Why are my pickups humming?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Michael Jewels, Nov 1, 2001.

  1. O.K. I've got a Yamaha BBN5II which has two big soapbar pups on it. It's passive. When both pups are turned up full, this is one of the quietest bass you'll find. Now suddenly they hum all the time. When both pups were up full, if you turned one of them down a little you'd get a very slight, tolerable hum. Now it seems that only the bridge pup is working O.K. If you solo the neck pup, you can hear that the B, E and A strings aren't putting out as strong a signal as the D and G strings. This is verified by the gain light on my amp. So, could something have come loose? No one has dropped or fooled around with it. I took the back cover off to take a look, and everything seemed O.K. I'm moderately mechanically inclined, do I have to take this thing apart. If so, what do I look for. This bass was only $400.00, but, I love the sound. Is this the price you pay for paying a low price? Any help would be appreciated. BTW, if you solo the bridge pup, it's got full power, and just a slight hum. Also, I think the pups are split P-bass style with one half handling the B, E and A strings, the other the D and G.

    Mike J.
  2. superphat

    superphat Guest

    Sep 30, 2001
    i don't know about the bbn5II, but the bbn5 has single coil pickups, and single coil pickups are supposed to hum (except when they're both full-on - they're probably reverse-wound to cancel the hum like a humbucker pickup would).
  3. Maybe they`re in a good mood? :rolleyes: :D

  4. Usul, you, you, Doh! :D

    Superphat, I'm not sure, but, I think they're single coils, although I think Bass Player magazine said they were Humbuckers. Anyway, when both pups were on full, this was an extremly quiet bass, now, all I get is this annoying hum that came out of nowhere. I think that the low number of responses shows that this is a unique problem, indeed. I can't figure out why they would start doing this all of a sudden. Back to the drawing board. I guess I'll have to take it to someone.

    Mike J.
  5. could it be the famous 60-cycle hum???
  6. ldiezman

    ldiezman Guest

    Jul 11, 2001
    maybe you should just give your bass some good lovin.. it always my old bass stop humming :)
  7. Chris, this is what I thought it was at first, but as I said in the original post, this bass was one of the quietest basses you could ever NOT hear when both pickups were on full. Out of nowhere I started getting a hum where there was once silence, and, the odd thing is that no one can seem to figure out why one pickup would suddenly have an uneven output? When you have the neck pup soloed or blended with the bridge pup you can clearly hear that the output of the B, E, and A strings is noticeably lower than the D & G strings. I guess I'm going to have to take it to someone, because I can't figure this out. The bridge pup soloed is fine. :confused: I just noticed that I pretty much repeated my original post. But, this is maddening.

    Mike J.
  8. SuperDuck

    SuperDuck Guest

    Sep 26, 2000
    Because they don't know the words! (I'm surprised I got to that one first...)

    Ok, here's the thing. The Yamaha soapbars that I am familiar with are in a P configuration, which means one coil is over the B, E, and A strings, while the other covers the D and G. The point is, it sounds like the wiring went bad or became loose on only ONE of the coils, which can cause all sorts of buzzes and hums, seeing as the pickups would no long be humbucks, plus phase issues, etc. You will probably have to take it in unless you are confident in your wiring abilities.
  9. That's exactly what I think, Super. I think maybe it was just a bit of shoddy workmanship. Otherwise, I love this bass. I have to find a good shop in NYC. I don't want to take it to Sam Ash where I bought it. I heard factory repairs take forever. I'm also on the verge of buying a Stingray 5 (which I don't need but keep thinking about) so I'd better try to fix it before I get the MM.

    Thanks for the idea.
    Mike J.
  10. gruffpuppy

    gruffpuppy Guest

    Aug 15, 2000
    In your basement.
    You bassturd. :D
  11. O.K. gang, everything that I've said actually did happen, but, I'm happy and shocked to report that now everything's back to normal. No kidding. I turned on my amp on Saturday, and NO HUM. The signal from the neck pup is normal, and I must conclude that when this odd behaviour occurs, it has to be the electricity coming out of the wall. I have an AM radio that I listen to in the bathroom while getting ready in the morning, and noticed that lately it's been getting some sort of static at times. Although it's O.K. now, I'll keep you posted if it happens again.

    Let me say this: This is not a joke or test to see if I can fool people at Talkbass, I'd never do that. It's just that in all my years of playing bass and fooling around with amplifiers, I've never heard of anything like this happening to anyone. :confused:

    Thanks to everyone that tried to help.

    Mike J.
  12. SuperDuck

    SuperDuck Guest

    Sep 26, 2000
    Congratulations! I love it when things get back to normal on their own. However, with the description you gave, i.e., signal loss on certain strings, humming, I still think it was faulty pickup wiring. What may have happened is that the wiring may have made a clean contact after a bump or a jostle and the bass is working fine for now. It MAY come loose again, who knows, it might now!

    Who cares? All your gear works, right? Ride the wave, my friend. :cool:

  13. Amen to that, Super!

    Mike J.
  14. Dr Rog

    Dr Rog Guest

    Apr 21, 2000
    Aotearoa/New Zealand
    If it happens again - use a screwdriver or other metal object and lightly tap each pole piece with all controls up full.

    Make a note of any places where it doesn't sound the same. That will aid people in helping locate the fault.

    If there is a fault, you can often locate it by removing the pickguard and lightly (lightly!!) moving the wires around. Of course you should have the thing plugged in and live, so you can hear any sudden hums etc. At the same time, try tapping the pots and listen for crackles etc.

    Intermittent faults can be a right pain, but carefully noting what happens and when is a good help in diagnostics.