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what are the benefits of that long sustain les pauls are known for?


Scott0

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being new to guitar and having recently purchased my first gibson les paul, i've read much about the *sustain for days* quality of the les paul and mine certainly delivers that.

 

is there more to that than just sustain? does that feature mean the guitar has certain qualities/properties etc that the long sustain exemplifies?

 

[smile]

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Having good sustain means that when you play your notes don't just drop off after two seconds...

 

Otherwise guitars can sound a bit flat and dull...

 

Of course for some styles of music they prefer that.. but for rock and blues stuff sustain is king :)

 

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Having good sustain means that when you play your notes don't just drop off after two seconds...

 

Otherwise guitars can sound a bit flat and dull...

 

Of course for some styles of music they prefer that.. but for rock and blues stuff sustain is king :)

 

 

 

i see, so it's not necc. the total length of the sustain, it's the fact that it doesn't start to drop off note earlier in the sustain?

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The dynamics a playing a guitar strings include "attack," that is, how long it takes to go from no sound to maximum intended sound decibel level, and "decay," which is how long it takes for a string to be damped by the rest of the instrument.

 

The Les Paul series in theory derives its sustain from the mechanical properties - or lack thereof - of the stuff that holds the string. If it's damped more by one wood/set of woods, it has less sustain. More dense wood in theory would decrease the rate of decay.

 

For example, I had a plexiglass SG back in the early '70s that almost would not stop "ringing" its strings. But that "glass" was exceptionally heavy and I'll wager, dense.

 

Most guitar attack is relatively rapid in comparisoon to something like a clarinet. And that, IMHO, is why one sees few clarinets in rock bands. They don't have the kick that seems to be part of the rock scene.

 

m

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Hello!

 

It is all relative. Sustain, also depends on many factors: gain settings, volume, instrument setup.

 

What You hear in the Gary Moore video is not the natural ability of the instrument. It's a trick Mr. Moore mastered: playing with the feedback.

 

I guess, when it comes to Les Paul, sustain is not about "it will sustain for days", rather that notes played, do not decay that fast - they are audible longer compared to an average guitar. Still, we are talking milliseconds here.

 

I think, this quality of a Les Paul is important when playing slower, more melodic genres of music, with lots of bends and vibratos.

 

Cheers... Bence

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Well, the concept of the Les from the real Les was a guitar that wouldn't feed back as much as a traditional archtop "jazz" guitar at the volumes of amplification then coming increasingly into vogue.

 

Also don't forget that Les was really messing with sound - overdubs, etc., etc. A "board" that was fairly solid and didn't damp the strings seemed to him to be a good idea.

 

The amount of additional "sustain" from various Les Paul Gibson/Epi configurations may be up to question, but... it worked well feeding it into various recording machines.

 

m

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To my experience, the sustain of Les Paul guitars is both exceptional and even. They also have their dull notes but no dead ones like practically all other guitars. A dull note on a Les Paul will sound about that long as an average note on many other models. Moreover, I never found a dull or dead note from 12th to 22nd fret. Other designs have obvious dead spots there. Many players prefer Les Paul guitars over other guitars which may be better playable past the neck heel but can't keep up in sustain.

 

When comparing my solidbody hybrid guitars featuring magnetic and piezo pickups to hollowbodies, the solidbodies all provide similar bite of the attack but longer sustain, except for their dull notes of course. However, among the hybrids, the Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess delivers an acoustic tone which is farthest beyond any hollowbody. No compressor is able to produce it when processing a real acoustic guitar. It's not in the attack which sounds very real and acoustic-like, it is in the sustain. Any compressor would breathe and pump, the Alex Lifeson model puts out clear attacks while the sustaining strings sound on with any consistence one could desire.

 

I couldn't find any other guitars over the years that compete to the Les Paul models with respect to sustain. If you ask me, it is in design and construction. The properties vary with woods respectively Richlite which comes closest to the behaviour of ebony, but I believe that in general there is no better solution when wanting long and even sustain than the typical Les Paul body/top/singlecut design.

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Yes. Long sustain is made possible by an overall resonance that has the effect of providing a "positive feedback" to the strings keeping them vibrating longer. Other ways you experience this is by feeling the body and neck of the instrument vibrate as you play it.

 

When the whole instrument vibrates as it's played, you also get more of the 'organic' or 'wood' character in the output - with the right pickups.

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Yes. Long sustain is made possible by an overall resonance that has the effect of providing a "positive feedback" to the strings keeping them vibrating longer. Other ways you experience this is by feeling the body and neck of the instrument vibrate as you play it.

 

When the whole instrument vibrates as it's played, you also get more of the 'organic' or 'wood' character in the output - with the right pickups.

Can confirm that, and it is rather exciting for me to experience that with a completely different wood and pickup design. Next to my Les Paul guitars comes the sustain of my Fender American Deluxe Ash Telecaster, and there's nothing missing of attack and bite, just the added benefit of the long lasting tone.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The kind of sustain where you use the Amp in combination w a Les Paul started with Eric Clapton on John Mayalls Bluesbreakers w Eric Clapton LP.

 

Specifically check the solos on Double Crossing Time and All your Love, in fact all of ,em

 

This was then taken to its conclusion by Peter Green w John Mayalls Bluesbreakers on

The Supernatural

I have tried to add these tracks from Youtube but I dont know how you do it!

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWFFqffopb8

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IMHO, If you really want to experience the Les Paul's sustain,

go to a guitar dealer, try out a decent Strat, and Les Paul,

together, side by side. Same amp, no pedals, etc. You'll

see, pretty clearly, the difference. Youtube videos are ok,

but they often have "amp"tone/sustain, as well as "pedals"

incorporated in the video. The best way to understand the

"real" differences, is to compare them, first hand, without

all the possible embellishments.

 

[biggrin]

 

CB

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IMHO, If you really want to experience the Les Paul's sustain,

go to a guitar dealer, try out a decent Strat, and Les Paul,

together, side by side. Same amp, no pedals, etc. You'll

see, pretty clearly, the difference. Youtube videos are ok,

but they often have "amp"tone/sustain, as well as "pedals"

incorporated in the video. The best way to understand the

"real" differences, is to compare them, first hand, without

all the possible embellishments.

 

[biggrin]

 

CB

 

I will try this later today, I have a MIA strat and a gibbie LP. [thumbup]

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I have an army of Gibsons and 1 Strat which I hardly ever play. I have come up with a basic theory about sustain and the construction of a guitar. basically, the quieter a guitar is unplugged, the more sustain it will have. There is very little acoustical energy being taken from the string which will increase its sustain. My Les Pauls are quiet in this regard. Think of a steel guitar, very quiet unplugged but lots of sustain. My SG makes a bit more acoustic sound than the LPs and therefore seems to have less sustain. My 335 is the loudest acoustically and has even less sustain unplugged. Of course my Martins are very loud acoustically and have very short sustain, see the relationship? Now here is the paradox, these effects are only if played unplugged, when a loud amplifier is used just the opposite happens, the acoustic will sustain uncontrollable from feedback. The 335 will sustain nice and long without much annoying feedback, as will the SG, but less, and in last place for volume induced feedback is the Les Paul. So as you can see sustain can happen for different reasons. One reason my Strat has terrible sustain is it has a Floyd Rose tremolo on it, the springs counteracting the string tension vibrate and waste the strings energy. As an experiment I have attached a string between 2 concrete blocks, result was a very quiet string with extremely long sustain. Just Sayin!

 

PS: I can get my Les Pauls to sustain just like Gary Moore's, takes some distortion though.

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A good hunk of wood will give you good tone, won't fight back and coincidentally give some decent sustain.

A good way is to see it this way;

Sustain vs attack

Sustain vs definition

 

My LP will sustain notes to where its hard to play arpeggios.

It also has enough bite to it to where it sounds nothing short of evil when I turn it up.

It also has enough tone to really deliver the goods whatever the genre may be, clean or distorted.

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The LPs of mine do have a nice attack as well as great sustain, and through the sustaining notes the tone stays well defined. Stunning awesome is the acoustic sound of my Alex Lifeson Axcess which beats every hollowbody with a subsequent compressor when recording and mixing. It also clearly shows the gap in sustain between LP and Fender Stratocaster guitars - I own two of the latter modified with the Graph Tech Ghost LB63CR piezo Floyd Rose used in the Alex Lifeson Axcess. There is practically no gap when it's about attack. I also don't think that the scale makes a big difference but rather the Strat's SSS magnet pickup string pull, for both purity on upper frets and sustain.

 

To me there is no better pairing of dynamic response and sustain than that of a Les Paul, although the L6S guitars come rather close except their obvious dull notes. Interestingly, my Fender American Deluxe Ash Telecaster is closest to my LPs, especially to the fantastic Traditional 2013.

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A good hunk of wood will give you good tone, won't fight back and coincidentally give some decent sustain.

A good way is to see it this way;

Sustain vs attack

Sustain vs definition

 

My LP will sustain notes to where its hard to play arpeggios.

It also has enough bite to it to where it sounds nothing short of evil when I turn it up.

It also has enough tone to really deliver the goods whatever the genre may be, clean or distorted.

 

 

The LPs of mine do have a nice attack as well as great sustain, and through the sustaining notes the tone stays well defined. Stunning awesome is the acoustic sound of my Alex Lifeson Axcess which beats every hollowbody with a subsequent compressor when recording and mixing. It also clearly shows the gap in sustain between LP and Fender Stratocaster guitars - I own two of the latter modified with the Graph Tech Ghost LB63CR piezo Floyd Rose used in the Alex Lifeson Axcess. There is practically no gap when it's about attack. I also don't think that the scale makes a big difference but rather the Strat's SSS magnet pickup string pull, for both purity on upper frets and sustain.

 

To me there is no better pairing of dynamic response and sustain than that of a Les Paul, although the L6S guitars come rather close except their obvious dull notes. Interestingly, my Fender American Deluxe Ash Telecaster is closest to my LPs, especially to the fantastic Traditional 2013.

 

 

Could y'all maybe go into what attack means here? I was under the impression attack is how the guitar player plays/picks/plucks the strings. I wasn't aware that attack has to do with the characteristics of the guitar. Not saying my impression is right here, just trying to understand better.

 

 

And thanks to everybody for all the replies to this topic!

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Could y'all maybe go into what attack means here? I was under the impression attack is how the guitar player plays/picks/plucks the strings. I wasn't aware that attack has to do with the characteristics of the guitar. Not saying my impression is right here, just trying to understand better.

 

 

And thanks to everybody for all the replies to this topic!

I may have misconceived it since English is not my first language, but to me attack is also about a guitar's tonal response to the player's touch. Some produce more of an "airy", slow transient, e. g. typical instruments with vibrato systems, while others have a fast reaction with a distinctive bite. Interestingly, the Floyd Rose equipped Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess provides more bite AND more sustain than most other FR guitars, and that's why I pointed this out in my previous post. Despite of less body depth, the basic Les Paul characteristics seem to translate nicely here, too. Also, despite of having the shorter scale causing less tension, the strings don't only sound but also feel somehow more "solid" than on the Strats. I use .010" - .046" gauges on all FR and Lyra axes, so scale, design and construction are the very differences.

 

For me it is a constant challenge to get out the best of my axes by hitting the strings compliant to the particular guitar model. I believe that in general strings feel stiffer on a guitar producing a distinctive attack, and also allow for lower string action.

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All kinds of games to play on this one, really, both in terms of talking about it and in terms of how a guitar actually physically sustains a tone and how adjustments to the instrument and/or pups and how one plays and holds the thing may make some difference.

 

As for the steel guitar, note that at least some of that sustain is achieved with a volume pedal. That's a deal lots of "us" used on electrics in the 60s at least. As long as the string was vibrating at all, bring the pedal up and it seems like a pipe organ note instead of a piano or harpsichord playing one note.

 

That's also why electronic organs - such as the famed B3 - had so much perceived range and sensitivity.

 

I'll wager I can make a classical AE sustain longer than an LP run straight through an amp - if I get the volume pedal and the LP player has to just run it straight through. And "we all" know a nylon-strung guitar ain't got the sustain, right?

 

m

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