Electric guitar cable to reduce/eliminate buzz?

Guitar Tricks Forum > Gear Discussion > Electric guitar cable to reduce/eliminate buzz?

Mikey54

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Joined: 11/01/19

Posts: 13

Hi

I have a loud buzzing noise from my amp (Boss Katana Mini), noticeable when the

gain is turned up or brown/crunch enabled- the buzz is too loud to use the amp on that setting.

I did some detective work: the buzz is there with a cable but no guitar connected.

I tried in another room then outside in the garden on an extension lead : still buzzing.

When I connect the end of the lead (the end not in the amp) to the copper pipe on the central heating, the buzz vanishes.

So looks like the buzz its likely to be down to the lead.

Make is 'Tourtech' (3M long, 1/4" TS Male both ends) , given as a freebie when I bought the guitar.. so might be at the budget end of things.

I have one other lead : same problem, but also looks like a budget lead, no quality lead to swap in to test.

Am I right in thinking the cable is likely the source of the problem?

If yes , is there anything I should look for in a new cable (shielding?braiding? - are they the same thing? "low noise"?).

Thanks in advance.

Mike

#1

Hi

I have a loud buzzing noise from my amp (Boss Katana Mini), noticeable when the

gain is turned up or brown/crunch enabled- the buzz is too loud to use the amp on that setting.

I did some detective work: the buzz is there with a cable but no guitar connected.

I tried in another room then outside in the garden on an extension lead : still buzzing.

When I connect the end of the lead (the end not in the amp) to the copper pipe on the central heating, the buzz vanishes.

So looks like the buzz its likely to be down to the lead.

Make is 'Tourtech' (3M long, 1/4" TS Male both ends) , given as a freebie when I bought the guitar.. so might be at the budget end of things.

I have one other lead : same problem, but also looks like a budget lead, no quality lead to swap in to test.

Am I right in thinking the cable is likely the source of the problem?

If yes , is there anything I should look for in a new cable (shielding?braiding? - are they the same thing? "low noise"?).

Thanks in advance.

Mike

fuzzb0x

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Joined: 04/02/13

Posts: 480

Could be the cable could be a grounding issue in the amp, I'd try a new cable first as that's the easiest thing to rule out.

#2

Could be the cable could be a grounding issue in the amp, I'd try a new cable first as that's the easiest thing to rule out.

Mikey54

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Joined: 11/01/19

Posts: 13

Thanks Fuzz,

Bit more detective work: I put batteries into the amp. still the buzz, but this time thouching the end of the cable to the central heating pipe didnt stop the buzz.

Moving to other rooms did reduce the buzz. I'll try a new cable.

Mike

#3

Thanks Fuzz,

Bit more detective work: I put batteries into the amp. still the buzz, but this time thouching the end of the cable to the central heating pipe didnt stop the buzz.

Moving to other rooms did reduce the buzz. I'll try a new cable.

Mike

fuzzb0x

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Joined: 04/02/13

Posts: 480

Make sure you are away from fluorescent lights, dimmer switches or anything with a computer plugged into it.

#4

Make sure you are away from fluorescent lights, dimmer switches or anything with a computer plugged into it.

Mikey54

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Joined: 11/01/19

Posts: 13

Well the new cable came today, plugged in & ...same problem.

I did discover that , with the cable plugged into the amp , not the guitar, touching the open cable end to the central heating pipe did this:

* touching with the part of the cable end furthest away from the tip (ie about an inch from the end of the tip) the buzzing dissapeared (ie the result I had earlier).

but..

* touching with the tip of the cable end made things even worse. much more buzzing & cracking sound.

Tried it in various rooms in the house, in the garden on an extension mains cable, same problem.

Next : used batteries instead of the mains power supply, no guitar plugged in. This time the buzz is still there, but touching the tip of the spare end of the cable to the cental heating pipe

results in the buzz getting worse.

Dont have access to another amp to test.

I read these clues to mean the amp itself is faulty, would welcome any other ideas before I contact the supplier.

#5

Well the new cable came today, plugged in & ...same problem.

I did discover that , with the cable plugged into the amp , not the guitar, touching the open cable end to the central heating pipe did this:

* touching with the part of the cable end furthest away from the tip (ie about an inch from the end of the tip) the buzzing dissapeared (ie the result I had earlier).

but..

* touching with the tip of the cable end made things even worse. much more buzzing & cracking sound.

Tried it in various rooms in the house, in the garden on an extension mains cable, same problem.

Next : used batteries instead of the mains power supply, no guitar plugged in. This time the buzz is still there, but touching the tip of the spare end of the cable to the cental heating pipe

results in the buzz getting worse.

Dont have access to another amp to test.

I read these clues to mean the amp itself is faulty, would welcome any other ideas before I contact the supplier.

Guitar Tech

Moderator

Joined: 02/20/08

Posts: 1107

Sorry to 'Butt In'...

I ran across this post accidentally, just now (I'm the moderator from the 'Ask a Guitar Tech' forum)...

Mikey54, if I understand your initial posting correctly, it doesn't sound like there's anything wrong with your amp, at all. Having any amp make a lot of 'buzz' when set on a high-gain channel with a cable plugged in, but no guitar connected to the other end of that cable, is completely normal. Plugging a cable into an amp, without a guitar connected to the other end of the cable, doesn't tell you anything useful - the 'open' cable itself will generate quite a lot of 'buzz' itself. All modern amps have a 'shorting' input-jack, that connects 'hot' to 'ground' within the input-jack itself, when no cable is plugged into the input-jack. This is done specifically to prevent the problem you're experiencing.

The testing you performed (which you described very accurately, btw) does not indicate a faulty cable (at least, not to me) - instead, it indicates that your amp is working normally. If your guitar is built with single-coil pickups (e.g. a Stratocaster or Telecaster, or a guitar with Gibson 'P-90' pickups), the single-coil pickups will induct a lot of 60Hz hum ('buzz') from the outside world, and this hum is being amplified greatly by the high-gain setting in your amp.

I guess that your amp (which is fairly basic) doen't have any elaborate shielding for its circuitry, so it may be more sensitive to outside 60Hz noise than some more-expensive amps, and/or that the amp's high-gain setting (which is a digital emulation of an analog 'tube' cicuit) may, for whatever reason, just be more sensitive to this noise than an 'analog' circuit usually is...

In any case, I have no reason to think that the culprit is your cable. However (fyi), there are 'directional' cables taht are specifically engineered to reduce 60Hz noise from single-coil pickups. These cables are quite specialized (read: expensive), but they do exist. Just be sure to plug them in, in the right orientation (if you get one)!

Good Luck with your problem;

Stephen White

#6

Sorry to 'Butt In'...

I ran across this post accidentally, just now (I'm the moderator from the 'Ask a Guitar Tech' forum)...

Mikey54, if I understand your initial posting correctly, it doesn't sound like there's anything wrong with your amp, at all. Having any amp make a lot of 'buzz' when set on a high-gain channel with a cable plugged in, but no guitar connected to the other end of that cable, is completely normal. Plugging a cable into an amp, without a guitar connected to the other end of the cable, doesn't tell you anything useful - the 'open' cable itself will generate quite a lot of 'buzz' itself. All modern amps have a 'shorting' input-jack, that connects 'hot' to 'ground' within the input-jack itself, when no cable is plugged into the input-jack. This is done specifically to prevent the problem you're experiencing.

The testing you performed (which you described very accurately, btw) does not indicate a faulty cable (at least, not to me) - instead, it indicates that your amp is working normally. If your guitar is built with single-coil pickups (e.g. a Stratocaster or Telecaster, or a guitar with Gibson 'P-90' pickups), the single-coil pickups will induct a lot of 60Hz hum ('buzz') from the outside world, and this hum is being amplified greatly by the high-gain setting in your amp.

I guess that your amp (which is fairly basic) doen't have any elaborate shielding for its circuitry, so it may be more sensitive to outside 60Hz noise than some more-expensive amps, and/or that the amp's high-gain setting (which is a digital emulation of an analog 'tube' cicuit) may, for whatever reason, just be more sensitive to this noise than an 'analog' circuit usually is...

In any case, I have no reason to think that the culprit is your cable. However (fyi), there are 'directional' cables taht are specifically engineered to reduce 60Hz noise from single-coil pickups. These cables are quite specialized (read: expensive), but they do exist. Just be sure to plug them in, in the right orientation (if you get one)!

Good Luck with your problem;

Stephen White

hsnoeckx

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Joined: 12/03/19

Posts: 108

What guitar do you have? cheeper class guitars aren't shielded in the caveties and that can give buzz problems

#7

What guitar do you have? cheeper class guitars aren't shielded in the caveties and that can give buzz problems

Mikey54

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Joined: 11/01/19

Posts: 13

Gents thanks for the replies, in particular Stephen your detailed one.

The supplier sent me a replacement unit I tried today ..and ... same noise.

Guitar is a Yamaha Pacifica 112J, The buzz is there without the guitar plugged in so took it as the guitar was not a factor.

The Boss katana mini amp's knobs run from 7 oclock to 5 oclock positions, & there are 3 settings clean, crunch, brown.

With volume & gain at midway (12 oclock) with the guitar plugged in, on clean in there is a persistent buzz , tolerable. I usually have it with gain at 9 oclock for practice.

With guitar plugged in, on brown the buzzing is annoying after a minute so I switch back to clean.

With guitar plugged in, on crunch for me the buzz makes it unusable.

So I have a budget £70 (~$88) amp & it feels like crunch & brown are unusable. Ok budget but surely all features should be useable.

I'm a beginner to the world of guitars/gear so maybe missing something in understanding.

Mike

#8

Gents thanks for the replies, in particular Stephen your detailed one.

The supplier sent me a replacement unit I tried today ..and ... same noise.

Guitar is a Yamaha Pacifica 112J, The buzz is there without the guitar plugged in so took it as the guitar was not a factor.

The Boss katana mini amp's knobs run from 7 oclock to 5 oclock positions, & there are 3 settings clean, crunch, brown.

With volume & gain at midway (12 oclock) with the guitar plugged in, on clean in there is a persistent buzz , tolerable. I usually have it with gain at 9 oclock for practice.

With guitar plugged in, on brown the buzzing is annoying after a minute so I switch back to clean.

With guitar plugged in, on crunch for me the buzz makes it unusable.

So I have a budget £70 (~$88) amp & it feels like crunch & brown are unusable. Ok budget but surely all features should be useable.

I'm a beginner to the world of guitars/gear so maybe missing something in understanding.

Mike

hsnoeckx

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Joined: 12/03/19

Posts: 108

If you touch the metal plate next to the output jack, does the noise stop? if yes and the noise doesn't stop if you touch the strings then chances are big that the guitar cavities haven't been shielded. Or you do the job yourself if that is the case ( not diffixult with thick alu foil and some extra wires ( look it up on YT)) or you can buy a pedal called a Noise limiter and put that as first directly after the guitar.

Herman

#9

If you touch the metal plate next to the output jack, does the noise stop? if yes and the noise doesn't stop if you touch the strings then chances are big that the guitar cavities haven't been shielded. Or you do the job yourself if that is the case ( not diffixult with thick alu foil and some extra wires ( look it up on YT)) or you can buy a pedal called a Noise limiter and put that as first directly after the guitar.

Herman

Mikey54

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Joined: 11/01/19

Posts: 13

Originally Posted by: hsnoeckx

If you touch the metal plate next to the output jack, does the noise stop?

Thanks Herman.

By o/p jack I understand it as the metal part on the guitar round the hole into which the cable is plugged.

With the guitar plugged in and the amp plugged into the mains (not on batteries):

touching finger to o/p jack = reduced buzz

touching finger to metal connector part of cable about 1/4 inch away from o/p jack = same level of reduction

touching guitar strings = more reduction in buzz (improvement on the above)

touching individual strings or the bridge: same as touching all strings

all instances of the above the reduction is partial, remaining buzz still means guitar unusable on brown,unusable with cruch over half way.

touching the metal part of the pickup selector : no difference to buzz

touching the metal part of the cable end , 1/4 inch before it enters the amp = increased buzz.

Update: during practice accidentaly touched the cable end 1/4 inch from the guitar o/p jack.

this time the buzzing increased instead of decreasing. Touching strings/bridge = buzz decreased (as before)

#10

Originally Posted by: hsnoeckx

If you touch the metal plate next to the output jack, does the noise stop?

Thanks Herman.

By o/p jack I understand it as the metal part on the guitar round the hole into which the cable is plugged.

With the guitar plugged in and the amp plugged into the mains (not on batteries):

touching finger to o/p jack = reduced buzz

touching finger to metal connector part of cable about 1/4 inch away from o/p jack = same level of reduction

touching guitar strings = more reduction in buzz (improvement on the above)

touching individual strings or the bridge: same as touching all strings

all instances of the above the reduction is partial, remaining buzz still means guitar unusable on brown,unusable with cruch over half way.

touching the metal part of the pickup selector : no difference to buzz

touching the metal part of the cable end , 1/4 inch before it enters the amp = increased buzz.

Update: during practice accidentaly touched the cable end 1/4 inch from the guitar o/p jack.

this time the buzzing increased instead of decreasing. Touching strings/bridge = buzz decreased (as before)