If a guitarist wants to sound great, then an amp is required.
After all, an amp is a gear that provides the tone that is going to be heard.
Having an amplifier requires taking care of it properly, and looking for specific details.
One detail, for example, is knowing whether your amp is grounded or not.
A grounded amp will have a reduced noise floor, and it’s today’s standard, and how it’s intended to be used. It’s also safer to use. To ground an amp just plug it into a socket that has 3 prongs, the third being the ground one. If there are none available, I recommend seeking help from a specialist.
Grounding an amp has certain benefits. Not grounding has disadvantages.
Keep reading to understand this topic more deeply.
Why do guitar amps need grounding?
A guitar amp may need to be grounded because if not, it produces unwanted noises.
Not only that, but it also has prevention purposes.
An electric guitar (and its elements) is generally close to objects that emit electromagnetic interference.
The instrument’s nature is to pick up such EMI (electromagnetic interference), which eventually affects the tone that comes out through the amplifier.
Grounding a guitar amp allows electricity to travel and vanish without any problems.
Benefits of grounding a guitar amp
Grounding has a handful of benefits.
First of all, it helps to eliminate unwanted hum that comes through the amp. In the end, this makes a cleaner and clearer sound.
Second, a grounded amp is safer than one that is not.
If you play guitar, you play with electricity.
It is futile to mention how dangerous such a thing can be.
Luckily, grounding an amp prevents electrical issues that have to do not only with your safety but with the amp’s safety as well.
A grounded amplifier prevents electrical overload and stabilizes voltage levels.
How to know if your amp is already grounded?
One can know whether an amp is grounded or not by simply listening to it when turned on.
In other words, if your amp produces too much hum, then it is not grounded.
On the contrary, if it is, then unwanted noises won’t come out of it. Then probably, that amp is already grounded.
Can anybody ground a guitar amp?
It is possible to ground a guitar amp on your own.
Bear in mind that doing such a task can be dangerous.
If you don’t take the proper security measures, and if you have no idea of what you are doing, then you run the risk of being electrocuted.
I highly encourage you to let such thing to a professional, unless of course, you do know what you are doing.
How can you ground your guitar amp?
Grounding your guitar amp consists merely of plugging it into a correctly grounded socket on the wall.
Sockets with a grounding in the US can be distinguished by their 3 prong connector.
Old electrical installations, such as those you could find in older houses will probably have sockets with only 2 prongs since grounding was not that much of a thing back then.
Having sockets with 3 prongs, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the plug is grounded.
The installation could have not been done properly and some plugs could not be correctly grounded.
There are devices to test ground faults for under $10. Try searching for “ground fault tester”.
With one of those, you can make sure the issue is with your socket.
If you can’t wait to have a tester, you could try your amp on different sockets and maybe find out if there’s something wrong with the ground of any of them.
Although, consider that moving your amp from a room with a computer and many electronic devices to a “quieter” place, might also reduce its hiss due to the lower interference present.
Finally, if you find out that your home installation doesn’t offer any grounding, I recommend you talk with a specialist.
Will grounding your amp help with buzz and floor noise?
Buzz is, in part, one of the reasons why people ground their amps.
Grounding your equipment keeps it free from hum and buzz and any unwanted noises.
This happens because a grounded amp produces a balanced signal connection.
However, if you think grounding is not what you are looking for, you can still find other alternatives.
For example, playing with noise gate pedals or noise suppressor pedals can do the same job.
Still, grounding your amp has also other benefits that we have already mentioned.
It might be a good idea since you would be killing two birds with one stone.
Are there any risks of not having your amp grounded?
An amp that is not grounded may leak electric current.
Generally, if that happens is because the amp is simply not working properly at all, which means that you should avoid it for safety reasons.
Now, even if the amp works, but is still not grounded, then electric issues may arise.
Such problems will damage your amp in the long run, and may also harm you.
Bear in mind that playing with an amp that is not grounded doesn’t exactly mean that you run a high risk of being electrocuted.
Is a grounded amp safer? Sure!
But then again, the one thing that is going to be affected the most is the amp’s speaker.
If you have any doubts, always ask a professional.
It is better to play it safe.
Do guitars also need to be grounded?
Guitars are also grounded.
Most of them generally are, including their inner circuits and external gear.
More specifically, pickups and guitar cables.
Pickups have a ground wire.
Guitar cables, too, have two conductors, and one of them is a ground wire.
Finally, such wire is connected to the amp’s ground, which is connected to the wall, with a ground wire that goes through the ground.
This means that the wire within the pickups is connected to the amp’s ground with the guitar cable in between.
In conclusion, I would encourage you to ground your amp in case it is not.
The benefits of having your amp grounded are of paramount importance.
Once again, both you and your gear may get hurt or damaged.
Ground your equipment, you will forget about unwanted noises and play safe.
Hello there, my name is Ramiro and I’ve been playing guitar for almost 20 years. I’m obsessed with everything gear-related and I thought it might be worth sharing it. From guitars, pedals, amps, and synths to studio gear and production tips, I hope you find what I post here useful, and I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining also.