Tapewounds and grounding/hum

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Mo Boogs, Oct 3, 2021.

  1. Mo Boogs

    Mo Boogs

    Mar 26, 2014
    I just switched out the original strings on my 2014 American Standard P-bass with tapewounds. Right away I notice the hum when the tone knobs cranked full. Just curious how the roundwounds didn’t cause hum when I wasn’t touching them? Do the non coated metal strings ground somehow when they touch the bridge and the tuners in the headstock or as they pass over the pickup?
    jd56hawk likes this.
  2. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    I have eight basses with black tapewounds...absolutely no hum.
    I'm curious, too.
    west al and BOOG like this.
  3. ModuMan

    ModuMan How many is too many? Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2007
    Bristol, CT #19
    I have one Fender P-bass with tapes and no such issue so now I want to know as well!
    west al and jd56hawk like this.
  4. Jeff K

    Jeff K Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2005
    Memphis, TN
    I've had the black nylon tapewounds on multiple basses as well with no hum.
  5. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
  6. Mo Boogs

    Mo Boogs

    Mar 26, 2014
    I read that link above. Sounds like it’s a shielding issue when switching to tapewounds. Love the sound of em but they do burn my fingers when doing long slides, combo that with the shielding stuff I might just switch to flatwounds or go back to roundwounds.
    scuzzy likes this.
  7. BOOG


    Dec 13, 2016
    Cleveland, Ohio
    I’m always curious to hear about this and I don’t know if I’ve ever read of someone remedying the issue. I have a set of la Bella black tape wounds paired with EMG Geezer pups on an aerodyne and never experience any hum/buzz.
    jd56hawk likes this.
  8. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Could be a ground issue with the outlet. No path to ground for your shielding, aka a Faraday cage. But when you touch the bridge or metallic strings you give a different path to ground through your body and then the shielding works.
  9. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    The issue is RF interference and the resolution is proper shielding. Hope that solves the mystery for you. Your bass should not get any noise with no strings on it, the use of tape wounds is irrelevant. Tape wounds just lack a metal path from you to the electronics so the bass loses it's grounding (you.)

    As to why others haven't experienced this, they may own a bass with proper shielding. However, with so many (presumably) stock Fenders in the house, the real reason is that your bass is susceptible to RF interference. You won't have the issue in some spaces. You won't hear it if you keep your hands on the strings/bridge/metal either. RF interference has only been treated as an issue in the last decade or so. It honestly wasn't uncommon to find old techs telling you RF noise either wasn't an issue or it was not repairable .Thankfully, most of that old guard has moved on.
  10. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    There's a wire running under the bridge that connects the bridge to the ground loop. Anything conductive that touches the bridge, is now grounded to your amp. Strings, tuners, and ultimately...you. You are the biggest interference in the circuit. That's why the hum goes away when you ground yourself to your instrument by touching the strings.

    Tapewounds do not conduct electricity very well. They are wrapped in electrical tape. Hence why they're noisy. It's hard to get a good ground when you've got a rubber glove over your connection point.
  11. west al

    west al Road Rex (ROAD KING) Supporting Member

    The same here with soooooo many basses.
    Jeff K likes this.
  12. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Not me. Everytime I've ever tried them, they hum. I mean, it's not out of the ordinary hum, but it doesn't go away. It doesn't go away, because they aren't conductive. It as simple as that. You would need to rest your hand on the bridge to make it go away. Live, it's not any sort of problem. Whatsoever. Solo or recording, it's a big problem.
    iiipopes likes this.
  13. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    My experience as well. When I tried tapes on my fanned fret P-style custom bass, the pickup in the P position is a Rickenbacker humbucker which has a metal chrome plated grounded cover. I anchor my thumb to the cover to eliminate the hum from the tapewounds.

    The other better solution (yes, all those who claim that you got rid of everything just by shielding - sit on your hands for a moment.) is to use EMG active pickups that are internally grounded and don't use a bridge ground. I did that on an Ibanez bass I have. The EMG's have an advertised noise floor of @ -100dB, depending on the model, and I can vouch for that through my band's Behringer digital board.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2021
    BOOG, JeezyMcNuggles and mikewalker like this.
  14. ModuMan

    ModuMan How many is too many? Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2007
    Bristol, CT #19
    I can say that when I got a replacement guard I put shielding tape on the underside. Maybe that helped? Or maybe I just haven't been in a situation that creates a hum. I've played a couple of shows now with it as well as home and at rehearsal, nothing yet.