The Workbench

Mythbusting Sustain: Nigel was wrong…but he was right too.

1

At least this guy says so.

https://www.cycfi.com/2013/...

TLDR: Strats actually sustain better below the 12th fret. Les Pauls sustain better on treble strings about the 12th.

But the science (and the generalizations) are pretty sloppy and rudimentary. What strings? Which pickups? Any preamp gain?

The only way to make that test meaningful would be to record the guitars acoustically- not plugged in - and with the same strings at the same state of wear. And preferably with a strumpluck robot which would whang the strings at exactly the same velocity...

2

Way too many variables in this test for it to be viable. I don't subscribe to the theory. Interesting subject though.

3

I always found the only way to reliable increase sustain is to crank that preamp knob up!!! Crank the sucka!

4

(da-doo-doo DEEEEE-da-DEEEEEEE-da)

SCIENCE!

5

I'm a drummer first so for me one of the things I love about playing my Gretsch Duo Jet is it's a more percussive guitar compared to my Strat or my previous Les Paul that I sold to my brother. I find it more difficult to control a guitar with a lot of sustain. I do like sustain for lead guitar single note solos but I prefer less sustain when playing rhythm guitar. My Duo Jet is pretty balanced.

6

Sustain is overrated.

If you want sustain, buy an organ.

7

i agree with Enis re: too many variables unaccounted for. from body density to fingerboard finish to the quality of the bridge saddle slots, there are so many fudge factors that i think this is of limited use.

8

Man, somebody sure spent a bunch of time figuring this out for unplugged electrics when we always use our amps and settings for sustain. My head hurts.

9

I'm a drummer first so for me one of the things I love about playing my Gretsch Duo Jet is it's a more percussive guitar compared to my Strat or my previous Les Paul that I sold to my brother. I find it more difficult to control a guitar with a lot of sustain. I do like sustain for lead guitar single note solos but I prefer less sustain when playing rhythm guitar. My Duo Jet is pretty balanced.

– BuddyHollywood

Dave Hunter in one of his books makes that point about Gretsch guitars. They are, intentionally or not, designed in ways that reduce sustain but that gives them a percussive sound that is unique.

RM Mottola did a study comparing through neck, set neck and bolt on designs. He built several guitars where it was all one piece and measured. He cut the neck out, creating a standard pocket and bolted it back in and measured. Finally he took the bolts out and glued the neck back and measured again. He concluded that, contrary to widely held belief, bolt ons provide the best sustain and neck through the least when measured. However listeners could not perceive any differences

https://www.liutaiomottola....

He addresses many other lutherie myths on his website.

10

I also agree with Enis, "too many variables", and even from guitar to guitar, same model same year. The most 'alive' feeling and best acoustical sustaining guitar that I own is my 2017 Fender Elite Stratocaster. I totally lucked out on that one, it resonates better than any electric guitar that I've owned. It's probably because the body mass, for whatever reason, is just right to be hyper reactive to the strings. I've played other Strats that don't feel nearly as lively as this one does.

Plugged in, with enough gain, they all can sustain until tomorrow, especially when you can get that perfect feedback loop with the sound from the amp continuing to vibrate the string.

11

My '59-6122 has much more sustain than any other guitar I've ever played. Even playing clean at low volume, sustain is almost infinite, and it just gets better when I crank the gain & volume. UNfortunately, I can't post a photo of it in the Gretsch catalog.

12

What’s the good of sustain when the conventionally accepted acme of virtuosity on any instrument is to play as fast as possible?

13

What’s the good of sustain when the conventionally accepted acme of virtuosity on any instrument is to play as fast as possible?

– Deke Martin


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