Troubleshooting a static electricity "popping sound" on a single coil P-Bass

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Tony In Philly, Jan 16, 2018.


  1. Tony In Philly

    Tony In Philly Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2007
    Filthydelphia, USA
    The scenario involves a single coli P-Bass with a Seymour Duncan P-Bass. The neck was getting a bit strained with the original heavy gauge 9050's on it so I tried some "used" Labella LTF's on it.
    They sounded nice but because of the through body bridge, they got a bit too bent up and were on the verge of unraveling. I wanted something else with lower tension, so I tried Ernie Ball Cobalt Flats.
    They had the right tension, even though they are just a tad "zingier" on the treble side than I would like, but they are nonetheless excellent strings. Immediately after changing the strings I noticed a "popping sound" coming out the amp. It also started getting dramatically colder and drier in my area of the country so that's a considerations. Here are the steps in my troubleshooting:
    1. Change cables - same thing.
    2. Switch basses - popping goes away.
    3. Back to P-Bass with a different amp - popping returns.
    4. Take P-Bass to original dealer (who is an excellent luthier) to see if there is a short - popping completely disappears when I show it to him (he thinks I'm nuts but adjusts the neck while I'm there, so not a total loss)
    5. Return home and pug it in - popping returns. I start to realize that was all from static electricity at this point.
    6. Try anti-static anti-cling dryer strips (as recommend on YouTube) - no change.
    7. Remove gold metal pickguard - popping disappears. This definitely appears to be a culprit. When I put it back on the static electricity popping immediately returns.

    So now I'm considering either not using the pickguard while it remains cold and dry - it now looks like Sting's or Dusty Hill's basses which is ok, but I love the look of the gold pickguard. I'm probably going to test some aluminum foil underneath pickguard as some have recommended on Youtube. It's just odd that this occurred after I changed the strings; I can easily accept the notion that excessive dryness can be a factor. I'm just wondering about Ernie Ball Cobalt Flats though and if the alloy in the strings in this case can increase static electricity.
     
  2. Crater

    Crater

    Oct 12, 2011
    Dallas, TX area
    I have a Stratocaster guitar with a laminated pickguard that did this in cold dry weather. Just the action of me strumming the guitar, with my fingers lightly brushing the pickguard, would cause static pops and crackles through the amplifier. The solution was to add more shielding under the pickguard. My pickguard was originally like this:

    63432-4da3fdabec8561e2f652b8e4d2e80b3d.jpg

    Note that the shielding foil is only where the pots and switch are mounted. :bored: I fixed the static crackling by running a strip of shielding foil from the back to the front, making sure the foil made good contact with the factory shielding foil. The strip was enough to let the static bleed off and I don't have that problem with that guitar anymore.

    I'm guessing the "gold" metal pickguard is painted?
     
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