Pickups Making Noise

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Orengery, Dec 20, 2015.

  1. Orengery


    Oct 6, 2015
    Hey all,
    I recently noticed a problem on my bass.
    I have a Fender Jazz Bass CIJ, and whenever I just slightly roll off one of the pickups (either the neck or the bridge), it starts making this loud hissing noise.
    When they're both on max, the hissing stops.
    I suppose this problem could be related either to the bass, the amp, or the pickups themselves; although it happened to me on two different amps, which made me believe that the bass/pickups are causing the trouble.
    Any idea why this is happening, or how I can fix it?
  2. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

    A Jazz bass has single coil pickups which will 'pickup' noise in the environment. When the balance control is in the Middle setting they act together like a humbucking pickup and cancel out the noise.

    There is no problem with your bass. Its just the nature of single coil pickups.
  3. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    As @ddnidd1 pointed out, this is expected operation for single coil pickups. If you want to remedy this issue then you would need to install a dummy coil, humbucking pickups, which would alter your tone, or an Audere noice cancelling pre-amp, which would make your bass into an active bass. There is no simple solution. Since you sacrifice some tone in order to get humbucking capabilities single coils are still regularly used, they're also cheaper to produce.
  4. Orengery


    Oct 6, 2015
    Thanks for the reply, even though I now realize that this was a noobie question.
    So, this is a relief on one hand, and a bummer on the other hand.
    Is this noise inevitable, or is there a reasonable solution?
  5. tpa


    Dec 1, 2007
    København, Danmark
    I have experienced something similar. What happens in the case of hiss may differ from the case of a hum. Hum is likely to be picked up by the pickups whereas hissing is most likely to depend on the interaction with the input circuitry of the amplifier. Just a guess though. Hissing and humming may depend as if You have a wireless transmission or digital effect in the chain as these often have a "noise reduction" circuit. which depend on signal level, meaning that silence is a fake silence. Good quality cables are important and clean connectors. Cleaning of plugs, receptacles and potentiometers may cause a difference. Rolling off the tone potentiometer may also be a solution.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015
  6. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

    The amount of noise will depend upon the amount of noise in a particular environment. For instance, light dimmers and fluorescent lights are prime offenders and even the position of your bass in relation to the noise source has bearing on how much noise is picked up.

    There's no quick fix.
  7. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    It's all about environment. Neon lights, halogen lamps, cellhpnes, computers all add to the noise. Staying away from them is a good idea.
    Growlmonkee likes this.
  8. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    A bass with hum canceling pickups is a great solution.
    MasonMinor likes this.
  9. BAG


    May 5, 2014
    New Zealand
    Previous responses are all spot on.

    It can depend on the electrics of the room, your position in the room, your position in relation to your amp and more. The house I live in is the noisiest house i've ever experienced for pickup noise. It's one of the reasons that I don't like Jazz basses as they are noisier than humbucking or stacked pickups. If it is bad you can shield the pickup and control cavities. I've done this to all my basses and electric guitars and the difference is huge. The first time was a bit scary as i'd never pulled the guts out of a guitar or bass before but now whenever I buy a new instrument one of the first things I do is a full shielding job. I still occasionally get a little noise but it is barely noticeable.

    Here's a good "how to" page for shielding.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015
    physics and Growlmonkee like this.
  10. I agree with shielding the cavities. If you still get a lot of hiss or hum I would suggest a pair of dual coil pickups. Aguilar dual coils go a long way to sounding like a single coil while being dead quiet.
  11. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

    Buzz and hum are typically interference from external sources, while hisssss is typically generated by electronic components and circuit design in your rig - most often from the amp, especially from effects and sometimes an onboard preamp.
    LoveThatBass likes this.
  12. timocharis


    Oct 29, 2015
    Worth considering: I've heard some nasty hisses from what turned out to be a wonky instrument cord. Have you changed it out to see what happens?
  13. Growlmonkee


    Jan 30, 2013
    Florida, U.S.
    I have a well shielded CIJ Jazz bass, it still makes noise a bit, unless both pups are fully on. Just as Bag, and Jazz said it's worse or better, depending on environment, it does seem a bit better since shielding, but, I like the tone it has, ...it's worth living with for me. I also have a P/J with a split coil J that's silent, when not playing. I think I notice the noise from the Jazz more after playing that one, both get gig time, the noise isn't a game breaker for me.
  14. BAG


    May 5, 2014
    New Zealand
    You are right that you can't really get "all" the noise to go away with shielding, but a good shielding job should reduce it to the point that you'll barely notice it.

    My house is so bad that my travel bass with only a P pickup was noisy enough to warrant a good shielding job (and the P pup on both my Godin and Jag were also helped by shielding). Most of the time now it is silent but just this morning I noticed some noise when I was having a play before work. Quite often it will depend on what else is plugged in at the time. The power lead going to the laptop in the lounge room right next to the amp, and the bass lead going over it, is the worst culprit.
  15. grillman


    Dec 15, 2014
    Before you shield anything or start replacing all the neon light in your house I suggest you take a look at the Fender Super 55 jazz pickups. What you are experiencing is called the 60hz cycle hum and you need pickups that can cancel it.

    Those are split coils pickups.
    Here is a thread about them : Fender Super 55 Jazz pickups?

    They don't make those anymore I think but you can still find them easily.

    So why would I recommend those ?
    Because they are Split coils pickups.
    So they share the sonic attributes of single coil pickups but they cancel the noise just as humbucker pickups do.
    So you can say goodbye to the 60 hz cycle hum without saying goodbye to your tone.

    There are other spilt coils made by Bartolini or Nordstrand for example which I am sure sound great. But they are also significantly more expensive. The Fender Super 55 sound fantastic. Best upgrade I ever did on my jazz.

    And by the way here is the explanation for this phenomenon
    Mains hum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Even in the safest environment this would still happen with single coils. Don't spend time and money shielding, just get humbuckers or split coils or ... get used to it.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015
  16. tjh


    Mar 22, 2006
    ... for reducing single coil noise, they don't need to both be on max, they just both need to be set the same ... if you turn one down a 1/4 turn, you will notice the noise ... now turn the other volume to that point and see that it again goes away, as both volume controls are balanced ....
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015
    physics and grillman like this.
  17. physics


    Aug 7, 2009
    Berkeley, CA
    I have a Thunderbird with dual MM style HB pups with a mini toggle switch on each pup. I can run with either pup in single coil or dual coil HB mode or I can blend both pups with the volume pots, like a J bass. I, and most of the people who've listened to my bass, prefer the dual single coil mode, with the hum balanced out and my fingers plucking at the sweet spot between the two pups. I could play with one pup in HB mode, and it doesn't sound bad, but I really like the J bass configuration with the two out of phase pups. Single coil mode with only one pup is not an option for me, due to excessive noise in most of my playing environments.
  18. MojoPenguin


    Jul 11, 2014
    Europe Bro'
    You're not alone feeling the pain... They did invent the humbucker pickup for this very reason.
  19. dincz


    Sep 25, 2010
    Czech Republic
    As others have mentioned, single coil pickups tend to buzz. If you really are getting hiss, then it's a different problem with a different solution.

    Does it "ssssssssssssssssssssss" or does it "zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz"?
  20. Were you joking when you asked this? :)
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