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Do heavier guitars *REALLY* sustain longer?

Five Aces

Member
Messages
3
I keep reading these posts, and there is no doubt, this discussion will probably go on forever........!

Bottom line is when you buy that next guitar, make sure it meets your requirements. Weather it's heavy or light, new or used, name brand or no-name, original or copy, $$$$$$$$$$ or $$, there is no standard of measure for what you want unless you play it and decide for yourself....period! What else is there to say?

It wouldn't be the first time I've tried a few $2000+ name brand guitars and it just didn't "sing" to me, and yet I pick up a $99 el-cheapo that looked kinda nice because I just liked the color, and when I tried it, I couldn't put it down! It is what it is!!!!
 

A3-21

Member
Messages
91
Oh man me too, just every possible video idea regurgitated from these guitar youtubers for views when the physics, etc., of the electric guitar has already been known for many decades.
This is so true. Instead of wasting my time on youtube watching some unemployed incompetent idiots making sh*tty clickbait videos just for views I prefer doing something more productive, enjoyable, worthwile and meaningful.
 

hunter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,560
This is so true. Instead of wasting my time on youtube watching some unemployed incompetent idiots making sh*tty clickbait videos just for views I prefer doing something more productive, enjoyable, worthwile and meaningful.
Well there is always tomorrow.

hunter
 

jwguitar

Member
Messages
5,881
Interesting clip...

I think its a combination of a lot of factors. I use heavy guage strings with humbuckers so that alone is going to give me a lot of sustain. However, I do prefer a guitar with some weight though its not a deal breaker if it doesn't. As long as it sounds good and is easy to play. That's all I care about.
 

Mikhael

Member
Messages
2,921
Someone made a concrete guitar once; it reportedly had quite a bit of sustain, and sounded tinny. I can sort of believe that, having owned a all-maple neck-thru guitar at one time. Heavy, played well, but a preponderance of top end. I would guess that the stiffer the instrument is, the less top end that gets filtered out by that material? I haven't experimented too much in that realm, although I did stick a Strat pickup in a Les Paul. It didn't sound like a Strat, though - it sounded like a weak Les Paul...
 

Mark Robinson

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
8,418
The idea of truisms for guitars has necessarily got to be elastic. Not everybody picks up a guitar with the same intentions. Some players want sustain, some do not. One guy's idea of sustain is different from another guy's idea of sustain. I don't really care about it so much, I can get any note to sustain, with any guitar, because I use amps, cabinets and gain boxes that force the issue at will. Feedback and sustain are two different things. Feedback for me is useful, sustain, I don't know, I'm more interested in the howl, the turnover into alternate, generally higher pitches, than just holding that root pitch. I'll go for delay or reverb for augmenting a clean envelope.

But what happens musically with high gain, higher volume pressure does seem to change with guitar construction variations. Guitars with more mass, in my hands, with my amp setups, are more predictable and perhaps linear in the overtones or root tones delivered when the gain is high and pressure to feedback is happening.

Through a series of Telecasters I have owned, I've sort of nudged at some edges of what will happen. In my moonlighting job assembling and setting up Homer T guitars, of which I have built 78 now, I've noticed that different pieces of wood do different things at volume when you go into high gain, higher volumes where feedback lives. The lighter bodies, and hollow bodies will sometimes feedback quicker, but the feedback will be different than a medium weight body or a heavier body. Different frequencies are emphasized and different shite happens when you ramp up different guitars. I own a few thinlines, no F hole, that I built myself and they will get up and going easier than my other telecasters. The one I prefer for high volume playing though is a heavy 1978 ash body, that most folks would reject as too heavy. It is just nasty and linear, searing, does not ever mush out or wolf up. The feedback comes in high and tight. I like that more.

I have a lovely Epi Sorrento, fully hollow, very dry maple ply guitar with a mahogany neck. It feeds back a ton, and sustains enough, but less than any of my solid body mahogany necked Gibsons. So what... I would probably enjoy it live outdoors on a big stage, but it's just too ornery and non linear inside at a bar gig or at a rehearsal room. I like the heavier bodied Strats, Teles and Les Pauls that have insisted that I buy them and bring them home, more, for loud rock playing with a chance of feedback, which, along with the ruthless ambush, is all I got.

That is what is important, what do you want to hear? Find it, buy it. Quit thinking about it and go for learning more music.
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
32,085
But what happens musically with high gain, higher volume pressure does seem to change with guitar construction variations.
I prefer a longer natural sustain and minimal use of od.
Volume is a critical factor in tone assessment, if we start getting fussy, and we do.;)
Fat and full with easy feedback is a disaster at high volume eg. amp'd acoustics.
Really annoying resonances can become apparent at high volume and that includes lack of clarity and inaccurate response of the whole rig.
The vid explores none of this but shows that if you want to cut the horn off your Strat it is likely not a big deal.
The amount of anxiety doing that sort of thing induces around here is inappropriate.
 

scelerat

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,024
I used to be a mechanical engineer. I think this test is deeply flawed.

Most often, this question comes up with things like heavy Les Pauls vs. light Les Pauls - e.g., differences between otherwise similar guitars.

A light Les Paul does not have a smaller body made out of wood with the same properties as a heavy Les Paul. It has a body of essentially identical dimensions made out of wood with different properties.

The size, shape, and mass of a guitar body can affect its resonant frequencies (because the size, shape, and mass of ANY object can affect its resonant frequencies), but in the context of guitar tone, I think the frequency-dependent damping properties of the wood of the body and neck are much more important.

To be a little bit more detailed, as a guitar's strings vibrate, the amount of tension in the string varies (the farther from its straight, rest position the string is, the more tension there is), which in turn causes the guitar's body and neck to flex a tiny amount. As the guitar's body and neck flex, internal friction absorbs some of the energy, taking it away from the strings and reducing the intensity of the strings' vibration. How much damping occurs is frequency dependent, and how much damping occurs at any given frequency is dependent on a lot of factors.

The test didn't examine the two biggest factors that can affect this frequency-dependent damping:

1. The thickness of the neck and body. A thinner neck and body are more flexible, which means they will flex more under the varying tension of the strings, which means, all else being equal, more damping will occur. (The sides of the guitar body, which were removed in the video, do also affect the flexibility of the body, but to a much, much smaller degree than the thickness of the neck and body.)

2. The properties of the wood. Different pieces of wood, even of the same species, can have very different mechanical properties, including stiffness and damping. I enjoy woodworking as a hobby. I have a few thin pieces of wenge of similar dimensions. One of the pieces, if you hit it with your knuckles, rings like a bell, while another one just makes a dull "thunk" sound. The "dead" piece of wenge has a lot more damping - the vibrations in the wood die out much more quickly.

Between two otherwise identical guitars, e.g., two Les Pauls, #1 should be about the same between the two guitars, but if one is light and one is heavy, there are obviously some differences in the properties of the wood between the two guitars.

Density is not the only property that affects resonance and damping, but it does have some effect, and it may also be a proxy for mechanical properties that have bigger impacts. For example, going back to Les Pauls, it may (or may not, I'm not making a claim either way) be the case that more dense pieces of mahogany also tend to have less damping than less dense pieces.

To be clear, I'm not making a claim one way or the other regarding mass and sustain, because I haven't done any experiments and don't have experience with enough different guitars to have a meaningful opinion. However, I DO know a fair bit about the behavior of mechanical systems.

So, TL;DR, here are my claims:

1. There are properties both of the wood a guitar is made from and of the geometry of the guitar itself that have SOME influence on the tone and sustain of the guitar in question. I am not claiming, either way, whether this difference is significant or even audible (I *think* it is, but that's just an opinion - I am trying to keep my actual "claims" here factual based on my personal knowledge).

2. Between two similar guitars made from wood of the same species, different density of the wood probably correlates to different damping properties, and thus some impact on tone and sustain. Again, no claim is made as to how significant this is, and I think there are almost certainly exceptions - because density, itself, is not the critical property in question. If, in general, say, Les Pauls made from denser (heavier) mahogany tend to sustain more, I expect there are also some light pieces of mahogany whose other mechanical properties result in a guitar with exceptional sustain. Also, across different wood species, density comparison is pretty meaningless, because the other mechanical properties of the different species of wood might be so different that the density just isn't relevant.

3. Sawing pieces off the body of a guitar doesn't do anything to evaluate the significance of claims #1 and #2, so the video doesn't answer the question of whether the weight of a guitar correlates to its sustain or other tonal qualities.
I was going to post something along the lines of "this video doesn't even make an attempt to identify and isolate the variables involved," but you both explained it more fully and summed it up more accurately than I could.

I've read a few physics and acoustics texts, that's all
 

KarlH

Member
Messages
934
I am no expert, but I recently played an old yamaha sg2000 with the brass sustain block under the bridge, and that thing sustained like crazy! The notes were very fundamental and punchy. The quality of the tone was not as pleasing as my les paul, but it was undeniable (to me) that the old yamaha sustained like mad! Whether weight or the brass block has anything to do with it, i don't know....
 

line_rider

Member
Messages
102
This is so true. Instead of wasting my time on youtube watching some unemployed incompetent idiots making sh*tty clickbait videos just for views I prefer doing something more productive, enjoyable, worthwile and meaningful.
I'm willing to bet that if folks on TGP starting going on how gluing a vintage rubber duck to your guitar improves tone, in a week you'll see a few of these guys "testing" it and the video will be 10:30 seconds long.
 

8nthatK

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,957
I stumbled on this after glancing through the 'bring Kimock back' thingy.

So much win here. lmao.


Did you show up here just to demonstrate experimental bias?
I don't know how to do the smiley thing, but assume the proper rune for sarcasm following the question above. Moving on. .

Having established your credentials as a member of an elite scientific community, prepare to have your ass handed to you by a high school drop-out.
Again, one point at a time. As I mentioned previously, there's way too much absolute bullsh*t involved in the vid and your post to respond to in this chat room format. Truly overwhelming BS levels. .

The first thing he did was introduce a variable in the tuning.
Dude doesn't know how to tune a guitar which should be enough of a red flag for most folks, but that error totally screwed with the results. And it was totally unnecessary.

The subject was supposed to be "do heavier guitars *Really* sustain longer?"
Which is a dumbass question in the first place for 1,000 reasons, but primarily because guitars don't sustain, strings do.
If you were eliminating variables all you'd want is a single string terminating with different weight.

So your first elite scientific observation is provably false. He introduced unnecessary noise right off the bat.
You go on to say "he used the same body". WOW!!
Did you actually watch the vid? The same body? For each mistuning?
The whole point of that click bait BS was the outrageous act of sawing the body into pieces for no reason.
The video clearly shows a different body for each measurement.
Not the same body, different weight.
I'll admit to not being a scientist, but that's not the same body throughout.
It's different pieces of the same body.

Strike two for the scientist. Provably false again. Each measurement was made with a different body, deliberately.

Same neck, thank god. Your superior powers of observation served you well on that point.

Ah, they failed again.
He didn't use the same string, which is back to my first point.
He used em all, in various states of destructive beating. Shoulda used one. .

Strike three, scientist can't count.

We're 14 words into your defense of this A-hole, not even two complete sentences, and you've claimed introducing variables is eliminating variables, a guitar has the same body whether it has a whole body or a half of a body, and my personal fave 6 = 1.

You don't actually understand what you're looking at here, do you?
Best brush up before we move on.
Let me know when you're ready. Take your time.
 

Madison

Member
Messages
7,254
I like guitar but am too lazy to move my fingers, so I need endless sustain. My strat weighs around 15 lbs and boy does it deliver through my micro amp.
 
Messages
2
Did you show up here just to demonstrate experimental bias?
I don't know how to do the smiley thing, but assume the proper rune for sarcasm following the question above. Moving on. .

Having established your credentials as a member of an elite scientific community, prepare to have your ass handed to you by a high school drop-out.
Again, one point at a time. As I mentioned previously, there's way too much absolute bullsh*t involved in the vid and your post to respond to in this chat room format. Truly overwhelming BS levels. .

The first thing he did was introduce a variable in the tuning.
Dude doesn't know how to tune a guitar which should be enough of a red flag for most folks, but that error totally screwed with the results. And it was totally unnecessary.

The subject was supposed to be "do heavier guitars *Really* sustain longer?"
Which is a dumbass question in the first place for 1,000 reasons, but primarily because guitars don't sustain, strings do.
If you were eliminating variables all you'd want is a single string terminating with different weight.

So your first elite scientific observation is provably false. He introduced unnecessary noise right off the bat.
You go on to say "he used the same body". WOW!!
Did you actually watch the vid? The same body? For each mistuning?
The whole point of that click bait BS was the outrageous act of sawing the body into pieces for no reason.
The video clearly shows a different body for each measurement.
Not the same body, different weight.
I'll admit to not being a scientist, but that's not the same body throughout.
It's different pieces of the same body.

Strike two for the scientist. Provably false again. Each measurement was made with a different body, deliberately.

Same neck, thank god. Your superior powers of observation served you well on that point.

Ah, they failed again.
He didn't use the same string, which is back to my first point.
He used em all, in various states of destructive beating. Shoulda used one. .

Strike three, scientist can't count.

We're 14 words into your defense of this A-hole, not even two complete sentences, and you've claimed introducing variables is eliminating variables, a guitar has the same body whether it has a whole body or a half of a body, and my personal fave 6 = 1.

You don't actually understand what you're looking at here, do you?
Best brush up before we move on.
Let me know when you're ready. Take your time.
Steve the Scientist :)
 




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