Monday, October 20, 2014

All The Buzz

My baby.
I play guitar for my church. The core of my rig is a Boss GT6, but I've found it impossible to have a solid clean tone without the dirty tones just blasting it for volume, so I have a board with a compressor, Washburn Soloist distortion, DigiTech Bad Monkey, EHX LPB-1 clean boost, EHX Signal Pad attenuator, Danelectro Cool Cat tremolo, and Morley Little Alligator volume pedal, which I connect into the input of the GT6. The pedals are connected mostly with the kind of cables in a jar next to the cash register at Guitar Center. I power the board with a Visual Sound 1Spot, and normally, it's been no problem.

Signal starts with my #1, a mid-80s Telecaster I added a four-way switch to, which is my #1 guitar.

Yesterday, toward the end of service, I noticed a small buzz coming out of my system. I nudged some pedals and got a big buzz. I used the volume pedals to drop the volume and tried to figure out where the buzz was coming from. After service, I poked and found that switching out the cable connecting the board to the GT6 caused the buzz to go away, and switching in two longer cables brought the buzz back.

This is close, except I swapped locations for the Signal Pad
and Cool Cat, and swapped out the Death Metal,
which as too much gain for anything I need. I should redo
with the dirt pedals in the front row. 
Yesterday evening, setting up to play again, I simplified to just Tele -> GT6 -> DI, and immediately got all the buzz in the world, and found that, by turning down the volume on the guitar, I could change the pitch of the buzz. I expected either 1) nothing would happen, showing the problem was in the pedalboard, or 2) the volume would go down, showing the problem was with the instrument or involved the single-coil hum. What I got surprised me and I could base no diagnosis on it.

I was handed a loaner guitar and the issues went away.

This morning, I plugged my #1 into my amp at home and it sounded just like I'd expect.

I honestly have only the slightest idea as to what went on. I've had problems at that venue before, and the problems I've had with buzz there, I've had nowhere else. Then again, I'm normally either into the DI at church or my amp at home (or elsewhere).

My thoughts about the fix include:
  • taking the #1 to the shop and see if my rewiring is problematic
  • moving up to the next level for patch cables
  • going from a 1Spot to a Voodoo Labs Pedal Power or the like
  • finding a means to have a special ground for my gear
I'm in a confused state on the issue, and will have to plug things in and try things out to try to solve things. Any comments or suggestions?


Jack said...

Hey Dave, I don't know what you are using for an amp but, I've experienced some strange stuff using tube amps in rooms that are susceptible to voltage spikes and, even more so, voltage drops...situations where I go through every cable and pedal then, have no problem in the next place.

bassedout said...

If the problems went away by changing guitars that seems to answer the question of where the noise is coming from. I'd start by checking all the ground connections in the guitar. Sometimes the output jack gets worn or "sprung" with age and doesn't make good contact with the tip on the cable. Look for bad solder joints and make sure the strings / bridge are properly grounded.

Dave Jacoby said...

Good call, bass. I'm sure it's a cumulative effect -- it sounds fine when I plug it in to my amp, so the venue is part of the issue -- but I am planning on taking it to a trusted local repair shop soon.

Dave Jacoby said...

Jack, I'm fairly sure that the venue is all analog from the DI to the speakers, but I could be wrong.