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Bilic
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#1
21st October 2012
Old 21st October 2012
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Annoying humming/static noise from guitar pickups

This only happens in my basement, I have tried out tons of different guitars and amps and i still get the same thing. I tried moving all my equipment upstairs and i get no problems there.

In the clip you can hear how the sound lowers and raises in volume as i move the guitar.

If anyone has any idea what this is please let me know Thanks!
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#2
21st October 2012
Old 21st October 2012
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did you unplug your water machine ?
use the guitar to track the source of the interference, that might give a clue if is electricity or something else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bilic View Post
This only happens in my basement, I have tried out tons of different guitars and amps and i still get the same thing. I tried moving all my equipment upstairs and i get no problems there.

In the clip you can hear how the sound lowers and raises in volume as i move the guitar.

If anyone has any idea what this is please let me know Thanks!
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21st October 2012
Old 21st October 2012
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Had the same problem ... It was me! No joke. Turns out I'm a static magnet. This one particular unshielded guitar of mine starts to hum if I put it on - then stops once I touch it (because it then grounds ME). Good luck, man. That stuff can be hard to diagnose.
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21st October 2012
Old 21st October 2012
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Thanks guys. The water machine is new so it can't be that, been happening forever. I've tried tracking the source with my guitar but it doesn't really lead to anything, it's like it's just in the air.

Brian i know exactly what you're talking about iv had that happen to me on other instruments before, but this is much different.

I hope i can figure this out it sucks having to move all my equipment upstairs every time i want to track guitar haha.
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21st October 2012
Old 21st October 2012
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If you are in the basement, most of the wires and water pipes are in the ceiling. Yes, water pipes as they sometimes carry noise and/or leakage currents back to their sources. So look up.
Some guitars are great noise detecting test instruments.
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21st October 2012
Old 21st October 2012
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Any change in your set up from upstairs compared to the Basement?

When tracing the source with guitar in hand, how does it sound close to your amp? If you move it around can you get a null spot?

If you touch let go of the strings, guitar does it get louder or lessens?
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Bilic
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21st October 2012
Old 21st October 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jinksdingo View Post
Any change in your set up from upstairs compared to the Basement?

When tracing the source with guitar in hand, how does it sound close to your amp? If you move it around can you get a null spot?

If you touch let go of the strings, guitar does it get louder or lessens?
No change in my setup, when i move it around i can get a very quiet spot with very little humming, but not completely canceled out. It sounds the same close to or far away from my amp.

No change when i touch the strings on my guitar, so i'm guessing it isn't a grounding issue.

I'm also right next to my laundry room if that has anything to do with it, i have a long patch cable so i brought my guitar in there and same thing, no louder no quieter.


A friend recommended that if I have nothing else to try i should rent one of these

FurmanSound.com - Pro A/V Product - P-1800 PF R

But we're sure there is a better solution.. unless id have to get into my walls.
#8
22nd October 2012
Old 22nd October 2012
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You can find a spot where it is acceptible, this is indicative of shielding issues and you might have to copper foil line the pickup cavities etc.
Perhaps the basement is more echoic and it is more noticeable or the placement of your gear upstairs helped. Do try the DI with input transformer before your Amp

That Furman is good for nice clean voltage and may clean up what is coming down the voltage lines as well as protecting your gear from spikes; expensive though but not the problem. Well I am not sure what sort of power you got there in Canada.

If it is at all possible to run a quality tradesman power lead from upstairs down into the basement.
if upstairs is on a different circuit it would rule out the Furman if you still got the problem.
#9
22nd October 2012
Old 22nd October 2012
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Although fixing this might be a real PITA - figuring out the root cause should not be all that deep.

Rent or borrow a battery powered amp - does the problem still exist?

If the answer is no then I would look hard at the circuit feeding the amp.

If the answer is "yes" then (using the same portable amp) begin turning the circuits off one at a time - testing for the problem each time you turn off a circuit - the problem circuit(s) should show themselves pretty quickly...

The fact that this exists only in the basement and not upstairs certainly suggests that the issue is in the basement......

It could be lighting (do you have any fluorescent lights down there?) - or it could be a ground loop - however if it is something there transmitting an air borne signal (which it certainly sounds like based on the fact that the intensity changes as you move the antenna (i.e. the pickups) into different positions) then pulling power from upstairs to feed your amp will not change anything.

It is (however) possible that you could kill all of the power - including the main - and still have the problem exist if it's an airborne transmission that is emanating from somewhere outside of the house and the wiring (perhaps piping) in the basement happens to be the source of transmission - in which case you are faced with a huge challenge.

Rod
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22nd October 2012
Old 22nd October 2012
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So i found something interesting when i aim my pickups right up against this pipe in my laundry room, this pipe also leads around my room.

Guitar hum.mp4 - YouTube

Could this have anything to do with my circuit?
#11
22nd October 2012
Old 22nd October 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bilic View Post
So i found something interesting when i aim my pickups right up against this pipe in my laundry room, this pipe also leads around my room.

Could this have anything to do with my circuit?
Not in the sense of anything to do with live electricity (or at least is should not be - that would be a killer) - so not the circuit per se, however - it is a copper water pipe - and metallic pipes in the building are bonded to building ground in the service panel - so it is possible that these pipes have 2 sources to ground - and if that's the case then the difference in potential between the 2 ground sources can cause issues in this regard.

We an across a problem similar to this at a studio project once.

What kind of pipe is providing water source to the building? Plastic, steel, copper?

Rod
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22nd October 2012
Old 22nd October 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rod Gervais View Post
What kind of pipe is providing water source to the building? Plastic, steel, copper?

Rod
Hmm.. it looks like the main pipe is steel, and the hot and cold pipes are copper.
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Bilic
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22nd October 2012
Old 22nd October 2012
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Gas pipe is steel, hot and cold water pipes are copper
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22nd October 2012
Old 22nd October 2012
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Looking at the pic you took it's more clear then the video - this is a gas fired hot water heater - correct?

That looks like black iron pipe for the gas supply - -

What I am interested in is what the pipes are coming into the building - not the pipes at the heater itself........

Rod
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22nd October 2012
Old 22nd October 2012
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Yes, it is a gas fired hot water heater.

I just asked my brother he said the ones coming into the building are schedule 40 black steel pipe
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22nd October 2012
Old 22nd October 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bilic View Post
Yes, it is a gas fired hot water heater.

I just asked my brother he said the ones coming into the building are schedule 40 black steel pipe
And what is the water feed coming into the building, or do you mean that both the gas and water are iron pipe?
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22nd October 2012
Old 22nd October 2012
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The water coming into the house looks like copper pipe.

By the way my room is on the other side of that wall.
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#18
22nd October 2012
Old 22nd October 2012
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Thirty years ago, an E.E. told me about a strange problem at his home. I thought that it was a rare problem, but that he was lucky to be still alive. I'll skip his story but this is the situation.

In older North American residential neighborhoods, all the home's Safety Ground's and Neutral's are connected to the water pipes. If one of the homes has a "Lost Neutral" problem. That's when the Neutral wire from the home's breaker box to the power companies transformer either opens or goes high resistance, the home will use it's and the other home's water pipes as a Neutral current return.
So the problem may be in your neighbor's house.
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23rd October 2012
Old 23rd October 2012
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Speed.........

This assumes that the water supply is common to the neighbor's residence (which may be true if they have a city water supply - which would not be true if they have a well)

However - the pipe he was picking up that heavy signal from was not the water pipe - it was the gas feed to the water heater.

To the OP - you never answered my question related to that gas pipe - is it steel where it enters the building?

Also - could you back away from that water pipe a bit where it enters the building and take a pic with a wider view so I can see exactly what you have there?

Rod
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23rd October 2012
Old 23rd October 2012
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We live in a town house where all the houses are attached. We don't have a well.

I'm pretty sure the gas pipe is steel when it enters the building, but i can find out forsure tonight.

Here are some pics where the gas pipe leads and its all steel. (first pic is the water pipe pic u asked for)
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23rd October 2012
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Beg or borrow an electrician's clamp-on AC current probe/meter. Measure the water pipes at different locations in your house. Measure in your neighbor's houses as well. Tell them that there could be a safety problem (that's a true statement). The reading may vary from moment to moment and it may be higher when less power is being used.
Now this "lost neutral" current will take all possible paths to return to it's source (inversely proportional to the path's resistance) so a small current reading is OK.
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23rd October 2012
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My guess is that this is not a water pipe problem - I say this because it seemed to be the gas pipe in the video he was getting the big hit on.........

You live in a townhouse - the gas line is a shared utility - as is the water main.....

My best guess would be that the pipe is acting like an antenna and is then radiating an EMF into your space - if you do not have any fluorescent lights in your house (you never answered that question btw) - the neighbors probably do in theirs. I would not guess motors or compressors as these would be intermittent - although I suppose it could be a noisy fan motor, I don't know anything about the heating/cooling in the space - but a central air system could have a noisy fan motor causing the problem as well.

The gas lines coming into the building usually have dielectric unions breaking the continuity on the pipes - so they should not be acting as a grounding source.

The bond on the water pipe coming into your space looks a little ratty - cleaning it might help some.

Just tossing out ideas here..... difficult to diagnose problems like this up close - never mind at a distance.........

The fact that you can make the hum almost go away by changing the position of the coils also means that it is not a dirty power problem (at least not the vast majority of it anyway) and as such you aren't going to solve your issue with a power conditioner....

I still suggest a battery powered amp - and check your circuits one at a time to see if the transmission is related to any particular circuit in your space.

Like I said earlier - these can be very problematic - I know a teacher who tried to work though this process at an auditorium that had the same issues - and the problem existed even with the main to the building shut down - and the power company verified their power met the standards for "clean".

If the transmission is coming from the neighbors - the odds are you will never solve it.........

Good luck,

Rod



I would be very surprised to find significant voltage on any of those pipes -
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23rd October 2012
Old 23rd October 2012
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Thanks a lot for your help, i'm gonna try those things and see if i have any luck.

I do have a few fluorescent lights in my house but the problem exists even when they are off.

Do you think what jinks said could work? "You can find a spot where it is acceptible, this is indicative of shielding issues and you might have to copper foil line the pickup cavities etc."
#24
23rd October 2012
Old 23rd October 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rod Gervais View Post
The fact that you can make the hum almost go away by changing the position of the coils also means that it is not a dirty power problem (at least not the vast majority of it anyway) and as such you aren't going to solve your issue with a power conditioner....
Sorry to jump the thread, but would it suggest dirty power if one could not make this kind of thing go away regardless of position changing/twisting/turning? I am having a very similar thing /buzz from guitar amps in a college studio where I teach. With any guitar, cable or amp.
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23rd October 2012
Old 23rd October 2012
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i should have mentioned this before, but at 42 seconds in the clip i posted, it is silent because i turned the guitar volume all the way down, not from finding a quiet spot in my room or anything. Although i can find a spot where the volume does get a little lower, but still noticeable.

Rod, if this were the case and the pipes were radiating EMF into my space, would that be a health risk?
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23rd October 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bilic View Post
Thanks a lot for your help, i'm gonna try those things and see if i have any luck.

I do have a few fluorescent lights in my house but the problem exists even when they are off.

Do you think what jinks said could work? "You can find a spot where it is acceptible, this is indicative of shielding issues and you might have to copper foil line the pickup cavities etc."
Not a clue - I would imagine it depends a lot on exactly what you're picking up.....

A partial Faraday shield might work to some extent - might not - there are too many variables to even begin to do a fast and dirty answer to that question......

Rod
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23rd October 2012
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Quote:
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Rod, if this were the case and the pipes were radiating EMF into my space, would that be a health risk?
Hey we're bombarded with electromagnetic fields all the time - and people are not dropping like flies around us.

Picture it like this - fluorescent lights will cause what you're experiencing - are you worried about health risk from those lights? (forgetting the mercury should they break) - just due to the lights working I mean........

Rod
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23rd October 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
Sorry to jump the thread, but would it suggest dirty power if one could not make this kind of thing go away regardless of position changing/twisting/turning? I am having a very similar thing /buzz from guitar amps in a college studio where I teach. With any guitar, cable or amp.
If it's any guitar cable, amp, with no change in amplitude when you change the position of the pickups I would have to learn towards dirty power... the odds of having a field that so perfectly enveloped you as to make no change related to the position of the pickup would be pretty unusual - which is to say that I have never seen it..... however this is not to say it's impossible....

Rod
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23rd October 2012
Old 23rd October 2012
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So I have discovered that it is not just the steel gas pipe causing the buzzing, its also the main water pipe coming out of the ground, and this power box that is in my room. The power box causes the loudest buzzing when i hold my guitar near it. Maybe i can try out some sort of reflector? or cover it with sheet metal?

I also just found another small area on my floor that causes very loud buzzing.
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#30
24th October 2012
Old 24th October 2012
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It's probably not a great idea to block access to the circuit breaker box, but maybe you can build something that allows access and also serves your purpose...
Maybe line the inside of the 'door' (not the metal one, but the access door in the wall) with a copper mesh screen, and also line the walls of the nook so it completes a sort of 'mesh box' when you close the door.

Someone with more electrical knowledge than i may be able to tell you if that will work or not..
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