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Unread 04-11-2007, 09:18 PM   #1
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What's with sustain?

Seriously, why is it so desired?

The average note hardly lasts a couple seconds. Why isn't anyone designing a guitar that has a short attack and decay anyway?

Just curious.

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Unread 04-11-2007, 09:29 PM   #2
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That's an interesting question, regardless of whether you are being serious or just making fun of the usual guitar forum banter. I'm not sure which it is.

It depends. Personally, I play rhythm the vast majority of the time and I don't need sustain. In fact, I often prefer guitars with a snappy, short attack. It just fits better with my rhythm playing. Too much sustain can actually be a detriment to me. I end up having to do more work by muting strings that won't shut up, heh.

Just a quick edit to clarify:
I do like a certain amount of sustain. I know when playing an ukulele or mandolin, much in the way I'd play rhythm guitar, I sometimes find myself wanting more sustain.

Last edited by gg7; 04-11-2007 at 09:40 PM.
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Unread 04-11-2007, 11:39 PM   #3
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My name is Carlos Santana. I need sustain!
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Unread 04-12-2007, 07:26 AM   #4
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I've kind of wondered if a lot of sustain might not always be a good thing. Seems like it is great for playing solo but makes the sound muddy when playing rhythm.
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Unread 04-12-2007, 08:11 AM   #5
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I'd just like for the note to last as long as I want it to (without the use of vibrato). Some songs it sounds bad to me when the note cuts out short.
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Unread 04-12-2007, 08:58 AM   #6
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Sustain can be acheived (or not) through technique as much as it can through equipment.
No one needs to design a guitar that gets minimal sustain per se because minimal sustain can be a product of how one plays and not necessarily of what one plays on.
This isn't to say that there are not instruments that are designed to perform better when notes are more staccato or that there aren't instruments that are about as alive as a wet blanket and couldn't sustain a note longer than a second if they tried but in and of itself, sustain length can be adjusted via technique...imho, of course.

The Godin A11 Glissentar is an example I could use to describe an instrument designed for less sustain via the fact that it has no frets and uses nylon strings.
Santana would be lost on it, I'm thinking...

Why is sustain desired? I don't know...simply because it's yet another dynamic element in how one might express themselves musically.

Why is there blue? Or red? Or plaid? Or soft? Or anger?
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Unread 04-12-2007, 09:55 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtrdave View Post
Sustain can be acheived (or not) through technique as much as it can through equipment.
This is something I need to work on. Do you have some good pointers on technique that will help with sustain.
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Unread 04-12-2007, 10:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by presbystrat View Post
This is something I need to work on. Do you have some good pointers on technique that will help with sustain.
Careful muting, changing hand/palm placement, adjusting pressure and altering pick attack is about the best advice I can offer.
Honestly, it's something I developed somewhat naturally by listening to others and then listening to myself while I play and by making adjustments as I needed to get the sound I wanted.
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Unread 04-12-2007, 02:08 PM   #9
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Great answer, Dave. I just wonder sometimes how a short sustaining guitar would have a unique timbre and use.
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Unread 04-12-2007, 02:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainer. View Post
Great answer, Dave. I just wonder sometimes how a short sustaining guitar would have a unique timbre and use.
Ukelele anyone?
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Unread 04-12-2007, 02:46 PM   #11
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I love ukes.
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Unread 04-13-2007, 12:14 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainer. View Post
I love ukes.
Yeah, my dog has fleas! I got started plunking on a plastic ukulele a long time ago. You had to guess if you were in tune.
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Unread 04-13-2007, 12:17 AM   #13
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At times, I've played the ukulele more than the guitar.
Now I don't own one. That will likely change eventually though.
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Unread 04-13-2007, 07:56 AM   #14
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Mandos have very little sustain. That is why tremelo picking is used.

Ways to increase sustain: bigger strings, more bridge springs (strat only), harder nut (bone or carbon fiber), eBow, compressor.

Ways to decrease sustain: smaller strings, palm or wrist muting, rosewood bridge.
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Unread 04-13-2007, 08:00 AM   #15
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I can't stand extra noise unless I want it. I would love a guitar that has very little sustain. Enough to hold a few measures, maybe, but I just don't need that much.
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