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Do heavier guitars *REALLY* sustain longer?

PB+J

Member
Messages
1,507
If you think about it, sustain has nothing at all to do with weight and everything to do with the stiffness of the system. Take a 2x4. Lay it on its wide side, drive a nail in one end and put a tuner on the other. Test for sustain. Then set it on its narrow side and do the same thing. The string will sustain longer because the 2x4 is stiffer on its narrow axis.

If you string up an aluminum bar and a stainless steel bar they are going to sustain about the same regardless of the weight difference. The difference will be the stiffness of the bar.

I like these kind of experiments, although to do this one right you’d need to have a consistent strum and an exact measure when the note stops
 
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PB+J

Member
Messages
1,507
Theoretically a heavier guitar should sustain less, because there’s more inertia in the greater mass of the body, and the string overcomes that inertia when it sets the body to sympathetic vibration. But lots of heavy things resonate easily—a bronze bell might weigh a couple tons but tap it lightly and it gets right to vibrating. Either way, I’m going with the overall stiffness of the system
 

jvin248

Member
Messages
5,027
.

Most sustain correlates with how much string exists beyond the nut and saddles.
Gibson E and e more sustain than D and G.
Fender E has more sustain than e.
Headless Steinberger more sustain than a plinky Mandolin with all that string beyond the bridge.

It's due to string stretch beyond the contact points acting like springs and the contact friction like shocks. Just like a car with worn out shocks bounds down the road after a pot hole -- sustaining that 'note'.

.
 

howdy-doo

Member
Messages
308
I'm at work so haven't watched the video, but my strat is super light and sustains for days so take that for what you will
 

A3-21

Member
Messages
91
The overall stiffness is important for sustain. This is not just proven by experience it's well established science for decades now.

There's really nothing to gain from such a video. I do like to do experiments but this video doesn't meet even amateurish standards. But that's basically YouTube nowadays I guess. I'm also not a fan of needlessly 'destroying' stuff when it results in such a bad video even if it's just an Ok but working guitar.. but this is my problem.

Whenever sustain is discussed the question, how much sustain do you really need? is far more important in my opinion but rarely considered.

I had some really terrible guitars but lack of sustain alone was never a problem. Dead spots on the fretboard were but never was the cause of this an overall lack of stiffness/sustain.

And this whole tonewood debate.. I really don't get it. I skipped the guitar forums for about 10 years and during that time there must have been some internet tonewood wars that I missed where one side claims that tonewood means everything while the other side claims that wood means nothing. Of course, much of the marketing is bs but a guitar's tone is a result of different components/variables working together, including where and how hard you pick. Material choice on an acoustic guitar can be crucial, on an electric guitar the material certainly has some influence but it's not equally as important for its (amplified) tone. The material doesn't have to be wood in the first place.

But judging from my experience with the 'guitar weight doesn't matter at all and people that care are idiots'-crowd I'm not even wondering how some people can completely ignore simple facts and defend their opinion with baseless claims until the end of time.
 

mschafft

Member
Messages
1,592
No. Once a certain weight is achieved, more doesn't bring anything to the table in terms of sustain.
Balsa wood light is bad. Average medium weight is fine.
 

Ripthorn

Member
Messages
542
In terms of guitar sustain, weight is a factor that people frequently over estimate. It's also not dominated by stiffness alone. It had to do with the efficiency of vibrational energy transfer between the strings and the rest of the guitar system.

To get a little more scientific (I am an acoustic physicist AND guitar nerd, after all :)), the whole guitar, as it relates to sustain, simply presents varying boundary conditions to the string. Any deviation from a perfectly rigid termination will cause the string to lose energy in a way depending on how it combines the zero slope and constant velocity boundary conditions.

In the end, the material and weight only matter insofar as they affect the boundary conditions.
 

hunter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,560
I guess I need to expand. Les Paul guitars are the same shape. Some are light. Some are heavy. What changed is not the shape. A discussion of weight is really a discussion of density. And yes density matters.

hunter
 

LaXu

Member
Messages
5,826
If heavier guitars had better sustain, doublenecks would have the most sustain. But having owned one, they don't really have more sustain than a good Les Paul.
 

CobaltBlue

Member
Messages
496
Any click on that YouTube video (which I refuse to watch) encourages more of that kind of inanity.

I would like to think that, at some point, when this everybody-with-the-ability-to-make-a-video-is-an-expert period reaches its nadir, the pendulum will begin swinging the other way, but all the evidence, right now, is to the contrary.
 

Brian N

Member
Messages
1,662
Any click on that YouTube video (which I refuse to watch) encourages more of that kind of inanity.

I would like to think that, at some point, when this everybody-with-the-ability-to-make-a-video-is-an-expert period reaches its nadir, the pendulum will begin swinging the other way, but all the evidence, right now, is to the contrary.
What exactly is your beef with that video that you did not watch? It wasn't clear from your post why you're so against it.
 




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