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Help with strange static electricity issue

Highroller

New member
Joined
Sep 30, 2016
Messages
12
Hello to all,

Having played guitar for nearly 30 years in my younger life, I have experience about every guitar and amp related problem you can think of one time or another. I am a tech type person, so repairs are not out of my vocabulary. I stopped playing and followed other interests 15 years ago. I purchased a new hand picked by myself, Les Paul Tradition in 2013. For the first couple years, it didn't get much use, due to my aggravation with my lack of ability compared to years ago. Recently, I have seemed to get over the hump and have started building up my chops and even starting to feel good about my playing. As I have gotten better, I have been focusing on cleaning up my lead word with various muting technicks.

Recently I have been chasing what I thought was a rattle in the background. I have check the bridge, tailpiece and all else and nothing seemed to have found where the rattle is coming from. The other night while playing some long descending scales it became evident that the rattle was more like static. Thought maybe a bad tube in the amp. I plugged into another amp I have and same problem. So its the guitar yes I also changed cables. I go to start taking resistance reading ( thinking ground issue with guitar) and notice when I went to unstrap the guitar, it made a electrical static type sound when it rubbed against my body. On further investigation I notice with the amp on and the guitar plugged in, volume on, the rear cover plates on the guitar, when rubbed with my hand make a loud static noise, also I found that the back of the neck, has the same static issue when moving you hand up and down the neck. WOW that's got me scratching my head. The guitar has always been a little on the noisey side ( slight ground loop hum) but nothing abnormal for a les paul. Any one have thoughts on tracking down the issue and solving it.

Thank You

My Rigg

2013 Gibson Les Paul Traditional (All Factory Stock)
Year ??? Fender stat, Hot Rodded by me (Does not have the static problem the les paul has)
Marshall 1968 Small box 50 watt
Marshall JVM 410H 100 watt, Hot Rodded by me
Marshall JCM900 1960B cab
Marshall DSL 40C Hot Rodded by me
Rapco Guitar cables

I live in a house that's over 100 years old, but all the electrical has been modernized a few years back with copper. I have double checked the outlets in my music room and they are all properly grounded, with proper neutral.

I run my marshal's connected to a voltage regulator and filter. Been doing this for years and has saved me many times and gives consistency to the amps tone.
 

Zentar

New member
Joined
Oct 1, 2011
Messages
830
Ground issues? The static should go to ground rather than accumulate. The static is being picked up by the pickup.
Check the ground at the wall outlet.
 

Highroller

New member
Joined
Sep 30, 2016
Messages
12
Ground issues? The static should go to ground rather than accumulate. The static is being picked up by the pickup.
Check the ground at the wall outlet.

I went back and checked the house wiring and its good. I disconnected the regulator and filter, still electrical static. I metered all connections on my guitar, ground tested good and visual cavity inspected looks good. I even reheated and flowed a little extra solder just in case of a bad solder joint, still no change. I changed to a couple different cables, still same electrical static. changed amps, still static. Well its got me stumped.

I have played in clubs and bars for years and have had problems with beer lights coolers and other such items causing hums, but this electrical static in the guitar has me scratching my head.

Any other ideas?
 

Desertdawg

Active member
Joined
Nov 25, 2001
Messages
2,056
I've had this problem with my 2004 Historic since day one. Rub the lacquer, especially near the jack or the pickup selector....loud crackle. I've learned to live with after shielding the cavities and changing out the pickups, pots and wiring loom years ago. I've tried the drier sheet and anti-static sprays too. They're good for about an hour or so. Only solution I've got by with is to wear clothes that don't create static. It doesn't eliminate the problem but does reduce it.

I've been thinking again recently of taking the guitar to a good repair man to see what can be done so any input in advance here would be useful.
 

Highroller

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Sep 30, 2016
Messages
12
I've had this problem with my 2004 Historic since day one. Rub the lacquer, especially near the jack or the pickup selector....loud crackle. I've learned to live with after shielding the cavities and changing out the pickups, pots and wiring loom years ago. I've tried the drier sheet and anti-static sprays too. They're good for about an hour or so. Only solution I've got by with is to wear clothes that don't create static. It doesn't eliminate the problem but does reduce it.

I've been thinking again recently of taking the guitar to a good repair man to see what can be done so any input in advance here would be useful.

Well I guess I'm not alone, having gremlins in my guitar. I hope together we can figure this out. I really dig this guitar, plays well, sounds great. I would hate to get rid of it. We will see.
 

Wilko

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Mar 11, 2002
Messages
19,888
Still thinking of the simple first... sometimes the tailpiece wire doesn't get a good connection to the stud. You'll get a continuity ok with a meter but the guitar will act like that.
 

TM1

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 27, 2003
Messages
8,027
Here's your fix: buy a can of Static Guard, spray it on a cloth and rub that on the pickguard, finish, etc. your issues will be gone.
 

Desertdawg

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Joined
Nov 25, 2001
Messages
2,056
Ah, a couple of long term forum member replies. Good!

My guitar has a stock Bigsby so it's easy to verify the bridge post to ground contact with a temporary second wire from the Bigsby to the jack. No go.

As I mentioned before, that spray on static guard is good for a bout an hour. It also makes a mess of the guitar's polished finish. It only seems to be a problem on guitars with a nitro finish. My Rics for example, don't have this problem at all.

Having said all that.....keep the suggestions coming. Like the OP, I really like this guitar so have learned to live with the static but it would be really good to figure out how to eliminate it.
 

Zentar

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Oct 1, 2011
Messages
830
You can also use the laundry static remover sheets on dogs that freak out over lightening. Static will build up in their fur. Just run the sheet on their backs.
 

rick c

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May 28, 2016
Messages
274
Well first I thought highroller was losing it but then I Googled this problem and see that it is really common. I've been playing 45 years and never come across this before. Here's a pretty good thread that may help:

https://www.guitartricks.com/forum/thread.php?t=42195

Static build-up can be related to a bunch of things; relative humidity, clothing, floor material, furniture material (if sitting down) and it seems also guitar plastic according to Google (so it must be true!).

I'm very interested to see if this problem is solved
 

Highroller

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Sep 30, 2016
Messages
12
Hello all,

I appreciate all the input of this issue. I have tried a few things that haven't worked and I know now it doesn't seem to be a true grounding issue, (it's Gremlins LOL). The following are things I have tried.

1. shielded the rear covers, no change. (copper foil tape)
2. Bonded the shielded covers, and mounting screws, to the guitars internal ground, no change
3. Ran temp external wires, for additional ground, to bridge, tail piece, pickups, switch, sleeve of guitar cable and wire directly from guitar to chassis of amp., no change.
4. Ran temp wire from my wrist to guitar and amp chassis, this did have an effect of about 25%, but still noticable static. Yeah I know this not only sounds stupid and looks stupid, but in this case I trying to narrow down the cause and then I can come up with a perm solution.

I wonder if it could have anything to do with the moister content of the wood in the guitar. It seems strange that the neck itself would buildup a static change but then again the finish could be the result.

I haven't given up yet, but I don't have any other ideas at the moment. Maybe stuffing the cavities with dryer sheets, LOL.

All ideas no matter how funky are welcome.

Thanks to all that have replied.
 

Highroller

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Sep 30, 2016
Messages
12
Hello all,

Well I may have good news but don't count your chickens yet. After doing much research and control cavity exploratory troubleshooting, I have come to a conclusion that part if not all of the issues are coming from the switch wiring. There doesn't seem to be any shielding on this cable and when touched or moved creates varying degrees of hum and static. This 4 conductor wire seems to be the only one causing any kinds of issues. I'm going to order a new 4 conductor pull back braided shield wire to replace it with and we will see if this solves the problem. With this wire so sensitive to touch it would also be subseptable to interference and a static charge.

Stay tuned!
 

Desertdawg

Active member
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Nov 25, 2001
Messages
2,056
Best of luck Roller. In an effort to solve the static problem, I replaced the wire harness on my Les Paul years ago. Failed. :dang

Let's know how it goes though as I'm prepared to try again!
 

Yelly

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Aug 29, 2001
Messages
1,532
If the noise really is caused by static then changing any harness/wiring is a waste of time. It usually happens because of your clothing rubbing against something (usually synthetic carpet). You get crackling as it escapes to ground whenever it can....through any grounded guitar parts. It could be caused by rubbing clothing against a layer of lacquer/paint. In this case it will not automatically drain though a guitar guitar ground as the charge can not flow though the paint. Static guard overcomes this by putting a temporarily conducting film over the guitar.
All you can really do is try changing something, one thing at a time. My first call would always be to take shoes off. Trainers on nylon carpet is a sure fire source of static.
Remember any part of the guitar that is grounded could drain static, cause a crackle and appear to be "fault found". You can chase your tail for days with this.
 

Desertdawg

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Nov 25, 2001
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Yelly, I'll buy all of that except that it's peculiar to this guitar.

Static does get generated in the ways you mention but something has to act lie an antenna in picking it up and sending it via the guitars wiring to the amp. That's what we are trying to solve here.

Any other ideas are always welcome.
 

Highroller

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Sep 30, 2016
Messages
12
Update!

just finished up installing a new pre-wired switch craft switch and push back braided shielded wire. I guess Gibson has changed the wiring cavity channel on Traditionals. with the stock pickups having the same type of braided wiring it was a total pain to get three more down the channel, but I did it. with the new switch and wire installed the hum and static are almost totally gone, but the static electricity issue still remains. I tried the dryer sheets and it solves the problem for a few minutes but leaves a sticky residue, dint dig that at all, but while I was experimenting with the dryer sheets, I notice something else. I had thought I had a tube going bad before, but now I know its the guitar. Without using the dryer sheets you can here an artifact in the sound which some what sounded like fret buzz. I know that wasn't the case due to the fact the guitar plays clean without it plugged into the amp. So until now I thought it was a tube, but now I know its the guitar, when using the dryer sheet its totally gone and the guitars tone is greatly improved, I mean like "WOW" improved. So now I know the static electricity is running through the guitar to the pickups and then through the amp. I really have to find the issue and solve it once and for all. I'm stating to wonder if possibly the pickups may be the problem, but it doesn't seem real likely to me.

All ideas will be greatly appreciated.
 

Desertdawg

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Nov 25, 2001
Messages
2,056
Well, Roller......it doesn't sound as if you wasted your time as you do have some improvement.

I've been thinking about this for some time but the solution might just be to remove all of the pots, pickups and harness then re-install each item one at a time, starting with a single pickup, while checking for static as each part is connected. It will be a lengthy process, which has always put me off, but should make it possible to identify the source of the problem.
 
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Jul 7, 2006
Messages
638
I also have the static electricity issue that causes crackling and popping sound mayhem and I have to use dryer sheets, especially on a non reverse firebird that I have, which collects lots of static electricity seemingly mostly on the plastic control cavity. I wipe it down, especially the control cavity cover and pickguard and it is good for at least a few days. I have a Fano TC 6 with no plastic on the back of the body, and a metal pickguard, and that guitar doesn't have the static electricity problem at all. Neither do my strats, that incidentally don't have plastic tremolo plates on. I have two LP's, and I have to wipe them down as well, but the problem is not nearly as bad as with that NR firebird, that has a really big control cavity cover, and also a big pickguard, both plastic of course.
 

corpse

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Jun 9, 2007
Messages
4,048
Have you tried playing the guitar in a room with a cement floor?
 
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