A guitar amplifier (or a bass amplifier) can buzz and rattle on specific notes if there is a loose part or a loose connection. There are, however, several different factors that can contribute to this.
Sound is a physical waveform. As your amplifier produces loud sounds, it will also cause an intense vibration. As your amplifier vibrates, specific components in the amplifier can come loose over time. Depending on how loose these components may be, it can cause a buzzing sound on certain notes.
As someone who has played guitar and bass for over seven years, I can confirm that the last thing you will want to hear is a buzzing or rattling sound only on specific notes. However, the good news is that different options are available to stop this from happening.
In this article, we will go over several options to assist you with stopping your guitar from buzzing regularly.
Topics covered will include five possible reasons why your amp buzzes and rattles only on specific notes, seven different ways to prevent the amplifier from rattling in the future, and if it is common for cheaper amps to rattle and buzz than more expensive amplifiers.
We will also address the frequently asked question of if a rattling amplifier indicates if it has been blown out or not.
5 Reasons Why Amp Buzzes & Rattles Only On Certain Notes (With The Fix)
1. Bad power cord
Bad power cord will cause amp buzzing because it cannot carry electricity from the cord to the amplifier properly. Replacing this cable will allow the electrical current to flow more easily.
Once you have replaced the cord, the electrical current will flow freely from the outlet to the amplifier. The more freely the electrical current flows, the better your amplifier should sound.
2. Replace the cable
If your cables are old and worn out (connecting the preamps, the cabinets, effects pedals, etc.), they may not carry the electrical signal very well. This can also cause rattling or buzzing effects.
Once you have replaced these cables, the electrical current will flow better between your electrical components. This will help to prevent the rattling and buzzing noises.
3. Clean input jack
Dust particles caught in the input jacks of your amplifiers, cabinets, guitar, and other electrical components can interfere with the electrical signal from your guitar to and from the other electrical components of the device. Dust particles can cause a buzzing on specific notes when playing the guitar.
These jacks can be cleaned by taking rubbing alcohol to a Q-tip and applying them inside the jacks by pushing them into the jacks and turning them clockwise and counterclockwise. Once you have done so, please wait approximately an hour for the alcohol to dry.
4. Clean the pots
Pots are the compartments where your knobs on the amplifier are connected to the amplifier itself. Dust, dirt, and other particles can get into these pots and cause buzzing or rattling sounds on specific notes.
Once you have done so, please wait approximately one hour before reconnecting the knobs and playing again. Once you have gotten any debris out of these pots, you should have less buzzing on specific notes.
5. Check the tubes
A bad tube can cause a rattling or buzzing on specific high notes if you have a tube amp. If you have a bad tube causing this rattling, it would need to be replaced.
To test your tubes, gently tap on the outside of them with a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon. If you hear a high-end sound, almost like a high hat or a ringing sound, the tube is rattling and needs to be replaced.
6 Ways To Prevent Amp From Ever Rattling Again
Now that you have identified and fixed your rattling and buzzing amp, let’s take a look at how you can prevent your amp from making rattling noises ever agian.
1. Reattach amp cages
If your amplifier has a cage or protective unit around the tubes in the amplifier, these can sometimes shake and rattle. You can remove these cages and protective barriers to see if the rattling stops.
If the rattling stops after removing these cages, it is most likely caused by how it was secured to your amplifier. Reattaching the cage securely should prevent this from occurring.
2. Ensure no loose screws
Speakers can also come loose. If there is a screw loose connecting the speaker, or if the speaker is not securely in place, this can also cause buzzing on specific notes.
If the speaker itself is properly secured and you still hear a buzzing sound from the speaker, it could be due to the quality of the speaker itself. Consider replacing the speaker in the amplifier with a higher-quality speaker.
Another common loose screw is at the top of the amplifier. If you see this, then tighten these loose screws as much as possible. Just doing this alone can prevent a vibrating or humming sound.
3. Upgrade your amp
If the speaker in the amp is of a lower quality, it may create buzzing noises on specific notes. Consider upgrading the quality of the speaker to create a purer-sounding tone.
To test this, remove the speaker mesh covering from the front of the amplifier. Once you have done so, start playing some notes and chords to see how your speaker responds.
If the speaker is of poor quality, you may notice it vibrating differently on specific notes as you play them. If this is the case, consider replacing the speaker with one of higher quality.
4. Tighten baffle board
When you look at the back of the amplifier/speaker combination, you may notice that it is only partially covered. The board here is referred to as the baffle board.
If the screws holding it in place are not firmly secured, then this can create a buzzing sound on specific notes. Simply replacing them or tightening them should resolve the issue if this is the cause of the buzzing.
5. Ensure speaker mesh is not touching speaker
The mesh that covers your amplifier speakers can cause a buzzing or humming sound when you play through your guitar if the mesh touches the speaker or speakers in your amplifier. You can test this by removing the mesh from the amplifier and playing through it.
If you no longer hear any buzzing, then chances are that the mesh covering the speaker was touching it at a certain point.
6. Experiment with moving the amplifier
Vibration from the amplifier will travel to other objects surrounding it. If you hear a buzzing or rattling sound as you are playing your guitar or bass, it may be another object rattling, such as a lamp or other furniture in your house.
To test this, try strumming your guitar or bass and touching other objects around the amplifier to see if they vibrate. If you feel or hear a vibration from different things around the amplifier, please consider moving the objects or the amplifier itself to see if the vibration stops.
Is It Common For Cheaper Amps To Rattle & Buzz?
A less expensive or cheaper amplifier is usually not constructed with the same quality and care as a more expensive amplifier. Therefore, it is more common for an amplifier of lower quality to vibrate than an amplifier constructed of higher quality would.
This is not to say that a more expensive, higher-quality amplifier would not shake or vibrate. Any amplifier has the potential to have loose components or have dust interfere with its signal.
However, the less integrity, the cheaper amplifier has (based on how it was assembled), the more likely it would shake and vibrate. This shaking can cause a buzzing on specific notes.
Does Rattling Amp Indicate That It’s Blown?
Not necessarily. A rattling or shaking amplifier on specific notes does not necessarily mean the amplifier is damaged. However, if the only sound from your woofers is a rattling or buzzing sound, this would indicate that your speakers have been blown out and will need to be replaced.
If your speakers have been blown, I recommend replacing them with the highest quality speaker you possibly can. This will improve the tone and sound of your playing, and a higher-quality speaker will be less likely to blow out (assuming it is correctly attached to the amplifier).
In conclusion, we went over several options to assist you with stopping your guitar from buzzing regularly.
This included five reasons why your amp buzzes and rattles only on specific notes, seven ways to prevent the amplifier from rattling in the future, and if it is common for cheaper amps to rattle and buzz than more expensive amplifiers. We also addressed if a rattling amplifier indicated if the amplifier had been blown or not.
Please remember that sound is a physical waveform that will cause vibration. The louder the sound, the more powerful the vibration will be. Running through all the recommendations in this article will go a long way to prevent unwanted vibration sounds in your guitar playing.