I have been adding several overdrive pedals to my signal chain, and am getting a little more buzz with each one that I add. Delay and reverb definitely aren't helping either, causing more hum and buzz then I'd like. I also have been looking at adding a compressor, the buzzing isn't so out of control it is just a little noticeable. Is it normal to hear a subtle buzzing noise, do I need a noise gate/suppressor or is it not a big deal? I don't want to buy a compressor just to find out I also need a noise suppressor. Here is my pedalchain:

BOSS TU-3 > JHS Pedals SuperBolt > Jet City JHS Boost Overdrive > EB Volume Pedal > BOSS RV-5 > BOSS DD-20

Any help is appreciated!

  • A compressor will likely increase the noise, so it sounds like a noise gate could be of use. If you are annoyed by the buzz :). Jan 21, 2015 at 8:37
  • What type of pickups? SC or HB?
    – Randy West
    Mar 15, 2021 at 4:09
  • I find that this is a very good reference. As Dan says, instead of thinking about a noise gate, think about noise. Emphasis is put on clean power: youtu.be/JAllMFGdQTI?t=66
    – mkorman
    Mar 15, 2021 at 10:14

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure this is an answer, so much as a list of things to consider…

Simple rule - more gain, more buzz.

Guitar pickups are, by their very nature, susceptible to all kinds of interference - hum from fluorescent tubes, old-style CRT TVs etc & to a lesser degree, even assuming everything is properly earthed, the mains circuit itself.

Any fluctuation in the magnetic fields near you will be picked up by the pickups - that's pretty much what they do for a job. That's how they 'hear' the strings.

Adding any form of compression will reduce the dynamic range, turning down the maximum level & turning up the noise floor, hiss & hum.
In this respect an overdrive is also a compressor - one that will add its own self-generated noise too.

You can reduce the input noise by adding a noise gate before the pedal chain, but this will not prevent noise added by the signal chain itself - however, simply adding another gate at the end of the chain would come with its own problems. Varying combinations of effect pedal will produce different amounts of noise. Gating for the lowest noise might leave the gate open for most of the time in any other effect combination. Gating for the highest level might leave it closed when the entire chain is off, badly clipping notes.

The 'perfect' though expensive & really really irritating solution would be to have a gate between each effect, & add the gate as you switch the corresponding effect on.
Not really a practical solution ;)

Another way to eliminate the input hum entirely would be to use something like a Line6 Variax - which has no magnetic pickups & therefore is immune to electro-magnetic interference… wouldn't help with the pedal noise itself, though.

  • 3
    The Boss NS-2 pedal has a loop, where you put the noisy stuff. You plug your guitar straight into the NS-2. When the signal from the guitar is below the threshold, the loop is disconnected from the chain, so pedals that generate noise by themselves will no longer be heard. This is how the pedal is intended to be used, but that's not the most common usage, in my experience. Jan 21, 2015 at 8:35

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