MY band recently played a gig at a friend's farm. We set up on a concrete pad behind his barn. I received my first shock when I set my arm on the top of my guitar amplifier. It was a hot sunny day and my arm was a little sweaty. Shock was minor. I then touched one of my effects pedals with my hand to adjust settings while holding my guitar with my other hand and received a very severe shock that literally knocked me off my feet. Our bass player's amplifier (next to me) completely fried as did a replacement amp. Our other guitar player who set up on other side of stage had no issues even though he was using same cord/circuit. We changed power cords, used different circuits, etc. The only thing that finally solved the problem was by plugging our gear into the extension chords on the other side of the pad. In other words, the issue was somehow related to the place on the pad where we were setup. Have you ever heard of such a thing? In 30 years playing, none of us had ever come across anything like this. We are all pretty good at tracking down electrical issues. Thanks for your reply.

  • were the other cords plugged into different or same outlets? are there any DIY parts on the bad cords? sounds to me like the bad cords and/or the outlets they used are mis-wired. maybe the outlet has a hot neutral and the cord has transposed neutral and ground.
    – Skaperen
    Jul 6, 2015 at 8:28

1 Answer 1


Sounds like the barn did not have proper equipotential bonding, which lead to a voltage potential between different areas of the barn.

Your cord was plugged in where ground was 0 volts, and your equipment was set up where ground was a different 0 volts. Because of the lack of equipotential bonding, there's an electrical potential difference between the two grounds.


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