Noise gates and suppression, is it necessary?
120 hz buzz and 60 hz hum may be terms you've heard bandied about by your sound guy but what do they mean to you the guitarist? Well to put it in lay terms your guitar is a bit like an antenna picking up the magnetic fields around it. Poor ground connections, insufficient shielding, High voltage draws, single coil pickups and high gain can all contribute to feedback/hum issues in different environments and can really ruin your gig.
Now i've heard the people who say things like "well if you set up your gear properly you won't have any issues" and while i am usually respectful to differences of opinion im here to tell you folks that is total bollocks. If you only play at home or have the good fortune to play in well maintained rehearsal studios and venues using moderate volumes and low gain sounds yeah you might get lucky. But if you play high volume, high gain, in shitty dives in industrial neighbourhoods where you have a five minute time frame to set up, pull sound and begin performing like many players (myself included) a quality noise gate could be your best friend.
Here are some things to remember when using a noise gate.
Noise gates are most efficient if placed in the signal chain after your gain stage.
Noise gates work by diminishing the frequencies you least need to eliminate excess noise. If run too hard you can negatively effect your overall tone, killing sustain and making the guitar sound "thin". For best results start with the gate set to open then gradually increase until the unwanted feedback or hiss stops.
Be wary that if you regularly switch between high gain and clean tones the amount of gate level required at high gain will most likely have a negative effect on your clean tone the ability to switch the gate on and off easily may be a priority.
Do a little research and choose your gate wisely. There are cheap mini pedal options but i can say from personal experience they are not very good and will be very hard to use well. Old gate options like the boss NS2 are okay but there are better more advanced options available like the ISP Decimator, T.C electronics Sentry or MXR Smart Gate to name a few.
Well i hope this has been an informative little rant. If anyone is wondering i'm currently using an isp decimator when im experiencing issues in certain venues but any of the above mentioned gates will do the job.
Till next time stay safe and riff hard.
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