Take electricity seriously

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Spectrum, Nov 25, 2021.

  1. I guess this could also be posted in live sound, since the cause of this incident is not known, but it's something that gets brought up from time to time here: shocking yourself by touching a microphone and strings at the same time. This is a pretty scary video; the guitarist on the upper left of the video stands up straight and then drops like a felled tree. For a while it's hard to tell if he's gonna make it but then he starts moving again after the bass player goes to help him out. One of the youtube commenters says it was in the local news that the guy suffered nerve damage, can't confirm, but still he easily could've cashed in his chips here.

    If your gear is acting dodgy, people, get it serviced properly.

    I guess I could add that singers gonna act like singers :rollno:
  2. I've argued this before, but if the victim survived, they weren't electrocuted.
  3. This was bad, but not as bad as what happened to Les Harvey. That was electrocution. This is getting zapped. Big difference.
    Phalex likes this.
  4. I didn't use the word electrocution; that was the uploader's video title. And I would say this is a bit worse than your average zap.
    dkelley, DTRN, 4SG and 6 others like this.
  5. Resistance is foolish - just listen to watt people are saying when they tell you that electricity is dangerous or joule regret it. It’s one of the most dangerous things you’ll find around the Ohm. Getting shocked means you’re in for a whole lot of herz, like the time I attempted to repair my AC. DC summers just aren’t hot enough to be worth the risk.
  6. do-not-touch.jpg
    Heady, Murch, Kubicki Fan and 23 others like this.
  7. GregC

    GregC Questlove, Black Thought, Hamilton Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2007
    Absolutely, respect electricity. I always wear shoes when playing, carefully replace tubes in my amps and leave any significant servicing of them to the pros.
  8. Having been zapped more than once, I can attest to how uncomfortable it is. Make sure your gear is grounded properly and be safe. Great advice, Spectrum.
    Low8, BlueTalon, equill and 4 others like this.
  9. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa Boogie, Development Engineer-Genzler (pedals), Product Support-Genz Benz
    I deal with electrical safety all the time, both in the touring production world and in product safety certification.

    For this to happen, one of two things must occur. Either a fault with the power wiring or equipment in the PA or a fault with the power wiring or equipment within the guitar amp.

    This occurs when either the PA ground (which is connected to the microphone case) is accidentally tied to the hot power conductor or when the ground of the guitar amp is accidentally connected to the hot power conductor.

    In my considerable experience, it’s almost always a fault in the guitar amp or the power wiring, very rarely a fault in the PA equipment due to the more inherent safety built into PA systems.

    I often referred to service techs needing to be qualified because a qualified tech will always verify that the safety grounding system is in place and operable. This is a legal requirement for techs in the EU.
  10. ficelles


    Feb 28, 2010
    Devon, England
    I believe the tragic death of Les Harvey was a down to a fault in the PA (he was grounded through his guitar amp, the PA was ungrounded but had a hot ground, as soon as he touched the live mic it grounded through him), but safety standards in the UK back in 1972 were pretty poor. Other similar tragic death around that time was Keith Relf, due to faulty wiring in his home studio.
    el jeffe bass, BlueTalon and jamro217 like this.
  11. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    Contributor- Bass Musician Magazine
    wow thats scary.

    I have a recollection of an outdoor gig with super dodgy PA setup where I cant remember if I was DI'd into the PA or just running through my rig, not singing, and getting lightly zapped repeatedly through my strings. It wasnt bad enough to stop me in my tracks, it had to happen 4-5 times before I threw my hands up and said fffffff this. In retrospect I wonder what the heck was going on that current was flowing through my amp, instrument cable and strings.
    mikewalker and BlueTalon like this.
  12. Ricky_K

    Ricky_K Rick K Supporting Member

    May 14, 2013
    St. Paul, MN
    Back in the day, all the amps came with 2-wire (non-grounded) power cords. You could get yourself energized to 120volts with respect to the PA or another player's rig depending on how you plugged your amp into the receptacle. Putting a 3-prong plug on the amp's power cord did not provide a proper ground path but it did assure proper polarity when plugging in.
    Buster Brown and Frankie Fender like this.
  13. Hounddog409


    Oct 27, 2015

    Thats a dumb statement.

    Learn to pronounce

    past tense: electrocuted; past participle: electrocuted
    1. injure or kill someone by electric shock.
  14. Tom Bomb

    Tom Bomb Hypocognitive Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2014

    Electricity lurks, invisible. You can't be too careful. It's always wise, regardless, to initially touch any such metal object first with the back of the hand, as you can't grab conductive things, locking on involuntarily due to electric shock, with the back of your hand.
  15. Analogeezer


    Jul 29, 2021
    Greg Lake of ELP was famous for having his mic stand on a Persian carpet. The carpet became such a thing (it would have become a meme if it was today) there were rumors and jokes that Greg had a special roadie just for his carpet.

    The reason he had the carpet was he was getting shocked by the microphone, so he told his roadie to go get some thing to put under the mic stand. The roadie (I believe it was Lemmy, who roadied for ELP in the early days) shows up with this large rubber underlayment and Greg said something to the effect of "that looks horrid, find something to cover it up".

    So Lemmy goes off and comes back with a Persian carpet.

    If you look at period pictures of their tours sure enough, there is a Persian carpet.

    He had dropped the carpet thing by the Black Moon tour (1993) which I always thought was a pity because it was kind of a cool bit of stage decoration :)

  16. drumvsbass


    Aug 20, 2011
    Got a good zap from an ungrounded PA once. Put my face to the mic and it was like someone punched me. Then I got the guitar player to check it, just to make sure, if you catch my drift...;)
  17. Drang22


    Nov 16, 2017
    Denver, Colorado
    Many years ago the band I was in at the time rehearsed in the drummer's basement, which he had lined with carpeting on the walls, floor and ceiling. During one song, I suddenly noticed that the keyboard player was holding just one chord on his B3- he had ceased playing the changes, and was basically paralyzed, being electrocuted through his hands on the keys. He couldn't let go or move at all. Luckily the drummer had the presence of mind to kick him off his stool. He fell to the floor, but his life was saved. The carpeting on the floor in his area of the basement had become moist, and he had taken his shoes off, and apparently the B3 was ungrounded or had a fault. He was very shook up, but had no serious injury. He was being electrocuted, which is when you cannot let go or separate from electricity flowing through your body, and it eventually cooks your innards. Electric shock, on the other hand, is usually momentary, but it can stop your heart.
    Admiral Akbar, BlueTalon and jamro217 like this.
  18. PaulCISSA

    PaulCISSA Unsweetened, highly-caffeinated Supporting Member

    Jul 10, 2014
    Northest New Jersey
    Not performance related, but I had the opportunity to momentarily catch 2 legs from a 440 3/phase on an industrial control box. I was young and stupid. Straightened me out and dropped me to the ground. I had the most surreal experience of my lifetime. The three-day headache was no fun. An electrician in the shop watched it happen and assisted me. While I was sitting and getting my head back, he said: “kinda feels good don’t it? Almost makes you want to do it again, right?”. He was a chronic joker.

    My wife blames all my shortcomings on that singular event. I blame her. . Watch your circuits and always test for proper groundings.
  19. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    Same... walked up to the mic while playing... felt like someone hit me in the head with a bat.

    People will laugh, but I truly believe it was my sense of humor which saved me.
  20. Analogeezer


    Jul 29, 2021
    In my youth I was playing an outdoor gig in Florida and it was hot,, and I was sweaty. I had really long hair then, about three feet of it, the PA was a Peavey PA-400 through a couple of columns and a Shure mic on a stand (I forget the model but it was kind of like a SM-57 built into a mount that screwed on to the stand).

    Anyway I am rocking out (playing through my Kustom 100 combo) and I toss my head, my damp hair flings towards the mic and I see this bright blue spark between my hair and the mic. Did not actually shock me but it sure got my attention!

    The rest of the gig I kind of kept my distance from the mic, I mean I still sang into it but didn't eat the mic of course.

    Reality was back in the era of ungrounded guitar amps, "polarity switches" and the like, getting shocked was kind of a regular deal. I remember a number of times playing a show and if you touched the mic with your lips you could feel the "tingle" going on.

    What's the expression, young, dumb and full of.....

    But yeah getting shocked or the tingles from your gear was just part of the deal. Seems like by the 1980's when grounded amps and better grounding schemes came along this was a much less common occurrence.

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