Guitar amps are designed to amplify sounds coming from electric, bass, or acoustic guitars. As electronic stand-alone devices or integrated systems, amps strengthen weak electric signals from pickups on electric guitars. The sound is then channeled through loudspeakers which are usually based in wooden cabinets. Amplifiers are even powerful enough to pick up local radio signals and radio station. This causes guitar amp interference from radio frequencies when playing and may or may not affect your practices or performances. Problem radio noise from an AM station is no fun!
Why Is My Guitar Amp Picking Up Radio Stations?
So why do guitar amps pick up radio stations? According to professional musicians and A/V sound experts, the problem is due to lack of shielding on the electronics cavity is the main reason for radio interference. Similarly, potting of the pickups or guitar cables acting like antennae may also result in amps picking up local radio airwaves and playing out your amplifier speakers. This noise issue is a question that continues to be posed by electric guitar players of all skills and levels.
How To Stop Guitar Amps From Picking Up Radio Signals
A good tube amp technician is just a phone call or e-mail away. He or she can check your amp to see if it’s up to date or needs replacement components. The latter may include a new solder joint or solder joints, along with wiring for grounding purposes. The technicians will also check to see if the amp is picking up radio signals on its own — or only when your electrical guitar is plugged in. If it’s happening due to the latter, you may need a new cord with durable shielding and protection to stop it from serving as antennae.
The technicians will also check the controls on the amp like gain and volume. These may be loose or compromised due to poor wiring internally. For example, noise interference may only occur when you raise the gain and get a hissing sound. With this in mind, all inputs, outputs, and controls will be meticulously checked and refortified to perform one function only — amplify your guitar sound.
Here are some more steps to take to prevent amps from getting radio station interference:
- Make sure all the equipment (amp, pedals, etc) are on the same electrical circuit or outlet. This will prevent inter-component interference and signals that your amp may pick up.
- Connect the soundboard and speakers on the same circuit as well. Try swapping out your instrument cable or cables which may reduce or completely stop the amp radio interference.
- You can stop RF noise into the amp by using a shielded mic cable rather than a guitar one. Also, look for a Radial guitar SGI which converts guitar or pedal to balanced amp signals. This is also ideal in shielding the amps, wires, and connected components from unwanted radio interference.
- Another great option is to shield the electronic cavity with metal tape. The latter is specifically designed to prevent interference from one component to another. If all the above fails, simply take your amp into a local music instruments center for more assistance or replacement.
- Another thing that may help is a power conditioner. I recommend this one from Amazon.