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Irritating buzzing on DX5 pickups. What do I do?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Diezel420, Jan 23, 2001.

  1. Diezel420

    Diezel420 Guest

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    I own a year-old Ibanez SR485SOL 5-string. When I bought it new, it didn't buzz at all; it was nearly silent whnever I wasn't playing. But recently, it has begun to buzz. It's not the battery for the electronics; I checked that out. And it seems I will get a different amount of buzzing depending on where I stand in a room. Buzzing is LESS at gigs I play. The pickups on my bass are passive (I read on the company site, ibanez.com), but the electronics are active. Maybe that has something to do with it.

    Anyway, I wanna know how to solve this problem, and anyone who could help me out here would be very nice. Thanks.
  2. phnord

    phnord

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    Sorry - I know this is a... um... well, 11 year old thread. That said, I'm having the exact same issue with my Ibanez SGR with DX-5s. I don't remember it buzzing at all when I first got it, but now it seems very susceptible to various electromagnetic interference. Sometimes turning off lights with dimmer switches helps, but obviously if I'm gigging in an uncontrolled environment that's not always an option.

    Any advice? The insides of all the cavities already seem to be coated with black shielding paint...
  3. bassbenj

    bassbenj

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    Quick diagnosis. First does the hum come and go when you touch the strings or "ground" (like the metal body of the jack)? OR does the hum level NOT change when you touch ground but does change when you change the orientation of the bass by rotating it around?

    If it is the first case, you have a shielding problem. In that case sometimes wires do come loose. Remember that the shield (black paint) MUST be grounded and that contact is usually just a screw into the paint that can develop contact problems.

    In the second case you've got "single coil hum". Now since DX-5s are humbuckers they should NOT be doing this. This means the problem is likely something shorted out like one of the coils in the pickups. Check each pickup individually to see if only one or both do this.

    Before doing these tests be sure to put in a brand new battery and try a couple of different cords (and even amps if you can). That is to eliminate the possibility that it's not house wiring hum or something not having anything at all to do with the bass itself.
  4. phnord

    phnord

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    @bassbenj

    I did a bit more on the diagnostic end. I found that there appear to be two distinct causes of buzz that I am getting here.

    ------

    The first is a grounding issue of some kind, and is mostly prevalent in the neck pickup - although I can (barely) hear it to a much lesser degree with the bridge pickup. I noticed that when my hand is either touching the neck pickup or hovering above it, I get a *lot* of buzz. The greater the surface area of my hand involved, the stronger the buzz.

    This is alleviated when my other hand touches the bridge or strings - thus it seems to be a grounding issue.

    Experimenting, I opened the electronics cavity and found these electronics inside.

    There is actually only a single white cable that runs out of the pickup, that splits off into the ground and signal wires right before they are soldered to their posts. While these connections look solid on the electronics end, I found that touching a screwdriver I was holding to the ground post that the neck pickup was soldered to stopped the hum immediately.

    This leads me to believe that either the ground wire inside the white cable is degraded or it is degraded where it connects inside the pickup itself. Regardless, I'm not sure how to fix this issue as when I pull out the pickup it seems to be one solid block with the white cable embedded into it - there are no screws or anything to remove the cover... maybe there are under the foam that's glued to the back?

    I tried lining the cavity with aluminum foil to a degree and running a piece of aluminum foil under the pickups and under the bridge (in a way that looked aesthetically pleasing as it creates a stripe across the center of the bass) and while this seems to have helped minimally (and actually enhanced the tone of the neck pickup, strangely), it hasn't fully alleviated the issue.

    What *does* alleviate the issue fully is when I run my bass amp from battery as opposed to off the wall socket (it's a roland microcube, capable of either). Then there is no hum at all caused by my body touching or hovering near anything.

    ------

    The second issue seems to be different. Whenever I turn on the lights in my living room, I get a similar but much stronger buzz that is equal in both pickups (although its tone changes subtly when I roll from one to the other).

    The lights are on a dimmer switch, and turning them down makes the buzz much worse than when they are on full. The only thing that stops it completely is turning the lights off.

    This buzz cannot be alleviated by touching anything with my body, and cannot be alleviated by running off of battery. Changing the direction that the bass is facing helps, but does not fully alleviate it -- again, the only thing that can get rid of it is turning the lights off.

    ------

    So... any advice on how to proceed?
  5. phnord

    phnord

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    It's worth noting that the electronics diagram is missing a few things: each pickup cavity and the bridge have a wire mounted to the wood that runs through the body and grounds to the post labeled "PCB Ground" in the image.
  6. Growly Lytes

    Growly Lytes

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    Bass player
    Sounds like the wires are degrading as you said.I had the same problem a little while ago & thought it was my Poweramp causing this` lucky i would have been up a for a alot of cash when in fact it was just a few loose wires in the bass.
    Everything inside your bass should be checked by a pro then shielded properly to eliminate buzz from lights & stuff.
  7. phnord

    phnord

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    @Growly

    While I don't mind getting it checked by a pro, I'm trying to do it myself for two reasons:

    1. Cost
    2. I work at Sam Ash, and when I brought it to the guy there and mentioned to him that I wanted to shield it his reply was, "It seems fine to me - I mean, the cavities are painted. You can go crazy with shielding and grounding and it never really changes anything much. Unless I'm wrong. Have you checked online for videos on that?"

    I had a similar experience when I brought it to Guitar Center too. If you have a recommendation on finding a place that will help me with this and won't charge me an arm and a leg, I'm all ears (that is, unless they charge ears too...)

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