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What is this crackling sound?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by DLM, Dec 25, 2015.

  1. DLM


    May 25, 2004
    Please see post #8.



    Moderators, feel free to move if this belongs in Pickups and Electronics.

    I just picked up a new passive jazz bass with single coils and notice I get this crackling sound when I play. Is this sound normal? Is it a grounding issue?

    I've included two sound samples where you can hear some faint crackling sounds. It's best to use headphones.

    On file 0474, the crackling sounds are more pronounced starting at 0:09 when I slide my hand up and down the neck while coming in contact with the frets. In file 0475, the crackling sounds can be heard at 0:05 and on.

    Thanks so much.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 7, 2016
  2. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    Tighten up your guitar output jack.

    EDIT: Yes, it sounds like a grounding issue. Your control plate is part of the circuit, if the jack isn't mounted securely you can have intermittent loss of ground causing the crackling sound.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2015
    DLM and Maret Guitars like this.
  3. Your troubleshooting goal is to eliminate all the easy fixes first.

    As Sissy Kathy suggested, make sure the output jack is tight. If in deed the output jack is loose it will mostly likely be blatantly obvious.
    Use a small wrench or nut driver to attempt to tighten the output jack nut.

    If the output jack seems tight, try using a different cable.
    If you're certain the cable is not the problem, gently wiggle the cable at the bass while it is plugged in.
    Also try and gently wiggle it at the other end where it is plugged into the amp.

    If wiggling the cable reproduces the same cracking then you may simply have a faulty cable.

    Good Luck!


    JIC: A nut driver looks like this

    stuntbass77 and DLM like this.
  4. DLM


    May 25, 2004
    Thanks for your replies.

    The input jack is nice and snug and is not the issue, nor the instrument cable. It's been very dry here and I wonder if static electricity is causing the crackling. It does not seem to occur consistently, but only after several minutes of playing; perhaps, I'm generating enough static electricity at that point.

    Would static electricity cause audible crackling even if all the grounding in the bass is 100% good?
  5. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    If it isn't a loose nut like me, then I got nuthin'
  6. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    1) Is the cord in good shape (a frayed cord internally or at the plug connections can make this noise)?
    2) Are you using conventional strings, or nylon tape strings, or "coated" strings (Nylon strings and some coated strings insulate the bridge/ground connection and cause noise and hum)?
    3) Is the wire from the ground lug of the jack to the bridge secure (not applicable if wiring EMG actives in their recommended manner)?
    4) Are the pickups too close to the strings so that the strings contact the pole pieces (The pole clack can sound like static crispy critters discharge)?
    5) Is the amp properly grounded with a three-prong plug, and the mains wiring up to code (Safety issues as well as noise/static issues)?
    6) Is your pickguard real celluloid that might be inducing static and need to be grounded to the jack as well with foil on the bottom side (A little bit of copper shielding foil and a wire soldered from the foil to the jack ground)?
  7. DLM


    May 25, 2004
    Some answers above. Also, the cracking sound does NOT occur when I touch the pole pieces.

    Thanks very much for the assist!
  8. DLM


    May 25, 2004
    I was able to isolate the crackling sound and saved a new sound file.

    I found that I get the crackling sound when I rub back and forth on the pickguard. It doesn't happen when I first pick up the bass, but a short time after doing some slap/pop stuff when my right hand brushes against the pick guard. And it doesn't happen anywhere on the pickguard, just the meaty area immediately below where you might pop the g string. If I rub toward the edges of the pickguard or above the E string, I get no crackling sound.

    It seems like static electricity.

    Is there a fix to this?

    Attached Files:

  9. Michael B

    Michael B

    Dec 16, 2015
    Lowell, MA
    To confirm:
    - lick your fingers, rub guard. If it is gone and comes back when dry, it is static
    - have your instrument checked that everything is grounded properly. If you have a bad connection somewhere like the bridge to ground you could have some resistance that would make your instrument susceptible to your bodies static
  10. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    GROUND your pick guard, it should be already. Add copper tape to the back of the pick guard and tie it into the ground of the instrument. When I shield a body cavity, I have the copper tape cover a pick guard screw hole or two; and have the copper tape from the pick guard cover the same holes of the pick guard. When the screws are installed you get a very good ground for the pick guard and a superior shield..
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2016
  11. DLM


    May 25, 2004
    Thank you both for your replies. Much appreciated.
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