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Gibson SG lacking in the sustain department

Transmisser

Member
Messages
1,303
I have a Gibson SG Faded that is lacking in the sustain department, but I’m not sure why. It’s generally all over the neck, but if I’m playing through my Hiwatt DR103 with OD / Dist. / Fuzz, I cannot grab onto a note and have it sing it out into feedback. Every time I try and do this, the note dies out and I get nasty feedback. I’m just wondering if this is SG guitars in general, the faded line, my guitar in particular, or something else. Here is some info on my setup:

-SG Faded w/ baked maple fretboard
-11-52 Standard tuning
-Seymour Duncan JB - bridge; Pearly gates - neck
-Fairly low action
-internal wiring is PCB based i.e. pots are part of PCB and pickups have plugs that connect to terminals
-Using a recently serviced ’78 Hiwatt DR103 into an Orange 4x12
-Pedals used - WF Rat, Small sound/Big sound **** OD; TAFM, Arc effects BGP
 

Hawking

Member
Messages
796
The faded I had a while back had excellent sustain as does the standard I have now. I would try a good set up and new strings before anything else. Does the neck feel "flimsy"? I've heard of neck instability in SGs but all the ones I've run in to have been generally pretty great.
 

Transmisser

Member
Messages
1,303
No, the neck feels really great and has a very nice thickness to it. Aside from always making sure I don't knock the headstock into anything, it feels like a very solid guitar. I change my strings every 3-4 weeks (I don't have corrosive sweat and can make a set last a very long time) and do my own setups (have been doing tech work privately and in shops for the past several years).
 

Stratburst70

Member
Messages
5,859
Try another guitar (preferably with the same pickups) to make sure it's not something else in your rig.

Shouldn't be any problems with those pickups, although it might be a problem with those specific pickups - perhaps do a swap?

I would have said a setup issue, but it seems you know what you're doing in that department. Maybe your guitar is a lemon? :dunno
 

Franktone

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,134
I once had a 1981 Hiwatt 100 which was one of the last Hylight amps made. They are really great amps, loud and clean but didn't always hold notes like you are seeking. Just as an experiment try out a Marshall JCM 800 50 watt Master Volume amp with your cabinet and guitar and turn both amp volumes up to half or a little more and see if that setup will hold notes. I'll bet that this gives you what you are looking for. Also raise your strings up a little more off of the fretboard so they can ring a lot more. That will change the dynamics.
 

Transmisser

Member
Messages
1,303
I once had a 1981 Hiwatt 100 which was one of the last Hylight amps made. They are really great amps, loud and clean but didn't always hold notes like you are seeking. Just as an experiment try out a Marshall JCM 800 50 watt Master Volume amp with your cabinet and guitar and turn both amp volumes up to half or a little more and see if that setup will hold notes. I'll bet that this gives you what you are looking for. Also raise your strings up a little more off of the fretboard so they can ring a lot more. That will change the dynamics.
Are you talking with or without pedals and not being able to hold notes? I would think that in my case, I should be able to do that since I'm using pedals. I even turn up the amps preamp gain to assist, but the guitar just doesn't want to give. I will experiment with some other guitars today though. I also have a JMP 100 & OR120 I can plug into to see if the same thing happens.

At any rate, I will try and lower my pickups and raise my action a little. Although, I don't know how much I can lower my neck before the screw pops out; However much I lower my bridge, I also lower my neck to make as little a jump in volume when switching between bridge and neck. While my strings have never hit the JB, it does sit fairly close to them.
 

Franktone

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,134
It's its a good idea to try your other amps with the SG and other guitars with the HiWatt to get an idea of what is happening. Certainly there might be some effect from pickups but generally Gibson pickups do not exert the same amount of pull onto the strings as a Fender guitar such as the Strat. The bar magnets in a Gibson pickup lay at the bottom of the pickup and a good amount of the magnetic field is transferred up to the top of the pickup by the pole piece screws. But the pole piece screws themselves are not magnets whereas the Fender pole pieces are actual Alnico magnets themselves. So the Fender Alnico pole pieces exert a consider greater magnetic field in the vicinity of the string to cause some damping that people talk about. I don't find the same extent happening with a Gibson style pickup but there definitely be some of that effect present. If your strings lay closely on top of the fretboard then considerable vibrational energy is quickly lost from rattling, even though you may not think it is very noticeable. Yes the pedals will help to a point but the sound can still trail out past a certain point. A lot depends on how each amp reacts to each guitar. Some amps just certain guitars off to almost infinite sustain especially if you have close proximity near the amp. Another possibility is to pull out either the two outer power tubes, or the two inner power tubes to reduce the overall output power of the hiwatt in order to run the remaining 2 output tubes harder to get more interaction between the guitar and output tubes happening. You may need to change the ohms setting at the back of the head to compensate, either doubling the impedance setting or halving it, I forget which. Another possibility is that the guitar is very dead and tends to absorb the vibrational energy from the strings quickly. Is the bridge OK? Are the strings really dead themselves. Is something rubbing on the strings or somehow damping the energy from the strings? Hope you figure it out.
 

Sconnie

Member
Messages
300
Is this a recent development? If so get rid of the most recent thing in your rig or try just plugging right into the amp, too much stuff in between can be troublesome. Chances are its not this, but remember that gibson puts **** bridges on their guitars. They are like sponges for your sustain and overtones, and they are used because they are cheap.
 

Waxhead

Member
Messages
6,192
Not my SG - has sustain to burn.
Every SG i've played has it too.
And look at some famous SG players - ever hear Angus Young lacking sustain ?
 

Pat_K

Member
Messages
2
Nasty feedback sounds to me like the pickups are microphonic. As the note die away this takes over and the pickups squeal. Try tapping the pickup covers, if this gives a ringing noise, tou need to replace them, or get them potted in wax. The lack of sustain is not a feature of SGs, I had a mid 70's standard that had excesllent sustain. You say you do your own set ups? With a low action and loose strings you might find the tailpiece has been reiased to reduce the break angle at the bridge. This can cause a drop in sustain. Try dropping the tailpiece down so it is making contact with the top of the guitar. You can also get this problem if you have overstrung at the tailpiece. Feeding the string in pointing away from the neck, and then passing back over the top of the tailpiece.
 

mleffler

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
588
Like Dr. Doom says, how does it play unplugged? Are the strings relatively new? When I've run into this type of issue, a neck adjustment (relief) can sometimes be helpful.
 

Transmisser

Member
Messages
1,303
Playing unplugged sounds good and I would say the guitar has a normal amount of sustain. It's just when it's plugged in, that the note dies away suddenly and the pickups squeal. Maybe the pickups are microphonic like a few of you have suggested. I have a Tone Pros tail piece, but the bridge and saddles are stock.

I'm going down to the space in a few to experiment with this some more though. I had plans to get a better set of pickups, bridge, tuners, nut, new guts, etc.... but I don't want to piss away all that money to find out that it's just a dud. Thanks for all your suggestions people.
 

mleffler

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
588
Well I just re-read your original post. I didn't realize the part about the SD pickups and pcb electronics/wiring. That's almost certainly a retro-fit. Assuming you bought this used?

Anything could be going on there that could be affecting the sound. This isn't active, is it? (there's not a battery in the control cavity anywhere)
 

Franktone

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,134
Well I just re-read your original post. I didn't realize the part about the SD pickups and pcb electronics/wiring. That's almost certainly a retro-fit. Assuming you bought this used?

Anything could be going on there that could be affecting the sound. This isn't active, is it? (there's not a battery in the control cavity anywhere)
Yes the wiring is most likely the real culprit. Directly connect either one of the two pickups to the output jack and plug that in and see how that sounds. If you are afraid to do that take a jumper wire with alligator clips at both ends and connect one end to the hot wire of one of the pickups and the other end to the positive of the output jack and plug your guitar in to see if there is any improvement. The controls will of the guitar will be bypassed so start your amp down low in volume and slowly work your way up in volume. This might give you an indication of your wiring condition. Any sloppiness in the wiring will surely show its face and yet still partially work making it hard to figure out what the problem is. It is even better to connect the pickup directly to the output jack without the other wiring still connected since it can still have some influence while being in the circuit.
 

Transmisser

Member
Messages
1,303
The PCB is from the factory and there's nothing special going on in way of active circuitry (no battery compartments and I installed the pickups). It's well documented that Gibson has gone the route of using PCB internals to save money for some models (more money in their pockets of course).
 






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