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Thread: Ground loops in a guitar ?

  1. #1
    Woodgrinder/Pickupwinder copperheadroads's Avatar
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    Jun 2009
    Iceburg Alley ,Newfoundland,CAN

    Ground loops in a guitar ?

    I know it exist in Amp building but in a guitar ? I'm not convinced & i keep hearing this from newbies .........or players with more basic understanding .
    go ahead let me know what you think ...................
    "UP here in the Canada we shoot things we don't understand"

  2. #2
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    May 2006
    Lansing, Michigan, USA
    I would think only when people mis-use the term ground loop. Many people call anything making hum a "ground loop". To me, a ground loop occurs when two pieces of equipment have differing ground potentials are connected together by an additional ground path, like a cord between two amps. I am not sure how you could have multiple current paths in the ground inside my guitar.

    But I freely admit I am not a guitar guy, I am an amp guy.
    The Dude likes this.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  3. #3
    Supporting Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    May 2007
    pacific north west
    The differential voltages and relatively short ground leads in a guitar (even relative to their low output and that they will be extremely amplified) seem too low to be problematic. I've never had a particular guitar that seemed to hum more than usual unless it was a gain issue more related to hot pickups. I do know I've read about it happening though. Since I don't have those suspect guitars on my bench I can't verify one way or the other. But I lean toward "Not a problem".
    "I've heard magic defined as "a technology you don't understand". By that aphorism, the folks in this forum are practicing wizards, able to summon AND control the lightning demon, and make charms to allow others to use the demon in certain ways." R.G.

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  4. #4
    rjb is offline
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    Feb 2010
    Somewhere near Bawlmer, Merlin
    If you run the ground wires in a path that forms a closed loop, I suppose you technically have a loop antenna - which is not the same thing as a ground loop as Enzo elucidated. But I doubt it will make any difference.

    Just don't ground your guitar like this:

    Last edited by rjb; 07-05-2017 at 05:56 PM. Reason: Removed redundant "the same"
    Chuck H and copperheadroads like this.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    The ground loops by itself is not a big deal (I saw a lot of working circuits with mistakes) the problem is difference of potential between path in a loop which determine a current to run modulating the signal. Good practice should avoid it.

  6. #6
    Supporting Member
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    Dec 2009
    I work on guitar electronics pretty much every day, day-in, day-out. I've never seen a guitar that's had a 'ground loop' (in the conventional sense of the term). If this were possible, then guitars would need to be bus connected, or star-grounded. Sure, there are numerous ground issues that can occur, but the potentials, current flow and resistances involved make the scenario theoretical and based on micro-potentials which would make no audible difference.

    I say that fully with the knowledge that I have a customer who swears he can hear the difference between pickup selections on a Les Paul when the guitar is played acoustically and not plugged in. So, I guess 'hearing' ground loops for some is eminently possible, as are voices from the spirit world.
    Chuck H, rjb, The Dude and 1 others like this.

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