Minimalizing 60 cycle hum?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Matthew_84, May 21, 2012.

  1. So, my house is always the worst place for 60 cycle hum. It's better on my Jazz if both pickups are equal, and better on my P/J if the P pickup is soloed, but horrific if otherwise. But the basses do sound great everywhere else no matter what the pickup configuration is, so I'm not about to replace every single coil pick-up with humbuckers... But I'm very close to doing it.

    I currently live in a rented house that was built roughly sixty years ago and I believe almost every wire in it is knob and tube so there aren't too many (if any) grounded wires anywhere except for at the main panel.

    But I found something out a couple of days ago. I always thought that the hum was so present because the amp is plugged into a plug that is not properly grounded, but I plugged in my battery powered headphone amp and played through that, not plugged into any of the houses wiring at all, and it still buzzes - though it is less, but it's hard to tell how much it is in comparison because the headphone amp definitely focuses more on the lows than the highs.

    I do have three fluorescent lightbulbs in my room and will replace those tomorrow with the older incandescent type. Is there a modern, energy-saving bulb that doesn't generate the same hum than the fluorescent style? When I do turn out the lights the hum gets noticeable reduced.

    Does anyone out there have any other suggestions?

    Thanks in advance,


    Also, sorry mods if this is in the wrong sub-forum.
  2. I just discovered LED lightbulbs. They are apparently as efficient as fluorescent bulbs but don't hum like they do. Can anyone confirm this?
  3. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    You need a humbucker to get rid of 60 cycle hum. Shielding a single coil might help a bit, but won't get rid of it entirely.

    Some noise, like from light dimmers or florescent lights, is hard to get rid of even with humbuckers. In that case you need a very well shielded humbucker.
  4. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    You are correct sir.
  5. Okay, suppose I want to keep the single coil pickups, is there anything that can be done in the room/house that may help? The hum from the different basses is totally acceptable in other locations, but it's horrific here, so I'm looking for solutions to make it quieter here rather than making the basses themselves quieter. Thanks.

    Thank you. I will buy a couple tomorrow.
  6. So I just got back from buying two LED lightbulbs which were a little more costly then I was hoping for. They were $67 and change for the two after taxes in Canadian dollars, but they apparently should last 22 years provided that they're only used for 3 hours a day, 7 days a week, and they are fully warrantied to last 6 years under those conditions.

    I haven't installed them yet, and I will do an A/B test of the two types of lightbulbs to compare the differences as I'm very curious myself and I will post a link to the recording when I do it in a couple of hours.

    Is there anything else one can do? I'm pretty sure my amp is plugged into the only circuit in this house that has a proper ground, but there are several things plugged into this circuit, two cheap power bars, a laptop charger (with a transformer), a keyboard (with a transformer), and a digital clock, as well as my rig components, which are a MXR graphic EQ (with a transformer), an ART Tube preamp (with a transformer), and a Crown Power amp. Would removing the first power bar (laptop, clock, and keyboard) off of this circuit help? NOTE: The rig power bar is actually plugged into this first power bar.

    Also would replacing my cheap rig power bar with a Furman SS-6B Steel power strip help as well?

    A lot of the reviews says it does not do the power conditioning as mentioned in description, but one reviewer says it has the best EMI/RFI noise attenuation of any power strip they've used. I don't know if this would help me. I have read from two TB'ers that they use this very product and it does help.
  7. Have you considered a pedal such as the ISP Decimator? I had a similar problem with my old Lafayette and my strat regardless of where I played and the Decimator cleared it right up. Impressively effective as well as transparent. Based off of the technology of the Rocktron Hush. (Some of the same creators I think) That way you could keep all your pickups. It would also be more adjustable to your specific needs/situations. Just a suggestion.
  8. Wow, I just checked out this demo, and that seriously works well. That's the kind of humming I'm experiencing. Does it work at suppressing all noises, like two single coil jazz pickups with one pickup soloed?
  9. For me, yes. It also works very well at suppressing noise from distortion/fuzz/etc. pedals in between notes and when not playing.
  10. You are brilliant. This seems to be exactly what I'm looking for. Thank you.
  11. No problem! If you choose it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Good luck!
  12. Thanks. I found a store close by that has one in stock, so I'll probably head over there in a bit. I did find someone on craigslist selling one but am not sure if they still have it. But I'll give them a bit, but I do have a day off today and would rather just get it over with. Plus the new one isn't selling for too much more.

    I did just try the lightbulbs, I didn't do the A/B recordings in light of this pedal, but the difference is HUGE! The basses sound so much quieter as is, but I'm still going to pick this up anyway. Why not?
  13. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    LEDs are actually considerably more efficient than fluorescent bulbs (I think 7W LED is equivalent to a 12W fluorescent), but the difference in price is quite high for anything that is actually comparable. If you do plan to switch to LED bulbs, ignore the "comparable incandescence" and look at the lumens ratings, because the bulbs seem to be dimmer than their claimed equivalents. As well, the light is more directed and doesn't scatter as easily, so you'll likely want to look for something frosted to help dissipate the light.

    I have 5 of these in the main fixture in my house. They don't have a warm-up period and are absolutely as bright as the 65W bulbs I had in there previously. They do a wonderful job lighting the main portion of the living room where I spend most of my time.

    Regarding the hum, I don't have any on that circuit ever since I god rid of the dimmer and fluorescent bulbs. I've heard that the dimmer is actually a bigger source of the noise than the fluorescent bulbs.
  14. StraightSix


    Nov 23, 2011
    It would be worth trying your amp setup plugged in on its own to see if anything else there is adding to the noise - sometimes just one thing can be causing most of the noise...laptop charger, keyboard etc.
  15. Thanks StraightSix, I put all the other stuff on a separate circuit and now the only thing on the grounded circuit is my rig. It did seem like a little more hum went away but it was still prevalent. But with that and the LED lightbulb, I'd say about 25% of the hum remained.

    I ended up buying an ISP Decimator off a guy on Craigslist and I just tried it out. It took me a while to find where the best setting should be, as turning up the dial too much actually cuts volume off of the bass, but I am pretty amazed at how it works. With the threshold at noon, playing my active P/J bass with the treble up a bit and the single coil J bridge pup soloed, it completely reduced the hum when the bass was not being played, like there was no sound at all, but there was still some hum prevalent while I was playing the bass, it had a bit less but I'm not sure by how much. It actually was a bit weird playing actually, as I played there was hum and none when I stopped, it was like the bass had some wiring issue with it. Anyway that was with it set up for the most drastic hum conditions I can think of, and it did a pretty good job. When I set the settings up to something a bit more realistic, the hum was hardly noticeable. I did several tests and my tone didn't seem affected, nor my playing volume (actually it seemed to be a bit louder as it was less cluttered with electrical interfence). But it did certainly take away some sustain, and harmonics were quickly cut-off while the pedal is engaged at this threshold, but at -40 (11 o'clock, the sustain is much better and the harmonics sound much better, but the hum is more prevalent).

    Hopefully in a band setting, in a different room, I may not even need this, and if I do, I could surely lower the threshold so that it was doing less work.

    Thanks everyone for your help so far! It's not 100% how I'd like it, but I'd rather it be like this than changing the pickups. I guess the next step would be to shield the cavities.
  16. StraightSix


    Nov 23, 2011
    Another quick couple of pointers: now you have just the rig plugged in, try a different power bar just in case.
    Also remember that the nearer you get to the amp (with the bass), the more it will hum so try moving away a little.
  17. Thanks, I will try those. I will likely buy that power strip I inquired about earlier. This one is a very cheap one, but I'll try another one i got laying around too.

    Also noticed something, my tweeter was on the entire time, LOL. The hum is still there with the ISP pedal bypassed, but it's not as bad.
  18. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Decimators and other noise reducers really don't get rid of the hum. They only turn your signal off when you're not playing. Some do it more gracefully than others, but that's all they do. What you've got going on now is about as good as it gets without switching to humbuckers.
  19. Thanks Jimmy. Yeah you're right about the ISP. I think I just thought the hum was less when I was playing because I wasn't used to the reduced hum I was getting from the changes I made this morning.

    The hum is still louder than it is in other places though, so it's time to test out the different components and cables.
  20. Because I generally use at least a little "growl" for a somewhat vintage sound, I never really noticed the the hum would returned while notes are being played. However, with my setup, the decimator completely eliminated hum in between notes (not playing) and "seemed" to lessen it while playing, but things like that can easily be in ones (my) head. Hope I didn't lead you in the wrong direction!
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