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Microphone Month 4

Guitar Star?

Q: I read on a site that, to control noise and hum from a single-coil guitar, I should rewire it with star grounding. Is this true?

A: Star grounding is a scheme where each component is connected directly to a central ground point. Since each item only has one path to ground, the possibility for ground loops is greatly diminished or even eliminated. Here are our thoughts on star ground inside a guitar or bass:

  1. We’ve never had a problem with ground loops inside a guitar.
  2. If you think about it, a standard guitar is already a star ground system, since there is only one ground point: the ground in the output cable. (Unless you have a guitar with more than one output jack and connect it to multiple amps simultaneously.) Given this, trying to star ground all the components inside the guitar is redundant.
  3. A well-grounded guitar should not have significant hum or buzz problems (though passive single-coils will almost always have more hum than humbuckers) or active single-coils — if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
  4. Most single-coil guitars and basses use a string ground, which, if implemented properly — and used with a properly wired electrical system — is safe and effective for reducing hum and buzz.

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