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Pickup or input jack problems?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by NZBassman, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. I’ve been having problems for about 2 years with my set up – getting buzzing through the PA

    I’ve got an Ibanez TR Expressionist 300 active / passive and have an Ashdown ABM EVO900 III (used to have a Warwick profet) and have a Warwick 4x10

    I run a DI from the amp to the mixing desk and 9 times out of 10 when we get to a gig I DI to the desk and there is a lot of buzzing out the front of house

    Long story short, I’ve upgraded my amp and still have same problems – we‘ve tried different leads and different channels on the desk with the same problem

    I’ve even had 3 people look at my bass in the last 1.5 years and all have not found any problem with the electronics in the bass….. Tried a DI box with a ground lift and that didn’t make a difference

    Then at last weekends gig when it started buzzing I just plugged my bass directly into the PA – and what do you know… it was buzzing! With the pick ups on active or passive it was still buzzing.

    Guitarist said it is definitely a pickup problem, but someone on the New Zealand Bass forum (www.bassplayer.co.nz) said it could be something as easy as a loose wire on the input jack.

    I’ve had a look at the back of the bass and there doesn’t seem to be any loose wires, but then again I am hopeless with electronics and wires…

    Before I take the bass somewhere else and pay $$$ to be told there’s no problem with the bass – is there anything obvious I should / could look for? :confused:

    Thanks in advance!
  2. ex-tension


    Jun 11, 2009
    OK, let's try to clarify things a little bit.

    This buzzing problem happens only when you plug your bass (directly or though a DI box) in to a PA desk?

    Everything is OK when you plug it in to a bass amp?

    What happens when you turn down your volume pot to zero? Still buzzing?

    Turning the tone pot has any effect on the buzzing sound?

    If possible take a good photo of your control cavity and post it here.
  3. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    1st off, it's an output jack.

    That out of the way, it could be a bad jack, or it could be a cold solder joint. Does it happen all the time or is it an intermittent problem? Those can be a pain to track down.

    If you aren't good with soldering and using a multimeter, and there is nothing obviously loose or disconnected, it's worth the money to take it to a professional. I'd start by replacing the jack. They go bad all the time, and then start testing for bad connections.
  4. it happens most of the time... actually when we first plugged in and ran the DI on Saturday night it sounded ok, then a couple of minutes later as the drummer was adjusting the levels on the desk for my bass it started buzzing, so maybe there is a loose wire in there somewhere?
    I'm surprised that none of the people who've looked at my bass before picked anything up
  5. Problems with the jack usually reveal themselves when you wiggle the cable plug while it's in the jack. If you get a crackling sound when you wiggle the plug, then you probably need a new jack.

    A bad jack wouldn't normally cause a constant buzz, that's probably something electrical or bad ground/shielding. If you look inside the cavity, are there any loose wires?
  6. Azure Skies

    Azure Skies Commercial User

    Mar 21, 2012
    Designer / Owner of Broughton Audio
    Next time you play don't plug into your amp and see if that fixes it. You might be experiencing ground loops between the mixing board and your amp.
  7. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Bad solder joints, or wires that are broken but the insulation is intact wouldn't be visible to the eye.

    You should find a tech that will test all the electronics. You may need to replace all the wires before you fix it.
  8. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    The pickups are most likely fine, they would be the last possible cause of the issue. First thing, if you touch cord where it plugs into the bass does the buzz go away? If so you have a ground problem. If it does go away when you touch the cord, does it go away when touching the strings? if not the bridge isn't grounded.

    If its not a grounding issue, its time to start looking for a cold solder joint or a loose connection.
  9. I first have to say, I agree wih whoever said it's an output jack. Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine. Anywho, I don't remember if you mentioned it, but is your bass sheilded? And do you normally play with the tone wide open? Sorry if I happen to be asking what has already been mentioned, I only did a quick glance through. I will look closer when time allows. But yeah, I at first didn't believe shielding would do much good, if at all. Boy was I wrong. It's like walking into an empty church after standing on a busy street. Again, I'm sorry if I repeated anything you might already have said...
  10. thanks for the replies
    I'll make note of the 'output' jack - I've always called it an input jack for some reason....

    if I put my fingers on the fretboard the buzzing goes away, so that's whay I initially thought it was just a grounding problem, but when I used a DI box with the ground lift on that made no difference, so it got me thinking there's something else causing the problem.
    There is some humming / light buzzing from my amp when it is plugged in normally - but one time last year we plugged our guitarists 6 string electric guitar into my amp and there was no buzzing through the PA or the amp - which makes me think that there is a bass issue.

    I might take a photo of the inside of my electrics if I can find my camera!
  11. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    Sounds like a ground issue for sure. If the buzz goes away when you touch the strings, then the bridge is not properly grounded, thus making the strings ungrounded as well. Have you removed the bridge to check that is has a good ground wire? If there is a wire, is it connected properly? Since you have tried plugging in other instruments with no problems, that rules out amp or PA issues. It would also explain why the DI box makes no difference. Gotta be the ground.
  12. No, if the buzz goes away when you touch the strings, it's a shielding issue. Exactly what my bass did. The strings are connected to ground, otherwise you wouldn't notice a difference when you touhed the strings. When I shielded it, all the buzzing disappeared.
  13. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    If you touch the strings and the buzz goes away that would indicate that the bridge is grounded.
  14. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Exactly. IF the buzzing disappears when you touch ground then either the bass needs shielding. or if it already has shielding (copper foil or paint that actually IS conductive rather than just looks like it is!) then somehow the ground to it has come loose.

    Hum like this can fool you because it's picking up hum in the room. So in a low noise room you hear little hum, but in a room with lots of noise suddently the bass is acting up. And you think something just went wrong with the bass, but in fact the bass is the same as it always was and you are just in a noisy room.
  15. here are some photos of the inside cavity of my bass
    sorry they aren't the best - I took them at night with the flash
    might try and get some better ones tomorrow

    I contacted another luthier about it, but he specialises in violins, cellos...etc... and he suggested to take it to another guy - and it's one of the 3 guys who looked at my bass initially and said there was nothing wrong with it and said I should get a DI Box!!

    Attached Files:

  16. Dave Curran

    Dave Curran Lilduke

    Jul 27, 2013
    Looks to me like your output jack spun and pinched the white wire between the two yellow wires. Is there any chafing there, is the jack even a little loose?

    One trick I do with jacks is take a pencil, with an eraser on the end. I use the eraser to clean the jacks, and then the pencil lead(graphite) and scribble on the contact points. Also works great to fix traces on micrchips and corroded battery terminals. :)
  17. Chrome Dome

    Chrome Dome Chrome Dome Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2013
    Piqua,Ohio 45356
    May sound simple,but have you tried a new cord. I had a bass where the jack,when I plugged the cord in was loose,and sloppy. Used another cord(new),and it cured the problem. Lot of trouble shooting involved I know. I always check the plugs on my cords,seem loosen up sometimes. Also the jack nut works loose sometimes. Like I say could be something simple. Not an electronics person. Good Luck. Take Care.
  18. wcriley


    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    Not all luthiers are proficient with electronics. Their expertise is working with wood. Find an electronics tech to sort out the problem.
  19. Oh man, that is one hell of a mess... First off, shield that sucker. All that circuitry gives a huge open door for noise. I hae a passive bass, just volume and tone, so I can't speak from that angle. But I have built pedals, so I have that experience there. Ok, second, on the second pic, I see a metal piece bent to where the cover screws in. Does the cover have foil on the back or something? I have a les paul with foil on the cover, sheilded wiring (not to be confused with a sheilded compartment), and dual humbuckers, and it is still noisy. IME, the foil does nothing except reflect the emi coming from the back of the guitar, which leaves the whole top open for noise. Sorry if I seem to ranting, it just I am so sick of noise. There is nothing worse than building a super high gain metal distortion circuit and having half the output be just hiss. Or having my 15w bass amp be overloaded by noise, and not my signal, so I have no headroom left.
  20. thanks for the replies - as you've probably guessed I am hopless with electronics.... I am partially colour blind too and when this was picked up many years ago the optometrist advised me against a career in electrical wiring!

    I have tried a couple of new leads to no avail... I am wondering if it is the output jack or something as simple like a loose wire / faulty connection

    I might have to take it back to one of the guys who looked at it last year and just tell him it still has problems - I'll ask him to double check the grounding, get the cavity shielded and check the input jack