What is sustain ?

Discussion in 'Tone Zone' started by DrBGood, Apr 8, 2020.

  1. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    - Is it only discussed in the mahogany guitar world à la Gibson/PRS or do Fender type players worry about it too ?

    - Do any of you feel you're missing on sustain. All we hear about is how much "more" sustain this or that guitar have.

    - Should sustain be measured only with clean tone or even unplugged ?

    - Is sustain amp type related ?

    - Is sustain using any pedal, fake sustain ?
     
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  2. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    I have a couple (Worn brown Special and Epiphone Riviera P93) that when I'm playing alone in the room, I'll hold a chord or a note just to listen to the sweetness!
    I think of sustain as the temporal duration of resonance. When most front porch guitar players use the term "sustain" it is a purely philosophical exercise as they want to whip out as many notes as they can as quickly as possible. However, for the sake of discussion, unplugged, my Strat, N-225, '14 Les Paul Melody Makers SGJ and SG Specials all sound the note for about the same length of time (14 sec+/-. [Based upon how long I could hear a low e with my ear to the body]) My music room is about 10X10, so plugged in the semi-acoustics and set necks seem to do a little better than the Strat due to room resonance.
    What does any of that mean? Probably not a thing.
     
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  3. NMA

    NMA Well-Known Member

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    I never felt sustain was an important part of my playing. I can crank my amp, hit some mid-boost and make any chord or note sustain for a pretty long time regardless if the guitar is a Fender or an SG.

    But you know what I bought decades ago? An E-bow. With that sucker I can sustain notes for eternity. That's not an exaggeration. E-bows make your note sustain endlessly. Get one. It's a fun little guitar tool to have.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. pancake81

    pancake81 Well-Known Member

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    Oh boy, such a loaded question in today’s music standard.

    sustain, in its original sense, would be how long an instrument could resonate a note after played, acoustically. Whether it be guitar, cello, violin, piano....


    We have come a long way since the term Originated. In today’s standards, it “should” mean the same thing. When considering amplification, just compared equally to another instrument. Basically the sustain test that one instrument goes through could be compared to another given the same cursunstances.

    To me, not as important as it used to be. In the days of mandolins and acoustics that was huge. Equivalent to gas mileage and buying a vehicle. What am I going to get out of this particular instrument. In today’s world, we have amplification pedals increased sustained instruments and looper pedal’s. The one thing that quality sustain does show, is quality craftsmanship. An instrument, whether electric guitar or Acoustic,Is designed to sustain a note once played. So a guitar that has good sustain is an example of a well-built instrument.

    We have so many ways to work around the issue of a lack of sustain currently, that it has become a bit of a moot point. However it is still a quality of a well-built instrument. If I found a guitar that lacked desire to sustain but felt and played beautifully and my intention was to put her through amplification, it would be less of a concern for me and then days if yore’


     
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  5. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

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    Troy Donocley of Nightwish is the master of the E-Bow. Hear what it is all about at Wembley Arena

     
  6. Von Trapp

    Von Trapp Active Member

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    Sustain is something you achieve by having your guitar made of the right wood, the hardware made of the right material, your tail piece bottomed, the nut made of the right material, the right type of bridge, a long neck tenon, the right pots and caps and it goes without saying that the more expensive the guitar - the better the sustain. Since I personally only got interested in rocknroll because it was invented as an effective way to pull chicks, and they don't give a sh!t about sustain, I feel that I've perhaps flushed my money down the drain for no good reason and having lot's of chicks but no cash, since I spent it all on my guitar, hasn't really worked out too well I admit. But hey, that's life eh? (or you could get a sustainer)
     
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  7. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Well-Known Member

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    An interesting correlate to this discussion is the effect of popular trends upon instrument design. Sustain became very important at the beginning of the 1970s and Gibson and others altered their instrument designs to support it. I think Santana's rendition of "Black Magic Woman" in 1970 may have contributed to that. Makers focused on mass and rigidity of their structures in order to reflect string energy back into the string. Gibson went with the sandwich design on the Les Paul bodies specifically for this. Everyone went to massive tailpieces and nuts to contribute. A while later resonance and note bloom became important again and everyone altered their designs back to support that.

    The result is that if you want long sustain, grab a 1970s Les Paul or a clone like the Yamaha SBG3000 or SBG3000. They may not be as resonant, but they literally sustain forever!

    Bob
     
  8. Chubbles

    Chubbles Well-Known Member

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    In addition, a compressor can be used to enhance sustain to a degree. In the software/digital world, I've used "compressors" to hold notes almost forever.
     
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  9. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    This is exactly why I asked the question. I am so tired of hearing that BS. And when some bring it out, they will argue you to death on it.
     
  10. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

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    I've measured. My guitar with the longest sustain is a Strat (bolt-on neck). The next is a PRS.. Les Paul and SG are pretty much level following that. BUT - it all depends what note you play. Some sustain like mad, others (we all know about dead notes by now) don't.
     
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  11. Von Trapp

    Von Trapp Active Member

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    So there is Tone notes too now, where will it end?! But seriously, yes, I too am dead tired of all those woodoo myths being perpetuated in various forums. Always by people that repeat what they read and aren't talking about personal experiences.

    I bought it too in the beginning, swapped my bridge and could swear I heard a difference! Then one day I "rebuilt" a guitar for my daughter. I found it a bit too thin and also I wanted to cover up the routing on the front of it so I slapped a piece of MDF on. I almost threw it away when I read that "different woods etc etc etc" thinking Oh, no, I've ruined it and it will sound like sh!t. But then I decided that dammit I was going to finish what I started. Cut to: sounds like any other guitar...

    I decided to never again believe anything I read until I personally tried or tested it.

    You opened up a can there but I'm glad to note no one has yet taken the bait...
     

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  12. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FRIGGIN MIND ? ON THE KITCHEN TABLE ? ? ?

    giphy.gif


    I mean, start another thread with this. It's so sacrilegeous, we'll need to exorcise it ! ! !
     
  13. Von Trapp

    Von Trapp Active Member

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    Yeah, well, you roll with what you got. (that's the neck back there by the knives..) It did suffer a bit I have to say, but being from Ikea the table could be replaced with what I made from selling the old tuners... A benefit was that it was easy to find something to make a routing template from!
     

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  14. koaguilds

    koaguilds Well-Known Member

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    Speaking of Ebow... Keaggy is a beast. Arpeggios with the thing are gorgeous, like some sort of a melding of a viola and a cello. - 6:53
     
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  15. Bad Penguin

    Bad Penguin Well-Known Member

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    Plugged in, clean, my ideal sustain is when the note fades into it's harmonic. I have a few, a VERY few, guitars that does this. 1964 Gretsch Corvette., (mahogany, set neck) Gibson L6s (maple, set neck) Roland G707 (alder, bolt on) so wood type doesn't matter. I think it's some wild weird alignment between guitar and amp.

    And as for Ebow Masters.... How could anyone NOT mention Bill Nelson????
     
  16. Cantabrig5

    Cantabrig5 New Member

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    It may just be a fluke, but my lowly MIM strat with floating bridge has better sustain than any of my set-neck guitars (including a Les Paul and SG). Weird, I know.
     
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  17. AK-78

    AK-78 Member

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    Nothing sophisticated to add to this discussion, but I have learned that the magnetic fields of pickups to close to strings can dampen string oscillation considerably, especially in my experience, on humbucking guitars like SGs. I also disliked the Gibson 490t/490r on my 2001 SG faded, so I re-wound my pickups with plain enamel, left them unpotted, and then changed out the Gibson A2 bars for reduced gauss uoa5 and A5 short mag. The magnet changes seemed to have also increase the sustain , probably due to their lower strength.

    I have a cheap Jay Turser Chinese SG-like guitar, Basswood body, maple set neck, rosewood finger board, that beats my actual Gibson SG in terms of sustain. So wood probably has some bearing on how a given guitar sustains. I have an ash Strat body that I have used with 4 different necks. Some neck/body combinations just didnt work, they seemed at odds with one another. Maybe they damped each other? Beats me. No such easy luxury on an SG. Its too difficult for me to bother swapping necks!
     
  18. Ess

    Ess Active Member

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    sustain is when it goes "whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh" aint it Doc?:hmm:
     
  19. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    You got it :)
     
  20. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    I had one of those, a white Custom JT50. Greatest neck I ever had, isn't it ?
     

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