Regardless of the genre you enjoy, playing the electric guitar can provide you with countless hours of satisfaction and enjoyment. In many cases, however, you'll also be dealing with an incessant humming sound that can take away from your tone and reduce the appeal of your playing to you and those around you. Unfortunately, a hum is just part of playing the electric guitar, and something virtually every player deals with on some level. The good news is that there are several ways to reduce this hum and even eliminate it altogether. Here are some strategies to adopt.
Add A Humbucking Pickup To Your Guitar
Single-coil guitar pickups are notorious for their hum, so you'll likely know this humming sound all too well if you play a guitar with this type of pickups. A solution is to either use a guitar with humbucking pickups (also called "humbuckers") or install one of these pickups in your guitar in place of one of the single-coil pickups. The name "humbucker" essentially means that this type of pickup will "buck," or cancel, the hum; the manner in which humbuckers are wired dramatically cuts down the hum you'll hear through your amp.
Use Fewer Pedals
It's fun to put a variety of effect pedals in your signal chain to give you the tonal versatility that you desire, but the more pedals that sit between your instrument and your amplifier, the more hum you'll experience. A simple strategy is to just remove the pedals that you aren't currently using. While there's no universally appropriate number of pedals to aim for, it's a good idea to keep your signal chain as simple as possible. For example, that distortion pedal might have been ideal when you went through your heavy metal phase, but if your musical tastes have shifted recently, set the distortion pedal aside.
Use A Noise Gate
A noise gate is a pedal that you place in your signal chain. Unlike traditional effect pedals, it doesn't alter the sound of your playing in any manner—but it will help to cancel the hum you're experiencing. You can finely adjust the noise gate's settings to kill the hum at different frequencies; this pedal gets its name because it "closes the gate" on the hum in your signal, stopping it before it gets to your amplifier. Although there are multiple schools of thought about where to place the noise gate pedal in your signal chain, many players put it at the end of the pedal board, right before the signal goes to the amp.
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