In this post, I will provide some solutions to common problems causing pedalboard noises.
Problem: Single Coil Hum
Although this is not a pedalboard problem, it can easily be mistaken for it.
Single coil guitar pickups typically hum when favored or soloed. That’s part of their mojo. If you have that issue, you should hear it even when you connect your guitar to the amp directly (without any pedals in between).
To solve this “problem”, check my article Single Coil Hum .
Problem: Power Source
How you power your pedals is important because they can easily become sources of noises. If you put batteries into each pedal and don’t connect them to any power source, you probably won’t get that much of noise – a good approach when recording.
However; that’s not practical for live situations, so most of us use power supplies supporting multiple pedals. But sharing a single power source can produce a lot of hum.
The least you can do is to get a power supply with isolated power outputs and ensure that each pedal is getting the mA they need. Most pedals run on 9V power, but some need 120 mA while others need 500 mA. If your power supply can’t feed enough power into one of your pedals, you can consider using a distinct appropriate power adapter for that one.
To determine the problematic pedal, I once removed each and every pedal from my pedalboard, and plugged my guitar in directly. No noise / hum at all. Good.
When I power any of those pedals individually via my Joyo Power Supply 2, they add up a little hum. Powering all of them end up producing a powerful hum.
I figured out that there was nothing wrong with the pedals. The only problem was; the power supply didn’t agree with the power demands of the pedals.
I disconnected those pedals from the power supply completely, and powered them through their original individual power adapters.
Wham! The hum disappeared. My rig went dead silent.
I figured that I needed a larger multi outlet for my pedalboard now; but it is a small price to pay for rig silence.
Problem: Ground Loop
Here is a good definition of ground loops:
“When two or more devices are connected to a common ground through different paths, ground path noise, or a ground loop can occur. Thus, a system grounded at two different points, with a potential difference between the two grounds can cause unwanted noise voltage in the circuit paths.” (source)
If you have this problem, check your amp or DI box. Most of them have a “Ground Lift” switch, which interrupts the potential ground loop and may silence the rig nicely.