch any of the metal switches on the effects on my pedalboard.

    I'll keep you updated,

    Have a nice day :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016

  4. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Age:
    21
    Nov 27, 2014
    Morley, England
    It could be static, @moosie one member on here has a lot of issues with it and he might be able to help?
     

  5. Ira7

    Ira7 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    61
    Jan 8, 2008
    Coral Springs, FL
    It sounds like static to me too, except...

    It should pop once, and if you immediately touch it again, it shouldn't. It needs time for the electrons to charge before you would get such a loud pop, an ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) event

    So something ain't wired right.
     

  6. sothoth

    sothoth Tele-Meister

    314
    Nov 24, 2010
    Kepler-186f
    Yeah it might be a bad pot, switch, or a crossed wire. Does it matter which pup is selected with the switch? That can help narrow down the search. The bare part of a wire can sometimes get pressed onto another component when screwing down a control plate. You can also unscrew the control plate and let it hang out so you can see that the wires don't touch anything they're not supposed to and make sure you don't see any terminal bent so they contact something they shouldn't then try again with it unscrewed to make see if the pop continues. I personally have seen static and miswired jacks produce different effects than you're seeing but maybe they do and I just haven't seen it. Bummer to get a new rig and not be able to jam on it right away. I have ended up keeping spare pots, switches, jacks, and caps because something shows up not working right and I hate waiting days for more parts to come in so I can troubleshoot.

    If I bought it from a dealer I might just bring it back and ask them to figure it out rather than monkey with it. If it's new they should take care of you.
     

  7. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Age:
    60
    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    Try isolating pieces of the rig. So far you've isolated the guitar, but not other guitars. Good. But do the same with the other parts of the chain. Take notes.

    First thing I'd try is plugging directly into the amp with your same guitar, same guitar cable that you normally plug into the board.

    If it still makes the pop, continue testing without the board. Swap out the amp if you can. This issue sounds just strange enough that it could be an amp grounding issue only being made obvious by this particular guitar, for some reason. If that's the case, that a different amp fixes it, find a competent tech to service your amp, and make sure it's all grounded properly. It's not likely to be the problem, but if it is, it's potentially a huge safety issue.

    If no pop with your same amp, but no board, then begin isolating things from the board. Pedals, cables, jumpers, power supplies.


    What follows are a few suggestions for static crackle, which is not really what you're reporting:

    It's critical that if you have any shielding, anywhere, that it be properly grounded. Ungrounded shielding will create a variety of strange noise issues. Some really hard to diagnose, oddball stuff. Don't assume. If you use copper tape shielding, test continuity to each piece. The problem could be with shielding that came from the factory (not so much in a standard Fender maybe, but an ungrounded sheath in a LP 4-wire humbucker lead, for example).

    It's common (and it happens more for some people than others, on the same guitar) to have static crackle when your pick hand brushes the plastic pickguard. The solution is to shield (and ground) it. I have this issue with every Fender I've ever played. Also with my Gibson 330. I just play at home, and even sitting near a computer I don't have much noise. So, I don't need to shield every cavity, just the pickguard. It also works to shield the wires running underneath, but the guard itself seems to work best.

    Using your meter, confirm all your grounds as described up-thread. You should have zero resistance between the jack frame/cup and every metal part on the guitar (except for strap buttons).

    Finally, Fender will often rely on the metal Tele control plate to provide electrical continuity for the ground. But the plating often isn't conductive, or not enough. Long term, best not to rely on this. Short term, keep it in mind as you test every switch frame and pot shell for zero resistance to the jack frame.

    That's all I got. Good luck, and welcome to the forum.
     
    songtalk likes this.

  8. JoeWalshTele

    JoeWalshTele TDPRI Member

    8
    Sep 2, 2016
    Belgium
    Hello guys, first of all, thanks to everybody for the answers, much obliged !

    I found my multimeter today and basically checked everything I could, and came across something quite interesting ( see my reply to @moosie at the end of this post).

    First let me answer a few questions/suggestions :

    @Vizcaster : I checked the jack and it is not wired backwards !

    @Ira7 : Yes, that seems to make sense ! Like you said, I can touch the exact same metallic part an infinite number of time really quickly and the same pop will occur again and again - which seems weird if it's static related.

    Here's what I experience, if that can help : If I touch any metal part on the guitar, the pop will be heard ; if I touch any other metal part while keeping contact with the first part, then no further pop will occur, it only pops the FIRST time I touch something metallic.

    @sothoth : No it does not matter which pickup is selected. I tried your trick - unscrewing the control plate - and no, the problem still occurs. I thought about sending the guitar back, but to be honest I kind of grew attached to it ; the fact it has got a small defect makes it "mine" haha - plus now it's been properly set up (at great expense) it plays and sound like a dream, I would not change it for another one !

    @moosie : wow thanks for your very detailed answer man. I basically tried everything you suggested concerning the chain, and came to the conclusion it was only due to this particular guitar, and not the amp nor the electrical connection of the house. I am pretty sure about that.

    I used my meter and checked all of the grounds, and here's what I found : there seems to be zero resistance between all of the grounds of the guitar BUT when the three top strings are implied ; when I check the resistance between those strings ( E, A, D) and any other metallic part of the guitar, my multimeter displays " 1 " instead of going to 0. If I repeat the operation with the three bottom strings (G,B,E) then it displays zero restistance as it should. Weird right ? Do you think this could be the cause of the problem, what about any solutions ?

    Again, thanks to everybody for the help and greetings from Belgium !
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2016

  9. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Age:
    60
    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    "1" as in 1.0 ohms? Perhaps if you have brass saddles, there's a bit of resistance. I have all steel saddles, so I can't test. Regardless, 1 ohm isn't a problem.

    So, you tried a different amp, plugged straight in, no board, and no problem? And no board with your main amp, and >pop< ?

    And it sounds like you tried a different wall circuit, or different building. Good. I mean, crap.

    That's because you're already grounded from the first contact point.

    Did you do the ground continuity testing under the control plate as well, on any supposed-to-be grounded components?

    I think you'd have noticed the noise, but... is your neck pickup cover grounded?

    It sure looks like a ground issue to me. When you touch metal, there's a potential difference, causing the pop. Means the thing you're touching has a potential above 'ground', or zero.

    If I was confident in my isolation testing, that it was definitely this guitar - that it still pops in a different building, with a different cable and amp - then I'd either return the guitar or completely redo the wiring harness, from scratch. Assume nothing.

    Sorry if that doesn't seem very helpful.
     

  10. PJ55

    PJ55 Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 27, 2003
    Philadelphia, PA
    Are you using any light dimmers in that or nearby rooms? They'll play all kinds of havoc introducing line noise to your entire rig, which is what it sounds like you're experiencing.
     

  11. JoeWalshTele

    JoeWalshTele TDPRI Member

    8
    Sep 2, 2016
    Belgium
    @moosie Sorry for the lack of precision - No, "1" as the symbol that shows the resistance is too high in order to be measured, and I do not have brass saddles. That's kind of weird right ? To me it seems to that those strings aren't grounded.

    Well not really - I tried 4 different amps in total ( two at home, the one of the tech and the one of a friend of mine, thus at three different locations with different electric installations and different cables), connected straight to the guitar ; the combination of any of those amps with this particular tele produced the pop. I also tried my friend's American Telecaster with my rig at home and no such pop could be heard - I really think my guitar is the problem here.

    Yes I did the continuity test under the bridge as well. My knowledge concerning guitar electronics is pretty limited but I think I did allright with the help of internet. I checked the neck pickup cover and it is grounded.

    From what I see, the issue here seems to be connected with the 3 strings that failed the grounding test. However I don't really get how it is possible for only half the strings to be properly grounded while the other half isn't. Any thoughts ?
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2016

  12. JoeWalshTele

    JoeWalshTele TDPRI Member

    8
    Sep 2, 2016
    Belgium
    @PJ55 Hey, thanks for the answer but no light dimmers here. As I've said, I am virtually sure the problem comes from inside the guitar - not from the environment.
     

  13. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Age:
    60
    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    How about a picture of the bridge...

    So, three-barrel bridge, steel saddle. If I recall, not plated or anything. And the saddle touches the rest of the bridge via the three screws (2 and 1).

    What's grounded? String? nope. Saddle? Bridge where saddle touches?

    I'm not seeing how a steel string sitting on a (grounded) steel saddle is not grounded.
     

  14. JoeWalshTele

    JoeWalshTele TDPRI Member

    8
    Sep 2, 2016
    Belgium
    @moosie I just double checked the strings grounding : my mistake, please forget what I've said : In fact it DOES show continuity also with the top three strings, I just had to insist a bit more and move along the strings with the test probes for the result to appear. Perhaps I've seen what I wanted to see haha, that and I should probably replace the batteries in my multimeter.

    Anyway dude, thanks a lot for the help - I truly appreciate it. Finding the cause of the problem feels like a headache. I'm still gonna try the dryer sheets trick eventhough i'm really not convinced it will solve anything. My best bet would be to talk with a professional fender tech, hower I tried mailing their consumer relation department and their answer was basically to go to a fender service center... I think I'll go to the shop I bought it from in order to explain the problem ; I really don't want to give the guitar back as I truly love it and I've paid a tech to set it up - I'll see what i can do, again the problem does not prevent me from playing normally, it's more of a " you buy something new, you should not have problem" principle kind of thing.

    Have a nice day, I'll keep you updated if anything changes :)
     

  15. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Age:
    60
    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    I don't think dryer sheets will help at all. But if they do, then shielding would as well. And more permanently.

    This kind of thing can be hard to fix. Good luck.
     
    JoeWalshTele likes this.

  16. jvin248

    jvin248 Friend of Leo's

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI
    I fixed a Strat like this recently. pop any time pressing on the pickguard. There was a bad ground connection between the pickguard shielding and the rest of the guard, so the plate would subtly go in/out of connected to ground touching the knobs or switch or even picking hard so the fingers hit the pickguard. I added more ground tape contact points and that solved the issue. Worn pots can cause this same type of issue though as the ground chain with the pot shaft gets wobbled in its housing.
     

  17. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Age:
    60
    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    Hey jvin, so essentially you're saying "ground all shields"? It was my understanding that there is no shielding (and it's not a Strat, so no factory shield around the pots like they do).
     

  18. JoeWalshTele

    JoeWalshTele TDPRI Member

    8
    Sep 2, 2016
    Belgium
    @jvin248 @moosie

    Indeed, no factory shielding in this model. I tested the back of the pots with the multimeter and everything seemed grounded as it should :/

    Damn you, Fender.
     

  19. Bartholomew3

    Bartholomew3 Friend of Leo's

    Dec 8, 2010
    Montreal
    I had a crackling and popping problem with a Les Paul Studio and found that part of it was due to cheap skinny wires that came with my Boss 3 pedal board, so changed them and it went away mostly.

    Seems OK for now but will probably return in the CDN winter due to that guitar model being known for static electricity problems. Worse in winter here maybe due to low humidity, made more noise on carpet floors even when wearing Nike rubber trainers.

    I read an anti-static cloth as mentioned above will reduce the problem so will be trying that next.
     

  20. PJ55

    PJ55 Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 27, 2003
    Philadelphia, PA
    OK....no dimmers. How about the bridge ground? I usually run a ring terminal fro one of the bridge pickup screws, either to a shielded cavity or one of the pot housings. I can't really say I've had any popping conditions over the years, so it's shooting in the dark for me.
     

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