Why Does My Guitar Amp Hum

The Introduction section sets the stage for understanding why guitar amps produce hum, buzz, or noise. When it comes to playing an electric guitar through an amplifier, unwanted noise can be frustrating and interfere with the overall sound quality. These annoyances can range from a low-frequency hum to static or buzzing sounds.

In this article, we will delve into various aspects of amp hum troubleshooting and explore different causes that lead to such issues. We will discuss common types of guitar amp noise problems and provide solutions to help you diagnose and resolve these bothersome occurrences. It is important to note that every guitar player may encounter different levels of humming based on their setup and equipment.

Let’s dive in and take a closer look at the reasons behind your guitar amp humming or producing unwanted noise. By understanding what causes these problems, you’ll be better equipped to troubleshoot them effectively and reclaim crystal-clear tones from your beloved instrument.

Types of Guitar Hum, Buzz, or Noise

Alright, folks! Get ready to delve into the world of guitar hum, buzz, and noise that could potentially disrupt your jamming session. Don’t fret though, understanding these diverse types will equip you with the knowledge to identify the root cause of any issue and discover fitting solutions. Let’s dive straight in and explore mains hum, how to handle mains hum, and ground loop buzz. You got this!

Mains Hum (50 or 60 cycle hum)

Mains hum, also known as 50 or 60 cycle hum, is a common type of noise issue that guitar players often encounter when using their amplifiers. This hum is caused by the electrical power grid and can be quite frustrating for musicians.

What causes mains hum? Mains hum occurs when the alternating current (AC) from the power grid interferes with the signal in your amplifier. The AC current in most countries operates at either 50 or 60 cycles per second, hence the name “50 or 60 cycle hum.” This interference can be caused by various factors, including poor grounding, electromagnetic fields, and magnetic induction.

How does it sound? Mains hum is typically characterized by a low-frequency buzzing or humming noise that can be heard through your guitar’s speakers. It may vary in volume and intensity depending on the specific circumstances and equipment involved.

Dealing with mains hum: Solutions To combat mains hum, several solutions are available:

  1. Check your grounding: Ensure that your amplifier and other equipment are properly grounded to minimize potential interference.
  2. Reduce electromagnetic interference: Keep your amplifier away from other electronic devices that could generate electromagnetic fields.
  3. Consider using a power conditioner: Power conditioners help filter out unwanted electrical noise from reaching your amplifier.

By taking these steps, you can significantly reduce or eliminate mains hum from your guitar amp and enjoy a clean and noise-free playing experience.

Dealing With Mains Hum

One effective solution is to check the grounding of your setup. Make sure that all the electrical components, such as your amp, pedals, and instruments, are properly grounded. This can help reduce the chances of a ground loop occurring and introducing hum into your signal.

Another option is to use balanced cables instead of unbalanced ones. Balanced cables have three conductors – positive signal, negative signal, and ground – which helps to cancel out any interference or hum that may be picked up along the way.

You can also experiment with different power sources. Sometimes, certain outlets or power supplies can introduce noise into your amp’s circuitry. Try plugging your gear into different outlets or using a power conditioner to provide clean and stable power.

Additionally, isolating noisy components can help mitigate mains hum. If you identify a specific piece of equipment that is causing the issue, try placing it on its own separate circuit or powering it from a different source altogether.

Remember to always make sure that all connections are secure and free from any loose or faulty wiring. Taking these measures will go a long way in reducing mains hum and improving the overall sound quality of your guitar amp setup.

Ground Loop Buzz

Ground Loop Buzz is a common issue that guitar players face with their amplifiers. When there is a ground loop in your setup, it can cause an annoying buzz or hum through your amp. This buzz often intensifies when you touch the strings or other metal parts of your guitar.

To understand ground loop buzz, we first need to know what a ground loop is. A ground loop occurs when there are multiple paths for electrical current to flow between different components of your setup. This can create an imbalance in the electrical system and result in unwanted noise.

The good news is that there are ways to mitigate ground loop buzz and eliminate that pesky noise from your guitar amp. One solution is to use a ground lift adapter or isolator, which breaks the ground loop by disconnecting the grounding connection between the amp and the power source.

Another option is to use a DI (direct input) box between your guitar and the amplifier. A DI box helps break the ground loop by isolating the output signal from the input and providing a balanced connection.

Finally, you can try rearranging your cable routing by separating audio cables from power cables and avoiding running them parallel to each other. This can help minimize any interference caused by electromagnetic fields.

By addressing the issue of Ground Loop Buzz, you can ensure a clean signal and enjoy playing your guitar without any unwanted noise interruptions.

Why Do Some Electric Guitars Hum More Than Others?

Some electric guitars are more prone to hum than others due to various factors. Let’s explore why this happens and how it can be attributed to different aspects of the guitar and its components.

  1. Pickup Type: The type of pickup used in an electric guitar can influence the amount of hum produced. Single-coil pickups tend to have more hum compared to humbucker pickups, which are designed to reduce unwanted noise.
  2. Quality of Components: The quality of the guitar’s components can also affect the level of hum. Higher-end guitars often feature better shielding, wiring, and grounding techniques, resulting in less noise interference.
  3. Environmental Factors: Environmental conditions play a role in the amount of hum generated by an electric guitar. Factors like electromagnetic interference from nearby electronics or power sources can contribute to increased hum.
  4. Amplifier Settings: Sometimes, the amplifier settings can contribute to excessive hum. If the gain or volume is set too high, it can amplify any noise picked up by the guitar.
  5. Playing Technique: It’s worth noting that playing technique can also impact the level of hum. Holding the guitar at certain angles or touching ungrounded metal surfaces while playing may increase hum due to increased electrical conductivity.

Understanding these variables will help you determine why your electric guitar may be experiencing more hum compared to others and allow you to take appropriate measures for reducing unwanted noise during your musical performance.$$$

Why Does My Amp Hum Only When I Plug My Guitar In?

When you notice that your guitar amp only hums when you plug in your guitar, it can be frustrating and confusing. However, this issue is quite common among guitar players. There are a few possible reasons why your amp might hum in this particular scenario.

Firstly, it’s important to note that guitars produce an electrical signal that can pick up interference from various sources. When you plug the guitar into the amp, this interference can manifest as a hum. One possibility is that the cable connecting your guitar to the amp is damaged or of poor quality. This can cause interference and result in a humming sound.

Another reason for the hum could be related to grounding issues. Grounding ensures that any excess electrical current flows safely away from the audio signal path, but if there’s an issue with grounding, it can contribute to unwanted noise. Check if all grounding connections between your guitar and amplifier are secure and tight.

Lastly, it’s worth considering whether there’s any nearby electrical equipment causing interference with your guitar signal. Things like fluorescent lights or electronic devices placed too close to your amplifier can introduce unwanted noise.

To troubleshoot and address these potential causes of amp hum when plugging in your guitar:

  1. Ensure you’re using a high-quality instrument cable.
  2. Check and tighten all grounding connections.
  3. Minimize electromagnetic interference by keeping other electronic devices away from your amplifier.

By addressing these factors, you’ll likely be able to reduce or eliminate the hum when plugging in your guitar, allowing for a cleaner sound while playing.

Why Does My Amp Hum When The Guitar’s Volume Knob Is At Zero?

When you turn the volume knob on your guitar amp down to zero, you expect complete silence. However, it can be frustrating when your amp continues to produce a hum or noise even at the lowest volume setting. So why does this happen?

One possible explanation is that the volume knob only controls the signal coming from your guitar’s pickups. It doesn’t affect other sources of interference or noise that may be present in your setup. When the volume is turned down, these external factors become more noticeable since the guitar signal is quieter.

To troubleshoot this issue, there are a few things you can try:

  1. Check for Grounding Issues: Ensure that all cables, connectors, and components in your setup are properly grounded to eliminate any potential ground loop issues.
  2. Inspect Your Guitar’s Electronics: A faulty ground connection or loose wire inside your guitar could contribute to the hum. Have a professional examine and repair any electrical issues.
  3. Consider Using Noise Reduction Equipment: Investing in a noise gate pedal or a noise suppressor can help eliminate or reduce unwanted noise when playing at low volumes. These devices work by cutting off the sound below a certain threshold, effectively muting any background hum.

Remember, while some level of hum may be normal due to factors like single-coil pickups or external interference, excessive and persistent noise could indicate an underlying problem that requires further investigation.

Why Does The Hum Stop When I Touch The Strings or Input Jack?

When you’re playing your guitar and notice that the annoying hum suddenly disappears when you touch the strings or input jack, you might wonder why this happens. The answer lies in the grounding of your guitar and how it interacts with external electrical interference.

Grounding and Electrical Interference When you touch the strings or input jack, your body becomes a conduit for electrical current, allowing any built-up static electricity or unwanted electrical noise to flow through you and into the ground. This effectively eliminates or reduces the hum because you are providing an alternative path for the unwanted electrical signals.

Proper Grounding Techniques To minimize this type of hum, ensuring that your guitar’s grounding is set up correctly is crucial. A properly grounded guitar will help divert any unwanted electrical interference away from your signal chain, resulting in a cleaner sound. It’s essential to have a solid connection between your guitar’s components and a reliable ground connection to eliminate potential issues.

In some cases, if you have a faulty ground connection within your guitar or amp setup, the hum may persist even when touching the strings or input jack. In such situations, consulting with a professional guitar technician can help diagnose and resolve any grounding issues.

Remember, understanding how grounding affects hum can lead to better troubleshooting and ultimately help you achieve a clearer sound on your electric guitar.

Why Does My Guitar’s Hum Get Louder When I Touch The Strings?

When you touch the strings of your guitar and notice that the hum gets louder, it can be quite puzzling. However, this phenomenon is actually a common occurrence in electric guitars and is known as “60-cycle hum.” Let’s explore why this happens and how you can address it.

Guitar amplifiers are designed to amplify the signal coming from your electric guitar’s pickups. However, they also amplify any electromagnetic interference (EMI) that is picked up along the way. This includes electrical signals from power sources, lights, appliances, and even radio frequencies.

When you touch the metal strings of your guitar, you essentially become an antenna for these electromagnetic signals. Your body acts as a conduit for these unwanted frequencies to enter the circuitry of your guitar and reach the amplifier. As a result, the hum becomes more pronounced because you are providing a direct path for these interference signals.

Addressing 60-Cycle Hum

To reduce or eliminate this issue, you can try a few troubleshooting steps:

  1. Use a shielded cable: Ensure that you are using a high-quality shielded cable to connect your guitar to the amplifier. This helps to minimize interference picked up by the cable itself.
  2. Grounding: Check if your guitar has proper grounding connections. Sometimes faulty or loose ground connections can exacerbate the hum issue when touching the strings.
  3. Noise gate pedal: Consider using a noise gate pedal in your signal chain. A noise gate pedal cuts off all audio signals below a certain threshold level when no sound is being played on your guitar. This can help suppress unwanted hum during silent moments.

By implementing these measures, you should be able to minimize the humming sound when touching the strings of your electric guitar and enjoy clean tones without unnecessary interference noise.

Should I Shield My Guitar Cavity?

When it comes to dealing with guitar hum, one idea that often pops up is shielding the guitar cavity. This means applying a conductive material inside the electronics compartment to reduce electromagnetic interference (EMI) and limit noise.

There are a few reasons why you might want to think about shielding your guitar cavity. First off, it can help get rid of unwanted noise from things like fluorescent lights, computer monitors, or other electronic devices. Shielding also helps minimize radio frequency interference (RFI) from sources such as cell phones or Wi-Fi signals.

To effectively shield your guitar cavity, you’ll need some special materials like conductive tape or paint, copper foil, or aluminum foil. These materials create a barrier around the electronics to block EMI and RFI.

Shielding your guitar cavity can noticeably reduce hum and noise. It creates a peaceful environment for your pickups to operate in and lets you fully enjoy the sound of your instrument without any distractions.

However, it’s worth noting that not every guitar needs shielding. Some guitars already have built-in shielding from the manufacturer, while others may benefit from additional shielding depending on their design and pickup setup.

In conclusion, if you’re dealing with excessive hum or noise problems with your electric guitar, especially when external factors seem to be contributing to the issue, considering shielding your guitar cavity could be a good solution worth exploring.

Using a Noise Suppressor or Noise Gate Pedal

If you’re tired of dealing with unwanted hum, buzz, or noise coming from your guitar amp, then using a noise suppressor or noise gate pedal might be the solution for you. In this section, we will explore how these handy pedals can help eliminate those irritating sounds and improve your overall tone. We’ll also take a look at two popular options on the market – the BOSS NS-2 Noise Suppressor and the Electro-Harmonix The Silencer Noise Gate. So let’s dive in and discover how these pedals can make a noticeable difference in your sound quality.

BOSS NS-2 Noise Suppressor

The BOSS NS-2 Noise Suppressor is a popular solution for guitarists dealing with unwanted noise, hum, and buzzing from their guitar amps. This pedal effectively eliminates noise without affecting your guitar’s tone.

One of the key features of the BOSS NS-2 is its ability to distinguish between your playing and background noise. This means that it only reduces the noise when you’re not playing, ensuring that no notes or dynamics are lost during your performance.

The pedal operates in two modes: Reduction and Mute. In Reduction mode, the NS-2 actively reduces noise when you’re not playing. As soon as you start playing again, it allows your signal to pass through unaffected. In Mute mode, the pedal completely mutes your signal when you’re not playing, avoiding any potential residual noise.

To connect the NS-2 to your setup, simply place it in between your guitar and amp or effects chain. You can also use the pedal’s send/return jacks for inserting other effects pedals within its loop.

The BOSS NS-2 Noise Suppressor is a reliable tool for minimizing unwanted noise in your guitar rig, allowing you to focus on delivering clean tones and eliminating distractions caused by amp hum or interference. Whether you’re recording in a studio or performing live on stage, this pedal can be a valuable addition to your arsenal of gear.

Electro-Harmonix The Silencer Noise Gate

The Electro-Harmonix The Silencer Noise Gate is a popular solution for guitarists looking to eliminate unwanted noise and hum from their amp. This noise gate pedal is designed to effectively suppress background noise without affecting the quality of your guitar’s signal.

One of the key features of The Silencer is its ability to provide precise and adjustable noise gating. It allows you to set specific thresholds and attack and release times, giving you complete control over when the gate opens and closes. This ensures that only the desired sounds come through while cutting off any unwanted noise.

Moreover, The Silencer also offers a built-in effects loop, which allows you to place your other pedals in the signal chain after the noise gate. This way, you can still enjoy the full benefits of your effects pedals without worrying about any excess noise sneaking in.

Additionally, this pedal features a very intuitive interface with easy-to-use controls. With just a few adjustments, you can effectively tame any noisy or humming amp and enjoy a cleaner and more focused sound.

In conclusion, if you’re struggling with unwanted noise or hum from your guitar amp, consider incorporating the Electro-Harmonix The Silencer Noise Gate into your setup. Its precise noise gating capabilities and convenient features make it an excellent choice for suppressing unwanted noise while preserving your desired guitar tones.


Why does my guitar amp hum?

There are several reasons why your guitar amp may be humming. It could be due to mains hum, ground loop buzz, or other types of noise interference. Additionally, some electric guitars are prone to more hum than others.

How can I deal with mains hum?

To deal with mains hum, you can try using a power conditioner, isolating your gear from other electrical devices, or using a ground lift adapter. Additionally, ensuring proper grounding and shielding can help reduce mains hum.

Why does my amp hum only when I plug my guitar in?

If your amp only hums when you plug your guitar in, it could be due to a faulty cable or guitar jack. Try using a different cable or cleaning the guitar jack to see if that resolves the issue.

Why does my amp hum when the guitar’s volume knob is at zero?

If your amp hums even when the guitar’s volume knob is at zero, it could be caused by a ground loop or a faulty component in the amp. It’s recommended to have your amp checked by a professional technician to identify and fix the issue.

Why does the hum stop when I touch the strings or input jack?

When you touch the strings or input jack, you are essentially grounding yourself and providing an alternative path for the electrical noise to dissipate. This can help reduce or eliminate the hum.

Why does my guitar’s hum get louder when I touch the strings?

If your guitar’s hum gets louder when you touch the strings, it could be due to a grounding issue. The strings should be properly grounded to prevent interference. Check the grounding connections in your guitar and consult a technician if needed.

Should I shield my guitar cavity?

Shielding the guitar cavity can help reduce noise interference, especially if you have single-coil pickups. Copper or aluminum foil can be used to line the cavity and create a shield. It’s recommended to follow proper shielding techniques or consult a professional if you’re unsure.

What are some noise suppressor or noise gate pedals I can use?

There are several noise suppressor or noise gate pedals available in the market. BOSS NS-2 Noise Suppressor and Electro-Harmonix The Silencer Noise Gate are popular options known for their effectiveness in reducing unwanted noise.


In conclusion, understanding and addressing the various causes of guitar amp hum, buzzing, and noise is crucial in maintaining a clean and enjoyable playing experience. By identifying the specific type of hum or interference, such as mains hum or ground loop buzz, you can implement effective solutions to mitigate these issues.

When it comes to electric guitars, it’s important to recognize that some guitars may naturally produce more hum than others due to factors such as pickups, shielding, or grounding. However, there are steps you can take to minimize this hum and improve the overall performance of your instrument.

Additionally, troubleshooting why your amp hums when you plug in your guitar or when the volume knob is at zero can help pinpoint the source of the problem. Often, it may be related to faulty cables or improper grounding.

If you notice that touching the strings or input jack stops the hum or if it gets louder when you touch the strings, this indicates a grounding issue that should be addressed promptly.

Consider investing in a noise suppressor or noise gate pedal like the BOSS NS-2 Noise Suppressor or Electro-Harmonix The Silencer Noise Gate which can effectively reduce unwanted noise without compromising your tone.

By taking preventive measures such as shielding your guitar cavity and utilizing proper grounding techniques, you can significantly minimize guitar amp hum and enjoy cleaner sound during your performances.

In conclusion, by understanding the causes behind guitar amp humming and implementing appropriate solutions tailored to your specific situation and equipment setup.