Must this appliance be earthed?

On Friday night my new bandmates and I chalked up our third gig at a local pub. Everything went really well with one notable exception. If I removed my hands from my Stratocaster while the guitar's volume was turned up, a loud and evil sounding buzz would come from my amp. All of my cables are next to new, and everything tested out ok at home this morning. Given the pressures of live performance, there was really nothing to do about it at the time except to keep my fingers in place and hope for the best. Thinking about it now, I suspect that the 120 Volt 3 prong outlet that I was plugged into may have had a loose or non existing ground. My amp is a Marshall JCM 900 Model 4100, and I'm wondering if playing the amp on medium high volume for 3 hours while ungrounded could have done any permanent damage to the tubes or transformers. Do any of you fellows have any experience with this?

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The buzzing was probably down to lighting or something on the same electric ring interfering with your amp, it's called RFI, but you may also be playing in a venue with no electrical earth, obviously this would be dangerous to yourself, if any short circuit occurs then YOU would be the earth terminal, the built up voltage would travel through your strings, hands, body and then legs to earth.
Don't take the venues owners word for it, get yourself a tester, the will look like a normal power plug but flash with a green light if earth is detected, we can get them here in the UK so they must be available in the US.
Your equipment does need to be earthed, but i think you have a RFI problem and that can be caused by another noisy appliance on the same circuit, not and easy one to deal with.

Thanks, Lee. A housing inspector by trade, I have several plug-in outlet testers in my work car; but until now I hadn't thought to throw one in the guitar case. When setting up; we unplugged the big screen television, the jukebox, and all the neon beer lights in the vicinity of our equipment - I just can't figure out what could have caused that amount of interference. Believing that I'd played with an ungrounded amp; I came home, handed the Mrs. her cut of nights profits, and explained that I'd truly risked my life for my "art." We're scheduled to play at the same pub in March, and I'll be sure to look into this situation further - or just assign the questionable receptacle to the damn bass player! :wink:

Noooo...convince the drummer he needs amping up (shouldn't be hard)...think how pretty all those metal bits would look. Briefly.

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