so when i power on my line6 spider 30W amp without any inputs then even if I turn the master volume max there is no noise. but when i connect my guitar there is noise... but again if i turn my guitar volume to zero through the volume knob on my guitar itself the noise goes away.... so i am guessing the problem is with the guitar pickups right?

if i change the pickup will the noise go? i tried changing the cables too.. noise still there..

  • 4
    Things to test... 1. Does the hum decrease if you touch the strings or bridge with your hand. 2. Are you near fluorescent lights or an old CRT computer monitor, TV?
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 9, 2018 at 11:57

4 Answers 4


As the other answers said, this could also be a capacitive-coupling issue, which is not the pickups' fault but to blame on the guitar's shielding. However, it may just as well indeed be magnetic coupling, which is indeed all about the pickups. From your question, it's not possible to say which one. Here's a couple of distinguishing points:

  • Magnetic coupling is much more effective at low frequencies, so if it's a dull, “distant”, sinuoid humming, that's almost certainly magnetic. OTOH, a thin, “bee-like” sawing noise is more likely to come from capacitive coupling.
  • Magnetic coupling works predominantly for magnetic fields aligned in direction of the pickup axis. Therefore, rotating the guitar about the neck axis will usually give a periodic change in hum amplitude, at some alignment it should vanish almost completely. Whereas capacitive coupling tends to come from quadrupole- and octopule fields, for which turning the guitar merely changes the timbre of the noise, but you won't find a truely silent position.
  • Capacitive coupling can be shielded with any decent conductor (whereas to shield from magnetic fields you need either high-permeability iron alloys, or very good conductors like thick aluminium, which isn't practical). That includes even somewhat poor conductors such as human flesh, and for this reason you can often strongly reduce capacitive coupling by simply grounding your body whilst holding the guitar. In most guitars, this works simply by touching the strings, but you can also try touching a piece of exposed metal on a radiator or water tap. If that makes a significant difference, the hum is capacitive.
  • Magnetic interference comes mostly from linear, non-toroidal power transformers. Such transformers are found in most guitar amps, so magnetic hum is often worst when you're close to the amp. Most other modern electronic devices don't have such transformers anymore; other strong sources include electric motors and CRT monitors/TVs, but I reckon that's unlikely in your case.
  • Capacitive interference comes mostly from hard-switching semiconductor devices. The worst offenders are triac-dimmed incandescent lights; fluorescent lights are also quite bad. Less strong, but also annoying are many modern switching power supplies, LCD screens and capacitive touchpads. So if the problem is worst next to your computer, it's most likely capacitive (unless you're still using a CRT screen).

Capacitive coupling should be attacked with shielding in the guitar. Cladding the interior with tin foil (must be connected to the jack's ground) works very well in my experience.

Humbuckers are specifically designed to cancel magnetic coupling, so if the PUs are decent humbuckers then the magnetic coupling shouldn't be an issue. If it is nevertheless, the PUs are probably faulty. If you have single coils and suffer from magnetic hum, I recommend you get some SC-width humbuckers or stacked humbuckers.


This is almost definitely the electrical wiring in your house. I'm assuming the guitar in question isn't very high-end. The hum could be decreased by properly shielding your guitar (unless it already is). This means building a Faraday cage around the control circuitry, and connecting it to ground. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you can google the web and learn more before attempting DIY, or get a luthier to do it for you.


It isn't necessarily a problem with your pickups, but more likely a loose connection in the wiring of the guitar. If you are unfamiliar with electronics and soldering then a trip to a Guitar tech or Luthier is in order.

Edit: more info

You should test the amp with another guitar, or test your guitar in a different amp. If your guitar has the same type of hum in a different amp, then there is a problem with the guitar. If a different guitar in your amp has the same problem, the it is the amp.

It is possible you are hearing the hum from a single coil, un-shielded pickup configuration, which is one of the tests in the main comments is asking you to check for. If the hum changes with the guitar position in the room then it is likely a shielding problem.

There are a number of questions on the site that deal with this in more detail:

Can guitar hum possibly be due to a bad pickup

Noise while not touching guitar strings or metal parts

Electric Guitar Noise

  • 1
    Pickups picking up hum isn't necessarily a problem with the guitar at all - even properly-wired pickups can pick up hum. Jan 9, 2018 at 22:42
  • I'm assuming (yeah, I know) that the hum is significant enough to warrant asking about it, which isn't usually the hum you get from single coil un-shielded pickups. Jan 10, 2018 at 3:18
  • 1
    All I mean is that you can get pretty terrible hum from single coil un-shielded pickups if that high level of hum is 'there' in the environment - sometimes things like dimmer switches, transformers, motors etc. can really put out some noise! Jan 10, 2018 at 5:54
  • You're right. I put a section in my answer regarding single coil hum. Someone new to electric guitars may not be aware of that particular "feature" of single coils. Jan 10, 2018 at 20:09

So, I had this problem as well with a Fishman single coil in hole pickup and tried all sorts of stuff (shielding the back of the pickup, changing cables, eliminating all accessible noise sources, adjusting my physical orientation and that of the amp ... I even tried covering my amp in tin foil). Some of these things improved the situation, but none resolved it to my satisfaction.

Then I stumbled upon this: "Spider heads have built in noise gates. Try holding down the tap button and turning the reverb knob clockwise.", and voila, problem solved. I was just about to ditch the single coil until some random stranger came to my rescue.

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