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Click when I touch strings - grounding?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by john keates, Nov 9, 2004.

  1. john keates

    john keates

    May 20, 2004
    Hello there.

    I recently replaced the pups on my Yamaha TRB with Villex passive pups. They sound great and the hiss that I was getting before is elliminated, but I get a clicking sound when I touch the strings (in some rooms).

    I have been reading some threads about grounding and sheilding and decided to have a go at adding some extra shielding myself. I just whacked in some aluminium foil and put tape over it to stop shorting.

    I am not noticing any difference at all.

    I have been reading this (particularly the large post at the bottom):


    How far Do I have to go to get rid of the clicks? I don't want to change my playing style. I tried keeping my fingers on the strings at all times but just wasn't happy (I like to go a little crazy now and again).

    Maybe I could get someone to touch the brige when I record - or string a wire from the bridge to my ankle?... err no, I don't think so.
  2. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Aluminum foil isn't going to work. Any adhesives will likely prohibit conductance from one piece to the other. You need conductive foil tape available at StewMac, or use conductive paint. Be sure to link it to ground.
  3. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    Yeah, aluminum foil tape doesn't do anything. It needs to be copper foil or paint. www.GuitarElectronics.com also sells a shielding kit with big chunk of copper foil tape. Warning, it's razor sharp!! Use a burnisher, not your finger.
  4. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Might we be off on a wrong track here? Shielding prevents the intrusion of RF noise; and aluminum will in fact shield as well as any conductive metal (assuming it's thick enough to have low resistance, and assuming that all pieces have been electrically unified - although as it has been pointed out, this can be difficult).

    If I understand correctly though, john keates is getting a click each time he contacts his strings, after having not been not in contact with them. This sounds like a different problem to me than anything that might be solved by shielding. Perhaps involving static electricity, or perhaps there's an elevated ground potential that gets shorted down when the strings are touched by a grounded person? If this is the case, and if it's more than just a milliamp-millivolt kind of thing, there could be a potential for injury.

    You say you get the problem only in some rooms. Are you always using the same amp? Does the problem happen in that room with the same bass, and a different amp, or with a different bass, and the same amp?
  5. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    I agree. I was merely commenting on the fact that Aluminum tape doesn't shield anything.

    I think it could be the bridge ground wire. So, touching the strings will ground the bridge causing the click, maybe?
  6. john keates

    john keates

    May 20, 2004
    Hi guys, thanks for the comments,

    William Villex kindly contacted me himself about the problem. He said that was probably caused by static due to a polymer finish on the bass.

    He suggested that I disconnected the string grounding wire so I tried this but I still got the problem plus noise resulting from the fact that I was no longer earthing the bass with my body.

    I have been thinking of re-finishing my bass with Tung oil anyway as I hear that it can make the sound more natural - and I prefer the look too. I may give this a go if it isn't too difficult to do.

    If this doesn't solve the problem then I may try shielding the cavity well enough that I don't need to wire the earth to the strings (as suggested in a thread somewhere in this forum).

    I have a tiny old Park amp in my room that is the worst for it and it causes problems in most rooms. I have had far fewer problems with my GK 400RB and I have played this in several rehearsal rooms and a medium size gig.

    I had problems a while back when being recorded. This was shortly after installing the new pickups so I wasn't aware of the cause at the time. I was playing through an old Crate (I think).

    I find it really odd that I was getting the problem after disconnecting the earth from the bridge. I guess that the charge might have jumped across the electric tape that was separating the two.

    It is also odd that I never had the problem before. Maybe because the bass used to be active?

    How hard would it be to sand the current finish off and appy some Tung oil?
  7. RyanHelms


    Sep 20, 2003
    Cleveland, OH

    Not true. I've used aluminum tape in my bass control cavity and aluminum foil on the back of a strat's pickguard and in it's control cavity and both instruments are dead quiet. No pop whatsoever when the strings are touched. And they were both noisey as static AM radio prior. I know copper is the more durable (and only solderable solution) but with the right grounding you *can* use aluminum. The only bugaboos are adding a ring terminal somewhere to bus all your grounds to rather than being able solder directly to copper, and watching out for non-continuity between pieces.

    As for john keates, sounds like pilotjone's static diagnosis was right on. Polymer's the culprit, eh? There should be a workaround besides re-finishing, that is unless you want to. Are the control cavity grounds on the pot shells?
  8. john keates

    john keates

    May 20, 2004
    The pot shells are all connected to each other via the grounding via the unique Villex wiring.
  9. RyanHelms


    Sep 20, 2003
    Cleveland, OH
    Wow, glancing at the Chapman Stick site's Villex info tells me I should bud out - now that I realize I'm clueless to the particulars. Sorry to pipe in w/o knowing what I was talking about...

    Now I want to know all about Villex!
  10. john keates

    john keates

    May 20, 2004
    I just found this (scroll down untill you find the double neck)


    It is a special composite which is all in one hollow piece (including neck).

    Pretty interesting stuf. Kind of whacky looking but that is something that I could get over. The price is something that I would have to work on though.

    I need to find one in England that I can have a play on.

    Another option that I have been thinking of is getting an electric stand up (which I have always wanted anyway) and seeing if I can play it with my current bass straped on. Could be a back breaker but worth a shot.

    Oh yea, RyanHolms, I suggest you do check out those Villexes. The more I use them, the more I like them.
  11. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Oregon, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    Just don't touch your strings.
  12. RyanHelms


    Sep 20, 2003
    Cleveland, OH
    :eek: :confused: :eyebrow: :rolleyes:


    You betcha. And the electric stand-up while wearing your BG idea would probably work if you're talking about one of the stick type EUB's.