If you’re one of the many guitar players who’s been told over and over again that there is little to be done about the dreaded 60-cycle hum that emanates from your beloved Strat whenever you plug it in––it’s time to rethink things.
Sure, a good old fashioned shielding job can help a bit, but even most guitar techs will tell you that copper shielding will only go so far in alleviating the problem… that’s where this mod comes in.
“Quieting The Beast” as it’s been dubbed over at GuitarNuts.com, is a modification that not only provides for thorough shielding of your Stratocaster’s pickup and control cavities, but also some minor rewiring of the electronics in order to remove all ground-loops.
Now, the mod isn’t for everyone. If you get sweaty just thinking about tinkering with the guts of your guitar you may want to sit this one out, but honestly; anyone who is capable of following step-by-step directions, and has even a passing knowledge of how to solder, can pull this off.
I’ve recently had the pleasure of performing this wee bit of surgery on two different Stratocasters––a brand new American Vintage model, and a mid-80’s American Standard––and in both cases the results have been phenomenal.
It’s not a stretch to say that I can now literally sit on top of my amp while playing… if there’s a hum in there, it’s nearly imperceptible.
Not only that, Quieting The Beast also seems to work quite well at blocking signal interference coming from your computer monitor (though not quite as well as it does for 60-cycle hum,) and the addition of an in-line 0.33uf, 400V metal film capacitor should theoretically protect against some forms of dangerous electrical shock (hehe, I haven’t had a chance to test it.)
Anyway, I had considered doing a whole series of posts on how to perform this mod, but why fix what isn’t broke? The directions provided by GuitarNuts.com are already better than I could ever write, and there’s an entire forum full of people who have successfully performed this modification over at Pro Boards.
Don’t live with annoying hum for one more day!
I dug around online for a bit and ended up spending about $40 to perform this bit of shielding magic on my Strat.
- My soldering iron was purchased from Radio Shack.
- The 0.33uf, 400V metal film capacitor was purchased from mouser.com for all of 73 cents (I bought three, just in case I burned one out while soldering.)
- And copper shielding was purchased from Stewart-MacDonald––I bought the self-contained kit, and also some extra 2“ copper tape.
Perform at your own risk! The modification described above can be quite effective at reducing single-coil hum, and I personally found it quite easy to to perform, but your mileage may vary! I hereby denounce all responsibility for damaged equipment, etc, if you fail to perform this modification correctly, or if you are unhappy with the results.