Hum: I don't find the solution. Help please!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Syl_Funky_bass, Jun 27, 2020.

  1. Syl_Funky_bass


    Jun 4, 2016
    Hi guys,

    I need your help on something that's a real mystery to me:

    I've recently bought a new bass which I'm totally satisfied with. I really dig this instrument. It's a 2006 Fender Victor Bailey Jazz Bass V in mint condition.

    But I have a problem with it: I get a lot (really a lot!) of hum (not sure it's called hum but I think so) when I plug my bass to my amp.

    I made some research and I'm aware it's perfectly normal for single coils to produce some hum. But here it's a clearly abnormal and strong noise.

    The hum disappears as soon as I touch any metallic part of my bass (strings, pots, tuning machines etc...). According to my research this is typical of a shielding problem with the bass.

    As far as troubleshooting is concerned, here is what has been done so far:

    At home:

    -I tried my amp and cab with my other bass (2nd gen Sire V7 vintage 5) and don't get any abnormally high amount of hum at all.

    With the V Bailey Jazz:
    - I tried different brand new jack cables
    - A new power supply cable with my amp (brand new Markbass Little Ninja + Ninja 212 cab)
    - New high quality 9-volts batteries in my active bass.

    ... and still get that same abnormally high amount of hum.

    After that I brought the bass to a local guitar tech who put some new shielding to it. We tried the bass at his place with his amp and cab and it was perfectly fine. No abnormal hum at all.

    I got back home and tried it again and got the exact same hum issue.

    I then suspected grounding issues in my home (even though I have no problem at all with my other bass) so I took the V Bailey Jazz bass, my amp and cab to another location and tried them. I still get the same hum problem.

    Right after that I tried the bass again with another amp and cab that was present in the room and didn't get any hum at all.

    To sum it up: I get extremely high hum from my bass only with my (brand new) amp and cab (not with my other bass though).

    What should I do, guys? I'm hopeless.

    Thanks for your help in advance.
  2. phipop


    Dec 16, 2021
    Hello, i have exactly the same problem!
    did you solve it?
    thank you
  3. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    It sounds like you've done a good job running the right experiments to rule out problems with the amp, cables, etc., so this is a real puzzler. The best I can come up with are these two questions:

    First, you said that after the tech added shielding you tested the bass at his place and it had no hum. Question: Did you test it at his place before he added the shielding also? I ask because if your bass hummed at his place before shielding but not at his place after shielding, it would seem that the shielding is not the problem. However, if you didn't test it at his place before shielding, it's possible that the lack of shielding was not the problem and that adding shielding was not the solution.

    Second, you said that after returning home from the tech's place you moved everything to a "different location," which didn't make any difference. Question: Where was this "different location"? Was it just in a different place in the same room, or in a different room of your house/apartment/flat, or something else? I ask because "location" could be a problem, because having certain kinds of electronic devices nearby -- e.g. fluorescent lights, light dimmers, etc. -- can make this problem worse, so it's important to know if the different locations you tested could be affected by the same devices.
    Syl_Funky_bass and B-Mac like this.
  4. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Based on what you've done so far? I just might suspect the amp is the problem - particularly if the bass still hums with the outboard cab disconnected...:cool:
  5. Syl_Funky_bass


    Jun 4, 2016
    Thanks a lot for your detailed answer and tips!

    My initial post dates back to June 2020. Since I didn't get any reply I forgot to keep it up to date.

    First off, a lot happened since then (new mods, new gear, new insights,... )!

    Has my problem been solved: I'd say for 95%, yes!

    When I first looked to solve my problem and went to that guitar tech, neither did he nor did I suggest to test my bass at his place: big and silly mistake obviously! I learned my lesson...

    Of course the guy saw me coming to him suggesting/requesting a new complete shielding job for my bass. He only saw the money: I was charged $200 for it and although it was neatly done, it was far from complete/thorough, which left me very disappointed. Only minimal amounts of shielding tape were applied.

    As rightly guessed by you @Lobster11, it indeed appeared that shielding was not the problem (even though I was not happy with how thoroughly the bass was shielded by that guy).

    Concerning the other location where I got the same problem, it was at a different place, miles away from where the initial tests were carried out.

    What did I do next?

    Since shielding was clearly not the problem, I went on troubleshooting and started suspecting the stock pre-amp of my (active) bass.

    At this point in time, after I had been so disappointed by the first guitar tech (I'd never go to him anymore!), I was ready to learn and try more by myself which in the end proved a very good decision.

    In the meantime I was advised by another guitar tech in my area to go and see some guy he knew who happened to be a guitar tech and an electronics specialist. That guy also seemed to think the problem might be with the preamp although he was not sure and told me I might spend my money buying and having a new preamp installed with no real improvement to my noise. That's when moment I decided to take things in hand and spend some money on a new preamp and learn how to install it myself.

    I went on and bought a John East UNI-PRE 4 which I managed to install quite easily. The result was a clear improvement although there was still a small amount of noise present which was enough to annoy me.

    I could have stopped there at that point since the bass was perfectly fine for use in a professional context.

    However since I got to like learning how to carry out these mods myself and since I wanted to explore every possible aspect I then decided to go even further and swap the stock Fender Noiseless pickups by a set of Nordstrand NJ5FS. The mod went smoothly and the result was again some clear improvement as far as noise is concerned.

    After that I was satisfied with how the bass was sounding and with how little noise I was getting from it.

    The last thing I'd like to have done on the bass is a complete shielding job, done by myself!

    What have I learned from all of this?

    -Do not put too much trust in any guitar tech. There are some great guys with amazing skills but also some lazy ass dudes just willing to make some extra cash out of your ignorance/naivety.

    -Don't be afraid to learn and try things yourself. You'd be amazed how well you can do things and how great the results can be.

    Before encountering this noise issue with my VB jazz bass, which took so long to get sorted out, I had always been a die-hard fan of active basses. After this long journey I started getting more and more interested in passive instruments: mostly due to the smaller risk of unwanted preamp noise but also because I was starting recording more and more in the studio and getting more and more interested in the legendary 'P-Bass with flats' sound and its perfectly-sitting-in-the-mix qualities.

    A couple of months later I bought a Chinese made Squier CV 60's Precision which proved to be a killer instrument.

    Then a couple of month ago, as I realized I was not ready to let go of the low B string (I've always been a 5-string fan), I went on looking for a Squier VM Precision V. I was lucky enough to find a Candy Apple Red one on Reverb on which I immediately pulled the trigger. Both P-basses are strung with TI flats.

    Although the Squier VM P5 is a great instrument I found it was a little too much noisy for my tastes so I decided to swap the stock wiring with a brand new Artys Custom (Austria made; quality is comparable to Emerson kits imo) AND to shield the bass myself!
    I completely shielded the bass and the result is that the bass is now dead quiet! A dream! Not to mention thats it plays fantastic!

    This bass I bought $500 (+ $60 for the new wiring kit, $170 for Hipshot HB7 tuners and $70 for a new Fender Am Pro vintage high mass bridge) has now become my main instrument. I play it and use it much more often for recording than my Fender VB Jazz Bass.
    Lobster11 and Goatrope like this.
  6. Syl_Funky_bass


    Jun 4, 2016
    The amp was not the problem in my case.
  7. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Thanks for the detailed update -- especially since there was so much to cover! Great to hear that you learned so much and wound up (eventually) with a bass you're so happy with. Rock on!
    Syl_Funky_bass likes this.

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