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Bass and pickup hum in old house?

Discussion in 'Ace's BASS Place' started by deke, May 17, 2017.

  1. deke

    deke Strat-Talk Member

    25
    May 10, 2014
    Philly
    I have a 120 year old old house that despite new wiring costing thousands (five figures!!!) still introduces hum via dimmer switches on various lights to some of my guitars - even a tele with vintage noiseless pups hums a bit (but not too bad). Meanwhile my 1997 Voodoo strat with "vintage" 68s is really noisy in computer or any amp (but man it still sounds so good). Alas, all Gibsons are quiet, but I love my Fenders more.

    I really want to buy a P or Jazz bass to record with on Logic and my Mac. I'd hate to bring home a new bass and find it humming like my strat. Sorry if this is a dumb question, but do basses tend to hum more, less or the same as guitars with single coils? Is it worth considering a Fender bass with noiseless (I see some negative reviews on their "active" basses). Any models I should consider or rule out? Budget under $1000. If the recommendation is to add shielding, I'm not too excited about doing that unless that is all that stands between a nice bass and a quit bass. Thanks!
     
  2. Nevada Bob

    Nevada Bob Strat-Talker

    117
    Jan 26, 2015
    Pac NW
    I fear that's the answer to your question.

    A Power or Line Conditioner may be worth consideration?

    I don't have any personal experience with them, but I did have all sorts of weirdness in a house with dimmers.
     
  3. suncrush

    suncrush Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 25, 2014
    Florida
    If you turn off the dimmers, do you still get hum?
     
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  5. Vindibona1

    Vindibona1 Most Honored Senior Member

    A couple thoughts...
    I'm wondering if wireless dimmers/lighting would eliminated the excess hum problem? At least your issues are limited to your dimmer switches. I've had issues in my building where some days the hum would be unbearable, then it would be gone. I'm convinced that the issue might have to do with neighbors not in our building.

    As far as basses so, I'd tell you to go for a Jazz Bass. With the two pickups turned on at the same volume the two together act as a humbucker.

    Budget? IF you know how to evaluate a good bass, I'm going to point you toward the Squier (yes Squier) Vintage Modified series. I found a used 4 string model at a local Sam Ash and paid $165 for it (out the door). I did put a Gotoh heavy bridge in. It did help the sustain *a bit* but it was really good stock. The new bridge just looks nicer (not shown in pics). As I play more bass I've thought about "upgrading". To do that and get a noticeable improvement in playability and sound I'd have to be looking for used in the $700-1200 range to improve what I have with my cheapie Squier. From time to time I gig with my Squier and people often tell me how good my bass sounds. FYI the Vintage Modified series to basses is similar to the CV's in Strats. A step above the "regular" Squier basses.

    IMG_1869.JPG headstock_frnt-back.jpg
     
  6. deke

    deke Strat-Talk Member

    25
    May 10, 2014
    Philly
    Thanks everyone. I have done a little research on this via Dr. Google :) and from what I understand, the dimmers can produce RFI that travels through the air. I think I can validate this as I can move my strat around and reduce the hum. Of course the only hum free position is with it facing the floor two feet off the floor - not the best playing position. It really doesn't matter if the dimmers are on/off, halfway... We have tons of them in the house - tons, old and new - and replacing them, shielding them... would be a mess with no guarantees. Therefore, I believe the union of electrical workers and all cities and states should enforce new codes for hum free dimmers. To do otherwise is a great disservice to Americans who believe in the sonic superiority of single coil pickups for both guitar and bass!!! Write your elected officials and demand that we be heard!

    Vindibona1 - you are the second person who recommended a Squire. A friend who is an amazing gigging bass player with more than dozen high priced basses said he tried one out once at a store and liked it. A few mods and he said he really enjoys playing it and, like you, gigs with it too. However, he said the trick is to try out many of them as one will just sort of stand out of the pack. Thanks!
     
  7. Vindibona1

    Vindibona1 Most Honored Senior Member

    Not just a Squier, but the VINTAGE MODIFIED or VINTAGE MODIFIED 70'S Jazz Bass. Huge difference between the VM's and the regular Squiers.

    You shouldn't need to play a ton of basses. The biggest difference is usually in the setup. If you know how to do a Strat setup then a bass setup is a breeze. You just need to know the recommended string heights and go from there. If the neck is straight and truss rod is fully functional (as would be expected) and the sound is decent when plugged in, then it comes down to price.

    The other mods I forgot to mention was that I rounded the fret ends as I do with all my guitars. I use a diamond nail file on the frets individually (recommending taping the neck- but I don't do that myself. I'm just careful) and it takes about 30 minutes if you know what you're doing. I have a silky smooth feel up and down the neck. I also had a wonky pot (it was a used bass) and I just put new pots in. The pickups are remarkably good for a cheap bass.

    I love the feel of this bass. There are times when I'd show up at a gig and then be told I'm on bass and have to play the bass that's there, usually much more expensive than mine. After a couple times having a last minute change of plans I told the leader that if he wants me to play bass he needs to let me know so I can bring my own (Squier).

    The good news is that Squire Vintage Modified basses are readily available in many stores in both 4 and 5 string models. The 4 string models are around $300. If you have a GC nearby (I know there is one in Cherry Hill) go buy one and try it for a few days. Return it if you don't like it. 45 days return is there for you. Sam Ash has a similar policy.

    Good luck.
     
    deke likes this.
  8. deke

    deke Strat-Talk Member

    25
    May 10, 2014
    Philly
    Got it! That is what friend bought too. I will make sure to understand the difference. Thanks!