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tapewound strings cause buzz

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by glaive, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. glaive


    Feb 22, 2006
    Hello, I have a bass tech question :eyebrow: You're welcome to ask me computer questions in return!

    I just put nylon tapewound strings on my P-Bass, which is fitted with SD Antiquities pickups. Every time I touch a pole piece on the forward pickup (i.e. the one closer to the neck), I get a loud "zzzttt" coming through the amp. This was not the case with all-metal strings. The rear pickup doesn't make the noise when I touch the pole pieces.

    Any ideas?


  2. herndonbassist

    herndonbassist Low Down Thumper Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2005
    Herndon, VA - NoVa
    tapewound strings have an inherent problem with grounding. with metal strings, the you provide a nice ground for the electronics, but the tape acts as an insulator. i have just started using tapewounds on a recently assembled P bass, and am noticing the exact same problem. i've found that it's just something i'm going to have to live with.

  3. glaive


    Feb 22, 2006
    That's what I was thinking too (the grounding issue).

    Does putting a strip of scotch tape over the pickup poles affect the sound? Since it's a magnetic field, I'd think that it wouldn't. All I really need is a dot over the top pole, since that's near to where I rest my thumb on the top of the pickup.
  4. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Tapewound strings should not really cause problems with grounding by themselves. If the bass has a grounding problem, sometimes that can be exacerbated by using nylon tapewound strings, but it's not the strings that are at fault, it's the bass. And it should be easily fixable.
  5. glaive


    Feb 22, 2006
    Easily fixable by someone who knows *** is going on!
  6. Audere

    Audere Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 7, 2005
    South Beach, OR
    Owner: Audere Audio
    When you touch normal metal strings you ground your body but the tapewound strings are insulated.

    More info about why and how to fix this...
    FAQ - Pickup Magnet or Pole Piece Grounding
  7. glaive


    Feb 22, 2006
    Exactly! Thank you for the walkthough.
  8. I recently put some nylon tapes on a Fender jazz and yesterday at practice I was getting really loud annoying feedback. Previously I used the same set up but I had flat chromes on and had no problems. I wonder if the tapes could cause the problem I had yesterday?
    Note: I didn't have to be close to the amp to get the feedback either. I never had this happen with any of my basses or amps.
  9. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    The problem is that when the poles aren't grounded (I don't know why so many pickup makers don't bother) if you touch them you inject hum right into the pickup coil Putting tape over them will reduce the problem but doesn't quite eliminate it. Insulating tape does not affect bass tone at all.

    The best fix is just to ground the poles if you can (See link by Audere below). This can't always be done, however, if the pickup is potted and you can't take it apart. In that case some tape (or some use fingernail polish on the poles) is the best you can do.

    Now about that computer question! I'm installing Xen and I want to know what is the best third party appliance console to operate XEN and guests? :)

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