Imagine you just chilling in your pad but suddenly you hear your guitar amp humming. It’s not usual as there’s nothing plugged in it. We’ve all been there and panicked.
So, what to do when the guitar amp hum nothing plugged in?
First check for cable malfunctions or circuit problems of your guitar amp. Clean the wirings or just re-wire the amp if there’s any problem. If that doesn’t work then move on to checking ground loops, adapter problems, and blown fuses issues for amps. These issues have delicate fixes and needs to be taken care of.
Besides these there can be other issues. But not to worry! There are some easy fixes along with some specific fixes that will fix the humming noise issue.
Got a minute? If yes, then we can dive right into the details.
Why Do Guitar Amps Hum?
Guitar amps can hum for several reasons. The most common cause is ground loop issues. This happens when the amp is not properly grounded.
Another possibility is that the power transformer is defective. If the power transformer is faulty, it can cause a high-pitched whining noise.
A solid-state guitar amplifier may also hum if the AC line voltage is too high. If this is the case, you may need to have a qualified technician check the AC line voltage and make adjustments accordingly.
Finally, some guitar amps hum because of the way they are designed.
For example, if an amp has a lot of gains and feedback loops, it is more likely to hum. Some guitarists actually like this effect and use it to their advantage.
If you find that your amp is humming, there are a few things you can try to reduce the noise.
Moreover, it can hum with nothing plugged in as well. So, what causes the guitar amp hum nothing plugged in?
The guitar amp might hum with nothing plugged in for faulty and old wirings and grounding issues. The guitar amp humming noise might also be caused if your EQ setting is fully cranked at maximum. Outside interference can also make the weird humming noise of the guitar amp.
Now you know the root causes of the problem let’s get on with the fixes
10 Fixes for Guitar Amp Making Humming Noise with Nothing Plugged in!
Now there are a few different solutions that might fix your problem. Try following each step and check if the humming goes away. If it does, then the problem is solved. But if it doesn’t then move on to the next. Here go the problems and the fixes:
Try Checking the Cables
First of all, you have to check the cables. Faulty cables are the most common reason for the humming sound of a guitar amp.
Connect the amp to another socket to test it. If the hum still remains, you may have a faulty wire or adapter.
Now to solve this problem, you need to purchase a high-quality power supply cable. Make sure it comes with an adapter and a 3-pin power supply.
I would recommend checking the Amplifier Power Cord Cable Replacement from ACHOWER. Once you bought a new one just plug in and see if the humming noise is still there or not.
Try Different Coil Switches
Single coils automatically create a hum for their designs. Hence you need to switch up a few things to be certain.
Now, see if you have 3 different coils in your guitar. Switch it to 2 or 4, it will help to reduce the hum. If not, you have to replace the pickups of your guitar.
- In order to replace the pickups of your guitar first remove the plastic plate that covers the control cavity with a screwdriver.
- Next, de-solder the wirings one by one. But before de-soldering draw yourself a wiring diagram which will help you latter.
- Now, remove the pickups from the frame.
- After that unscrew the old humbuckers first then mount the new pickups in there.
- Now pick a feed solder and wrap it around the pickup cable.
- Finally, solder according to the wiring diagram and screw back the new pickups.
Check the AC Supply
There might be problems with your guitar or with your AC supply. Now, to find the source you need to isolate the issue. Here’s how to do it
Plug your amp in a different AC supply line and check for hums. Now If you notice the noise lowers down, you have to change the AC supply.
If it doesn’t, then try to use your amp in another building. You may have to change the whole AC supply power in your house.
Use Different External FX
External pedals or processors can malfunction sometimes. And the solution is pretty simple. Here goes:
Remove all the external FXs and use your amp. If it reduces the hum, you have to fix the external FXs. You can use your FX in different amps to make sure your pedals aren’t faulty.
Issues with the Power Conditioner
Power conditioners work as a filter of bad power flows. This makes sure the signal flows in the correct way.
So, if you fix it, will the power conditioner get rid of the hum?
Yes, a power conditioner will get rid of the hum. It has noise cancelation filters that reduce the noise. It’s a wise idea to use this where power supply is an issue. You can easily purchase it and install it by yourself.
Your Guitar Might Not be Grounded
Grounding problems can be fairly common, but hard to identify. So, how do you tell if your guitar is grounded?
In one word, you’ll get a shock! That is when you touch the strings of the guitar or any metal parts. That’s how you can realize your guitar is grounded. So, you have to fix this problem immediately.
Not playing through amps makes the guitar output not grounded. The direct speakers might be lifted from the ground but the guitar remains ungrounded.
That’s why you hear a loud buzz or hum at that time. Sometimes guitar strings far away from fretboard edge can also create a problem. you might wanna check that out.
Check the wiring connectors if it is properly shielded or not. If not, you have to solder the wiring using copper foils. Now, if you have broken shields, you can replace them or repair them. Make sure the cables are shielded at both ends.
Your Body Might Not Be Grounded
The other reason might be that your body might not be grounded. This too might cause your instrument to hum. Our bodies act as a capacitor when we play instruments.
The distance between the body and the power wiring increases the hum. It is an easy thing to fix so don’t worry.
Install a wire between the guitar and the player’s foot at the ground point. This wire must touch the player’s skin. It works as a shielding so the hum gets away.
Magnetic And Electric Hum Field Issues
Firstly you need to make sure that the amplifier is plugged in. Then turn the volume all the way up and listen for the hum.
Now, turn the volume down and do the same. In some cases, the sound from the solid state amp might be uneven. But that will require a different solution.
Well, if there’s no hum after turning down the volume, you have a faulty amp. So the problem is in the electric hum fields or the magnetic hum fields. And here’s how to fix it.
To fix the magnetic hum fields you have to open the body of the amplifier. Rotate it at different angles. Now, the hum depends on the distance and angle between the magnetic hum field and the pickup. As you rotate you’ll notice a lot of hum lowers. Find a suitable spot with a minimum hum by rotating the magnetic field.
Before we get to the fixing of the electrical hum let’s understand, what causes an electrical hum.
The electric field is the power of the wiring circuits. These wires pass signals throughout the pickup of the guitar. Hence indicating that the electricity isn’t bypassing through the ground. Thus it creates the 60 Hz or 50 Hz hum or hiss sound in the amp.
To fix the electrical hum, you have to shield the electric hum fields to reduce the hum. Now, find the cutout wires of your pickup and amp. After that, you have to solder those with copper foil. This will make sure the hum bypasses through the wire to the ground.
The fixing process is not an easy job to do. You may need to call a professional to help you out.
Interference Causing Humming Noise of the Amps
Select different inputs in your amp and plug your guitar. Now check if you hear any hum in the other input. This is to make sure your amp isn’t catching any other frequencies.
Bad solder joints or wiring catches strong TV frequencies that can lead to hum. To fix this you need to install RFIs on the wirings.
Install .001 microfarad and ferrite beads capacitors on the mic inputs of the amp. After that, you have to place RFI chokes on the mic cables. Now, check if the solder joints are okay or not. If not, then solder it with copper foil.
This will ensure your amp does not catch any other strong frequency through mic inputs. So, the hum will reduce and you will be able to play your guitar peacefully!
As prevention is better than cure, one way to make sure your amp is in good condition is to prevent RFIs. Thus, when you buy a new amp, check whether the soldering of the amp is okay or not.
Also, it’s better to purchase a pre-installed .001 microfarad and ferrite beads capacitor amps. If you don’t have the capacitors, take help from a professional to install them.
The Earthing Might Be Disconnected
Now, if you have no problems with the RFI, you may have ground loops problems.
A ground loop occurs when two points of an electrical system have a different ground reference. And if your circuits are in this manner your amp will make heavy noise. That too, even when it’s unplugged.
Ground loops problem is a must-fix job to do. So, you must be wondering how do I get rid of the ground loop hum?
To fix the ground loop hum, you have to open the socket with a screwdriver and locate the earthing line. Check if it is connected or not. If not, then connect it with the mainline. In this case, you need to connect it with a hum-x. That is only if your amps cable is a two-pin plug. This will help to reduce the noise easily.
If you’re looking for the best hum-x, we have some suggestions for you.
- The Ebtech Hum X is the OG hum eliminator. You need to use one of them along with each of the gear.
- Another option for you is the Morley Hum Exterminator. It is specially designed to ground loop hum.
Now you have your hum-x, reduce the buzz!
Let’s talk about shock hazards. Ground loops can be a major issue in this case. So the question here is, is the ground loop dangerous?
Yes, ground loops are dangerous for guitar players or vocalists. Ground loops are responsible for shock hazards if not handled with care. Moreover, it can even damage your equipment.
Hence, it’s always safer to crosscheck with the organizers about this!
Your Tube Amps Might Be Too Old!
Well, the older amp tubes can be seen with some serious problems. But it entirely depends on how old the amp actually is.
Now there’s a significant difference between tube and solid preamp. However, the fixes are quite similar.
Usually tube amps’ longevity is around 1-3 years. After that, it tends to worn out. To check if your tube has worn out or not first you need to connect it to a tube tester.
If the tube lights up on the tester then it means that the tube is still good. But if the tube doesn’t light up then it means that the tube has indeed worn out and needs to be replaced.
Now that you know that your tube needs to be replaced, let’s get started on how to replace it.
- First, you need to locate the tube. It is usually located at the back of the amplifier near the power supply.
- Once you have located the tube, you need to remove it from its socket. To do this, first, unscrew the retaining nut that holds the tube in place.
- After the retaining nut is removed, you can now pull out the tube from its socket.
- Now it’s time to install the new tube. To do this, first, insert the new tube into its socket.
- Next, screw the retaining nut back in place to hold the new tube securely in place.
However, you might have a circuit issue if they are older than 15 years. Tube amp circuits are more complicated than a solid-state amp. Therefore, it might be best to take the tube amp to a professional to fix it.
If you’re using an EL84 tube or 6V6, the age problem will differ. It’s a good idea to compare the tubes so that you can know when to replace them.
Moreover, the hum can also be due to the amps not being unused for a long time. The wiring might be old, rusty, and can’t take the pressure anymore. It’s best to service the amp to fix the problem.
How to Increase the Longevity of Amps?
If you maintain your amp properly, the lifespan of the amp increases. Maintaining the amps is also very important since it’s the source of the sound.
For solid-state amps, you have to keep them on a dust-free surface. You also have to keep the amp at a warm temperature. Service the amp every 10 years.
As for tube amps, they require more maintenance comparatively. You’ll basically do the same thing you do with solid-state. But you need to change the tubes of amps after using them for 2-3 years. Since the older tube amps malfunction a lot.
Moreover, the tube damper protects the amp’s tubes if you use it regularly. Otherwise, the circuit will become damp. That’s why the lifespan of a tube amp is less than a solid-state pump. Tube amps last up to 25-30 years.
That’s it! If you follow these steps, your amps will last for more than 30 years.
Quick Tips for Safety
Here are some quick tips for your safety. You must be aware of the risks.
- Make sure your amp has no dust in the circuit boards.
- Remember to plug all the power cords into the ground outlets while setting up.
- Old consoles or equipment age damages the shielding of the wirings. Make sure to repair or replace them.
- Don’t leave the amp on.
Well, this is it for the problems and solutions. Make sure you follow these strictly to fix your amp!
Question: Is it bad to leave an amp on?
Yes, it is bad to leave an amp on. Turning on amps affects the magnetic fields of the amp. Tube amps suffer the most in this case. Tube amps valves get affected if you do this. So, it’s best not to leave an amp on.
Question: How is ground loop best avoided?
Firstly make sure the amps, audio equipment, and stages power supply is connected in a single AC supply. Then, install a heavy extension cord from the stage outlet back to the console. Plug all the power-cord ground pins into grounded outlets. That way, you can prevent shocks and buzz at the same time.
Question: How long should a tube amp cool down?
The tube amp should cool down for at least 1 hour after using it. Tube amps get heated after playing heavy tunes on it, if you do not give rest in your tube amp, it will affect the valves and the copper shields. This will create noise again.
That’s a wrap-up! Now you know the reasons why guitar amp hum nothing plugged in. Hopefully, you’ll be able to fix it in the future and take care of your amp as well.
We hope we helped you. Let us know which of the problems have caused your amp to hum.
Until then, keep playing!