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Do I need to move?
Old 11th February 2013
Here for the gear

Do I need to move?

Hey all,

I'm well aware that single-coil pickups can generate a lot of hum and buzz, but I swear in my new apartment both of my Strats are going nuts. Nothing else about my setup has changed.

No dimmer switches, non-CRT computer monitor.

There are lots of helpful threads on the topic already (Strat Buzz, single coils - Solutions Please?), but I thought I'd post a sample of the noise I'm experiencing and get some advice before I invest in any drastic modifications.

In the audio, neck pickup is selected. I start with the guitar parallel to the floor, and rotate it towards the 45 degrees from the floor and 45 degrees towards the ceiling during the first 14 seconds. At 15 seconds, I play a chord so you can get a sense of the relative volume - this is what I'm most concerned about. I've always had noise, but I think this is way louder.

A second or three after I play the chord, I switch to neck/middle pickup, which cancels the sound on this guitar (not on my other Strat). Are these wired to opposite polarities or something? I then switch back to neck and the noise returns.

I've definitely got 60hz hum and some serious buzz going on. The buzz occurs when plugged directly into my interface (as in the recording) and when plugged into my amplifier. Buzz and hum occur in every room of the apartment.

Can anybody speak to the probable effectiveness of any of these mods? - Shielding a Strat(tm)

Trade Secrets! Newsletter at Stewart-MacDonald

I'd really like to avoid doing all the labor and spending the money only to find that the noise is still obnoxiously present.

And if this sounds like normal Strat noise to everybody, maybe I'm just getting pickier over the years. But I'm pretty sure this is worse than it needs to be.

Thanks in advance!
Attached Files

HumnBuzz.wav (4.77 MB, 182 views)

Old 11th February 2013
Lives for gear
popmann's Avatar
Shielding is a must for single coils. I've had it done to any guitars I own that didn't come that way.
Old 11th February 2013
You don't see them much anymore (thank heaven), but those old-fashioned light dimmer rheostats (for use with incandescent bulbs) can cause ENORMOUS problems with hum induction. As you turn them down, the hum often goes way up. You recognize them by the typical pop in/out switch knob. I've even run across a few lamps with built in dimmer knobs, as well.

Of course, there are a million things that can cause hum. Like running a Strat on a single p/u. (I'm a Strat guy.) But I mention the dimmer switch thing because they're getting rare and many younger players may not have run into them.

Shielding is probably a good way to go. Or learn to like dual p/u settings.
Old 11th February 2013
Lives for gear
Joe_K's Avatar
I've heard bad florescent bulbs, dimmers and even street lights all make a difference. I currently battle with a bad street light that cycles on and off because of a bad ballast or something. I can actually stand at the window (with my standard equipped single coils) and watch it go on and off in sync with the noise.

I would go ahead and try shielding, etc. but if all else fails you could try different pickups. I have 2 strats with Kinman pickups and I can easily recommend them:

Strat Pickups | Kinman - Stratocaster Pickups

A bit expensive, but really very good. I've had them for 8-9 years and wouldn't dream of swapping them out.
Old 11th February 2013
Lives for gear
Vintageidiot's Avatar
Old 11th February 2013
Gear Maniac

Shielding worked great for me.
Old 11th February 2013
Here for the gear

Thanks guys. Just to clarify, folks are recommending copper shielding a la the stewmac article I linked? Anybody got a better method?
Old 11th February 2013
Lives for gear
The reason the "in between" positions in your one strat don't hum is that the two pickups are set up like a hum bucker: the coils are reversed and the magnet is reversed, so passive interference picked up by the coils will be out of phase but the active signal is back in phase.

Shielding will help but it won't be like a light switch turning off the noise, because the single coils themselves are still prone to picking it up. If it still doesn't work for you, you can get a dummy coil like the Suhr backplate, which will act like a reverse wound coil to cancel all hum on the guitar that hums in all positions, it won't work in the humbucking positions on the other. You could also switch to noiseless pickups. That said, the simple expedient of moving improved my noise incredibly!
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