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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
    Lifetime 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.
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  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".
    "So I acquired it for the purpose of fixing it up - in case I run out of things to do with the rest of my life..." tubeswell

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  4. #4
    rjb is offline
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    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 06:56 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.
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