Sustain, Overrated?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by QuickDraw, Nov 29, 2006.

  1. HERSCHEL

    HERSCHEL Member

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    That's well past necromancy and well in to necrophilia.
     
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  2. HomeInMyShoes

    HomeInMyShoes Member

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    You need to investigate the sonic possibilities of tremolo, overdrive and a bit of feedback to understand the desire for the sustain.
     
  3. Tidbit

    Tidbit Member

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    My drummer occasionally likes to put a "Big Drum Ending" on a few songs during a night. I don't like to leave him out there by himself so I like to be able to sustain for more than 2 seconds
     
  4. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Supporting Member

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    Just curious... why not turn the amp up to the point where it compresses (assuming its a tube amp) or at least use a compressor pedal. I love the sound of clean tones with compression delay and reverb. Gives the tone sort of a Piano with the Sustain pedal engaged vibe

    I play a strat and tele mainly. Natural and/or artificial sustain makes a world of difference between "Plinky" (all attack and little sustain) and "Punchy" (percussive attack with enough sustain to give the notes some body).
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
  5. Timbre Wolf

    Timbre Wolf GoldMember Supporter Gold Supporting Member

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    One of my guitars is a Danelectro U2. So count me in on the side of those who don't always need sustain.
     
  6. Magnets And Melodies

    Magnets And Melodies Member

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    It's very important to me. It's not about the length of the sustain, but the volume during the decay. The longer it takes to taper off, the longer the volume stays up. For me this is crucial to keep chords ringing out without dying too early. It has nothing to do with holding one note for minutes. It has everything to do with melodies and harmonies. For me, the sustain matters most when I play clean, which is at least half the time.

    One of the first things I do when testing out a new guitar is play a E Maj7 chord at the 7th fret, with a light touch and slight vibrato, and see how long the volume stays up while it sustains. If it rings like a clear bell and sustains more like a piano than a banjo, than it's good.

    If all you're doing is chicken pick'n and the like that I'm sure it won't matter as much to you as it does to me.
     
  7. BigBadOrange

    BigBadOrange Member

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    Never was a big deal to me as I played med to high gain amps so sustain is always there. But I did a 3 song set at an all KISS jam night. Groups were assigned tunes to learn before hand and we were assigned late 80s Kiss tunes. Got on stage (very quick turn around is this thing goes on all night) and we start playing and all I here coming out of the amp was 70s kiss tone. Killer 80s divebombs don't sound so cool through a 70s tone, lol. I would describe it as more of a sound you would expect to hear in a cartoon. Sustain was about 1/2 second max on that rig. Great for Ace Frehley leads, not so great for vinny vincent or bruce Kulick. After we were done, they pointed out the distortion box (that I hadn't seen) to boost the rig into 80s gain territory.

    Not one of my better nights!
     
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  8. Mickey Shane

    Mickey Shane apolitical Silver Supporting Member

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    Guitar sustain is important, but true sustain power comes from a mellow feedback loop with a tube amp. Like that Trower note in Long Misty days.
     
    gigs likes this.
  9. Jim Soloway

    Jim Soloway Member

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    I'm playing music that doesn't really lend itself to a lot of volume and smaller tube amps break up too early for what I'm doing. So these days I play with very dry solid state amps with a bit of reverb and nothing else. I've gotten pretty good at managing the attack to control my tone but it helps to have an instrument that rings for a while. This is basically what I'm talking about. There are several points in this where if you really pay attention you'll realize that the lower part of the chord continues to ring while I play a single note line over top of it. It's almost like using the sustain pedal on a piano.

     
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  10. DewieCox

    DewieCox Supporting Member

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    It’s more about the strength of the note and available dynamic range than putting a stop watch on a held note or chord and seeing how long it will hold.
     
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  11. RicardoDiazHimself

    RicardoDiazHimself Member

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    Long sustain helps when youve got a slow brain/dont practice and need time to think what note to play next :D:p
     
  12. macatt

    macatt Supporting Member

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    I bought a new Hamer Sunburst in 1979. They came with Dimarzio humbuckers and I was replacing a broken Les Paul Special which had P-90s.
    The Hamer had too much sustain and was hard to control. When playing rhythm; the chords didn't decay and ran together sounding like a big wash without definition. So yes, lots of sustain is not necessarily an ideal condition.

    I solved the problem by lowering the pickups a good deal.
    I still had plenty of sustain at hand for lead playing with a Twin Reverb and pedals like a Tube Screamer and MXR Micro Amp available when I wanted them.

    S Mac
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2019
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  13. Mr Fingers

    Mr Fingers Member

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    Well, I sure hate playing twangy guitars with huge attack and fast drop off, even if they can "sustain" some remainder of the note longer. I'm so over the twangy Tele thing that unless it's a real player, I just get bored witless by "hot" twangy guitar. But if that's your thing, then a big, fast attack and quick die-off -- gotta make room for the next blizzard of notes -- is what you want, not sustain. Personally, I don't like that instant fall-off and so I like a sustaining guitar (not just a bunch of pedals that give you endless, unvarying sustain) particularly because it is awfuly easy to cur off a note by muting or touch.
     
  14. Timbre Wolf

    Timbre Wolf GoldMember Supporter Gold Supporting Member

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    Take note...
     
  15. stormin1155

    stormin1155 Member

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    I have a bunch of guitars. Some sustain better than others, but when I'm playing those others I've never thought to myself, "Gosh, I wish I was playing my 'great sustainer'... I really need this note to go on for three more measures...."
     
  16. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Supporting Member

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    Interesting... I can hear / feel sustain even on clean passages with a good guitar. I think it's very important to me, as I play a lot of gigs and slow down (getting older) I do rely on and understand that breaks, less notes, better vibrato and holding/sustaining notes not only creates a better solo but gives me some space!
    At home I play electric unplugged all of the time and always hang on notes while holding bends and vibrato... so I guess it's actually very important me and I would consider something fundamentally wrong with the setup or construction of a guitar if the notes died off sharply.

    How can good sustain be a bad thing LOL???
     
  17. twotone

    twotone Member

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    I don't know about sustain with a clean sound, but with distortion I rely on how much preamp gain I use with the amp. I could be playing a Les Paul or a Jaguar, and sustain all depends on the amount of gain.
     
  18. BootRoots

    BootRoots Member

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    Well this necrothead has sustained for nearly 13 years now ....
     
  19. Average Joe

    Average Joe Member

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    I like sustain sometimes. One of the pleasures of a good semi is how easy it is to get amp coupling and work the range between sustain and feedback.
    But it's overrated in the sense that anything in the nomal range will work perfectly fine in the real world. The semi in my avatar may have far longer, and more even, sustain than my strats, but normal strat sustain cover my needs well enough.
     
    Thumpalumpacus likes this.
  20. Surfreak

    Surfreak Member

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    I need my guitar to sustain well on every string/fret, with no dead spots, more as a tribute to my OCDish penchant for symmetry than a real need in my music.

    I simply could not bear the thought that one or more notes don't sustain as evenly as the other ones, even if in a practical music-making context I would rarely hold that note till it decays to zero.
     

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