Does your guitar amp pop when turned off or when turned on? If you’re tired of the popping sound coming from your guitar amp, then you’re in the right place.
Guitar amp popping when turned off happens due to the surge of voltage in the guitar amp. When you’re turning on your amp, a constant supply of voltage is running through the amp. Once you flip the switch and put it on standby, you’re disconnecting the high voltage portion of the power supply. This surge in voltage causes the popping sound.
In this article, you’ll get to know all about guitar amp pops when turned off, why does my guitar amp pop, different ways to fix tube amp pops when turned off, and more. Stick around to know all the answers that you’re looking for.
Guitar amp makes a popping noise when turned on
Guitar amp popping could happen at any time when it is turned on or turned off. The amount of noise will vary depending on the amp’s sound and the design of the amp. It is worth noting that even healthy amps can produce noise when they’re idle. It doesn’t necessarily that your amp is broken if it pops when turned on or off.
It can be quite annoying when the beautiful sounds playing through the guitar amp start producing crackling and popping noise. Furthermore, it can easily turn a mesmerizing audio experience into a rough one. If you’ve had an experience with your guitar amp popping, then this article will be very helpful for you.
Why do you get a popping sound when you put your amp in standby mode?
When you turn on the amp, a constant supply of voltage will surge through your guitar amp. When you’re flipping the switch and putting your guitar amp on standby, you’re disconnecting the high voltage half of the power supply. When you’re connecting or disconnecting high voltage, the surge of voltage will produce a pop noise. How much “pop” sound is created will depend on how the standby switch is designed.
The good news for you is that you won’t have to worry about the pop sound too much. It’s absolutely normal. Moreover, keep in mind that you only have to use standby mode when you first turn on the amp. The reason for that is, guitar amps normally use high voltages for getting more watts. This can be quite tough on the capacitors of the power supply circuit. The standby switches were basically designed for protecting these capacitors. When you’re powering up the amp, if the standby switch has been set to “standby”, it’ll allow the tubes to warm up before they’re sending full voltage to the capacitors in the power supply.
The amp tubes take a few seconds to reach an operating temperature to give optimal results. Until the tubes can operate, the voltage could rise higher on the capacitors, which can be hard on them. Once the amp tubes are warm, they can pull down the power supply voltage. It can be pulled down to the operating levels at which the amp’s capacitors will work better. In simple words, as long as you aren’t using the standby switch as a “mute” or “kill” switch, no one will hear the pop sound after you turn your amp on.
Why does my guitar amp pop and creates unwanted noise
To fix the guitar pop noise, you’ll first want to know the cause of why does my guitar amp pop. It could be an issue with your guitar or something to do with the cables. Here are some of the potential reasons why does my guitar amp pop and how you can resolve the issue.
1. The guitar and amp cables might need replugging
You can fix the guitar amp’s pop and buzzing noise by replugging the connection jack between your guitar and amp. Often, there’s a potential loose connection with the audio jack, causing distortion in the amp’s sound. You should check whether your guitar is working properly or not before you check the amp. Often, a faulty connection between your guitar and the amp could cause distortion and noise in the sound.
If you’ve got another guitar, try to plug it into the amp and check if the problem still persists. You could also take your amp to a local guitar shop and try it on different guitars to check if there’s a problem. If other guitars are working fine but yours isn’t, it’s an indication that there’s an issue with your guitar and not the amp.
2. Guitar cables might need replacing
The cables can have many faults that develop over time. A bent cable could result in static, while a bare wire can easily worsen it. A simple, inexpensive cable replacement can easily make the guitar amp pop noise vanish quickly. If you’ve got another guitar cable lying around, you can use it and check if the popping noise problem persists.
There’s another way you can check, plug the jack in the amp, and press your thumb on the other end. The final thing that can be done is to press the thumb on the connector jack while it is connected. There shouldn’t be a difference in sound. If there is, then it’ll indicate a defensive cable or guitar amp. When purchasing cables, ensure that you’re going for sturdier, thicker cables with good connector jacks that will not bend or break with ease.
3. There might be issues with the power cord
Having bad power cords will cause the amps to pop and create noise if there isn’t enough electric supply. Check the cable you’re using and ensure that you’re having thicker cables that offer enough power to your amp.
Cables often go through a lot of wear and tear. It’ll only be natural for them to degrade in quality after a while. There are two things that happen to your power cables: either the power cables go bad or the connector has. Either way, you’ll have to change the power cord and check if there’s any difference. You should check if the cable is bad before buying a new one. Do this by wiggling it, the cable is plugged in, and the guitar is connected to the amp.
4. The audio jacks might be dirty
Dirty input jacks could cause a lot of amp static noise when you’re playing. Clean them out by spraying a cleaner onto a cotton swab. You should insert the swab inside and then rotate it a couple of times. Repeat the process until it has been cleaned completely from the inside. Then, allow it to dry for an hour or so before plugging things back in.
Guitar jacks could be an issue, but often, amp jacks might be a problem as well. Due to dust accumulating inside the jack, giving the jacks a proper cleaning will ensure better performance. The easy way of cleaning the jacks would be to put a couple of drops of rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip. Then, use the Q-tip inside the amp jacks and rotate it.
After getting the Q-tip out, you’ll see the dirt accumulated on it. Once you’re done cleaning, wait for a couple of hours before you plug in your guitar. If you notice a better sound, then dirty jacks were probably the cause of humming, popping, and unwanted noise.
5. The pots in the amp might be dirty
Dust and grime can build up on your guitar pots, which causes a lot of unwanted noise in the amp. Clean them by using an electric contact cleaner and then move the knobs around to ensure that they’re thoroughly cleaned.
The pots on your guitar and amp could the sound to cut out. This happens primarily when not they aren’t used for extended periods of time. There are multiple factors that contribute to a non-optimal sound, like grime buildup or improper tuning.
When you turn the knobs, the issue will likely lie in the pots if you’re hearing any unwanted noise. Cleaning them will be simple, and you’ll have to use an electric contact cleaner for it. You can use a cleaner like WD40 as it’ll remove any dust, dirt, and unwanted residues from the service of sensitive components.
6. Connections might be loose
Broken solders on the circuits can also result in guitar amp pops when turned off or on. The wires can disconnect or end up becoming loose and cause distortion in the sound or cause it to completely cut out. Make use of a soldering iron to properly resolder the loose connections.
If the above tips don’t work, then this is most likely the culprit. Solders can break because of multiple reasons like humidity, temperature, or physical damage. You’ll need some professional tools like a solder sucker or a soldering iron. If you aren’t experienced in soldering, you can contact a technician unless you want to mess everything up.
Why do tube amp pops when turned off or on?
Tube amp pops when turned off or on because very high voltage energy will be released from the power supply each time you power up or down the amp. These surges in power can produce an unwanted pop sound as they release energy. It’s always a possibility, as these surges produce a pop noise.
The underlying problem will be the misuse of this switch. It shouldn’t actually be used as a “Mute” button for your guitar amp. These switches are made for protecting the capacitors in the amp. Most technicians suggest that there’s no harm in using these switches. It will be detrimental to the tube amp’s health, as the tubes could suffer from cathode poisoning. This is when the amp tubes are left on standby without any voltage, making them incredibly hot.
Troubleshooting guide: Solutions to fix guitar amp makes popping noise when turned on
The annoying problem of why does my guitar amp pop is very common and there are multiple solutions. As with other guitar amp issues, it’ll be important to be calm and collected. Check for one potential cause at a time until you have found the solution that works. Some fixes might need extensive technical knowledge of amps, while others can be done by anyone. But before that, you must consider the safety precautions and equip yourself with the right tools.
Safety precautions to consider
It’ll be important to remind yourself of the risks and safety issues that come with fixing guitar amps. There are many components inside amps that store an electrical charge massive enough to kill you. Probing inside a guitar amp haphazardly would be a bad idea. You’ll have to remain focused on what you’re doing and take precautions at all times.
A great tip when probing inside a live amp will be to keep your other hand in your pocket. In case you make a mistake, it’ll be the electric current flowing across your heart that kills you. Keeping the other hand inside your pocket will redirect the electricity to miss your heart. Here are a few safety tips to remember –
- Remove jewelry of any kind as you wouldn’t want metal attached to your body
- Remember to unplug the amp before you start soldering
- Ensure that you’re using fuses of the correct rating, as it’ll be cheaper than blowing up your guitar amp
- Remember to wear safety glasses
- Turn off the power before discharging the electrolytic filter capacitors
- Avoid installing tubes with the power connected as the glass can shatter, and you might touch high voltages
- Electrolytic filer capacitors might retain electricity charges, so remember to discharge them by shorting the positive side to the chassis
- Tubes can get very hot and burn, so you shouldn’t touch them
Equip yourself with the right tools
Equipping yourself with the right tools will make working on the amp less stressful. If you’re a professional musician or guitarist, your amp will be vital to your livelihood. Carrying a simple toolkit and spare parts will always be a good practice. Unfortunately, your guitar amp will always look for the most inconvenient times to act up and stop working. Here is a handy list of tools that’ll help you ensure you are equipped to fix the noise issues –
- Oven glove
- Standard flat-blade screwdriver
- LED flashlight
- Crosshead screwdriver
- Small flat-blade screwdriver
- Lubricant-free contact cleaner
- Lubricated contact cleaner
Possible solutions to the guitar amp pop issue
1.Turn down the internal effects
Turn down the internal effects that come with the amp (e.g. reverb and tremolo). Moreover, turn down the volume controls. Now will be the technical part, as you’ll have to hit the top of the amp with a rather large blow. If it causes popping or any other type of noise, listen to it carefully. Remember how it sounds and look, then turn down the effects to see if there’s any improvement. If there isn’t, look for other solutions.
2. Reseat the tubes
Everyone loves simple solutions and sometimes, just reseating the tubes might do the trick. Of course, you should only do it while the guitar amp is turned off and keep it unplugged for safety. Wait for all the components to discharge properly before you do anything else.
Reseating the tubes might be just what you need to fix the pop sound. If this fixes the noise, it was probably caused by an incomplete connection within the pins of the tube socket.
3. Clean the connections
It’ll be a smart idea to clean all the connectors in your guitar amp. If the cleanup doesn’t resolve the problem, you can try to swap each connector in the amp. Do it with extreme care and thoroughly. If you’re still not having any success after you’ve finished stomping your feet, move onto the next point.
4. Check the amp’s power supply
It is possible that the power supply might be the reason for the pop sound. It isn’t just the power supply inside the amp, but the plug of the amp in your house or studio. You should try to plug in the amp somewhere else.
First, you should try out another socket in the house. If the noise stops, then there might have been some issue with the socket or circuit generating the pop. If it doesn’t stop, then you should try plugging in at another place entirely.
If it still continues, you’ll know that the problem is coming from inside the amp. If it stops, can start investigating other issues in the wiring within your studio or house and not the amp.
5. What if it’s the knobs and not the amp
If the pop sound still occurs when you’re touching the amp knob, the problem will likely be the build-up of carbon dust on the pots. A quick but temporary fix would be to clean the pots with an electronic cleaner spray. Meanwhile, a more permanent fix would be to get a new knob from the manufacture. Ensure that the new pots match perfectly the faulty ones for safety while keeping the amp’s tone the same.
Best practices to keep your guitar amp in premium shape
You can expect your guitar amp to have an expected working capacity of up to 10,000 hours of use. Some guitarists routinely replace tubes in amps every couple of years, whether there’s an issue or not. Meanwhile, other guitarists might not do anything until their amp gives up. Car maintenance is a decent analogy as some tend to get their oil changed after every 3,000 miles as recommended. Whereas others wait for their car to fall apart to get their car fixed.
Some musicians develop an almost superstitious attitude towards their tubes. They refuse to change the tubes until they absolutely have to, and they reach a point where bad things happen. Ultimately, tubes are only one of the parts, and they’ll need replacement at some point. The important question is, do you want it to happen at some random moment when an unexpected failure occur, or do you want to be fully prepared and change the amps during scheduled maintenance?
Your tubes will normally function for around 10,000 hours on regular usage. Whether you like it or not, there’s a potential chance that your tubes might fail at some point before that. If you’re proactive, and you have your amp worked on, you’ll likely continue having amps that work. They will work day after day without creating any crackling, popping, or any other type of noise.
Thank you for reading. Hopefully, now you know a lot more about guitar amp pops when turned off, why does my guitar amp pop, different ways to fix tube amp pops when turned off, and more. Guitar amp creating a pop sound when turned on or off happens due to a surge of voltage in the amp. When you’re turning on the amp. Once you’ve flipped the switch and put it on standby, you’ll be disconnecting the high voltage part of the power supply. This surge in the voltage will cause the popping sound.