Occasionally, your amp will buzz when you do not touch your strings. This is usually due to a bad electrical grounding issue.
To better explain this, electrical equipment exudes an electrical field. The electrical fields from the cables for audio vs. the cables for power sometimes do not interact well with each other, which creates the buzzing you can sometimes hear.
As someone who has played electric guitar and bass for over seven years, I can confirm that there are ways to beat the grounding issues occasionally occurring when you are using your amplifier.
During this article, we will cover lots of information, such as what causes amps to create buzzing noises, why it stops when the strings are touched and how to fix these buzzing issues.
What Causes Amp To Create Buzzing Noise?
Buzzing sound is created when electrical current from guitar or amp cables are not properly shielded.
Power cables and audio cables are often not very compatible with each other. These cables being too close to one another can cause a humming sound (especially if they are worn out).
The pickups in the guitar can also cause the humming sound you hear if you are standing too close to the amplifier itself (both the amplifier and the pickups from the guitar give off an electrical current.
Why Does Amp Stop Buzzing When The String Is Touched?
Touching a guitar string with your hand stops it from buzzing because your hand (and your body) becomes a part of your guitar’s ground connection – helping your guitar to be better grounded.
This is quite a normal occurrence and you should not worry about it. That said, this situation happens because your guitar is not properly grounded. The electric current running in your guitar cannot properly return to earth.
If this grounding issue is not fixed, your guitar will constantly emit these buzzing noises and your guitar will not sound as good as it could be.
Is It Normal For Amp To Make Buzzing Noise?
Generally, It is normal for amplifiers to make a small amount of light buzzing noises. For various reasons, this can happen with any amplifier over time, regardless of its expense. The buzzing sounds or noise should not be audible when you are playing.
If there is a buzz that is still audible when playing through it, then this is a problem that should be further diagnosed.
Is It Possible To Completely Eliminate Amp Buzz?
While it is a challenge to completely eliminate all buzzing from an amplifier, there are several ways to reduce the amount of buzzing you will hear. Please review the information below for more details:
1. Use a Ferrite Choke
Using a ferrite choke will eliminate humming caused by higher electrical frequencies. The ferrite choke is a cylindrical clip that you can attach around a wire. This will cut out higher-frequency noises.
Some cables already have ferrite chokes built into the wiring. If you have a cable with no ferrite choke built in, you can position the chock about two to three inches from either of the cables you are using to connect your amplifier to the rest of your equipment.
2. Use the shortest possible cable
Using the shortest possible cables is always better than using longer cables. The more length your cables have, the more potential there is for any of the electrical wires in the cables to get twisted, bent, or damaged in a way that can cause grounding issues.
Long cables are okay (if they are not longer than they need to be). All cables will eventually wear out and need to be replaced (more on that below).
However, when you are playing with a longer cable that is longer than you need it to be, the excess cable length will be coiled up next to the other electrical equipment, which can potentially give off an electric magnetic field that will cause buzzing.
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3. Replace damaged cables
A damaged cable will not properly carry an electrical current from point A to point B. This can result in a buzzing sound from your amplifier.
Replacing the lousy cable with a new one will ensure the electrical current flows properly through it.
If the outside plastic appears to be cracking or has become harder or more inflexible, or if you see any tears or holes in the plastic cover around the cable itself, it is a good idea to replace it.
A damaged cable may only sometimes appear to be damaged. In this case, it is usually the internal wires that have just worn out from being twisted or stored improperly.
It is a good idea to purchase higher-quality cables to ensure they last a while. It is also a good idea to have a spare or two.
4. Solder loose connections in the amp
Loose connections can create problems with how the electrical current flows through the amplifier. If you see loose connections inside the amplifier when you open it up, soldering them back together should help immensely.
You may want to take the amplifier to a technician to have it looked at if you suspect something is loose and have never used a soldering iron before.
5. Ensure jacks are not loose
Gently move any connections in the amplifier back and forth, such as the input jack. If they feel loose, then this may be causing your amplifier to buzz. Once these have been tightened appropriately, then this should reduce any buzzing sounds from the amplifier.
Many factors can affect amplifier buzzing. You can also check out this link for a more detailed list of how to fix buzzing sounds:
How To Know If Amp Buzzing Is Bad & Needs To Be Fixed?
If the buzzing of your guitar is noticeably louder than before and just as loud as your playing or more audible, it needs to be fixed.
However, some other factors outside of the amplifier and the electric guitar may be causing this. So it’s best if you identify the root cause of your buzzing before thinking of fixing them.
Below are external factors that could cause your amp to buzz. (Ensure these are not the problem, before concluding your amp is faulty).
1. Fluorescent lights
Florescent lights give off an electromagnetic field that doesn’t play nicely with the electromagnetic field from your amplifier. If you are playing around or near fluorescent lights, shutting them off should eliminate the buzz you are hearing.
2. Cellular devices
The cellular signals given from your cell phones, cellular hotspots, etc., can interfere with the electrical field from your amplifier as well. Consider storing them away from the amplifier or just turning them off while you are playing.
3. Power Conditioners
A power conditioner prevents additional noise that power surges can sometimes introduce. Some of these have noise-filtering capabilities to ensure a consistent power supply.
In conclusion, we covered lots of information, such as what causes amps to create buzzing noises, why it stops when the strings are touched, if the buzzing is normal, if it is possible to entirely eliminate it, and what to do to fix it if needed.
We also covered the frequently asked question of what is going on when you hear buzzing from the amplifier when you touch the strings.