I have got a Taylor 312ce 12-fret. I actually rarely plugged it in at home, but I did now due to a new pedalboard. Thereby, I discovered a hum issue.

The simplest setup on which it occurs is:

Guitar --> acoustic amp

In this setup, the hum disappears if I touch the cable and the guitar strings. Considering that this is a grounding issue, the internet states that it should be sufficient to touch the strings. This however does not work alone and even does not make any sense to me, since I am not grounded either.

Another setup:

Guitar --> effects --> boss looper --> acoustic amp

In this setup I can even make the hum disappear by touching the metal body of the looper.

An amplified recording of the hum (ignore the other noise, it is introduced by an external preamp which is another issue) can be found here. The hum in this recording disappears while touching strings and cable. I do that a few times.

Since the hum only disappears if I touch the strings and ground myself somewhere I do not consider this question as a duplicate. I would rather like to formulate the question as: Is it normal for my guitar that touching the strings alone does not stop the humming?

  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Noise while not touching guitar strings or metal parts
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 16 '18 at 7:50
  • @Tetsujin I also stumbled over this post, but for me the difference is that the noise does not just disappear if I touch any metalparts. I have to touch both cable and strings. Thus no duplicate?
    – Big X
    Aug 16 '18 at 7:57
  • Try licking your hand; reduces the resistance. It's still the same issue, seen time & time again since time immemorial.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 16 '18 at 7:58
  • @Tetsujin Okay. I will try that first.
    – Big X
    Aug 16 '18 at 8:01
  • @Tetsujin It does not matter how wet my fingers are. The hum only stops if I touch the strings and ground myself somewhere. Is that normal or not?
    – Big X
    Aug 16 '18 at 11:00

With an acoustic/electric guitar, you are usually dealing with a mostly standard acoustic bridge, where there is a piezo pickup mounted underneath the saddle where the strings run across.

In an electric guitar, the strings are physically connected to a metal bridge that IS grounded into the circuitry of the guitar. In an acoustic/electric guitar, that does not have to be the case (strings are not necessarily grounded or attached to the circuit).

It's possible that there may be something not-quite-right in the electronics of the acoustic guitar, or this might have to do with more subtle things in your electronic circuit: ground/ac power.

Ground loops are a somewhat common cause of noise in a guitar circuit as the circuit grows in complexity. They can be tricky to troubleshoot, but since the hum happens even when you just have the acoustic going right in to the amp, it could also have to do with a poor or noisy ground in the circuit that the amp and stuff is connected to.

One simple way to test if the issue is caused by a poor/noisy ground would be to get one of those three pin to two pin Polarized Grounding Plug adapters. Plug your amp in to that, then in to the wall, and leave the ground disconnected. Turn the amp/guitar on and see if the noise is gone.

I've had polarized grounding adapters fix noise issues in some situations/circuits before, so that may be worth a shot.

Power conditioners are another thing that can help reduce the overall noise floor in a setup. If the polarized grounding adapters correct the noise, a decent power conditioner may also help to correct the issues, while maintaining a ground connection and surge protection.

Hopefully this answer is not too late to help!

  • Commenting for posterity: even though "we all do it" (and I am definitely including myself), running an amp using a polarized grounding plug adapter is not considered particularly safe, since the only path to ground is the musician and many gig locations may not be up to code. This is intimated in Power Conditioner paragraph.
    – Yorik
    Sep 24 '19 at 20:34
  • @Yorik is absolutely right, and I could have been more clear in my answer. The polarized grounding plugs are not a good full time, or long term solution... just good for testing. (I do think you run less of a risk with an acoustic/electric guitar though.) Long term, one would probably want a power conditioner or another safer/more sophisticated approach. Don't run the polarized grounding plug test during a lightning storm! Sep 24 '19 at 22:15

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