Single coil hum - really that bothersome?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by SimonR, May 4, 2008.

  1. SimonR

    SimonR Member

    Jun 6, 2004
    North Bondi, Australia
    I read plenty of posts from folks who are seeking a solution to the hum single coils generate. Clearly this is an issue that bothers many people, or Kinman, DiMarzio, Suhr etc wouldn't sell products that combat the solution.

    What I'm wondering is when does the hum really bother you? I find the hum really doesn't bother me while I'm playing (even with a fair amount of gain) and in between songs, I just wind back the volume control. I've played some dives with really dodgy power and even under these conditions I have never found single coil hum to be objectionable while I'm actually playing and a quick twist of the volume in between songs is a simple solution.

    (It used to bother me back in the days I had a CRT monitor in my home studio but since I've been using an problem!)

    Maybe the 50hz hum we get in Australia is more toneful than the 60hz hum you guys get in the US!

  2. digthosetubes

    digthosetubes Senior Member

    Jun 13, 2007
    One of my biggest issues against Fender guitars was the idea that they would create hum. I don't like hum. I hate the idea of hum even more.

    Well, I popped for a couple of Nocasters. I only play them at home so far. In my sunroom, the wiring is pretty new, and I can tweak the guitar position to nearly eliminate the hum.

    Man. Sounds so good. Who cares about hum. Yes, when I crank on the RC booster on top of some gain on my amps' drive channels, the hum can get a little loud. But I do notice that when I play, the hum sort of gets "muted" out and I don't hear it.

    So I am learning that hum isn't nearly as bad as I thought it was.

    I guess it's one of those peccadilloes for us frustrated perfectionists.

    Sometimes my neighbor's barking dog drives me nuts. Other times? Not so much.
  3. guitaraddict

    guitaraddict Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2007
    Sharon, TN
    :agree 110%
  4. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 16, 2006
    as impressed as i am by dimarzio's area series hum-canceling single coils, it's never occurred to me to put them in my own tele. when i play it out, i just use the ol' "pinky noise gate" on the volume knob between passages.
  5. Jahn

    Jahn Listens to Johnny Marr, plays like John Denver Supporting Member

    Feb 27, 2007
    dimmer light in my house. single coils sound like an angry swarm of amazon bees. Dimarzio Areas saved my current guitars from the same sad fate as my previous single coil axes (getting axed). pure buckers seem a bit honky to me, i like the lower output Guild HB-1 and hopefully the Dimarzio Mini Humbucker too. Really liked the Z90s from Harmonic Design as well, humless P90 types.
  6. MartinC

    MartinC Member

    Jul 24, 2007
    Depends on the environment and wiring. I've got a P90 equipped guitar that I have played live with (5 Dock RSL) and rehearsed with (Sound Level in Ultimo). Hardly any hum at all ... no need to mute between songs. I recently tried out an amp with this guitar in a music shop that had old wiring and neon lighting and computers with CRTs. Don't know which of those had the most if any impact, but the HUM was unbearable ... if my house was like that I don't think I'd play that guitar very often at home.

    I bought a Suhr Classic recently and had the SSC system fitted ... I think I could have lived with the hum, and if there was no option, I would have still chosen true single-coil pickups for the tone and clarity, but given the choice I'll have hum-free and cough up the dollars to get it.
  7. greenlander

    greenlander Member

    Jul 1, 2007
    +1, totally agree with that
  8. wildschwein

    wildschwein Member

    Mar 13, 2008
    Alkimos, Western Australia
    I've found doing a DIY shielding job with copper tape and heavy duty aluminium foil is a very effective way of cutting down on single coil hum. I followed this page ( for my 2 Teles and the results are impressive. The pups are now almost silent and the guitar's sound is harmonically richer. I've got 2 strats as well but haven't attempted to shield them yet; as it's a little more involved but the instructions are on the page given above. For me I notice the hum with single coils most when I'm not playing and I take my hands off the strings. This all but disappears after a shielding job.
  9. pennylink

    pennylink Member

    Sep 8, 2007
    London, UK
    Hum in my Strat bothered me enough that I stopped playing it until I got noiseless pups for it.
  10. pfflam

    pfflam Silver Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2005
    PDX: The Rose City
    I just ripped the copper shielding out of my Tele - I can't track down the reason my git is lacking in tone, and I don't mind hum that much (my other Tele isn't pocket-shielded and sounds great)
    I haven't put it back together yet so I'll have to wait to see if that was the culprit.

    ANyway, I don't mind hum that much I suppose
  11. stonevibe

    stonevibe Member

    Dec 21, 2006
    I don't mind hum as I'm generally pretty load and so hum is the least of peoples worries.

    Just turn the volume down between songs.
  12. oscar100

    oscar100 Member

    Jan 22, 2004
    london UK
    its part of teh game - dont really see what eh fuss is myself
  13. Pietro

    Pietro 2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy

    Feb 17, 2007
    Maineville, OH
    Can't stand it. never use a guitar without humbuckers or noiseless single coil-type.

    Just can't stand it.
  14. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

    Nov 25, 2005
    In The Basement
    It never did bother me.
  15. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

    Mar 20, 2005
    I agree with the OP, I've always played while using my volume knob for control and the hum doesn't bother me or anyone, even with high gain stuff. I like the charm and challenge of it all from an old strat. A vintage trem, noisy weak pickups, etc.. make it sound good! When a player does, it's the absolute best sounding instrument on the planet!

    Heck, when you plug in, I want to hear a little buzz so I know it's raw, ready, and real.
  16. DavidH

    DavidH Member

    Sep 25, 2006
    My quietest guitar has single coils,it's also the best shielded.
    I have three electrics,a Collings 290 (p90s)a Collings City Limits(humbuckers),and a Jazzmaster.The 290 is the noisiest,then the CL,then the jazzmaster is easily the quietest.Humbuckers aren't 'noiseless',by any means.You'd think they were by reading this thread,they still pick up oscillations from dimmers,strip lights etc.In my experience anyway.
  17. cram

    cram Member

    Nov 13, 2006
    Southern NH
    one place I play has an airconditioner near the small stage area and I'm not sure if that is actually the cause, but it's [the hum] a bit louder than anywhere I play. I of course noticed it during the setup and sound check, but once we were playing as a band it didn't bother me a bit.

    Double Ground Points - I've seen places (houses, clubs) that have additions built on to them. they all share the same source for electricity, but the addition also has a pole dropped into the ground which is bad for RFI. One place I read as an example had two electrical systems, but had a shared heating system. The solution was to put a non metalic coupling to stop the current in the water pipes.

    On the one place we do play where hum is louder- I'd love for the owner to fix it as it's our main place to play for a happy crowd of friends, but honestly - I don't care. We have fun and no one notices.

    Also - I saw that steve kimock changed his tele to have a better pickup selection because the clubs he'd play had some serious problems. His band does drift into several quieter spots during their jams so I could see why a hum would be in your face and piss ya' off..
  18. FatTeleTom

    FatTeleTom Member

    May 5, 2004
    Asheville, NC
    There's hum, and then there's hum. Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago has a nasty, nasty hum problem for single-coil pickups.

    It's not a matter of turning the volume down between songs--depending on where you stand on that stage, the hum can be as loud as the notes you are playing. Not good.

    I don't gig that much, but the hum has never been a serious problem anywhere else, but having played a few times at Buddy Guy's, I've ahd to stick with humbuckers or hum-cancelling in between settings on single coils.
  19. Polynitro

    Polynitro Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    I love the hum...It sounds alive! I can see where recording or in certain venues it may be a PITA but other than that; It's like riding in an electric car and when you stop at a light it sounds like the engine died...I want to hear my pickups on the verge of feedback and humming with life all the time.
  20. DejavuDave

    DejavuDave Member

    Aug 11, 2006
    So Cal
    Hum bothers me while recording or whenever a lot of gain is used. Suhr's SSC system is one of the reasons I started looking at their guitars. What a great invention! Great guitars! :AOK

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