1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

Hum has appeared and it's a mystery...

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by AngelStrummer, Feb 22, 2021.

  1. AngelStrummer

    AngelStrummer Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    54
    Posts:
    3,037
    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2007
    Location:
    London
    ...inside a riddle, all wrapped up in an enigma and it's driving me nuts, so please hear me out:

    Baja Telecaster bone stock, no problems until yesterday, when I noticed that once the volume pot is fully turned down there's an ugly, scratchy hum, that gets louder when I touch the strings.

    But - and here's the weird thing - it only happens when my Dunlop FFM-3 fuzz is turned on. It doesn't happen with any other pedal in the chain, as long as the fuzz is off. I tried all kinds of combinations and it only happens with the Baja and the fuzz.

    If I change either the pedal or the guitar, no issue - I tested with my other 2 Teles (USA Std and Classic Vibe) and it doesn't happen.

    Here is a picture of the rig, just in case:

    241.jpg

    Help! :cry:
     
  2. Ziggy587

    Ziggy587 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    34
    Posts:
    157
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2019
    Location:
    NY
    Did you try just the fuzz and the Baja together alone? Do you get the same results?

    When you swapped out the fuzz and the Baja, did all other cabling stay the same?
     
  3. AngelStrummer

    AngelStrummer Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    54
    Posts:
    3,037
    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2007
    Location:
    London
    Yup, I put the guitar cable and amp cable into the fuzz outside the pedalboard chain and kept the power source unchanged. Buzzed with the Baja, not the other guitars.

    I also tested the Baja into a Vox AC15 with all knobs on 11 and no such buzz.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021 at 4:42 AM
  4. Ziggy587

    Ziggy587 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    34
    Posts:
    157
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2019
    Location:
    NY
    Hmm, that's strange. Do you have a second set of cables to test the fuzz and Baja with? Just in case.

    One big clue to this problem might be that the hum gets WORSE when you touch the strings. Normally you would expect any noise to decrease when you touch the strings, but I'm not sure what this is evidence of. Perhaps some sort of grounding problem or conflict.

    Sometimes some gear just doesn't play nice together. I just recently posted a strange issue I had with a Boss PH-2 and PH-3 phaser pedals. They both worked absolutely fine by themselves, but would glitch out when I had them in line with all my other pedals.
     
  5. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    58
    Posts:
    2,245
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2006
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Try it with a battery if you can, just to see what happens. If the problem persists, I'd be inclined to blame the push/pull pots in the greasebucket circuit. I don't know how or why that would cause this issue, especially if it doesn't happen with other pedals. It's just a hunch.
     
  6. AngelStrummer

    AngelStrummer Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    54
    Posts:
    3,037
    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2007
    Location:
    London
    Ok, so after further testing with a different set of cables and battery-powered fuzz, through two different amps, using two different power outlets:

    - The hum is still there, with other guitars now. Maybe I couldn't hear it before because volume was too low.

    - It also does it with a DS-1 (also battery-powered) I had lying around, but only with 2 out of three guitars...

    - Bear in mind that this buzz has suddenly appeared, I never heard it until a few days ago.

    The Baja doesn't have a grease bucket circuit, it has the 4-way switch and S1 circuit (push-push).

    Could it be something that's "gone off" in the wiring of the home?

    The plot thickens!
     
  7. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,971
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Location:
    Between the Raindrops
    Move your entire rig to a different portion of the house and try it. It may be a proximity thing.
     
    DADGAD likes this.
  8. AngelStrummer

    AngelStrummer Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    54
    Posts:
    3,037
    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2007
    Location:
    London
    I was planning on doing that, work permitting. It still begs the question - why only now and proximity to what?
     
  9. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,971
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Location:
    Between the Raindrops
    It may be something your neighbor has running.

    These noise issues can drive you bananas.
     
  10. GreatDaneRock

    GreatDaneRock Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    762
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2018
    Location:
    Central FL
    That's your problem, all boss pedals!! Lol, just kidding.

    Like other suggested, move the rig to a different part of the house, or better, go to a friend's house and try it out.

    If your rig was that quiet before, and you have certainty of this, and all of the sudden you have this hum, then something is affecting your electrical system. Try to play your rig outside your home to have a better idea if it's something tied to your home/location or that follows your rig around.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021 at 5:48 AM
  11. AngelStrummer

    AngelStrummer Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    54
    Posts:
    3,037
    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2007
    Location:
    London
    Wow, thanks guys, this is really enlightening (no pun intended...).

    The rig has been running super quiet for over a year, I'm absolutely positive about that.

    At least now I know that it really could be anything and might go away as unpredictably as it came. I'll report back once I've performed a few more 'experiments'...
     
  12. Ziggy587

    Ziggy587 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    34
    Posts:
    157
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2019
    Location:
    NY
    Does the hum occur in all pickup positions on the Baja? If it has a 4-way switch, then when both pickups are in series position would be the quietest position. According to this article, the S1 on the Baja puts the pickups out of phase, so definitely make sure it is not engaged when testing.

    It makes sense that the noise is also there with the DS-1. Any noise that is there to begin with will be amplified by distortion. Singles coils make it worse (although two wired in series IS a humbucker). Now that you know the hum was there with the DS-1 and just too quiet to initially hear, is the hum there with other single coil guitars if you turn up a bit?

    You could have "dirty power" now when you didn't before. A power conditioner would help with that, but you'd be disappointed spending the money on one to find out that it had no effect. Moving to the other side of the house is a good test if something in that physical location is causing the issue, but if you have dirty power it could be dirty in every room. There are various ways to test for EMI/FMI noise in AC power. Running the pedal on a battery would rule out any AC noise, but only for the pedal, but still absolutely worth a try.
     
  13. AngelStrummer

    AngelStrummer Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    54
    Posts:
    3,037
    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2007
    Location:
    London
    So how does power become dirty, assuming that's the issue (which at this point is not a given)?

    And this is the one positive about these situations - there's something interesting to learn :)

    Enquiring minds need to know!
     
  14. GreatDaneRock

    GreatDaneRock Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    762
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2018
    Location:
    Central FL
    To the twanger above, OP did run fuzz and DS-1 with batteries, no change.
     
  15. AngelStrummer

    AngelStrummer Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    54
    Posts:
    3,037
    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2007
    Location:
    London
    Thanks GDR. I guess it's also worth noting that the amp was plugged into the mains, so dirty power might still be a possibility?

    Even though there was no such hum when I plugged the Baja straight into an AC15 with all knobs on 11.

    I'm lost right now.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021 at 9:28 AM
  16. Ziggy587

    Ziggy587 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    34
    Posts:
    157
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2019
    Location:
    NY
    Sorry, what I meant about running the pedal off a battery is that it only rules out the pedal as the cause of the noise. The amp is still being powered by AC, if that's the problem. Or if the single coil pickups are picking up the interference, it'll just be amplified by the fuzz or distortion pedal. And it still could be the guitar picking up the noise. Since the Baja has a 4-way switch, what is the status of the hum when you're in the series (humbucking) position?

    As for how AC becomes dirty, I'm not going to pretend to be an expert here. There's tons of articles and YouTube videos that might help, including how to test for it. There's a few ways though that the AC supply can be a problem, but it's mainly either noise on the line or an inconsistent supply (dips and swells). A power conditioner can help with all of these problems, you can think of it as a surge protector that also filters out EMI and RFI noise (I typoed and said EMI/FMI above).

    Any cheap digital multimeter will determine if there's a voltage supply (over or under) issue, but wont do you much good to test for noise. You can at least see if the AC supply is consistently over or under voltage, or if it's jumping around a lot. Standard warnings apply if you decide to probe your electrical socket with a multimeter, take the proper precautions not to electrocute yourself. There's also meters that can test for EMI noise, and they can range from cheap to expensive.

    Noise/interference can be very strange, one piece of gear might be more susceptible than another. So all else being the same, one amp might have an issue while another does not.

    But you should always check the simplest things first before going down a rabbit hole such as AC noise. Since you said this hum appeared suddenly, and that it only happens with the Baja, perhaps the problem is only with the Baja. Maybe there's a cold solder joint on a ground wire, factory soldering isn't always the best. Or maybe the S1 switch is dirty or mechanically acting up?
     
  17. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    58
    Posts:
    2,245
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2006
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I have a battery-powered amp that I use to help diagnose this kind of stuff. It's handy.
    Sorry about misnaming the Baja circuit. Both terms seem kind of arbitrary and I get them mixed up. I do know that the switching sometimes becomes problematic with those guitars, not because of the design of the circuit, but because of the hardware itself.
     
    AngelStrummer likes this.
  18. AngelStrummer

    AngelStrummer Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    54
    Posts:
    3,037
    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2007
    Location:
    London
    Thanks for taking the time, I really appreciate it.

    To note, in one of my posts I mentioned:

    So it's not just the Baja...

    I'm going to test with my Danelectro Honey Tone amp, battery-powered and a battery-powered DS-1. If it doesn't hum, then that could strongly suggest the AC, no?
     
  19. AngelStrummer

    AngelStrummer Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    54
    Posts:
    3,037
    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2007
    Location:
    London
    Lo and behold, the Baja through the battery amp and DS-1, with all knobs maxed out - turn the guitar volume down and it's quiet as a mouse.

    Conclusions? Remarks?
     
  20. GreatDaneRock

    GreatDaneRock Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    762
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2018
    Location:
    Central FL
    Time for a Furman power conditioner. I don't know if my grid is dirty or not, I run all the band equipment through a Furman power conditioner, quiet as a mouse, it acts as a surge protector too, and never an issue.

    They do have to be rack mounted or they look weird, but buying a four or two rack unit case is well worth the investment.

    By the way, no need to buy new, plenty of used power conditioners in the market, check Guitar Center's used gear. Same with the rack case, especially with this pandemic, I'm sure there's a lot of bands and musicians offloading a ton of gear.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.