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Do I need a power conditioner if...

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by Cooters23, May 22, 2011.

  1. Cooters23

    Cooters23 Member

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    Location:
    Manchester Kentucky
    I'm playing in some places with bad power and getting a hum or noise in my rig. I don't run any rackmount stuff. I use stomboxes into an AC30. So my question is do I need a power conditioner with my rig? Would it even help? Any suggestions/advice is appreciated.
     
  2. Cooters23

    Cooters23 Member

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    Dec 27, 2010
    Location:
    Manchester Kentucky
  3. Hugo Da Rosa

    Hugo Da Rosa Silver Supporting Member

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    This has kind of been the million dollar question for musicians and sound engineers alike. The thing is, (and as far as I know) there isn't any definitive answer as to what would actually help reduce peripheral noise. You could be getting hum from a number of reasons: stage lighting, facility lighting, CRT monitors, bad power, bad grounding, bad patch, loose jack, etc. Sure, a power conditioner would help in any case. Would it eliminate/decrease that particular noise you are hearing? It may or may not. Unfortunately, you would need a seasoned sound engineer to examine the venues that you are playing at and then they can make an educated guess as to what it is causing the noise. From there leads to a whole 'nother problem - what to use to solve it. Right now your best bet may just have to be a noise gate (or some say the EHX Hum Debugger is a good alternative). A good noise gate can cancel out most of the noise and retain a good amount of your signal. If you ask me however, I think a noise gate regardless of its technology kills your attack and signal.

    The bottom line is there is no straight yes or no answer to this. You can try using a power conditioner and it may or may not help. The search of eliminating unwanted peripheral noise is an on-going journey and many (like myself) are still in pursuit of it.
     
  4. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    It all depends what's causing the problem. For a few bucks, you can go to a hardware store and get a gizmo that will tell you whether the plug is properly grounded. That could be one source of hums and buzzes.

    Another could simply be electrical fields causing pickup hum; if the hum goes away when you turn the guitar's volume all the way down, that's what it is and there isn't anything to be done other than try to face in a quiet direction. Food service equipment has big electric motors, etc. This generates fields and of course can affect the AC power.

    If you're powering your pedals with a power supply box, that could be a source of ground loops.

    if it's bad power, the only thing that will effectively fix it is something like a Furman 1220, an isolation transformer. The so-called power conditioners and filters do nothing to cure this. They're for the hiccups and spikes that affect digital and computer gear, not for big AC problems like dirty power. Remember that a restaurant or bar has all kinds of appliances plugged into a circuit, and these can affect the AC power quite a lot. But only a true isolation transformer will make a difference.

    The Furman unit weighs close to 75 pounds, not something I'd want to drag around to a gig...
     
  5. teleguido

    teleguido Member

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    Jan 1, 2010
    THIS.

    Buying one of these testers is the best $3 you will ever spend on gear if you gig, as it could very well save your life (or at least save you from some NASTY shocks). In my experience the money spent on a power conditioner is better spent on just about anything else, unless you are using a lot of expensive digital equipment in your rig. Dirty power is bad for everything, but it can cause some serious freakouts with digital gear.

    So what's the solution for noise problems due to the wiring at gigs?

    Well, assuming you at least know the outlets you are using are wired properly (again, buy one of those testers and throw it in your case), I think it's best to learn some techniques that can help:

    1. Find the "sweet spots" on stage where the hum/noise goes away. Mark them with tape if need be.
    2. Mute your guitar when you aren't playing, either with your volume knob or tuner pedal.
    3. You may have noticed that hum/noise goes away when you are using the setting for both of your pickups on your guitar (middle position on a Tele, for example). If the pickups are reverse wound/reverse polarity, this has a noise canceling effect. While you might not want to be stuck in middle position all night long, it can get you through the gig if hum is realllllly bad. And it's free.

    Hope that helps!

    BTW - my main rig is a tele into an AC30, and using these tricks I usually get by just fine.
     

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