View Full Version : 60-cycle hum in “humbucker” position driving me nuts, 04 Am Dlx HSS Strat

05-03-2009, 12:22 PM
Hi all, looking for help and advice troubleshooting this, and potentially replacing the bridge pickup if it’s the actual problem. I bought this guitar new and haven’t modified it in any way. It has “hot” SCN neck and middle pickups and DH-1 bridge humbucker, wired with the S-1 switch. The 60-cycle hum when using medium to high gain, in bridge-humbucker-only (switch position 5), and even moreso when using switch position 4 (middle and one coil from bridge, in parallel), has always irritated me. In hindsight I should have had my dealer just order another one; too late for that now. The hum in position 5 is not only significantly louder than my two older/crappier humbucker guitars, it is also actually louder than position 5 in my recently acquired 08 Am Std Strat- which has real single coils. Recently I had a local independent guitar tech here in the metro Detroit area do a setup on it, and asked him to look at this issue. He went over the wiring and pickups and said he couldn’t find anything wrong, and implied the hum was a characteristic of that pickup (DH-1). Should I try myself to swap the bridge pickup for something else, or is it more likely to really be an issue with a pot or switch? No experience dealing with guitar electronics myself. Warranty implications/usefulness (“limited lifetime”)? Anyone in the metro Detroit area who is really good at dealing with this sort of thing? Any advice appreciated, the hum is really holding back my enjoyment of this otherwise great guitar.

05-03-2009, 01:11 PM
Does the hum change when you touch the strings? It's possible you have a grounding issue. That said, you have a guitar that is supposed to be quiet in all 5 positions. I've never been super impressed with the sound of the SCN's or the DH-1 but I've always been a fan of their quiet operation. The wiring diagram is a bit complicated to look at thanks to the S-1 switch and the 5-way superswitch, but I've posted a link to it here in case you would like to troubleshoot or change the bridge pickup.


05-03-2009, 01:53 PM
Thanks for the quick reply testing1two. There is no change in the hum at all whether the strings (or any other part of the guitar) are being touched or not. Local tech said he looked for grounding issues and didn't find any. Also no change in hum of this guitar vs. others in my apartment with different cables, amps, and computer audio interfaces. Thanks for the link; dang that is complicated indeed!

05-03-2009, 07:10 PM
Without taking a meter to the guitar and confirming every connection in the diagram including the output jack, my only other suspicion would be that you have a bad S-1 switch. I never really used the S-1 switch so I've since converted over to the "superstrat" wiring that John Suhr uses.



05-04-2009, 10:28 PM
Thanks again! I may ask the tech I took it to to take another crack at it, or take a meter to it myself as you suggest. I too almost never use the S-1 but do find the neck&middle in series combo useful sometimes. I agree that these stock pickups aren't exactly the bees knees tonally, but don't know too much about different types and brands of pickups, and not eager to get into rewiring the thing myself. In the meantime I wouldn't mind just buying and throwing in some simpler (non S-1), pre-wired HSS pickguard assembly so I can at least play this guitar without getting pissed off (and perhaps continue to troubleshoot original assembly separately). Anybody have suggestions for who can sell me such?

05-05-2009, 12:43 AM
You can order pre-wired harnesses from several vendors. Acme Guitarworks and RS Guitar Works are two popular choices. These would be my first choices if I was going to the John Suhr supertrat style wiring where the humbucker sees 500k and the singles see 250k. Both Acme and RS use high quality CTS pots, orange drop caps, etc.

If you're looking for stock Fender HSS wiring, there are a couple of companies on FleaBay moving fully loaded pickguards pretty cheap.

Pickup choices are near infinite so rather than make recommendations I'll just tell you about two very successful HSS guitars I just finished last week - the first has a Duncan Jeff Beck (JB) humbucker and Texas Special single coils. The second has a Tom Anderson H2 humbucker and Suhr Fletcher-Landau (FL) Classic single coils. The Anderson/Suhr rig was installed in place of the S-1 and SCN pickups on an HSS American Deluxe and the new pickups are so much more transparent and clear. Six note chord separation and clarity under gain. It sounds like a 50's strat in 4 of the 5 positions and then it sounds like a hit record in position 1. The Duncan/Texas Special rig went into an MIM strat and the guitar sounds wonderfultoo. The JB is ferocious with tons of midrange & sustain. The Texas Specials sound like Texas Specials, which is a great sound in my opinion.

My main strat has Fralin Vintage Hots and they are probably the most balanced single coil I've played. And they sound good in just about any guitar you put them in.

10-19-2009, 01:13 PM
Reviving an old thread here. Thanks for the suggestions! Still struggling with this, probably not worth going into details, but I've decided to order a pre-wired pickguard from Acme. Been researching different pickups, wiring, etc. The guy I spoke to at Acme was extremely helpful and informative. Heard great things about the Frailin Vintage Hots as you mention, as well as the Duncan JB. Does anyone see any downside to that combination in HSS configuration- output level mismatch, etc.?

10-19-2009, 03:34 PM
Several sources are available for either. I'd tell you but I don't want to be accused of drumming up biz.

Chris Scott
10-19-2009, 09:30 PM
Ask your tech to check for a "ground loop" - he'll know what it is. Otherwise, lose that pup, and get one that works for you.

A humbucking pickup should be, by design, close to if not dead quiet.