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I was fixing some bad connection in a bass guitar output jack and realized that there seems to be no ground wire. Not sure because it's my first time but a short research seems to indicate that it is missing. I describe what I see: Bass guitar with 3 knobs: 1 Tone and 2 Volume ones.

I realize that a black wire was badly connected to the first knob (tone) by a few metal strings and those broke easily. That is the wire I need to solder into the knob.

The output jack has 2 metal plaques. The outer one connects the knobs in series. The center one has no wiring (this is the ground, according to diagrams in websites)

There are no other wires, so I guess this bass didn't have any ground? Is it OK/safe to play it in these conditions?

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DOES it give sound when connected to an amplifier? If so, that output jack's getting its second electrical connection from somewhere!

No, there's no danger in normal use. Possibly a bit less protection if a faulty amplifier managed to put mains voltage on its input socket while maintaining a safe ground potential on the other pole.

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  • With just one wire, there will likely be a lot of 60HZ/120H/180Hz buzz (in the US anyway) picked up due to the shield wire not being connected. I am having that problem now. I get a lot of buzz, not sure if I have a bad cable, or if the Gnd wire leading to the guitar's output jack is broken somewhere. If I jiggle things just right, the Gnd connection is made and I get a nice sound. I need to find another cable and confirm it one way or another. – CrossRoads Jan 10 at 18:16
  • Yes Lawrence, it was giving sound. I decided to open it because there was a bad connection; the output jack was shaking. I hope that bending the metal that fixes it in place + tightening the screw that fixes the jack to the bass + soldering the wire that was half loose might solve it. – rodrigo nomada Jan 11 at 13:37
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Your output jack is probably receiving ground from a shielded cavity. Conductive paint is often used to create a grounded shield around the guitar electronics, connecting all the pots and output jack around the cavity walls. Usually the output jack is also connected with a wire to a ground point, as paint can flake or have other connection problems and is less reliable than a soldered wire.

If the guitar is producing signal then it is fine to use it as is, but I personally recommend adding a ground wire to the jack if you have the skills and materials.

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