If you play the guitar, you’ve probably experienced the frustration of hearing a loud, annoying buzz coming from your amplifier. It can be an annoying distraction when you’re trying to play, and it can also ruin a recording or live performance.
This buzz can be caused by a number of factors, and it can be difficult to diagnose and fix. Understanding the root causes of amp buzzing can save you time and money and ensure that you always sound your best.
In this article, we’ll explore the most common reasons why your guitar amp is buzzing and provide you with some practical solutions to help you eliminate the problem.
Which noises are normal?
The electric guitar is a complex instrument with many components that naturally produce some level of noise. It’s essential to realize that certain noises are normal and unavoidable.
While you can’t eliminate these sounds completely, it’s crucial to accept and learn to live with them as part of the instrument’s natural characteristics.
Here’s a list of reasons for normal noise for electric guitars:
The sensitivity and design of single coil pickups cause electrical buzz or hum, especially in environments with noisy power or certain types of lighting.
High-gain and distortion amp settings
When the preamp gain is turned up high or when using an amplifier with a lot of distortion, noise is to be expected. Overloading the stages in your amp introduces distortion and artifacts into your signal, producing a hissing sound that increases as you turn up the gain.
Proximity to amplifier
The closer the guitar is to the amplifier, the more feedback and squealing sounds can be produced.
When the strings make contact with the frets, you may hear a buzzing sound caused by worn frets, low action or a warped neck.
When you move your fingers along the strings, you’ll hear a slight scratching or squeaking sound caused by the string sliding against your fingers.
Whammy bar noise
Using a whammy bar to create pitch variations can produce noise from the springs and other components in the bridge.
Even if your guitar is silent, your amplifier can generate noise caused by ground loops, interference, or a faulty tube.
What are the causes for guitar amp buzzing?
Having discussed the typical sounds that can be expected, it’s now time to address the unusual ones.
Here are some of the most common reasons for noise in an electric guitar setup:
Pickups are responsible for capturing the sound from your strings and amplifying it. If they are not properly shielded, they can pick up electrical interference from sources such as TVs, radios, power lines, or lights. This interference can result in your amp buzzing.
Issues with Pedals
Another common cause of buzzing noise is the issues with the pedals. This can include problems with the power supply, dirty connections, or faulty guitar pedals.
Buzzing sounds can occur when there is an issue with the grounding of your amplifier. This is usually due to a loose cable or a problem with the power supply. Grounding issues are generally easy to resolve.
If one of the cables connecting your amplifier to the speakers is loose, it can create an electrical connection that causes a buzzing sound.
Power Supply Issues
A faulty power supply can cause your amplifier to buzz, typically due to a problem with the AC power supply or the DC power supply. A defective power supply can also cause other issues like intermittent sound or distortion.
Dirty pots can be a major cause of guitar amp buzzing. If the pots are not clean, they can become clogged with dust, dirt, and other debris, resulting in an electrical connection that causes a buzzing sound.
If there is a problem with one of the components in your amplifier, such as the power transistors or the output stage, it can cause the amplifier to buzz.
Bad Vacuum Tubes
Vacuum tubes can cause annoying noise in tube amplifiers, such as crackling or high-pitched sounds. Other problems caused by bad vacuum tubes include microphonics, humming, buzzing, random signal dropouts, and complete failure.
Dirty or Corroded Connections
Amplifier noise can also result from dirty or corroded connections, which can occur anywhere along the signal path, from the input to the output jack.
Check this guide if your electric guitar is buzzing while you are not touching the strings.
How to fix a guitar amp buzzing?
Now that you know the main reasons for guitar amplifier buzzing, we make you a list with ways to fix it:
Check your guitar and cable
Make sure your guitar and cable are both in good condition and not causing the buzz. Try using a different guitar or cable to see if the problem persists.
Check your power source
If the reason for buzzing is that your amp is not properly grounded or if it’s connected to a faulty outlet, try plugging your amp into a different outlet or use a power conditioner.
Check your tubes
Bad vacuum tubes can also cause buzzing. Check your tubes for signs of damage or wear, and replace any faulty ones.
Clean your connections
Dirty or corroded connections can also cause buzzing. Clean your connections with a contact cleaner and re-solder them to ensure a solid connection.
Check your speakers
If your speakers are damaged, it can cause buzzing. Try replacing them or having them repaired.
Tips for safety precautions while fixing the buzzing amplifier
When fixing your amp, it’s important to take safety seriously. Here are some easy precautions you can take to stay safe while fixing your buzzing amp:
- Unplug your amp before starting any repairs.
- Be careful when handling components and wires, even if the amp is unplugged.
- Use only appropriate tools and equipment for the job. Do not attempt to modify or repair equipment beyond your knowledge or experience.
- Avoid touching any metal parts or exposed wires while the amplifier is powered on.
- Keep the amplifier away from water or other liquids.
- Take off any jewelry that could get in the way of your repairs.
- Wear shoes to protect your feet.
- Wear protective gear like gloves and safety glasses to protect your eyes and hands.
- And remember, high-voltage components should always be handled by a qualified technician.
- If you’re not sure what you’re doing or feel unsafe, ask for help from a professional.
Understanding why your guitar amp is buzzing and how to fix it can save you time and frustration. By following some simple troubleshooting steps and taking proper safety precautions, most buzzing issues can be resolved. Remember, if you are unsure, it’s best to seek professional help to avoid any potential risks.