Holy 60 Cycle Hum, Batman...some houses are just louder than others.

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by cmm71, Nov 23, 2019.

  1. cmm71

    cmm71 Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    246
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    Hey All, no question here, just sharing an experience.

    I've always thought the folks obsessed and distracted by 60 cycle hum were making a really big deal about a little bit of noise. I've played strats for a long, long time. My first electric guitar was a Kay strat copy back in the early 80s. I used them in bands all through high school. I've had too many to count through the years. I'm a "vintage" sound guy through and through. I've owned lots of modern strats and I've always dropped vintage-style pickups in them...typically low-wind, underpowered pickups. Point is, I've never, ever found 60 cycle hum to be a real problem. Until now.

    My wife and I made a life change two years ago. We left our new (built in 2008) home and bought a nice little charmer that was built in 1924. Gorgeous house in a beautiful neighborhood. The only problem is that my strats and their 60 cycle hum was noticeably louder. It was a dramatic difference in noise level. The house had a potpourri of wiring, a little bit of everything, to include some knob and tube. We took the leap and had the house completely re-wired...expensive little endeavor, that was. I thought that would almost certainly solve my annoying noise issue. No, it did not.

    I've become a bit of a pro on noiseless pickups in my two years in this house. I think I've been through nearly all of them, except the Kinmans...that's not happened yet. I will say that the DiMarzio Area 67s get pretty close to how I feel a good strat should sound. I've also been playing a lot more Les Paul and SG than I've traditionally played in the past.

    Recently I found one of those Original Vintage 60s strats. I really liked it. It's one of those guitars that I played in the store and just couldn't walk out without it. This is why I'll never be wealthy. It's my step back into the strat world after having gone over to Gibsons a year or so ago. I decided that I'm going to suck it up and deal with the 60 cycle hum, or so I thought. Today I just broke. Geezuz it's annoying! I find that if I stand facing the west, with my amp facing the north, and I bend slightly at the waiste, hold the guitar at just a slight angle downward, the hum becomes bearable. It's just too much. So I broke down and purchased a set of Barden pickups. A small fortune. I'll never be wealthy but at least I'll be hum free.
     
  2. Crafty Fox

    Crafty Fox Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,356
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Location:
    Perth Australia
    Even though you still had the hum, I believe you did well in having your home rewired. I know of a few older homes that have had fires caused by old/faulty wiring.

    I recently purchased a pair of Barden 'buckers for the small archtop I'm currently building.
    Nope, I won't be wealthy either but I'll sound good.:cool:
     
    nojazzhere likes this.
  3. richiek65

    richiek65 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Age:
    55
    Posts:
    3,098
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2012
    Location:
    Sydney NSW Australia
    Our gig venue last night was making my setup hum like no tomorrow.. I blame the poker machines ..
     
  4. PoorNoodle

    PoorNoodle TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    35
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2018
    Location:
    Sweden
    nojazzhere likes this.
  5. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,220
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2012
    Location:
    London, UK
    Yep, I have a noisy flat. It means that when I'm recording I use an HH guitar more than I would otherwise do.

    I also record my strat through a battery amp, unplugged from the mains. Makes a big difference.

    Oh, and do I pace around the room in headphones looking like an idiot, searching for the least noisy place to stand while recording?

    Yes, yes I do.
     
    Telecaster88 likes this.
  6. tap4154

    tap4154 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    10,256
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Location:
    Southern California
    When I moved a few years ago I suddenly had all kinds of hum. Check all the wiring, fixed some issues, but still had the hum. This pedal solved it.

     
    beninma likes this.
  7. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    1,863
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2011
    Location:
    Minnesota USA
    `
    I just ordered one of these for my vintage style Strat:

    https://www.ilitchelectronics.com/product/bpncs-fender-stratocaster/

    Sure they're pricey - costing more than most pickup sets - but supposedly a great compromise if you want to keep your vintage style single coils. In my case I have a set of Fender "60th Anniversary Pure Vintage '54 Alnico III" pickups in my 2018 Fender Road Worn 50s Strat...

    RW 09-22-2019a.jpeg

    These pickups are more or less all identical (no RWRP middle pickup) so they're noisy in all settings. Coupled with the fact that directly below my recording studio is a room with lights on a dimmer switch and a surefire recipe for noise is inevitable. When the dimmer is off my Strat is reasonably quiet, but when the dimmer is on the noise is overtly annoying.

    I've tried several stacked "noiseless" pickups that were suppose to provide the vintage single coil tone, but I've never experienced what I'd consider to be a truly vintage tone with any of them. So, for me, the Ilitch system seems to be the ticket to having the best of both worlds - at least practically everything I've read about them seems to indicate so. I guess I'm about to find out.

    I plan to do a review on it once I get it installed... so please stand by!



    `
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2019
    Skydog1010 likes this.
  8. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    1,863
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2011
    Location:
    Minnesota USA
    `
    I can definitely hear a huge difference between the three settings on this video (off/Normal/Strong). The guitar sounds increasingly muffled as the unit goes from off to Strong, so I'm very weary about going that route myself...




    `
     
  9. tap4154

    tap4154 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    10,256
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Location:
    Southern California
    It does very slightly drop the volume. I suspect if he had turned it up a bit it would have sounded the same. In my own experience, I love it. Just makes it sound tighter and better. But good luck with your quest.

    In fact I just played switching it on and off, and frankly it seems to open up a bit when on. It's not a noise gate (which REALLY affects tone), it runs on 7.5 volts AC, unlike other pedals that run on DC, and cancels out hum. I usually run it on normal.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2019
    AxemanVR likes this.
  10. slauson slim

    slauson slim Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,378
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Location:
    By The Levee
    Fluorescent lights can affect hum. Dimmer switches too.
     
    NicDo and nojazzhere like this.
  11. Skydog1010

    Skydog1010 Tele-Afflicted Platinum Supporter

    Posts:
    1,724
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2019
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Yep. And ceiling fans are notorious too.
     
    nojazzhere likes this.
  12. Redleg37

    Redleg37 TDPRI Member

    Age:
    37
    Posts:
    24
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2019
    Location:
    Rapid City, SD
    My last house had a dimmer switch and I ended up replacing it with a switch, it helped a lot with reducing hum.

    also, I bought a furman surge protector and plugged all my music stuff into it. It seemed to help as well.
     
    nojazzhere and EsquireBoy like this.
  13. fraser

    fraser Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    983
    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2007
    Location:
    Hamilton, Canada
    I’m a single coil guy, and it seems most everywhere I’ve lived had old wiring or other issues, some more than others.
    On some strats I have the rwrp middle pickup, and I tend to favour the middle and bridge combo anyway, so I tend to stay there.
    On strats without the rwrp middle, I use dummy coils made from cheap ceramic pickups.
    My esquire as well, I popped a dummy coil in the unused neck route.

    I have a Jaguar as well, and the combination of the brass shielding plates and the metal claws on the pickups really seem to make the hum almost negligible.

    in fact, I once sold an amp to a guy, he wanted to try it out.
    I plugged in a strat, he almost walked away because he said the amp was noisey.
    Tried a tele, same thing.
    Then I tried the jaguar, all good.
    I says to him, what kind of guitars do you use,
    He was a life long humbucker guy.

    he had no comprehension of 60 cycle hum, and thought it was the amp.

    I did use those DiMarzio stacked humbuckers for a long time years ago,
    Playing in bands with high gain amps cranked to the gills.
    But when I started using smaller amps I realized I prefer the sound traditional single coils.
     
  14. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    24,141
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2009
    Location:
    Coolum Beach,Australia
    I can leave guitars V up next to my tube amps, under a flouro , fridge and ceiling fan running, PC on, TV on.... and forget my amp is on.... p90's, strat singles, whatever....

    quiet house power here.... :)
     
  15. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    39
    Posts:
    1,235
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2019
    Location:
    Paris, France
    It’s the « play authentic » humming tone from 1924.
     
  16. cmm71

    cmm71 Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    246
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    I'll be very interested in the Ilitch review, I gave serious thought to going that route.

    Dimmer switch...I'd not heard that before. The room I play in has a dimmer switch. When we had the house rewired the contractor asked if I wanted to keep the light on a dimmer. I said yes, not knowing that they can cause issues. Hmm... has me wondering.
     
  17. tap4154

    tap4154 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    10,256
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Location:
    Southern California
    Dimmers and ceiling fans play havoc on single coils, but since I began using the Hum Debugger I don't even think about it anymore.

    Spent a month trying to get rid of the hum, and trying to find quiet spots in the room, but once I got that pedal I don't even think about it. Just plug in, hit the pedal, and play. I don't even turn off the dimmers anymore.

    Only negative thing I have heard about it is if you use a large chain of effects pedals it may have a negative effect on some of them. But I basically just plug straight into the amp, so the debugger is the only pedal I'm using. Basically has no negarivve effect on the tone. Just kills all of the hum and buzz.
     
  18. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    42
    Posts:
    2,989
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2017
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    I think the Hum Debugger may have been silently updated by EHX over the years... and instead of marking it "Hum Debugger 2.0" they just did it and kept their mouth shut.

    Most of the videos and comments on forums are 10 years old now. I have one I bought in 2017 and it doesn't display any of the artifacts that people complain about.

    There is one other thing though.. I think some buzzing and stuff people have is bad grounding in their guitar or other issues. The Hum Debugger does not take care of that. Anything that is not in sync with the 60/120/220hz signal in the wall is out of bounds for the Hum Debugger. Also the Hum Debugger does not take out the white noise that high gain amps & pedals like the big Muff pump out, even if you run the Hum Debugger after the pedal. I think if you've got oddball RF interference that is not a harmonic of the A/C signal in the wall it won't work and can introduce artifacts.

    We just put our Xmas tree up last weekend. (GROAN, but wife...) I go down to play guitar Sunday night and my setup is buzzing like crazy even on a super clean sound and is hyper sensitive to touching the guitar. Turns out it was the touch sensitive little ornament that my wife uses to act as a switch for the tree lights. I had her unplug it and everything was silent again with my guitar. Of course the Xmas tree then proceeds to blow out when she plugged it back in! I open it up and it has one MOSFET inside it switching the 120V current and couple of resistors & capacitors and then it's doing some sort of weird thing using the ornament as an antenna or ground loop or something and then it uses the switching to dim the lights and stuff on the tree. Absolutely no shielding. It wasn't 60/120hz cause it's dividing the AC signal to dim the lights.. so the Hum Debugger didn't work on it and introduced artifacts. Unplug that and the Xmas tree produces no noise, the LED lights themselves don't create RF interference.

    Another thing the Hum Debugger can't handle is smartphones. People can be dumb and leave their smartphone in their pockets while playing. A Smartphone has a pile of different radio transmitters in it and produces a massive spectrum of noise. It's not very high power but if the phone is within 1-2 feet of a guitar or amp the phone is going to introduce all kinds of weird noise. The Hum Debugger doesn't do squat with that because the noise from a phone is completely irregular.

    I almost never have to mess with my Hum Debugger.. it is set to always on and I never have to put it on "Strong". I can turn my rig up to the point my Tele starts to get controllable feedback and I still have no hum. I will get the white noise hiss that an amp that is cooking like that produces but it is not very objectionable.

    Bottom line if you take care of everything else (good isolated power, guitar is wired well, no oddball extra RF interference, pedals ordered correctly) the Hum Debugger works great and doesn't change the tone or introduce artifacts.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2019
  19. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    68
    Posts:
    11,319
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2017
    Location:
    Foat Wuth, Texas
    One other consideration not mentioned, is the actual location of your new (old) house. Any large transformer outside on a pole? Any large transmission tower nearby? Probably the best suggestion has already been made.....dimmer switch or rheostats.....those wreak havoc on electronics. My house's wiring is pretty old (1953) and no grounded outlets, but luckily pretty quiet. Good luck....and if you solve the problem, please report back.
     
  20. preactor

    preactor Tele-Holic

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    745
    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Location:
    gainesville, ga
    As a shot in the dark, you might get your local power company to come out and check your transformer and wiring for hum. My friend has a refrigerator that creates massive amounts of hum when running!
     
    beagle likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.