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Noise when I tilt the bass?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Chicory Blue, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. Chicory Blue

    Chicory Blue Secretly Queen of the Moon Supporting Member

    I’m not an electronics-savvy individual, but I notice when I play my SUB in my apartment I get a considerable amount of noise unless I fully cut the treble. Curiously, the noise changes depending on which way my bass is facing, growing louder the more I tilt the pickup toward the ceiling or floor.

    If someone could explain to me (as though I were 8) what is happening here and what I might do to resolve it, I would be eternally appreciative.


  2. EMI (Electro-Magnetic Interference) travels in waves.
    If you position your pickup in parallel to the waves, the noise almost ceases.
    When the pickup is perpendicular to the waves, it will have the most noise induced.

    It's noisy for me here at home, but I've found a position I can aim my bass that will lessen the noise.
    I only have this problem with one instrument, because the rest all have humbuckers.
    You guessed it, the noisy one is my most expensive, with Nordstrand Big Singles.
  3. Chicory Blue

    Chicory Blue Secretly Queen of the Moon Supporting Member

    Curiously, my instrument in question *is* a humbucker. So... what’s the deal with that? My hum remains tragically unbucked..

    pcake and Spidey2112 like this.
  4. I had the same problem with my Mexican Blacktop Fender until I shielded it.
    In that case they were overwound & probably unbalanced.

    If the amount of winding on each coil (2 coils) of the humbucker aren't balanced you'll get noise.
    Noise can also be induced into the wiring, not just the pickups.
    Morrighan and alesreaper9 like this.
  5. Axstar

    Axstar SUSPENDED

    Jul 8, 2016
    East of Eden.
    Shielding is only effective against electrostatic interference, and not electromagnetic interference. EMI should be dealt with by the humbucker design of the pickup in the SUB, unless there is something wrong with the pickup.

    Do you have something like a laptop power supply somewhere in the vicinity of your bass while you are doing this?
  6. I'm quite confident I was having a problem with electromagnetic interference & shielding my bass stopped it completely.
    Along one wall in my kitchen was worse than other spots, so likely it was electromagnetic & not electrostatic.
  7. Chicory Blue

    Chicory Blue Secretly Queen of the Moon Supporting Member

    I’m sure the SUB’s factory pup isn’t a thing of flawless quality, but I wouldn’t begin to know if it’s unbalanced. Is that a common problem with humbuckers?

    Let’s say, hypothetically, I do in fact have an actual laptop power supply sitting about three feet from where I play.


    BlueTalon, LowRenzo and Spidey2112 like this.
  8. Axstar

    Axstar SUSPENDED

    Jul 8, 2016
    East of Eden.
    Alrighty! Is the noise quieter across all settings and angles you hold the bass once that power supply is unplugged from the wall?
  9. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    Take one shoe off, while sitting... tilt head, in a slight southwesterly direction... scream Yahtzee, on third beat of every song you play...

    ... doing so may produce laughter, but not necessarily solve the problem...

    ... remember, video doesn't lie...
  10. Chicory Blue

    Chicory Blue Secretly Queen of the Moon Supporting Member

    Disappointingly, the noise remains unchanged. Hella loud when the pup faces straight up or down, and a low hum otherwise.

    Unplugged everything else to be sure. No change.

  11. Axstar

    Axstar SUSPENDED

    Jul 8, 2016
    East of Eden.
    That is definitely something I associate more with single coil pickups.

    What happens when you tap each and every pole piece on the top of the pickup with a metal object? Try a key, coin or screwdriver. You should hear a percussive 'clunk' as you tap each pole piece. If one of the two rows of four pole pieces doesn't make a noise then this could be cause for concern.

    Secondly, are you up for unscrewing the chrome control plate and inspecting the electronics internally? It could be that a ground wire has come loose or similar. I'm not up to speed on the internals of a SUB bass, but it will adhere to some design principles.
    DiabolusInMusic likes this.
  12. Chicory Blue

    Chicory Blue Secretly Queen of the Moon Supporting Member

    Tapping it with a screwdriver seemed to yield a consistent pop on both rows of magnets.

    I wondered if the power supply for the looper I was plugged unto might be the culprit, so I unplugged that and played through a battery-powered amp. Noise persisted.

    How conspicuous would a loose ground wire be? I had it cracked open a few weeks ago to get an estimate on some wire work that never came to pass, and the tech didn’t note anything being out of place, but the mysterious buzz from heaven has been present for much longer than that.

  13. Chicory Blue

    Chicory Blue Secretly Queen of the Moon Supporting Member

    For shiggles I looked to see if my guitar (also a humbucker) was affected.

    The neck pickup detects the mysterious buzz in the same orientation as the SUB, while the bridge pup is oddly quieter.

    Working theory is I have a poultergeist.

    J-Bassomatic, Duder, n1as and 2 others like this.
  14. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    then whatever you do...don't tilt your bass! :)
  15. t4els.
    Steve-Mo and JRA like this.
  16. Fluorescent or CFL bulbs in that room? I had to switch my basement back to old school bulbs for that same reason. Same problem in my drummer's basement, the only light in the room is large fluorescents right above the guitar amps.
    gebass6 likes this.
  17. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    Chicory Blue : record and post the sound/buzz/noise if you can --- you'll get better (more?) advice! thanks.
  18. Hum and EMI are not necessarily the same beast.
    DiabolusInMusic likes this.
  19. Chicory Blue

    Chicory Blue Secretly Queen of the Moon Supporting Member

    This is what I'm dealing with. First with the treble at noon, then dimed. Any time the sound swells, I'm tilting the bass upwards.

  20. Tinfoil hat. Solves all problems with unwanted signals :cautious:.

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