Guitar Making A Crackling Noise? 7 Problems You Can Fix

It’s no secret that guitars can make a lot of noise, especially when they’re not properly maintained. Over time, as an electric guitar gets used, bumped around, and even dropped, it might begin to cut out or even crackle. A guitar making a crackling noise is easy to fix if you know what to look for.

If your electric guitar is making a crackling sound or cuts in and out, first check your output jack. If it’s loose, then the wiring inside may have been damaged. Another thing to check is the cable itself, if it has been damaged, then it could be the cause of the noise or cutting in and out.

In this article, we’ll explore why your guitar might be making a crackling sound and provide insight on how to fix it.

Guitar Making A Crackling Noise?

If you’re a guitar player, then you know that there are a lot of different sounds that your instrument can make. Some of those sounds are intentional and part of the music you’re playing. But other times, strange noises can come out of your guitar that you didn’t expect.

One of these strange noises is a crackling sound. If you’ve ever heard your guitar make this sound, then you know it can be really annoying. Not only is it distracting, but it can also make it difficult to play your instrument.

So, what causes a guitar to make a crackling sound? And more importantly, how do you fix it?

Output Jack

There are a few different reasons why your guitar might be making a crackling sound. One possibility is that there’s something wrong with the output jack. This is the part of the guitar where you plug in the cable that goes to your amplifier. If the output jack is loose, then it’s possible that the wiring has experienced some twisting or has been pulled on.

If this is the case, the soldered joints and even the wires have been damaged and will now require some repair work. Removing the output jack is easy should you want to inspect the condition.

You might also find that the contact point is also just not tight enough against the tip of the guitar cable end. If it’s not, then bend the contact arm in slightly to make a better, tighter connection.

Bad Guitar Cable

Another possibility is that the cable itself is damaged. If you’ve ever accidentally stepped on your guitar cable or had it get caught on something, then you know that it can be easy to damage the wires inside. This damage can cause the signal to become interrupted, which will result in a crackling sound.

If you have another cable, swap it with the one that is potentially bad. This will tell you if it’s a cable issue or something else. If you do not have another cable, wiggle the one you have in different places along its length. It might be bad if it crackles at a certain spot.

Dirty Components

If the output jack or the cable doesn’t seem to be the problem, then it’s possible that the issue is with a dirty connection. Over time, dust and other debris can accumulate in the tone and volume controls. This can cause the signal to become interrupted, which will lead to a crackling sound.

To clean the connections, you’ll need to remove the backplate of the guitar. Once you have access to the tone and volume controls, use a cotton swab or Q-tip to clean around each one. You can also use some contact cleaner to help.

Worn Out Pots

Worn out pots can also make a lot of odd noises. The pots are what control the volume and tone of the guitar. If they’re worn out, then they can cause the signal to become interrupted, which will lead to a crackling sound.

To fix this, you’ll need to replace the pots. This is a pretty easy repair and one that you can do yourself if you know how to do some basic soldering. Just be sure to buy the correct size pot for your guitar.

Pickup Switch

Another common problem is with the pickup selector switch. If you have an electric guitar with more than one pickup, then you know that there’s a switch that allows you to choose which pickup you want to use. Over time, this switch can become worn out or even damaged. When this happens, it can cause a crackling sound.

If you think the problem might be with the pickup switch, then try operating it a few times to see if the crackling or cutting out changes with different settings. A bad switch will need to be replaced and can be done if you can solder.

Learn more about the pickup selector switch here!

pickup selector switch

Bad Ground Wire

A bad ground connection at any point in the guitar’s electronics can also cause noise problems, even pops when you touch the strings. An example of a bad ground is a Floyd Rose system or similar bridge that has a wire connected to it where the springs are. In some cases, this wire has worn out or caught on something and has disconnected. This will cause a crackling sound when the tremolo is used.

Check all the ground wires in your guitar to see if any of them have come loose. You can often just re-solder the connection and be done with it.

Bad Amplifier

It’s also possible that the amplifier itself is the problem. If it’s a tube amp, sometimes when they go bad they can crackle and pop. But even if it’s solid-state, verify that the amplifier is ok. Perhaps it’s not the guitar at all.

We have a great article that will help you troubleshoot amp noises here.

Conclusion

The most common issues are a bad guitar output jack, switch, or cable in most cases. These can be easily fixed if you can do the soldering and are good with a screwdriver. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, then take it to a guitar technician or luthier, and they should be able to fix it for you. They can also help if you have tried to get rid of the noise but are stumped.

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Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear. I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!