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  1. #1

    Clicking/Popping In Acoustic/Electric Amp/Guitar (Static electricity?)

    Forgive me if this is the wrong section. I figured this would be the best place to post this. Aside from that, I also did some searches, but couldn't get a clear answer on things. I will try to condense things in number-point fashion.

    The Problem: Popping/Clicking when playing the guitar, strumming. It doesn't happen in the first 2-3 mins. Then once it starts, it builds and will do it every few strums and shock me a little to the point to where I have to turn it off. Just started happening about a week ago.

    Instruments: Acoustic/Electric Talyor (214-CE ES-T pickup) is plugged into a Acousticasonic 30 Fender Amp. I mic it to do certain effects with recording and general demos, tests, etc.

    What I tested: Moved from wall to power strip. Moved to different plug. Different cables. Only thing I haven't tried (because I don't have access) is a different electric acoustic/different amp. So it is either the guitar, amp, or general electrical system, not just an outlet.

    What I have found in research: That it is either an issue with static electricity or grounding. Open to other ideas, but have no idea how to fix either issue. I don't even know what grounding is (E.G. Complete moron)

    History: Extreme, Extreme Low Humidity in the basement regardless of running two humidifiers it will barely get about 25% and can get as low as 17%. It ruined a martin guitar to the point to where I keep my guitars on the third floor with me where I sleep. It is a non-window room. There is only a door going upstairs and one separating another room that opens to outside. I have done my best with bowls, etc but the humidity just stays low and I transfer static shock EXTREMELY easily to the point of becoming downright twitchy from December to February. Spring/summer we get too much humidity, but that doesn't seem to cause any issues.

    I am willing to call an electrician, invest in power strips, conditioners, whatever. I just don't know where to start and am nervous it has ruined my equipment, again. If it is this, like with a guitar, can the amps/circuits comeback to normal after time spent in proper humidity? Anything extra I can do?

    If it isn't humidity, what the hell is it and where do I go from here?

    Thanks in advance for any help.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    New Orleans, LA
    Couldn't Care Less About Gear

    Re: Clicking/Popping In Acoustic/Electric Amp/Guitar (Static electricity?)

    Check the other thread you started about this. Grounding would be the actual outlet and if you have grounding issues you would actually get a 60Hz hum not pops and cracks.

  4. #3

    Re: Clicking/Popping In Acoustic/Electric Amp/Guitar (Static electricity?)

    I didn't start another thread about it. If there is one similar, please link me to it and I will read it. Like I said, I searched but it isn't as easy as "Cubase, XXX".

    I posted months ago about humming, but that has been corrected by mic/computer placement. Unless you are saying it is the same issue, which they said was grounding in that thread (possibly). It is not humming, but a pop/click with every strike of the strings (with or without a pick). So, I am not sure if that changes things, but that is the information at the moment. I see there are some related threads listed below me. I will check those out.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    New Orleans, LA
    Couldn't Care Less About Gear

    Re: Clicking/Popping In Acoustic/Electric Amp/Guitar (Static electricity?)

    Sorry, there was a similar thread. So here goes. You definitely need an electrician. You obviously have bad/no grounds in the basement. Do you have 2 prong or 3 prong outlets in the basement? Sounds like to me that your amp may have an internal intermittent short in it somewhere. The reason that I say that nothing is grounded is because if you have a short in the amp it should go straight to ground and trip the breaker for that circuit. If I understand you correctly, you are actually getting shocked. I would almost bet that if you had a volt meter with one lead on your strings and the other lead on ground you will probably read 120V!!! You should definitely have an electrician check it out. You could have a broken ground wire or none at all. The 2 prong outlets do not have a ground. If you are using an adapter to go from standard 3 prong outlets to 2 prong outlets, you need to ground the 3rd prong!!! The 3rd prong is the only thing that will protect you and your gear from short circuit problems. Hope this helps.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Kansas City, Kansas
    Junk Gear Lover

    Re: Clicking/Popping In Acoustic/Electric Amp/Guitar (Static electricity?)

    In any situation like this, you need to do some testing. You have done some, but you might not understand your situation completely. Knowing what kind of testing you need is part of the solution. Static electricity can damage a digital device. If that's what you're explaining, your lack of humidity could be some of the cause. But, if your electrical line isn't correctly wired, that could also damage your equipment. But, static electricity needs time to build a charge. Then, after the discharge, it shouldn't be possible to be shocked for a while until it builds again. I guess if the situation is extreme, the building time would be shorter, but there is still a necessary time for the charge to build before it can discharge again.

    If you are being shocked by a continuous voltage, it is not necessary for the charge to build. It's always there, so repeated instances are possible, over and over. If you say this clicking is whenever you strum the strings, that sounds like a certain amount of voltage being transferred from the guitar to you. But for that to happen, there needs to be a connection to an electrical source. You mention this is an acoustic/electric. Does this situation change at all, if you just use a microphone to record, and don't plug the guitar into an amp? That would tell you if you are being shocked by static electricity or some sort of line voltage. If it stops when you don't plug the guitar into an amp, it could be line voltage or something in the amp. If it continues, even if you don't have the guitar plugged into an amp, that sounds like extreme static electricity, especially if you are still getting shocked.

    If the situation stops when you don't have the guitar plugged into the amp, you could suspect something in the amp, the line voltage or maybe the lack of a ground. There are small and inexpensive circuit testers that you can get at your neighborhood Home Depot, Lowes, etc. that you plug into your electrical outlet to see if it is correctly wired. They don't cost that much and when you plug it in, the LED readout tells you how your plug is wired. It will tell you if the hot wire and neutral are reversed, if you are lacking the earth ground and also if the plug is correctly wired. If you find that the plug is incorrectly wired, you should check other outlets near by, to see if they are wired the same. It is possible that one or two plugs can be incorrectly wired and others wired correctly. Yes, you should get incorrectly wired plugs fixed, but testing your situation on a correctly wired plug would be something to try.

    In the U. S., we have a method of making sure devices are plugged in the correct way, in most cases. With the 3 prong plug, that is suppose to plug the correct wires into the correct slot. There is a hot wire, a neutral wire and an earth ground wire on the 3 prong plug. If your plug doesn't have an earth ground, it might have one blade of the plug that's wider than the other. The larger blade is the hot wire. If any of these wires in your plug are wired incorrectly or missing, they should be fixed. That circuit tester should help a lot in this.

    Any recording device should be connected to a properly wired electrical plug. Not only will it help to have proper electricity going to the unit, it will go a long way in stopping any residual line sounds, 60 cycle hums, and other strange things that hamper the sanity of the home recording engineer. Also, a good power strip that has surge suppressing properties, and voltage spike capacitors in it. These days, all recording devices are digital and digital circuitry can't handle constant surges, spikes and such. And spending $10 on such a power strip is wasting your money. Ask an electrician for a good brand to buy so you don't waste your money on cheap salesman propaganda.

    Once you decide if you have bad power coming in, bad power in your amp or just a bad case of static electricity, you then need to decide what is necessary to solve it. If it turns out that you just have a bad case of static electricity, you can purchase a static mat that people who work with computers use to stop static electricity from zapping their computer chips and memory bars. Proper grounding of that mat to help stop a static charge would be to connect any earth ground wires to a cold water pipe. hot water pipes won't work. There are clamps you can purchase at the same store that allow you to secure a ground wire to a cold water pipe. It must be a cold water pipe because they go into the ground, when they leave the house. A hot water pipe may or may not go to ground so you can't trust that it will.

    The other thread has similar characteristics and also involves a Taylor acoustic/electric, if I remember correctly. That thread mentioned a clicking or popping during the record process, but not unless the transport was running. Maybe it's similar to your situation, or related somehow to the guitar. It might be worth it for you to at least check out that other thread. Electricity is our friend, but only when we play on its terms and it's very picky.

    A link to the other thread...
    Last edited by earsnfingers; 01-24-2011 at 09:27 PM.'s the universal language~

  7. #6

    Re: Clicking/Popping In Acoustic/Electric Amp/Guitar (Static electricity?)

    Hey Icero, I too suffer from extremely low humidity in my house during the winter (15% to 20%) and I get similar problems to you. I can't touch anything without getting a lifter, I can't even pet the family cat without zapping him.. The only way to solve the humidity problem for me is to put a humidifier directly on my furnace plenum.

    You can get a static mat with a plug that only connects to a gound in a receptacle, stay off carpet... avoid friction.

    Definitely have things checked out by a qualified electrician to rule out problems there.
    Shawn Bailey

    Windows 7 64 - 4GB - Dual Monitor - Ableton Live 8 - Pod Studio KB37 - KRK RP5 G2 - Peavey 5150

  8. #7

    Re: Clicking/Popping In Acoustic/Electric Amp/Guitar (Static electricity?)

    I can't thank you enough for the detailed replies. I will 100% take your advice, call an electrician, work on decreasing static charge and basically put a halt on things until it is resolved. To help others, I will make sure to come back with the details on what was said by the professionals (in case this pops up for anyone in the future doing a search).

    For the record, I do have 3-pronged outlets and would never have gone into a 2-pronged. I new a guy who nearly lost his life messing around with 2-pronged outlets. In fact, it is what made me stop and say "let me check this out" before being headstrong and play through it. Maybe it is just a bad case of humidity meeting sub-par wiring, but I would rather be safe than sorry being that I have but 1 body, and can't afford a truckload of equipment

    Thanks a lot.

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