Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shielding a Strat Guitar to Eliminate Hum and EMI Noise

For those of you who have a single coil pickup guitar or have had one such as a Fender Stratocaster or Fender Telecaster, know what a nice instrument it is and its trademark tone, but also know how noisy it can get, not like humbucker guitars, especially if played through high gains and heavy distortions.

I currently own a strat guitar that eventually I have been readjusting to my needs, playing preferences and style and have done a great hell of a job by adjusting the neck's tross rod, string height, fret dressing and intonation. The guitar has a nice set of pickups and I'm very happy with it and all the adjusting I've done to it, except, just like all single coil guitars (as I mentioned above) are just doomed for life to receive all kinds of outside noise and amplifying it through your speakers, making your playing and recording experience without hiss and hum a painful moment.



Unfortunately I live in an area where recording my music with my guitar is a bit hard both at day and night. Since I live in an over-populated area of my hometown (that is over-populated with craftsmen and other type of workers such as metal smiths and carpenters) there's all kinds of heavy duty machinery operating near my house at day, such as drills, power saws, air compressors, soldering systems (thank god my ears don't pick all this noise up, otherwise I'd be a little more messed in the head than what I am now, but my guitar does!) and if that's not enough, just my computer, modem and router are enough to blame for EMI noise, then when night comes and everyone is sleeping and no more drills and saws operating, the muse comes to my house and starts turning me on in her sexiest ways, excitedly I jump off my seat, grab my guitar and start creating music, but the excitement fades away quickly as I find out that my favorite night lamp next to my computer, which is a halogen quartz with dimmer gives me more noise than all the other things together at day, that is why dimmer lights should always be avoided in any recording studio.


Anyway, I decided to do the taboo and give the ridiculous a try.... I took all of my guitar apart, did the famous shielding and amazingly was surprised with the finishing results. I expected a 20% more silence in my recording line (if not maybe even more noise). The truth is I achieved about 80% silence, only if I use a heavy distortion or overdriven high gain amp I will hear some hiss, but just the normal noise that these effects create, but nothing the noise gate on my Boss GT-8 effects board can't quiet down without affecting my tone or killing my sustain. Please note that not always this will work with 100% guarantee and you will still get a bit of humming.

So before you rush into the music store in search of quieter pickups, you might want to try this out, will probably turn out your pickups were in very good shape after all, only your guitar was not properly shielded.

Also note that there might be a slight change in the tone sound, but in my case this was very noticeable  because I changed the 500KHz pots to 250KHz type which is what they should be originally for a strat.

So here goes, I took a few pictures with my process, so I will explain below with each image and hope you find this helpful.

WARNING: IF YOU DON'T FEEL COMFORTABLE TAKING YOUR GUITAR APART AND MESSING WITH ALL IT'S ELECTRONICS, I RECOMMEND NOT TO DO THIS THEN AND TAKE YOUR GUITAR TO A PROFESSIONAL WHO KNOWS HOW TO DO THIS PROPERLY AND HAVE HIM DO IT FOR YOU.

LIST OF MATERIALS NEEDED:

1- Heavy Duty aluminum foil (Any food supply store will have this one, just remember to get the thickest one available). I fully recommend to use aluminum foil instead of copper foil, since it's the only known material to shield EMI noise from dimmer lamps (in my case), it's amazing what a thousand's of an inch of aluminum can stop compared to one inch of copper (especially the dimmer EMI).

2- Soldering Iron (I would recommend a 30 watt one, a little higher can ruin electronic parts if placed too long on them, especially if you don't have much experience with them).

3- Solder and flux

4- Regular rubber glue

5- Adhesive tape and insulating tape

6- Cutter or x-acto knife (x-acto will be better)

7- New shielded audio cable (can be between 18 - 22 gauge) and preferably 1ft black and 1ft white. That way you know which are hot wires (white) and which will be grounding wires (black), avoid using mutithreaded copper cable, using audio (silver core) and single core type is the best.

8- Masking Tape and permanent felt tip pen to write on masking tape (Please! Do yourself an intelligent favor and tag you parts so you know when you put it all together what goes where and what is what, I don't want e-mails or comments asking me to help you put your axe together)

9- Regular transparent scotch tape to help adhere the foil, but we don't want to completely use this all the time since we want a nice continuous electric flow in all the aluminum foil, so just use it on the top part where the foil overlaps.

10- Small thin piece of copper sheet strips, this will be used to solder the grounding wires to the shielding environment, and since the environment will be aluminum foil, we all know solder DOES NOT STICK to aluminum (you did know that right?, well now you know).

11- A few small screws for wood to anchor the copper strips to the guitar cavity that will be used as a ground bridge to the ground wires.

12- A multimeter will come handy to check that the flow within the aluminum foil is continuous.

13- Notepad and pencil, please! Draw simple diagrams of how everything is hooked up before you start ripping it all apart, I'm serious about the e-mails, I don't want to read about anyone asking me for help on how to put it all back together.

14- A digital camera will really help, if you are just not good at drawing or sketching wiring diagrams, this will be a plus then, don't rely on your memory, unless you have photographic memory, which I don't.

Ok, let's Rock & Roll......!

(Click on Images for larger view)

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Here's the guitar still whole and where you can still stop and think if you really want to do this or not. Notice some of the materials needed,  I know, there's no beer, but that comes when we are finished, you really want to be on your 5 senses when doing this (or as many senses GOD has given you to wander about life), besides having liquids nearby these type of projects isn't a very good idea either.

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We take off the strings and disassemble the neck from the body.

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When I took out the input jack, I was surprised to see such a messy soldering job! (Maybe someone has tinkered with this guitar before, and did a terrible job). Here you might want to take note or draw a sketch of where the hot wire and ground wire go, if better take a picture.

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 Then we take the trem bridge out, desolder the grounding wire that goes via to the strings and we take the pickguard out, notice all the cheap electronics in this strat, amazingly I have found out that even on the more expensive strats costing hundreds of dollars you will still find some of these cheap components inside made somewhere in the far east probably assembled by a poor underpayed kid. I guess that's what can happen with some MIM or other guitars manufactured in other parts of the globe even if they are licensed by Fender. So I decided to order some original parts made in the U.S.A (that's what the package says) to change them and show the far east economy that I just don't dig their manufacturing quality and don't support their child labor.

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Then we start cutting our foil and start fitting it inside the electronics cavity. Remember we are going to cage the whole electronics inside with foil so this is a tedious and slow process, so go slowly and neatly to achieve the best results.

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Now we start spreading some of the rubber glue on the cavity and place our foil. Remember not to put glue between the overlaps of the foil or this will act as an insulator between the aluminum foil breaking the electric continuity, just use regular transparent tape over both laps so underneath they do make contact. Notice the little tabs around the cavity, these are very important since we will also paste foil to the pickguard and we want it to make contact with the foil in the cavity to make sure it's practically all caged.

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And here we can see a finished view of the cavity completely shielded with foil.

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Now it's time to work on the pickguard. Please note how I tagged everything with a permanent marker and some masking tape, you should do the same! In my case, this is not very important because I will replace all these cheap electronics with original Fender®, that is the three 250K Pots, 5 Way switch and tone transistor. The pots in this guitar were originally 500K, that is just not right, those are good pots for a humbucker but for a single coil, they should be 250K.

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Here's a closer look at the cheap electronics. Notice the terrible wiring and soldering, all grounds are soldered directly to the pot casings, this is part of the noise to be blamed for, all this is called ground loops, also the 5 way switch is probably the worst kind, these things don't last long. The pickups were in good shape, and the middle pickup was polarity reversed which is good also, it means that when you have two pickups active you have the humbucker effect and noise is eliminated when using both pickups at the same time, but we all know that strats sound far better when using one single pickup.

See the little piece of foil behind the three pots? That's the shielding made at the original manufacturing company. 50 years ago when they started making these guitars and the amps where not so over-gained, and there were no computers, and other bizarre futuristic gadgets that created all kinds of interference as there is today, this was acceptable.....not today, so we will take off all the electronics from the pickguard, including pickups and we will definitely remove that crappy piece of foil.

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After removing all the electronics and little piece of foil, we apply some of the adhesive rubber glue on all the back of the pickguard and place it over a sheet of aluminum foil.

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Once the adhesive rubber glue is dry and the foil is firmly glued to the pickguard we can use a cutter or x-acto knife and carefully start cutting out all the holes where pickups, switches, pots and screws go, it's easier and safer for the pickguard to do this on the back side to prevent some nasty scratches. Also I found it easier to use a pencil or ball point pen for the small holes.

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Now we reinstall our electronics, but in a different manner. Here I am replacing with the originals, boy! The quality of craftsmanship on these things is out of this world. They are even heavier than the far east ones. So I fully recommend, if your strat comes with the cheap line of electronics, I fully advise on purchasing some originals, don't think just because you paid good money for your guitar the components will be original, this really depends where your guitar was manufactured.

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Once the three pots and 5 way switch are in place we can start soldering the cables. Now I want you to take a good look at this picture, I did a personal modification here which affects the original tone control for the middle pickup. The wire originally goes on the second soldering tab of the 5 way switch selector (look at red circles I painted on image), but I placed it on the third, because I rarely use the middle pickup, either I like bridge or neck pickups the most. The thing is that strats don't have tone control for the bridge pickup, only middle and neck, so I decided to have tone for bridge and neck by swapping this cable, if you want things just the way they were originally, then solder that cable to the second tab and not the third as I did. The tone in the guitar really changes with this mod, and I really like it myself, but it's a matter of personal taste. If you want to do this modification you might want to use a smaller value capacitor, since you can loose a little punch on the bridge side, I went on and soldered the original cap that came with the pots, and really do like it.

UPDATE: You can also add a small wire between those 2 soldering tabs and your first tone will affect both bridge and middle pickup (see renders below). I recently changed my mod that way and works perfectly well! Remember that this is all a matter of personal taste, you can try and test yourself what you like most.

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Just some more progress of soldering the parts back...


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And here's a little more progress, almost there.....


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Here we can see the new tone capacitor being placed, I stripped another thin wire and used the green plastic covering to shield the cap's wires so they don't touch other components, it's a good idea since it's a tight space and when placing it all together, things tend to squash a bit. One end of cap is going, guess where, to a whole bunch of little black cables, this is our ground cables, no more ground loops or soldering them directly on the pot casings! Notice the copper strip, all the ground wires will be attached to it via another wire soldered directly to it, this way the ground communicates with all the aluminum foil, creating the perfect shielding. I found out that using the 5 way switch mounting screw as a medium to hold the copper strip in place was just perfect.

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Now we want to use some insulating tape to protect all those grounding wires. Since they are now on the loose and free to move about anywhere they feel like we don't want them making contact with the hot connections.

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Now we go back to the body and start soldering the jack plate to the wires and put it back in place.....

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What I did here then was puncture the foil where the grounding wire to the tremolo bridge goes and solder it to an anchored copper strip with a screw, this also makes sure all the grounding is directly making contact with the aluminum foil.

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And we are ready! Just solder the bridge grounding wire to the bridge plate and the jack cables back in place. Just remember all black (ground) cables must go together where they meet on the pick guard. Finish assembling and you should have a much quieter guitar. You now have permission to go and grab a beer (or two) if everything is working fine.


Cheers!

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Here are two 3D renders so you can have a better and easier look at all this wiring mess and so you can use as a wiring guide..

One shows the stock wiring and the other the shielded way. Click on images for larger view.




IF YOU FIND THIS INFORMATION USEFUL, WOULD YOU PLEASE CONSIDER A SMALL KIND DONATION? THANKS!
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67 comments:

  1. ¡Este post rocanrolea! Es el mejor que he visto al respecto y ya me animé a blindar mi "escuayer". ¡Buena onda!

    ReplyDelete
  2. puedes poner esta informacion en español porfa para entenderle mejor, gracias

    ReplyDelete
  3. tengo una strat MIM (made in mexico) y tengo la misma pesadilla de ruido en mi gt 8

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  4. Well done.
    I would add that the outer case of most potentiometers is electrically isolated from its terminals. In this case, the outer case of each pot can become a shield if you solder a wire from it to the single-point ground. This shields the pot without introducing a ground loop.

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  5. Nice work! I'm dumb enough to try this! thanks

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  6. hi.... does it work without the Ground loop?? cause I dont have any wiring knowledge.... can I just cover the pickup cavity and pickguard with aluminum foil without doing the ground loop??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jack

      I'm afraid not, you see, the proper grounding is what makes part of the shielding work, it builds a EMF shield with the help of the ground, if you don't do the grounding properly then the noise could even get worst.

      If you really have problems with wiring I strongly advice not to do this as I specify in the guide, or you can ask help from someone, even a friend with knowledge in wiring and electronics could assist you and could sit down with you and give you a hand.

      Hope you can pull it through if you do decide to go for it.

      Wish you luck!

      Delete
    2. Are we suppose to ground pot in amp? If not could u explain all of it to me once..
      Thank you😊

      Delete
  7. Hi!
    i've done that....it's really reducing the hum...(about 90%). Great job!
    But it's causing me a problem.

    I have an import-style 5 way switch...and tones are acting on Mid and on Bridge.
    I'm playin alot in Mid/Bridge position...and before...i was able to use both tones independantly to set the sound...but now...the Mid tone's still acting on Mid position...the Bridge tone's still acting on Bridge position...but when i'm selecting the Mid/Bridge position....Tone 1 or 2 acts on the overall....not like it's supposed to be. I mean....
    one tone or the other do the same job.

    I hope you'll have an answer for me...i just don't wanna have to reverse the process. (i'm french...then sorry if my english is not very good).

    Thanks!
    Yvon

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  8. Hey,
    I have decided i want to try to do this, however i have a HSS strat. How would i wire the humbucker in the shielded configuration you have diagrammed? I have only started messing around with the electronics in my guitar. Nice idea with the tone knob affecting the Bridge... I recently did that and find to be quite helpful!

    Thanks in advance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would assume that it's all the same, after all it's a pickup on the same place and if the wiring looks the same as the stock (original) then do it just as I explain, because for example if you wanted to change that pickup for a single coil it would go in the same spot with same wires.

      Just remember you'll probably not hear much difference of the shielding with the humbucker, because that's what humbuckers naturally do (they buck the hum).

      Cheers and good luck!

      Delete
  9. These emi shielding gaskets and seals assure the performance and maintainability of communications equipment, radar, aircraft, spacecraft, automotive vehicles, computers, fire control systems, telecommunications, medical, consumer and industrial electronics.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Do u have some ideas for which is the best pair to use together in volume back off losing tone which to use ceramicists orange or paper and what values risistors with which caps and which to use to help get rid of the highs and where to put it basically two ?volume tone loss when backing off and high end freq. trying to get rid of some of it what to do thank u mr johnson

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Try this value, 150Kohm resistor in parallel with .001uF capacitor

      Delete
  11. What ideas do u have to keep loss of tone when u back of volume. And how to get rid of some if the highs in a strat using risistors and caps what type to use and how can u help me with which ones to use thank u d page

    ReplyDelete
  12. This guide was very helpful, thanks :)

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  13. Neat work! Believe it or not, my luthier didn't shield my strat like I asked, he just set it up, and I played for 2 nights with my pinkie creating all kinds of amped-up interference through my Deluxe. Still waiting for his call, I decided to go ahead with the idea that a little tin-foil is better than none -- especially since I don't have any soldering skills...so I raised the pick-guard as high as I could, slid some strips of foil under as far as they would go, then took the back cover off and filled in the cavities where the springs are, and then covered the springs with foil on the top and bottom, then put the cover back on. I couldn't believe it worked! It reduced about 95% of the static, even if I could barely hear a slight staticy sound just above the toggle switch, and the middle pick up! Don't know how much a high priced tech could've done any better, but at least I can stand playing my strat now, and don't care when he calls back. Thanks for turning me on to aluminum foil, instead of copper shielding! And that a little -- goes a long way!

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  14. Thanks for much for sharing this. I just got though modifying my Mexican-made Strat. I replaced the pots and toggle switch and shielded it and wired it as you suggested. I can't believe how quiet it is - amazing! The new parts are also a noticeable improvement. I was a little intimidated by all the soldering but it worked out well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Paul! I'm glad this worked out for you and thank you for your donation! I really appreciate it!

      Cheers!

      Delete
  15. Just solder the bridge grounding wire to the bridge plate
    hey what about this
    how do i wire d bridge grounding wire to the plate when it has to go the d bridge pickup

    ReplyDelete
  16. I can see that you are an expert at your field! I am launching a website soon, and your information will be very useful for me.. Thanks for all your help and wishing you all the success in your business.
    ADALYN

    ReplyDelete
  17. Extraordinary skills you have, and explained the usage of Emi Shielding Gaskets is somewhat appreciating .......

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi. I have just finished the job, as per your instructions (thank you very much!), including new CTS pots, a new CRL switch, a new .022 uf Orange Drop cap and new wires (except for the pickup wires) and unfortunately the hum is the same as before (or maybe slightly worse)- now I know that could be for a multitude of reasons, so I'll fill you in on what I have done:

    Firstly, I have only tested it by plugging into an amp before completely reassembling the guitar i.e: neck and strings are still off. I couldn't see how this would make a difference, but I could be wrong - I'm no expert.

    Secondly, I'm 99% sure that the wiring is correct - I can solder well and have checked all the connections with a multimeter. As far as I can see, everything that should be earthed is earthed and everything that shouldn't be, isn't (!) Plus it's all generally tidy and there's no exposed wire that could be touching anything when it all gets squashed back into the guitar (at least, I don't think so!) I've basically followed your instructions to the letter.

    There are a few tiny holes in the foil, but as I understand it, this shouldn't matter. The foil job is pretty good and tidy and tested all over for continuity with a multi meter.

    The noise I had (and still have) is hum, as opposed to hiss and is not affected by touching the bridge or anything like that.

    I have checked and checked again to make sure the wiring and shielding is right and I just can't see where the weak link or problem might be.

    I know it's hard to comment without actually seeing my setup, but do you have any obvious pointers or things to check that I might have missed? Let's assume I've wired everything properly, for the sake of argument.

    By the way, my pickups are Seymour Duncan Designed on a Squier Vintage Modified Strat - they have three wires as opposed to the normal two and as far as I know, for normal wiring, the white (hot) goes to the 5 way switch and the other 2 go to ground.

    Thanks and regards, Sam Poole.

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    Replies
    1. By the way, here's some photos of the job:

      https://www.icloud.com/sharedalbum/#B0TGY8gBYIdmeC

      Note that the clump of ground wires soldered together is taped up before putting the pickguard back.

      Also that the copper strip is not attached to the switch (it's a piece of thick copper as I didn't have any thin strips. I originally managed to tap the switch screw through a hole in the copper, but the position of the copper meant that I couldn't get the scratch plate back on). I ended up super glueing it to directly to the foil - it makes good electrical contact and I've tested it with a multimeter).

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    2. Hey Sam!

      Well, first of all I must say that you did a good clean job! I'm analyzing your photos and all seems to be correct. I would kind of liked to see the clump soldered directly to the copper strip instead of just making contact with one small cable to it even if you do get continuity with the multimeter.

      Yes, hum is another thing than hiss, and can sound different depending on your local power line frequency, can you identify that hum as a 50 or 60 Hz hum as the ones in this link?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_hum#Tone

      Do you have any variable lamps in your household or studio with dimmers? Those are the very first culprits in creating noise in the power line, also in many cases halogen lamps.

      Have you tested if you do have proper sound and continuity on all pickup positions?

      Now the thing about your pickups is what gets me thinking, this is totally new to me, I assume that this must be some internal humbucking technology by SD where two grounding cables are needed for noise cancellation, so probably this type of setup doesn't apply for your pickups? I'm not sure. I think you are going to have to check that and figure out.

      I am still looking well at your photos, which by the way thanks, they are very clear and in good res, if I can detect something from them I will inform you ASAP.

      Sorry I can't help you much right now, but let's see, meanwhile try to figure out about the 3 wires in your pickups, because I have the idea that this setup is probably killing a specific function that they do and that's why you probably have more hum than before.

      Joe

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    3. Hi. Thanks so much for getting back - really appreciate it! If you get a minute, look at my iCloud album again - the latest picture is of the original wiring. This shows the pickups were wired as I have done - white to hot and the red and black to ground (on the volume pot casing), so I'm fairly confident that this is OK.

      I'll re-wire the grounds directly to the strip like you suggest.

      Re: the hum - well, I do indeed have dimmers in the main lights in the room, plus all the other stuff you might imagine in the studio. whether it's 50 or 60hz, I'll have to check, but it's one of the two! Before I did the rewire, I noticed that the hum would change in volume slightly as I moved the guitar around. I have tried switching off the dimmer and it didn't seem to make a difference, though.

      Also, I must confess that I ended up with a spare wire after the job, form the original wiring and can't remember for the life of me where it was connected...It's a black one, so definitely a ground and it wasn't from any pickup. I can't imagine where it would go, because everything that should have a ground has got one now.

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    4. I think that spare wire was connected to the volume pot casing actually (looking at that original wiring pic) but not sure where it went...

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    5. Yes, that extra spare wire is something to consider or give some thought! What about your bridge (tremolo)? Is that grounded also? It has to be. Let me check some online diagrams from Seymour Duncan. One thing I see in your photos on the volume pot, correct me if I'm wrong but is that small white wire connected to the middle tab and the tab with black, those should not be connected.

      Look at where I marked in red in your photo:

      https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B89XHw6WcgFvdGxaYnN6NndvVW8/view?usp=sharing

      Maybe you should also look for wiring diagrams for Seymour Duncan to see if you get an idea. Here'a a link to one I found, but still check more, mostly with the double grounding wires just to make sure...

      http://www.guitarelectronics.com/media/img/guitarelectronics/W575-H550-Bffffff/W/wd3sss5l12_000.jpg

      I'll see if I later come across something and I'll let you know

      Cheers!

      Delete
  19. Hi. Thanks again for your reply and help. Just to let you know, I have done lots of searching before asking you (!), including looking at all the SD wiring diagrams.

    The small white wire you see is actually the jack socket hot wire and it's not connected to the tab - it just looks like it is. It goes to the middle tab only and the shield wire goes to ground. I've checked it with the multimeter just in case there's any 'leaks' and it seems ok.

    As for the pickup wiring, well, like I say, the original wiring had white to hot and the red and black to ground. I think you can wire it differently, but that was the way it was before.

    I'll definitely redo the ground wires and solder them all directly to the copper.

    Also, yes, the bridge is grounded.

    I'll let you know how I get on after redoing the ground wires.

    Cheers, Sam.

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  20. Hi. Another thing is that I think (and have thought for some time) that I have ground loops inherent in my whole studio setup. It's something I haven't addressed before and having done some research, I am convinced I could improve this situation a lot, for instance by arranging my power strips in a 'star' formation (you may know this - when you use a single power socket or double socket and then, say, a six-way strip, with all other strips coming off that, then the equipment plugged into those strips). At the moment, they are in a bit of a mess and cascading from each other.

    Also, noise and hum wise, there's plenty of audio cables running near power or parallel to power leads, which as you also probably know, is a big no-no!

    I'll admit the reason I haven't addressed all this before is because it's a giant hassle, but I'm thinking I may have to face up to it. It's one of those things that you have to do first, before blaming hum on a guitar or whatever.

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    Replies
    1. If you do have ground issues in your studio, then yes, absolutely! You must address those. It's very important that your working environment is setup correctly for the least noise possible. It's practically impossible to eliminate hum and noise at 100%. Don't expect total silence. Even the guitar shielding is not 100% effective, it just reduces it. I have see real life problems where noise is amazingly high even in professional situations. When I record with high gains, I can hear it a little bit when I playback, but music masks it quite well. I have a friend who once told me that David Gimour's Black Strat is one heck of a noisy guitar, still, he uses it for live and recording. Actually I don't think killing totally mostly the hiss is a good idea, since I am sure that can affect the high frequencies or brilliance. So also too much noise killing is not good. Back in the 80's we had this dumb thing called "Dolby" technology in newer stereos to kill the tape hiss. It was horrible! Music sounded muddy! You need a little bit of that hiss so high frequencies can travel with it. Actually I'm writing a bit about today's digital vs analog noise both in photography and audio, I will post soon and you can check it out later. It's a kind of a rant about how I'm against "denoising" too much but how people are abusing it. So just get rid of any grounding problems, it's more the hum what you want to quiet down, hiss is another thing.

      Good luck in fixing the studio, it's hard and tedious work! Todays equipment is ultra-sensitive to these kind of things. You have to start off from even the electric polarities. You have to do some research on that. If you've never messed with high voltage electricity, please contact a technician. They will do a better job and you won't risk your life! OK? Let me know how it goes. Take care!

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    2. Yeah, I agree with you about noise - nothing wrong with a bit of it, and yes, I'm old enough to remember Dolby being on every tape deck. Properly implemented in a high-end deck, like a Nakamichi, it could be acceptable, but generally it was quite annoying and you ended up turning it off.

      But hum, yes, it's a different matter. What I can't stand is when it's so bad that you can't use any high gain stuff like distortion without it being a severe problem. I can put up with some, but there are different levels!

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    3. Your pickups are not wired correctly. Go to Seymour Duncan site for wiring, or call them.

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    4. Hi. Actually, they are! I got in touch with Seymour Duncan - they confirmed the wiring was correct. All works fine now.

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    5. Sam! I'm glad it's working fine now! Hope the shielding did or will work once you address your ground loops in your room. Cheers!

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    6. Hi Joe

      Are you sure it's an issue to have grounds on the pot casings? I've read a lot about wiring and you're the first I've seen to present this as an issue. Do you have a source you were hoping off of when you made this decision?

      Thanks!

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  21. Hi. Yeah, it's working, and the sound is good - to be honest, I'm still getting a lot of hum at high gains, but I think that's a problem with my house electrical circuit in general. Not so much ground loops, because I've tried rewiring the system and it made no difference, (including unplugging everything but my amp). I'm coming to the conclusion that there's just a lot of noise in the system from dimmers etc. It's still the same deal, where if I have the guitar at a certain angle and position, it makes a massive difference to the hum levels, even with the dimmer off in my room. Luckily, I'm not a rock/metal guy - my guitar stuff is generally in the funk-ish vain, so there's not often a need for screaming distortion!

    Anyway, I've learned a lot from the process, as it was the first time I'd tried rewiring a guitar and in the end, I've got a very nice sounding Strat that I didn't pay a lot of money for!

    Thanks again for all your help and advice in this little 'journey'...

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  22. Hi Joe

    Thank you for taking the time to put this page together. I have found it a really useful resource when working on my 1986 Japanese Strat. I have followed your instructions ,checked my connectivity with a multi meter and a all seems to be ok. Despite this I have hit a snag:

    I get intermittent signal loss when I screw my scratchplate into position. Before it is screwed in (so before a solid connection is made with the shielding on the underside of the scratch plate and the shielding on the body) the signal is fine (obviously very noisy) when monitored through an audio recorder. When the connection is made, the noise cuts out as expected, but the signal cuts in and out when I tap the scratch plate, adjust any of the pots or adjust the pick-up selector switch.

    I originally thought it must be the pots or capacitor, as all our original parts (the switch is new, as are the pick-ups), but they all seem to perform fine until the 2 halves of the shielding are properly connected. Do you think the problem might be linked to the casing of the pots connecting with the new aluminium tape shielding? If so, maybe some non-conductive washers might work?

    Any ideas or suggestions would be most welcome if you have time!

    Thanks
    Jack

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    Replies
    1. ....I have just spotted something. There is a possibility (probability) that I am an idiot. I will confirm shortly - decided against simply deleting my original post as this piece of idiocy might be useful to anyone else who might have unwittingly done the same thing.....

      Delete
    2. Yep, silly me. I'd wired in the selector switch the wrong way round, so my signal cables/solder points were making contact with the shielding. Sorted now.

      ...it's always user error!

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    3. Hey! I'm glad you sorted it out! By the description you were giving me I was absolutely sure that it was shorting on you by the pressure of the plate. I hope it sounds better now and that you did get to kill some of the noise or hum you had.

      Cheers!

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    4. Hi Joe

      Many thanks for this comprehensive tutorial. I'm just in the process of rebuilding a project strat so haven't reached the electrics yet but rest assured when I do I will be following the instructions to the letter :)

      I've made a small donation, hope it helps in some small way.

      Delete
    5. Hi Mick! Thanks! I do hope this guide helps you out. Good luck in your project and many thanks for your donation! In today's world, anything helps in many ways. Take Care!

      Delete
  23. Hi Joe

    Thanks for writing about this topic! Are you sure it is problematic to have grounds go to the pot casings? I've done a lot of reading about wiring and you're the first to mention it as problematic. Do you have a source for this?

    Thanks!

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  24. Hi Joe

    Thanks for writing about this topic! Are you sure it is problematic to have grounds go to the pot casings? I've done a lot of reading about wiring and you're the first to mention it as problematic. Do you have a source for this?

    Thanks!

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  25. Thank you Joe ! I have a 1966 Strat all original and it hums a lot when I play it through my Boogie. Not wanting to replace any pickups I followed your instructions and it worked. The Humming was reduced by 95%. It is so quite now I can't tell it is on. Yes, Aluminum foil and shielding is the answer for these Fenders with average grounding. Thank you !

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  26. This really works if you follow the instructions completely. Take your time. The multimeter is used to check if the aluminum foil is applied correctly. If there is not Continuity then go back to working on the foil. Either too much glue or there is a seperation in the foil someplace blocking the continuity of the aluminum...meaning there is a gap in the foil or it is not touching other pieces correctly. Thank you JOE!!!!

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  27. Best work you have done, this online site is truly cool with incredible truths. emf protection

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  28. I'll play devil's advocate here; I have a 2014 60th anniversary Strat with 54 vintage single coil pick ups. I've managed to control the 60Hz buzz and hum by doing the following; never turn the volume on the guitar past the 7 or 8 mark and always keep my back to the amp (Fender Twin) as opposed to playing while facing the amp. Keeping the guitar at least 10 feet from the amp also keeps those single coils quiet with little or no hum. A friend of mine recently paid a hefty sum to have his 1971 Strat shielded and the difference was negligible.

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  29. Thanks for this post joe! I'm going to give it a go i think but the only thing i don't like the look of is taking the neck off. Is it really necessary to remove the neck of the guitar? I managed to install a bridge humbucker on my strat and change the pick guard without taking the neck off.

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    1. I do recommend to take the neck off since it will make the work easier. Also that way you don't risk banging it against something. If you really don't like the idea of taking it off, just make sure to have enough space to work with it and make sure not to bang it or apply too much pressure on it when doing all this.

      Good luck!

      Delete
  30. Hi.
    For some reason, I had one black wire soldered to my volume pot and screwed to control cavity on the other end. So going from volume pot to the guitar body. This was done by Fender company (MIM Strat). I've done my shielding but dunno what to do with that wire, I think it will cause ground loop? (Since pickups are already connected to the volume pot which is grounded to copper shield??) What is your opinion?

    I'm talking about "GROUND LUG" wire on this image:
    http://www.disconnecteddocumentary.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/volume-control-resistor-capacitor-fender-stratocaster-wiring-diagram-tone-switch-schematic.jpg

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    1. + Forgot to mention that tremolo claw wire was soldered to this GROUND LUG. But since I soldered tremolo claw wire to a copper foil, I don't see any reason to have that ground lug wire going to volume pot right?

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    2. I think that's the ground wire that goes to the tremolo. We make grounding that way when we touch the strings...

      5 ground wires should make contact with volume pot:

      3 for pickups
      1 for jack input
      1 for tremolo bridge

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    3. Thanks for answer! But I think that you connect tremolo bridge only with anchored copper foil (in your schema). Or am I missing something? Won't it cause a ground loop if I also connect it with a volume pot? :)

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    4. Oh! I thought you were talking before the process.

      The important thing is that all black wires or any ground (except tremolo if you wish if you want to do it how I did it) should be making contact with the foil. As long as you don't have more black wires than needed. Make sure where that extra black wire comes from.

      As you can see in my before and after 3d illustrations, all I did was "simplify" all the grounding to make it cleaner, but making sure I didn't skip a point that needs to make contact with the ground.

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    5. What I meant by "cleaner" is by not too many cables. Just try to follow the logic path of groundings. Some guitars are wired a bit different, this could be your case...

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    6. Did make it work but didn't reduce noise at all :( Continuity tester says everything is grounded. I think I'm getting different type of noise because when I turn my guitar into specific angle, it's gone.

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    7. Actually no noise in a specific angle is a good sign, I get that same result with mine, mostly now that I live in an apartment on a fifth floor, so grounding here is out of the question for me. How is the grounding and wiring in the place where you are doing this? Have you tried another environment? When I did this I was living in a place where the grounding was done right and the wiring was in good shape. Can you describe the noise you get now? Is it like static? Or is it more like a 50/60 HZ hum?

      Delete
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    9. It's the 60 HZ hum. Same as in the beginning of this video:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nakpj_Mee0Q&t

      Well firstly I believe that my guitar was already shielded with paint because there was ground lug screwed into the body. I was stupid enough to not test with continuity tester so maybe thats why I don't notice a difference. It's a little bit better now because apart from shielding, I also replaced MIM wiring and pickups with Texas Specials, CST pots, Orange Drop capacitor...In positions 2,4 it's dead quiet but it bothers me to not be able to play single coils without positioning myself.
      I have power generator pretty close to me, also lot of vents. I'm in Texas right now, weather here is hot so air conditioning in apartments runs 24/7. I'll try my guitar somewhere else and will see. My silly Fender 10G Frontman may also contribute to this.

      Still thank you so much for this article, you introduced me to more intelligent wiring :)

      Delete
    10. OK, it's 60 HZ, you are in America :) If you were on the other side of the world then it would be 50 Hz. Well, yes, power generator and AC will for sure cause a lot of EMF noise. Look, you did the right thing after all, shielding paint is not as effective as the real aluminum foil. Particles in the paint that make the paint stick don't have continuity, because it's a gum based chemical, and it's not thick enough to really shield.

      Having to position yourself in an angle or position in a room is a very natural thing to do. I have recorded in some pro studios and even the engineers already know the sweet spots of their rooms where there's less interference. To really achive 100% silence it's almost impossible, there will always be a certain amount of noise, as long as it's just not too loud, for example, can you hear the noise at the same level of what you play? If you do and if it's even louder, then that's an issue, but if the playing is louder than the noise, then it may be not so bad.

      Positions 2 and 4 will always be silent because of the humbucking effect. Middle pickup has polarities reversed, when you choose positions 2 and 4 two pickups are activated and self cancel the noise, that's how humbuckers work.

      Yes, try in another environment and see what happens, try also rotating the amp, the 60 Hz tone usually is contributed more from the amp.

      Cheers!

      Delete
  31. Hi everyone, I'm having a real problem finding shielded silver wire and the copper plate here in the UK. Can anyone recommend a good place to get this sort of stuff??

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    ReplyDelete