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Last Updated on March 3, 2024 by Teemu Suomala

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Author: David Slavkovic

David has been playing guitar since 1998, his main focus back then was hard rock and metal. With years, his music tastes evolved and he eventually started appreciating all musical styles. Although officially an agricultural engineer, David began writing for Ultimate Guitar in 2017 where he’s currently working as a senior editor.

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Editing & Research: Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I love guitars and have played dozens and dozens of different guitars through different amps and pedals over the years, and also, building a website interested me, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website.

I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have also been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as SongsterrMusicnotesGuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar.

I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog (I guess that went the right way…).

If you’re playing an electric guitar, it’s unfortunately only a matter of time before something will either malfunction or produce unwanted noises. If this is happening to you, don’t worry – it’s nothing unusual.

So instead of feeling discouraged and just going back to your acoustic guitar, you can always find ways to deal with these issues. And in a lot of cases, these are even some minor adjustments that you can do by yourself. Gladly, even if you take your amp or a guitar to a professional, it’s usually something that won’t cost a lot.

In this guide, we will focus on those awful buzzing or humming noises that electric guitar amps can sometimes make.

  • First, we’ll look at the common issues that can cause buzzing
  • Then we’ll look at how you can try to fix the buzzing

Let’s go!

Why Does My Buzz?

Types of pickups

Photo shows readers single-coil guitar pickups
Single-coil pickups of Telecaster.

The most common causes actually come from your guitar and not the amp. And one of the most frequent issues comes down to the types of pickups that you’re using.

Pretty much all single-coil pickups cause some kind of a hum or buzz. And whether it’s a regular single-coil you find on a Stratocaster or guitar with a P-90 pickup, this is just what they do. And it only gets worse when you turn on the distortion and turn up the gain knob.

The reason behind it is that your pickups basically act as an antenna and we’re always surrounded by some kind of electrical interference. Humbuckers don’t have this issue as they’re designed in such a way that each coil cancels out the hum from the other one.

Some of the more expensive single-coils are made to keep this hum at a minimum. But no matter the model, single coils will always make these troubles one way or another.

Poor Shielding

Photo displays what is Guitar Shielding
Wooden parts holding electronics need to be shielded with conductive paint (usually graphite) or aluminum or copper tape.

However, another issue might be due to the guitar’s poor shielding. This can happen no matter the type of pickups on your guitar. If you notice that the buzzing increases when you touch your strings or any metal parts on your guitar that are in some way in contact with electronics, then it’s most likely the shielding.

Electrical hum is usually at 60 Hz if you’re in the US, and around 50 Hz if you’re outside of the US. The difference in the frequency is due to how the electrical current alternates, depending on the electrical infrastructure in the country.

Guitar Grounding 

Grounding on your guitar can also cause issues and it’s not an uncommon problem. But compared to shielding, it will cause an opposite problem. When you touch your strings or any other metal part, the buzzing noise stops or is significantly reduced. When you let go of it, the buzzing will become louder, quite often even unbearable.

Guitar Cable

Image displays a guitar cable

Too often guitarists underestimate the importance of the cable. It can make or break your game. So, you can check if your cable is the reason for the problems by testing another cable (find great under $50 guitar cables here). You can also bend your cable while it’s plugged in and the volume is on, if you hear more or less buzzing, or cracking, the cable might be the reason for your problems.

Pedal Troubles (if you have one)

If you notice the humming issue even when your guitar’s volume knob is turned all the way down, then you might have issues with your guitar pedals.

In some cases, this can be due to high gain distortion pedals where the volume and gain knobs are way over the desirable limits, and you can hear a “hissing” noise from your amp.

But if everything is at a normal level and you still hear interference, you’ll need to single out the problem and find the pedal that’s causing troubles. If all of your pedals are having the same issue, then there might be a problem with your power supply or the overall electrical installations. If only one pedal is causing the issue, there’s a chance that it malfunctioned.

Amp Problems

photo displays 6 Best Guitar Amps Under $200
Guitar amps I featured on my Best electric guitar amps under $200 test.

And, of course, the source of the problem can come from your amplifier. The most common issue comes down to ground loop problems.

However, the overall electrical installations can cause issues, and there are plenty of potential problems that might occur. For instance, if your amplifier is in the same power source as the lighting, you can actually hear noises in your amp when light dimmers are used.

Even some mechanical devices that are plugged into the same power source, like fans, can also cause noise issues. This is why identifying a noise issue at clubs and other live venues can be really difficult.

Guitar Amp Noise Troubleshooting

Before setting out to deal with any problems, it’s important that you’re 100% sure about what’s the issue. In the section above, we’ve explained what might cause noise issues. But in order to know what’s causing the issue, you need to do step-by-step troubleshooting.

  1. The first thing you should do is to just unplug the instrument cable from your amp. If the hum vanishes, your amp is probably OK.
  2. If the hum continues, then start with the pickups, roll off the volume on your guitar, and see if it goes away.
  3. Then move on to shielding, grounding, and then pedals and if nothing helps, look closer at your amplifier.

You can also try different guitars with your amp, or different amps with the same guitar. Do the same thing for pedals, and try as many combinations as you can. It would also be a good idea to take your rig and all of your gear and try them out where you know that electrical installations are done well.

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How to Fix Guitar Amp Buzz

Pickup Buzzing and Shielding

Single-coil pickups will always buzz, and you can only put this noise to a minimum. However, doing proper shielding on your guitar can also help to some extent.

So whether you’re having trouble with shielding (increased buzzing when you touch the strings) or with single-coils, you’ll need to get a roll of copper foil and cover all the inside cavities of your guitar. These issues are not uncommon, even with more expensive guitars.

Along with adding copper tape, make sure to check all the electronics inside. Some wires might need replacing since the stock ones that you get with your guitar can be of low quality.

Shielding your guitar is not impossible, but it might be tricky for someone who’s not experienced. If you’re not confident enough to follow online tutorials on how to do it yourself, then take it to a professional.

If you want to know more about shielding your guitar, check this video out:

Guitar Copper Shielding – How to Shield a Strat

Guitar Grounding

If you’re experiencing symptoms of poor grounding, then there’s probably a grounding wire in your guitar that needs soldering. This is usually the case with cheaper guitars, but it’s not unusual to notice it with mid-range or even more expensive instruments.

The repair shouldn’t be that difficult if you’re experienced with soldering. Just open up your guitar’s cavity where all the wires are, locate the grounding wire, and see whether it’s detached.

However, the problem with Gibson and Gibson-style guitars can be trickier. In almost all cases, the grounding wire is connected to one of the tailpiece studs. These are not easy to remove and you really need to be careful not to damage your guitar.

If you have a guitar with the classic tune-o-matic bridge (like Les Paul or an SG) and don’t see any detached wires in your guitar’s main cavity, then we would advise that you take it to a professional.

Or if you don’t have any experience with the soldering, ask someone with soldering skills to help, or take your guitar to a professional.

Here is a video that will help you with soldering the ground wire:

RS Guitarworks: How To Solder Ground Connections

Cable Issues

Image points out where inside the guitar cable the issue for buzzing can be
Open up the connector, inside of it are solderings that can cause issues sometimes.

If the instrument cable is the reason for unwanted noises you can check if the soldering inside the connectors is gone bad, and you can try to fix it by soldering it yourself. This video will help you with that:

(Guitars) Maintenance | Soldering A Guitar Cable | How To Make & Fix Your Own

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of fixing your cable, these guides will help you to pick a new guitar cable for you:

Pedal and Amp Electricity Issues

If your pedal is malfunctioning, then you have no other choice but to either have it repaired or just get a new one.

However, this is rarely the case, and buzzing usually occurs due to electrical current issues. The best solution is to get a power conditioner and a quality power supply for your pedals. You can also use batteries for your pedals, but it’s not recommended for live gigs as some may run out of power too soon.

Aside from power conditioners, there are other devices like hum eliminators*(links direct you to the Amazon where you can check out a hum eliminator). But in most cases, a good power stabilizer(this link directs you to the Amazon too) will do the trick and will also keep your equipment safe from any sudden power surges.

*Consider all links in this post to be affiliate links. If you purchase, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission. It helps us to keep the lights on, thanks! 🙂

You can also try to locate your amps grounding wire and see if the solderings hold up.

If none of these helps, then your amp might have malfunctioned. But if this is the case, you’d most likely experience more serious issues, like sudden loud clipping noises, hissing, or even a complete lack of sound.

If you’re playing a tube amp, then you should always check whether your vacuum tubes are doing fine.


There’s a high chance that any buzzing problems you’re experiencing are pretty common. Whatever is the issue, someone else has already dealt with it. And knowing we live in a time when everything is shared on the internet, you can definitely find a solution to your problem.

Use Google and Youtube. Or leave a comment down below if you don’t know what is wrong with your amp.

But whether you want to sort it out yourself or take your guitar or amp to a professional, you should always troubleshoot the problem yourself. After all, this is the only way to get experience as an electric guitar player.  

I hope that this post helped you out. Leave a comment down below if you have any questions and feel free to share this post too.

I wish you all the best and keep rocking!

David Slavkovic

David has been playing guitar since 1998, David’s main focus back then was hard rock and metal. With years, his music tastes evolved and he eventually started appreciating all musical styles. Although officially an agricultural engineer, David began writing for Ultimate Guitar in 2017 where he’s currently working as a senior editor. Expertise: electric guitars, guitar amplifiers, music theory, the guitar industry, metal, and rock. You can connect with David on LinkedIn or just email him.
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John Orengo

Having a rattle noise with a Takamine “Jasmine”. Have a newer one that I installed a piezo with three pickups that plays fine through the amp. So it is not an electrical problem or the cord. It does not hum, only rattles when I play. I checked inside and found several loose braces due to the bride hump that formed. Tried everything to restore action but finally glued the braces with Gorilla glue! I think it was the problem. The rattle was from the loose braces! Still waiting for glue to dry so I can test the sound.

Teemu Suomala

Neve heard about that kind of a problem. Really weird to be honest…but it still makes sense actually… it seems that you worked things out, let me know if it worked! Props for you about pretty great DIY-skills! And thanks for leaving a comment! If someone else has the same problem, hopefully they found this your answer!


I have followed all the advice but mine seems to be different. I have a small amp for my guitar. The amp does not buzz when nothing is plugged in but does buzz as soon as I put a lead in and touch the other end, it gets louder when I plug it into the guitar. Just changed the lead and it’s exactly the same. Any ideas please?

Teemu Suomala

Hi Pete! The cable can make a noise when the guitar is not plugged into the other end. But it should not make a noise when you plug the guitar. If you turn the volume and tone of the guitar to zero, does the buzz continue? Also, have you tried the amp with a different guitar and the guitar with a different amp? Those are my next troubleshooting steps. Thanks for commenting!


Thanks for the information. My son’s guitar stopped working and was creating a buzz. Both problems went away when touching the hub (ground) of the jack and the strings. Found a broken ground wire inside of the jack terminal, soldered it and his is back up and running (or strumming). He was certain it was an amp problem. Your post made me comfortable investigating the problem more. Thanks again.

Teemu Suomala

Hi Joe and thanks for commenting and visiting GND!
Awesome that the buzzing problem got solved, and I’m happy we were able to help you guys. Happy strumming! 🙂