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Bass Noise Hissing - Help

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Warfender, Jan 3, 2012.

  1. Warfender


    Oct 25, 2009
    I have a Dean Edge Quilt top 5 string Bass with EMG HZ active pickups. It has a moderate hissing noise when plugged into amp. None of my other 6 basses do this. It is the same level no mater if I turn any knob up and down.

    I called Dean and they sent me a new preamp set and pots. The preamp has quick connectors so I unplugged and swapped preamp/pots for the active bass and treble pots that are self contained with the preamp.

    It seem to maybe be a little bit quieter if any but still doing it.

    Please help me figure out what this is.:hyper:
  2. Warfender


    Oct 25, 2009
    Wow 45 views and noone has any ideas for me. Please fellow bass peps help a brother out here.
  3. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Have them send you some pickups and see if that fixes it.

    Otherwise, try making sure all of the grounds are securely attached.
  4. Warfender


    Oct 25, 2009
    I checked all the leads and grounds and all seemed fine. There was a white wire that had some crackle when I moved it around for some reason but the hum what there and didn't change.

    Per your advice I requested if pickups can be the problem and asked if they can send some out. Cross my fingers.
  5. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Couldn't hurt, right? If they're willing to back it up with that kind of customer service, you may as well find out what it ISN'T at least.

    If that doesn't work, you may want to check the bridge ground, just in case. I've seen a lot of those that need some bolstering.
  6. voxtroller


    Aug 20, 2011
    my schecter has emg hz's in it and it [del]hisses[/del] buzzes. I point the finger at the pick ups..
  7. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Are e talking about "hissing" or "buzzing"? Hissing is like what you hear from your amp or a any other audio gear when nothing is playing through it. It sounds like steam.

    Buzzing is what you get from passive pickups and basses and goes away when you touch the strings or reposition the bass. That's interference being picked up by the pickups.

    All preamps (and all audio gear) hiss. This is called "thermal noise." If you have the treble control cranked up the hiss will be louder because it has a lot of high frequency energy. Same if you have the treble cranked up on the amp.

    Some people make the mistake of turning the bass and treble knobs all the way up on their bass' preamps. That's never a good idea. Start with the control flat, which for most preamps is at the center click, and then just boost or cut slightly to get the tone you want.
  8. Hiss, like sshhhhhhhhh, or buzz?

    If the bass is buzzing, then you're got a ground or shielding issue. Could be wiring or pickups.

    But if it's a straightforward white noise hiss, then it's coming from the preamp. If the pickups are set too low, then you won't have a very strong signal, which would force you to crank your amp, and amplify the background hiss. Or maybe the HZ's don't have a very hot output?

    Other possibilities are that they sent you a second preamp with the same problem, you've got the treble knob boosted (ALL onboard preamps hiss at least a little when the treble is cranked, even expensive ones), or it just isn't a very good preamp.

    If I were in your shoes, I'd check the pickup height adjustment first. Then I'd check the tone control settings. If the hiss was still present, I'd try wiring the bass passive. If it sounded OK passive, that would confirm that it was time to go shopping for a better preamp.
  9. I have Schecter with a similar set-up. The EMG's are passive, the pre is active. I have a 3 pot pre on mine(bass, mid, treble). You stated that the new pre had quick connects, which tells me it is a EMG pre(same as mine).
    I also have a hiss, that I believe is the pre. I EQ it out with the treble knob. I have been looking at new Pre's because I think the EMG pre is the weak link on my bass.
  10. Warfender


    Oct 25, 2009
    Thanks for all the great ideas here!!!

    To clarify, it is a hissing not buzzing. Makes no difference if I touch strings or turn the treble down from center it is the same. As i turn treble up the buzzing starts to be heard when about full compunding with the hissing. The hissing is the SHHHHHHH sound.

    No matter what knob I turn such as volume, treble, etc it is the same sound at the same level of db.

    Dean says to check the bridge ground too and if that doesn't work they will send some new pups.
  11. OK, this is info you can work with. Thermal noise (hissing) generally comes from active electronics, not grounding issues. If it isn't affected by the volume control on the Dean, then it's after the volume pot, and possibly after the bass.

    I'd be looking to your amp, but you said it sounds fine with your other basses. So it's time to double-check that: perhaps you're using different amp settings with the Dean...

    Try setting up another bass for a good tone and volume on your amp, then swap it out for the Dean. Same cable, same amp settings, don't add any pedals. Is the Dean as loud as the other bass? Is it as bright?

    If not, maybe you've been cranking the amp's gain or treble to compensate, and that's where the hiss is coming from.

    Let us know what you find. There's still other stuff to check out before you spend any money...
  12. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    It might just be a noisy preamp. If it really bothers you, you can replace it with a quieter one.
  13. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    The EMG preamps are very quiet unless you turn the treble all the way up.
  14. Warfender


    Oct 25, 2009
    I'm checking the exact same setting on the amp with 6 basses. I'm switching the basses and not touching the controls on the amp and all basses are set flat eq. I'm comparing with Warwick Proline, Warwick Thumb, Warwick Jazzman, Fender MIA Jazz, Squier Pbass and the Dean. If I hear any hiss from the amp on the other basses I would say the level of 1 to 10 would be a 2 and when the Dean is in it is at a 9.

    As for Service, Dean is to notch they are sending me the new pups free.

    I already have swapped the preamp they set me as well and they seemed to help a tiny bit if any.
  15. Warfender


    Oct 25, 2009
    Dean already sent me a new preamp and swapped it already. Didn't fix it. Can it be the EMG HZ pups? They are sending me new ones.
  16. Dirk Diggler

    Dirk Diggler Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Anytown USA
    EMG HZ are passive pickups, go active if you want to lose the noise. IMHO of course. :)
  17. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    You swapped the preamp for another of the same kind. I'm talking about a different preamp. Changing the pickups wont change the preamp's noise.
  18. Warfender


    Oct 25, 2009
    Any suggestions? You stated the EMG preamp is very quiet in your prior post so what would be more quiet if this is as quiet as the EMG is?

    thanks for your input.
  19. c0d3h4x0r


    Oct 17, 2006
    Sammamish, WA
    I just bought a Schecter Stiletto Custom-4, which uses the exact same preamp (EMG BTS-HZ) and pickups (EMG 35-HZ). And guess what? It hisses exactly as you've described: turning the treble or volume pots all the way down doesn't reduce the hissing at all. It really isn't just a "mild" or "moderate" hiss -- when you run it at gig volume through a big rig with horns in the cabs, the hiss is truly unbearable.

    My other three basses through the same rig are dead silent, no hiss at all. My Carvin Icon, MusicMan Bongo, and Fender "FrankenJazz" (overhauled MIM with active EMG-X stacked humbuckers) all completely smoke the Schecter's signal/noise ratio. It's a shame because it completely ruins an otherwise excellent instrument (great build quality, nice tone, cool ergonomic shape, fully shielded inside, etc).

    It's clearly a design defect with either the EMG BTS-HZ preamp or the EMG HZ pickups or the specific combination of the two. I suspect the preamp is the problem because the pickups are removed from the equation when you turn the volume pot all the way down, yet that doesn't reduce the hissing. I know it's not just a problem with passive pickups in general, as I've owned and played several passive basses in the past that were dead quiet. I also know it's not a grounding or shielding problem because the control cavity is already entirely shielded and I checked that all the right points are properly grounded.

    Has anyone tried running the EMG HZ pickups directly without a preamp or with a different preamp? If so, please share your experiences. I like the Schecter enough for the price that if a different $200 preamp will definitely solve the problem then I'll keep the bass and do the mod. But if nobody can confirm that fixes it, I'll just return the darn thing to GC for a refund and put the money toward a 4-string Carvin Icon order instead.
  20. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I find this rather surprising because I've used EMG pickups and the BTS/BTC EQ module and it was an amazingly quiet setup. By far the least hiss of any active system I've used!

    It is common for active systems to have a bit of hiss when highs are boosted a lot. So if treble is turned way up you normally do get some hiss. But hiss with volume and tone controls having no effect is definitely WRONG. This implies that whatever is driving the cable (post-EQ) is having a hissy-fit.

    Hiss in active electronic parts is sort of a luck thing and often certain parts come through with lots of hiss. Sometimes parts makers select the low-noise parts and charge more for them. Since you swapped the preamp, I suppose it is possible that you got TWO bad ones in a row. But since the EMG as I recall is surface mount parts about all you can do is replace the whole thing. Preamps with op-amp sockets are good because you can buy a sack of parts and pick the quietest ones.

    Hiss with No EQ treble boost and volume off is definitely a design/parts problem in the preamp. Running a wire directly from volume control to jack (former output wire removed). should confirm the problem is in EQ section and not pickups.

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