Noise issue coming from hands

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by JlShields, Feb 3, 2016.

  1. JlShields

    JlShields Guest

    Jan 21, 2015
    iv been trying to diagnose and repair a noise issue with my bass for a few days now. Iv searched but cannot find answers to this specific issue.

    I have a used 5 string traben. It has 2 rock field humbuckers that are wired to a 3 way pickup selector, one volume knob for both, and 3 tone knobs. When my right hand gets near the strings an electrical buzz starts that gets louder as I get closer. When my fingers touch one of the tone knobs or volume knob the sound stops. When I touch one of the strings, a crackle or "fzt" sound is made. Touching the strings does not make the buzz stop. Touching any metal part of the pickup switch causes a much louder crackle than touching anywhere else and also doesn't stop the buzz. The noise is quite enough at low volume to not be irritating but at high volume it's much more noticeable.

    Iv checked everything Iv read to check, and my wiring seemed good. I shielded the pickup cavity with copper tape weeks ago, but I haven't shielded the electronics cavity in the back. Could it just be static from me? Iv gotten ready to remove the electronics and shield the rear cavity but is this going to do anything to the noise?

    I'm not experienced at all with guitar wiring but I would like to fix it myself if I can.
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Sounds like perhaps your bridge ground wire got disconnected? Just guessing, but something's causing stuff that should be grounded to be "floating", which makes a big noise antenna.
  3. JlShields

    JlShields Guest

    Jan 21, 2015
    Ok I forgot to mention something. The bridge is 2 pieces, the ornate piece that sits on top of the body, and a bare metal piece that rests inside the cavity underneath the first piece(if that's how all guitars are forgive me, amateur). The bridge ground is pinched between the cavity and the bottom of the second bridge piece. I can't get solder to stick to this piece. Iv tested the grounds with a multimeter and I have continuity between the second bridge piece and the pots but not between the top bridge piece and the pots.

    Maybe that's the issue? The top piece of the bridge isn't grounded? Maybe I should try pinching the bridge ground between the two pieces of the bridge?
  4. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    Most bridges cannot be soldered so the bridge ground wire is normally stripped back an inch or so and then the bare wire is mechanically clamped between the bridge and the bass body which is normally wood of course! Clamping the wire between two pieces of a metal bridge should work equally well in grounding both. It might help in your situation.

    Are you using tapewound strings perhaps? Tapewound strings themselves can be grounded if the ball ends make good contact with grounded metal bridge pieces however you cannot ground yourself through tapewound strings because the plastic tape they are wrapped with is not conductive. One of the things that grounding the bridge does for people who play bare metal strings is that it allows you to ground yourself by touching the strings and this will usually suppress any noise that your body picks up. Tapewound strings are often the culprit in situations like yours but if you are not using them then we need to look elsewhere. Some coated strings may behave the same as tapewound strings, others may not.

    Are your control knobs metal? If so then when you touch them you are grounding your body and that is what makes the noise go away. The metal parts of the pickup switch must not be grounded but if you shield the electronics cavity with copper tape then most likely that will ground the switch body.
  5. JlShields

    JlShields Guest

    Jan 21, 2015
    I use black beauties so my strings are indeed coated and a quick Google search indicated that they are non conductive. Maybe I should swap and see if that helps