Sunday, March 26, 2006

Noisy Pickguards

Just when you think you've seen it all, you are reminded that you still have much to learn. Below is an excerpt of some e-mails that I sent to an electronics tech friend of mine:
This is really really strange, maybe you can offer some insight into what might be going on.

[Most] Strat® style guitars in modern times come with plastic pickguard assemblies. Pickups, switches, knobs all mount to this pickguard, as I'm sure you already know. Last night I discovered the strangest thing. When I run my hand or finger(s) across the pickguard, even while the left hand is touching the string (meaning I should be grounded)--when I run my finger across the plastic without touching any of the [metal] components, I hear a static type noise! This is totally bizarre and something I have never encountered before. I thought it was the guitar but when I tried the same thing with the Mini Strat® on another amplifier... same thing. It's not the guitar, it's me! What the heck is going on?! Am I somehow creating a static charge when my hand runs across the plastic that the pickups are responding to? How can this be? If so, what the heck am I going to do to stop it? A ground strap? I should already be grounded when I touch the strings. Anti-static spray? This is soooo weird!
Now where I live, high humidity is a near constant. However, in recent days it has been very cool, even cold. The humidity has beenoticeablyly less as of late. After realizing that the issue was not specific to one guitar, and somehow I was generating the noise, decidedlyly non-technical solution presented itself:
Well I'll be...

It was static generated when I touched the pickguard after all! I used some moisturizing lotion on my hands and problem solved.

How about that? Very weird...
So there you have it. Noisy pickguard? Try a moisturizer before you tear out all your guitar hardware trying to fix it.

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