Why is this brand new guitar buzzing when I don't touch the strings?

jball85

Strat-O-Master
Mar 16, 2014
753
East Texas
I've had this problem. Explanation... The homeowner/renter had the town plumber do the electrician work while renovating the house before I moved in. I've got outlets with no grounds, reversed neutral and hot wires, etc. You name it, he f***** it up.

I found the one correctly wired and grounded outlet in my room and then installed a 20a outlet. I made sure the breaker would support it. Then ran a 30' extension cord to the area of my guitars, cpu, and amps. The cord is plugged into a massive Tripp Lite surge protector that powers everything. No more buzz.

This is all overkill though, just buy a GFCI tester at the hardware store and find a correctly wired outlet to plug into.
 

James64

Strat-Talk Member
Jun 28, 2012
28
Florida
Pretty much all of my guitars have some sort of shielding inside (though I never opened up my MIA American Special, I don't play it much because I never warmed up to the huge frets).

None of this has anything to do with 60Hz hum. That hum is cancelled on this FMT HSS when in position 1 (humbucker) and position 4 (RWRP middle and neck). There is a little hum in position 2 and a slightly higher level of hum in position 3 and 5 as it should.

Anyway. I think I figured it out. I believe that the buzzing in the FMT HSS was caused by the 7 overhead-recessed-LED kitchen lights that were probably on when I made the video. While those lights are on a dimmer, they were probably not dimmed at the time (because I usually don't dim them) I usually do not have them on at all! They were not on during the afternoon tests.

Last night, I tried the FMT HSS with the those lights off and the noise was significantly less (it was playable)! When I turned them on (full blast, no dimming), game over! The interesting take-away is that the fully shielded CV50s SSS Strat makes barely any noise (you'd have to really pay attention to it) when the lights are on, and is dead silent when they are off.

At this point, it seems that the kitchen lights which are wired to a dimmer was the culprit. The refrigerator, TV, WiFi router and AC system seemed to not contribute any noise, well if they do, it's not much.

I got side tracked, before I made the original post. I was research of grounding and shielding. I came across a YouTube video in which the guy was arguing that shielding does nothing. At this point, I disagree with him, at least in my case. I believe that shielding can help with some types of buzzing noise. Shielding does nothing for 60Hz hum but that's ok with me.

Soon, I will shield the FMT HSS and make another video (stitch them together in fact... before... after). I will post the results so that someone else can learn for this.

I really like the tone of all of these pickups! The neck is perfect, the switch works fine and I love the idea that one tone is wired to the neck and middle, and one tone is wired to the bridge. This guitar required no setup out of the box!!! My MIA and MIM Strats required lots of setup.

Thanks for the help!
 

James64

Strat-Talk Member
Jun 28, 2012
28
Florida
The noise is worse at night. One afternoon, there was barely any noise. At 7 AM today, there was barely any noise. One night, there was barely any noise. I wonder if the power company is doing something or if a neighbor is doing something noisy.

When the FMT HSS makes the noise, I immediately check my two fully copper shielded SSS Strats which are dead quiet, no buzzing noise. So, while I will shield the FMT HSS, I'd love to find the electrical problem in the house.

I checked most of the outlets in the house with an outlet tester. I certainly checked anything that might be on the same circuit (breaker). I did not unplug the refrigerator for one thing. I will finish... but I'm not thinking that that is the problem.

I will have to check the earth ground. Years ago, when I was after this same noise (before I shielded any guitars), I decided that maybe the Florida clay doesn't provide a good ground, especially because water can barely penetrate it. So, I dug a 5' trench, 2 or 3' deep and buried another long ground stake under peat moss, top soil and some trap rock. I connected the wire to the existing ground stake. So, house --> original ground stake --> my horizontal ground stake. Now, maybe that created the infamous ground loop even though there is only 1 ground wire coming out of the house? Anyway, soon I will disconnect my additional horizontal ground stake to see what happens.
 

Dave Harmon

Strat-Talker
Feb 18, 2016
283
Right Here
The buzz I am hearing is typical of switching power supplies.
Your LED lights are powered by a switching supply...read....cheap and noisy.
Linear power supplies have a transformer...read more expensive...and are quiet.
Wall warts are mfgd in both types.
Heavy warts are usually linear types.
Lighter warts are usually switching types.

You can make another test with the LED lights off but first go through your house and unplug all warts....phone chargers are switchers too.
One of my computers causes noise so unplug your computers and everything else that has a wart style charger.
Large screen computer monitors warts are very noisy.
Pedal board power supplies are switchers and are usually noisy, try a test with the pedal board supply powered off.
 
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Hal Nico

Senior Stratmaster
Apr 28, 2012
3,792
JAMOADR
Nope it's not the lights/dim!!! Bummer. I will have to shield the guitar.

I watched the video. I noticed that it does not occur in the Bridge position and the Mid/Neck position. It could just be a faulty 5-way switch or one that has been contaminated with soldering debris. Years ago I had a similar buzzing and found a small/tiny blob of solder had got lodged in the 5-Way switch from some untidy Pilot-Error soldering which caused some shorting.
 

BelairPlayer

Strat-Talker
Apr 3, 2012
443
Northern California
I had one like that once. One of the pots had gotten mangled in shipping. It couldn’t be seen until I lifted the pickguard. Replaced the pot, all was good. I think the pot had weird behavior over it’s travel also, but I wouldn’t swear to it.
 

James64

Strat-Talk Member
Jun 28, 2012
28
Florida
Thank you gentleman!!!

I am curious, what does a mangled pot look like? I wonder how it could have been mangled under the Pickguard during shipping? Maybe a bad pot was installed???

There is no doubt, the buzzing happens in every position. Its bad tonight. It's always worse at night!

The wall warts was a good idea. I went around the house and unplugged everything except for the refrigerator (even WiFi got shut off), it still buzzes!!! The LED's on a dimmer (full on) make it slightly worse (really just a high frequency) but it still buzzes.

All the other guitars have shielding paint or copper foil. The ones with shielding paint make a barely audible buzz (nothing to complain about), and the ones with copper foil are dead quiet.

I will take the Pickguards off over the weekend and have a look.

Either there is something wrong with this guitar, or shielding is what's needed to stop the mysterious RFI in my house.
 

Dave Harmon

Strat-Talker
Feb 18, 2016
283
Right Here
Thank you gentleman!!!

I am curious, what does a mangled pot look like? I wonder how it could have been mangled under the Pickguard during shipping? Maybe a bad pot was installed???

There is no doubt, the buzzing happens in every position. Its bad tonight. It's always worse at night!

The wall warts was a good idea. I went around the house and unplugged everything except for the refrigerator (even WiFi got shut off), it still buzzes!!! The LED's on a dimmer (full on) make it slightly worse (really just a high frequency) but it still buzzes.

All the other guitars have shielding paint or copper foil. The ones with shielding paint make a barely audible buzz (nothing to complain about), and the ones with copper foil are dead quiet.

I will take the Pickguards off over the weekend and have a look.

Either there is something wrong with this guitar, or shielding is what's needed to stop the mysterious RFI in my house.
If you have a short cable like is used to connect adjacent pedals....try plugging it into the guitar and straight into the amp.
If the noise is reduced or eliminated...your regular cable is picking it up sort of like a radio antenna.
If the buzz is still there....it is coming into your amp over the line cord.

Do you have a street lamp close to the house??
If it is ON during the daytime it has a bad starter module and these can make a huge racket on the power lines.
If it is OFF at night....it has a bad starter or bad bulb...mercury vapor lamps are very noisy...think out of the box and you'll find it.
 

James64

Strat-Talk Member
Jun 28, 2012
28
Florida
Interesting. There is a street light on the other side of my neighbors house. Maybe 40 yards away max. The street light is on at night. I never looked to see if it is on during the day.

I tried a short cable, the noise was much worse.
The amp doesn't make any noise if there is no guitar cord plugged in.
The amp makes make the noise with the cable plugged while its not plugged into a guitar though its not as bad of a noise. It's a Vox coiled cord. I have two.

I did take a piece of thin insulated wire and touched the low E string with one end and the nut on the bottom of the volume pot with the other... and there was no change in the buzzing noise.
 

Dave Harmon

Strat-Talker
Feb 18, 2016
283
Right Here
The first paragraph in post #8 is likely correct.
You've pretty well narrowed it down following all the good comments everyone has made.

One thing you could try is...do you have a portable generator??
If so...fire it up and plug in the amp with the Strat then cut the main breaker in the house and see what you have.
If it's quiet.....well...you get the picture! :cool:
 

nadzab

Play Don't Worry
Silver Member
May 15, 2009
6,266
New England
I've had this problem. Explanation... The homeowner/renter had the town plumber do the electrician work while renovating the house before I moved in. I've got outlets with no grounds, reversed neutral and hot wires, etc. You name it, he f***** it up.

I found the one correctly wired and grounded outlet in my room and then installed a 20a outlet. I made sure the breaker would support it. Then ran a 30' extension cord to the area of my guitars, cpu, and amps. The cord is plugged into a massive Tripp Lite surge protector that powers everything. No more buzz.

This is all overkill though, just buy a GFCI tester at the hardware store and find a correctly wired outlet to plug into.

I'd be afraid to live in this house.
 

Scott Baxendale

Most Honored Senior Member
Gold Supporting Member
May 20, 2020
5,930
Sante Fe, NM
Hello,

I just bought this Squier Affinity FMT HSS Strat Siena Sunburst online (couldn't find one locally). It came setup perfectly out of the box (after I tuned it). I am concerned about the buzzing (not fret buzzing or 60Hz hum). I don't remember ever buying a guitar that had buzzing that is this bad! The buzzing noise (which is loader than 60Hz hum) occurs no matter what position the 5 selector switch is in and it occurs if the guitar is in a guitar stand and I walk to the other side of the room and it doesn't matter which direction the guitar is facing.

1. Why is it buzzing (not fret buzz) when not touching the strings or anything metal on the guitar?
2. Is the only fix, to shield the cavities as opposed to returning it? There is no shielding or shielding paint under the Pickguard.
3. If you touch the strings, isn't that an indication that the guitar is properly grounded, or do you need to do more investigating?
4. If you touch the metal parts and the buzzing gets worse, isn't that the sign that the guitar has an internal grounding issue?
5. Why don't Squier Affinity Strats or Teles make the noise in the local GC stores.

It buzzes even if all the lights and TVs are turned off in the house. I have tried other amps (tube, SS) but it makes no difference. I've tried different rooms, doesn't matter. My house is only about 15 years old. I have multiple ground stakes in the ground outside, in fact I made a trench about 2 feet down and put peat moss, top soil and rocks in it to trap water (due to the clay like ground around here).

I am guessing that shielding the entire cavity under the Pickguard (and shielding the Pickguard) will fix it because it fixed in on my Squier CV50s SSS Strat which only has 60 Hz hum in positions 1, 3 and 5. I have a Fender American Special SSS that has shielding paint which buzzes only a little. I have a Fender MIM Roadhouse SSS that has Fender Vintage Noiseless pickups in it and shielding paint and it buzzes (no 60 Hz hum) a little. I have a Squier Deluxe SSS that I fully shielded and has no buzz and it only has 60 Hz hum. I have a Fender MP Tele Plus that I fully shielded and replaced all the pickups with Fender Vintage Noiseless pickups and it has no buzz and no hum.

I like the Squier Affinity FMT HSS Strat Siena Sunburst because I love: the satin neck which feels nice and is straight, how thin the guitar is (you can get to the upper frets without spending thousands of dollars), it has humbucker, all of the positions sound awesome (which suprised me), it looks nice (although the pattern isn't as pronounced as the one on Fenders site), it was a great price, and the fit and finish is as good as my MIA.

Thanks for any advice!
Sounds like it could be a ground short? or someone wired the jack backwards.
 

James64

Strat-Talk Member
Jun 28, 2012
28
Florida
Shouldn't there be a ground wire from the bottom of the Tone 1 pot to the bottom of Tone 2 pot and then to the bottom of the Volume pot! Am I missing something here? All the electric guitars that I have looked at, have the bottoms of the 3 pots tied together.

Could this be what's contributing to the noise? I should run wire from the bottom of the Tone 1 pot to the bottom of Tone 2 pot and then to the bottom of the Volume pot?
 

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