- Poor Cables, Connectors, Sockets & Switches
- Un-shielded Stratocaster with single coil pickups
- Bad Ground in power supply
- Reverse Polarity in power supply
- Electromagnetic Interference due to Fans/Fluorescent Lamps, Large Transformers
- Faulty Pedals
- Excess gain from pedals
- Playing near Amplifier
Quite often people cut corners & go for cheap Cables, Connectors, Sockets & Switches as they are flooded in the market and are quite tempting over the good ones in terms of price and also visual appeal, but one of the major reason behind NOISE & BAD TONE lies here.
The key to good tone and low noise lies in 3 basic stuffs: A good Shielded Guitar, Cable & a nicely made Amp.
- Shielding of guitar can be done very easily by opening the pickguard and shielding the cavity by a copper foil tape and connecting it to ground. Doing this ensures the interference (EMI is passed to ground and not picked up by the magnetic pickups , single coils especially). The cables must be Oxygen free copper and properly shielded with low capacitance. Planet waves make good cables and are reasonable priced. The best cable which I have come across and use is the Evidence Audio guitar cable. The jacks and sockets throughout in my Rig is Neutrik.
Neutrik Silent Plug and Evidence audio cable
- Even after taking care of Guitar, cables & connectors you cannot restrict EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) from nearby electrical devices like Fans/Fluorescent Lamps, Large Transformers, Fridge, etc. If your entire system and chassis is connected to mains Ground and you have taken care of minimising ground loops (Google to learn about it), your system will very effectively bypass the interference to ground.
- Mains Power line testing simple devices are available in market which indicate the nature of the fault in the supply, you can also check using a simple electrical tester, the live should be on the right, a reverse polarity must be immediately corrected for electrical safety.
- Sometimes fault in pedals can also lead to noise, you can very easily find out the faulty pedal by bypassing all and switching one by one.
- Cranking the gain of an overdrive or a distortion is quite a tempting thing to get sustained gainy tone but there are other ways to do it. Overdrives & Distortion pedals work on the principle of Amplification and clipping and in this process any noise coupled with the actual signal, gets amplified and clipped and makes even worse. Try not to crank up the gain full on overdrives and distortion.
- The strings and pickups on a guitar act like an antenna and if you are playing near amplifier or any other electrical device it might pickup up Electromagnetic waves, you might also like to try holding guitar in various directions and you’ll find out one particular direction as the quietest.