Grounded

This weekend I plugged my new SG in and got horrible buzzing noise. I could barely hear the guitar string underneath it. The tuner wouldn’t register anything. I tried plugging directly into my amp and the buzz got louder. I changed cables. No difference. I flipped between the different pick up settings. The bridge pick up didn’t have a lot of buzz, but it was very quiet. Then I selected both pick ups and the buzz came back really strong. Then I selected the neck pick up and the buzz got even louder.

I’ve had this guitar just over a week and it has a sudden grounding issue?  I opened up the back to see if anything was touching. I found the cap between the neck volume and tone controls appeared to be soldered to the middle post and the body of the tone control. This didn’t match up with any of the diagrams I was looking at online. But I wasn’t sure. It was obvious this had been this way from the beginning.

62SGrewiring

Since I had just bought it, I took it back to my local guitar shop and explained what was going on. Unfortunately I had to go back to work, so they worked on it without me getting to see what they were doing. I picked it up on my way home, plugged it in, and no buzz. I then went to the extreme test by turning the gain up all the way on my amp and switching between the two pick ups. The bridge pick up was still quiet. Beautifully quiet. Wonderfully quiet. The neck pick up had a buzz. Not nearly as pronounced as before and the strings were nice and loud, but compared to the bridge pick up there was a buzz. I touched the strings and the buzz was quieter. I still had the back plate off so I touched the neck pick up volume and tone knobs. The buzz went away almost entirely.

I returned the amp to my usual gain and volume settings. The buzz was not noticeable. Anyone got any ideas? Why would there still be some apparent grounding issues with one pick up, but not the other? I may take it back again, but I’d really like to figure this out (with the internet’s (your) help, you know). Thanks in advance!

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2 thoughts on “Grounded

  1. Does sound like an earthing issue (sorry for the English way of saying it… :-))

    Have you a multimeter? Might be worth tracing the earthing (ground) of the neck pickup through to the bridge and the sleeve of the jack socket. It could be as simple as a dry solder joint etc. Given the age and mods done on the guitar and the sudden nature of this happening to me it sounds like that may be the issue.

    I think if it was mine I’d seriously consider buying one of the premium SG rewiring kits you can get from StewMac or similar – replace all the wiring, switch and pots with good quality components and ensure all the wiring / solder is good and new. Given all the mods on it you’ll not really hitting it’s value, if it was a pristine un-adulterated example I may still do it but would think longer and harder about it I suppose.

    • Thanks! I do have a multimeter and one of these fine evenings will sit down to trace the earthing…grounding…whatever. I thought about rewiring the whole thing, but the pots and caps are new. And you’re right, there really isn’t any risk to the value. I got it as a player and will keep it as a player. But a StewMac upgrade doesn’t sound bad either!

      I’ll keep you posted how things turn out.

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