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AL HH noise

NickNihil

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Mar 28, 2021
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51
My AL HH gets a lot noisier in med-high gain settings than my STV's (both original stealth black and the Goldie), which in my relative ignorance I'd figure shouldn't be the case. I was wondering if that might be a ground loop or just an artifact of the pickups. The noise doesn't change based on whether I touch any metal on the guitar or not.
 

racerx

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Mar 10, 2021
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36
What about the area where you are playing? Almost all of my guitars pickup some noise when I'm sitting close to my desk (PC tower, display monitors, audio monitors, modem/router, etc.). When I step 5-6 feet away and/or turn away from those devices, the noise drops drastically. Also consider trying different electrical outlets and minimize signal chain interference (plug directly in to the amp) to help troubleshoot or isolate the issue.
 

NickNihil

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Mar 28, 2021
Messages
51
I'm usually at my laptop setup which does give some additional electrical noise, but what I'm noticing is basically the humbuckers on my AL have a higher noise floor with distortion than the minihumbuckers on my St Vincents. Same position, same amp (or plugin) settings and so was wondering if it's in the construction or if my wiring needs shaping up.
 

DrKev

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It's almost certainly NOT the wiring.

Not all pickups are created equal. In fact, some pickups are created deliberately UNEQUAL, i.e. the two coils are not identical. The end result is a small difference in noise cancelling ability compared to symmetric pickups. That little difference is amplified when we add distortion. Still vastly superior to traditional single coils, but the basic fact is that when we add lots of distortion, once we are clipping the guitar signal at all, all additional gain increases all the background noise. So many of our favorite players have a noise gate in the signal chain, and studio editing to remove the noise from a recording, it's easy to forget that background noise is part of what we deal with all the time.
 

NickNihil

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Mar 28, 2021
Messages
51
I also forgot a key piece of information-I bought it used, it seems the previous owner replaced some parts as there was a burn on the pickguard. I believe it was a GC exclusive as it has the push/pull coil split tone knob, which has a black circuit board. I replaced the pickguard, got one with copper shielding. All parts seem either stock or have the same values as stock.
 

racerx

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Mar 10, 2021
Messages
36
I also forgot a key piece of information-I bought it used, it seems the previous owner replaced some parts as there was a burn on the pickguard. I believe it was a GC exclusive as it has the push/pull coil split tone knob, which has a black circuit board. I replaced the pickguard, got one with copper shielding. All parts seem either stock or have the same values as stock.

To DrKev's point - not all pickups are equal so you can't make an apples:apples comparison with one guitar vs. another. For a neutral example - a pair of vintage PAF humbuckers might behave differently within an environment than modern EMGs. Both will mitigate most of the "single coil hum" but not necessarily ALL noise entirely.

The best bet is to minimize interference with good cables & connections, create distance from appliances/lights, and be mindful of your gain+EQ parameters. More gain doesn't necessarily translate to a "heavier" tone so it isn't always the answer. A noise suppressor is an option but I tend to prefer simple and live with any noise. The fact of the matter is any noise like that won't be audible in a mix or live situation so I never pay too much attention to it. If the noise is loud enough to be a distraction then I'd be inclined to believe there is something wrong with the wiring or bad pickups. This seems especially likely if some cowboy was in there hacking around. If they were sloppy enough to burn the guitar, then they were probably sloppy enough to screw something up.
 

NickNihil

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Mar 28, 2021
Messages
51
Well, I'm not sure it's any of those things as I plugged my pedalboard back into my interface (I do not have a noise gate on it) and it's pretty well cleaned up. I'll just use real life OD's as much as possible into the amp plugins instead of software OD.
 

racerx

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Mar 10, 2021
Messages
36
Well, I'm not sure it's any of those things as I plugged my pedalboard back into my interface (I do not have a noise gate on it) and it's pretty well cleaned up. I'll just use real life OD's as much as possible into the amp plugins instead of software OD.

Does this mean when you use VSTs/"software gain" you get a lot of noise but you don't get it when you run a pedal in between the guitar and the interface? This adds complexity to the troubleshooting steps but the same principles apply. I'd also look into your interface's manual about what it expects on the inputs - if you're running a strong signal into the front then you may want to experiment with the "line vs. instrument" settings and any cuts if they're available. My Stingray bass CRUSHES my interface's channel strip if I run the "instrument" setting, but is much more tame on the "line" setting.
 
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