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I have a Jackson Dinky DK2M with two Seymour Duncan Humbucker pickups and a floyd rose tremolo on it. It is producing a strange `warble' noise on G string, especially on higher frets like 12th, 15th, 17th. It only appears when I use a high gain (distortion) and more noticeable when using neck pickup. I cannot hear it when using a clean channel. It is like you are tuning your strings according to another string, e.g., high E open vs. B 5th, and they are slightly out of tune. The tone sounds like vibrating, not smooth, and seems killing the sustain.

I know it is hard to describe and thus I recorded a bit, you can checked it out here. It is recorded through a Peavy Vypyr 30W using a `6505' model, the pre-gain is set to highest. I used a 1mm pick. I played 15th, 17th and 12th on G string. The quality may not be so good since I used a iPhone to record it. If anyone will like to hear a better one I can surely do it.

I also searched and found some suggestions to this, but none of them solve my problem, here's a list and my result:

  • I have tuned the action and bridge high enough such that there is no bret buzz.
  • I changed the string several times but it does not work. From D'addario to Ernie Ball to Fender, from .09 to .11.
  • It is not an amp problem, I took it to a local store and tried several amps.
  • I took it to a local store, and this confused all the techs there.
  • Lower the pickup. I make both pickups the lowest but no use.
  • Someone said it is the magnet not synchronized, see here. I followed what he suggested, but not help at all.
  • Some said it is called 'stratitis'. I am not so sure what it means, but looks like it is related to the pole piece on a Fender Stratocaster, and they suggest to lower the pickup and change the strings, which I already did.
  • Some articles said it is related to a plain or a wounded G string. I am not sure if I have tried this, since I did used a set of D'addario wounded string, but cannot recall if I used it on this guitar.
  • I found some one has the same problem as me here.

This is really freaking me out. I really hope some one can help me to solve it. Thanks in advance.

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Probably you have tried these but let me ask anyway: Did you try playing pretty far from your amp? Can you disconnect the bridge pickup and try? And finally does it also happen when you bend and sustain? –  percusse Oct 29 '11 at 1:05
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11 Answers

To me that doesn't sound like anything wrong with the guitar at all - admittedly it is tricky from just that single clip, but it sounds to me much more like an artifact of the high gain and distortion, especially as this doesn't happen when you use a clean tone from your amp. Does your sustain get killed when you are on clean tone?

For some amps I wouldn't even think this sound would imply a fault - has it just started doing this?

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This sound clip in fact does not show the problem very clearly, I want to redo it again. –  Ivan Z. Xiao Oct 16 '11 at 17:14
    
I did not notice this after I changed my original set of strings. Thus, I am not sure whether it was there from the very beginning. But definitely a long time ago (I bought it last year) –  Ivan Z. Xiao Oct 16 '11 at 17:15
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This intrigued me so I did some Googling and found some things which might help:

  1. Maybe using lighter strings might help.
  2. As for the "Strattis" link you posted, the user 'Martian' mentions a method of pressing the strings until they are barely touching all of the magnets on the humbuckers and then slowly releasing the strings until they are back to normal.

    Lay the guitar flat on its back and with both hands, gently press down on all 6 strings until the respective strings barely touch all 3 of their respective magnets simultaneously. Wait a second and then, slowly start relieving the hand pressure until the strings have been restored to their original position.

  3. It is possible that there is a dead spot on the guitar. This might be able to be fixed with a fat finger, or by replacing the neck. Hopefully you might know someone with a fat finger sitting around and can borrow it to see if it works before buying one.
  4. Aside from the above, the other person who had the same issue as this with his Dinky traded it back in to Sam Ash and got a replacement. If your guitar is new-ish and still under warranty, this could be a possibility also.

If it were me though, I would try lighter strings (you mentioned you went to heavier strings ), the fix for possible Strattis, and the Fat Finger before any thoughts of taking the guitar apart or replacing it.

If possible, can you record some more sounds for us to listen to. You can directly say in the recording what note you are playing and play it afterward. You can also play other strings, different tone/gain/clean settings (like you mentioned in your post), and chord strumming so that we can hear the differences.

All the best!

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Thanks! I have tried point 2, but no use. I bought the guitar from GuitarCenter online one year ago, even with extended warranty. I don't think they will honor replacement request. But sending to them costs too much time, I want to try to fix it first. –  Ivan Z. Xiao Oct 28 '11 at 22:36
    
BTW let me record it again and see if you have any idea what is going on. –  Ivan Z. Xiao Oct 28 '11 at 22:36
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I came across your post today and I think you have identified the same problem I have with my Peavey Wolfgang. I hear the warble on my guitar at frets 16-19 both plugged and unplugged - suggesting that it's nothing to do with amplification or electrics. And there is no string buzz.

My research on Google suggests that it is magnetic pull on the strings from the pickup:

http://acapella.harmony-central.com/showthread.php?2116481-Strat-G-string-WARBLE-!

From Fender.com

PICKUPS

Set too high, pickups can cause myriad inexplicable phenomena. Depress all the strings at the last fret. Using a 6" (150 mm) ruler, measure the distance from the bottom of the first and sixth strings to the top of the pole piece. A good rule of thumb is that the distance should be greatest at the sixth-string neck pickup position, and closest at the first-string bridge pickup position. Follow the measurement guidelines in the chart below as starting points. The distance will vary according to the amount of magnetic pull from the pickup.

Bass Side Treble Side

  • Texas Specials 8/64" (3.6 mm) 6/64" (2.4 mm)
  • Vintage style 6/64" (2.4 mm) 5/64" (2 mm)
  • Noiseless™ Series 8/64" (3.6 mm) 6/64" (2.4mm)
  • Standard Single-Coil 5/64" (2 mm) 4/64" (1.6 mm)
  • Humbuckers 4/64" (1.6 mm) 4/64" (1.6 mm)
  • Lace Sensors As close as desired (allowing for string vibration)

I will do some tests on my guitar regarding this and hope to report back.

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Thanks. As I said in my original questions, I have tried to lower my pickup, even a lot lower than the recommended settings, but the strange warble sound still exists. I am not sure whether there is warble when unplugged, it may have but I simply cannot hear it. The overdrive may be emphasizing this effect. –  Ivan Z. Xiao Oct 28 '11 at 22:32
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Avoid buying good guitars online - they also have defects or not being stored in the recommended environment parameters for extended period of time. I once got a Jackson DK2 online and it took me weeks to fixed and adjust.

Problems with the guitar is always either mechanical or electrical, and usually not difficult to deduct the reason to troubleshoot.

First, press the string G very hard down to the fret, play it to produce the "warble" tone. Simultaneously, feel with your another hand where the string vibrates when it shouldn't be (e.g. string behind nuts, string behind bridge. Also do the same for other good strings (E, A, D) and feel the comparative difference. If you spot a difference, then you will need to do some filing (with a file or sand paper) or filling (with wood chips or plastic).

Then, check the amplitude of the vibration (with your eyes) for any abnormality - you can discern it by comparing to other strings that does not produce the warble sound. This check against any surface contact.

If there is a mechanical issue, at least by now you should be able to locate it - and hence solve it.

If you find absolute nothing mechanically (which I doubt - usually it's a mechanical issue) then it's an electrical issue.

First check the tone for pickup setups (by switching the pickup switch) see if all positions produce the same warble sound. If you find one humbucker setup produce bigger warble sound then the other then either it's a humbucker defect (hopefully not) or the wire connection. Assuming the latter (which you can fix), remove the humbucker and re-solder the connection - if you have a multi-meter check across all wire connection for consistent resistance.

If not, i'm sorry, get a new humbucker.

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Just wanted to add I've been trying to eliminate what appears to be the same issue on a custom Warmoth Strat using YJM Fury pickups. I've cranked the action up (and the pickup height down) to absolutely absurd settings and it doesn't help. I don't hear it unplugged, nor do I hear it if the amp is "clean", but hear it with any kind of overdriven sound (both through an amp as well as a VST amp emulation - so that rules out amp issues in my mind). It's super frustrating. I'm going to check for mechanical issues next (as the previous poster described).

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I will be very glad if you can have any clue of this issue. Please keep me updated. –  Ivan Z. Xiao Feb 14 '12 at 6:00
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I am having the same problem with my Parker P-38. I could not find anything about this problem since I got the guitar, and just now found all of you poor souls with the same issue. I'm glad to not be alone in this mess, and I'm also sorry for you all. While I have ignored it for about a year, I need to sell it now and I can't get any interest with this problem. The G and B string both have this harmonic ghost note sort of sound, mainly above the 12th fret. The G is by far worse and is intolerable (and embarrassing) to play by itself. I would love to record it (I believe it's much worse than the sound clip already added) and it might make it easier to diagnose. If this would help, let me know and tell me how to do it.

I had the Parker professionally set up (new strings, intonation, tuning, action, and pickup height) thinking that it would fix this "warbling." It did not. I took it back a few times before he told me that it was a problem with the bridge (Wilkinson floating) and he could not fix it. I really don't see how that could be the problem. If this could be the problem, please verify so I can quit calling the tech a liar.

I've noticed that the G and B magnet poles on both piezo pups are notably taller than all of the others. When I lowered the pups as far down as they can go, the warbling was not as severe, but still highly noticeable. I really don't want to put more money into this guitar because I won't make my money back.

This is what I'm thinking... very controversial-- I'm thinking, that the pup poles on the G and B string should be ground down carefully to about half the height. I'm also thinking that if there is a way to partially demagnetize them, it would probably help.. Thoughts and suggestions anybody?

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I have the same problem with a new American Select HSS Strat. It happens on my Les Paul and my Ibanez AS103 also but neither are as noticeable as the Strat. Its not good that we all have this problem but good to know I am not the only one. Any one contacted a manufacturer? I will contact Fender and see what they say.

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This is more a comment than an answer. –  American Luke Apr 2 '12 at 0:37
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The answer is: usually cheap or poor quality woods.

I once built a guitar from an old chipboard benchtop and it sounded gross -- all grindy and grungy sounding, especially the higher notes. Also, loose or broken truss rods can cause similar issues.

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The problem may lie with the guitar itself. If you haven't already, have the guitar checked for any type of warpage. It may not look warped but that means your warp just isn't visible. Also have it check for fret bore, which is uneven or 'bored' frets and check for any cracks, pits, blemishes, or damaged spot on your fretboard. I sympathize with these problems your having and I hope these suggestions help. I've had similar problems with a rattling sound on my Raven guitar which has EMG H4A passive humbucker. It was being caused by the position of my Floyd Rose.

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There is no one single cause for this type of problem. But if you have eliminated mechanical factors such as floating bridge instability, loose truss rod, or microphonics from metal parts coupling into the pickups magnetically, you should take a look at your electronics. Actually that should be the first thing, perhaps.

I have cured this problem in the past simply by replacing old, worn volume pots, switches and jacks.

The problem is that when your guitar vibrates, these vibrations transfer to the contacts between the potentiometer's wiper and the resistive element, and to other electrical contacts. Not only is that form of microphonics, but actually a form of distortion: as the note vibrates the guitar, the vibration causes a disturbance in that note's own waveform going through the electronics.

As I write this I'm plucking a guitar which had an atrocious case of this some years ago; the only thing different is electronics. It was awful. In certain positions on the neck on the G string, oh boy. There was a nasty flutter intermodulating with the note. It drove me crazy!

One thing I did differently was installing the new potentiometer in a loose way. The guitar has a wood top (not a plastic pick guard). I kept the little metal "nub" on the potentiometer, and drilled a matching hole in the wood that then nub fits into when the pot is installed. This nub prevents the pot's body from rotating when the knob is turned, even though the pot is not fully tightened. The knob has enough free play that you can wiggle it in place. The arrangement prevents vibrations from transferring from the body to the pot.

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All the other answers are wrong.

It has to do with the unwound G string. It's the physics of the string. An unwound G string will always have this problem.

Buy a WOUND g string, and the problem will go away entirely. Try D'Addario EJ120 (or any other set that has a wound g).

Most guitarists are not aware of this.

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I noticed that this also happens to my Strat... however it is worse at my Dinky. I did read articles recommend replacing to a wound G string, but that will make it really hard to bend. I have not tried this, maybe I should –  Ivan Z. Xiao Oct 3 '13 at 0:20
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