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All this talk of sustaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiin


E-minor7

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I'm sure you have noticed how often the word sustain is mentioned when people speak about and review acoustic guitars.

 

They typically take a chord and strum it, then say : Listen to the sustain, it just goes on forever as X-mas candles light up their eyes and their voice simultanously melts down and rises with awe if not down-right pride.

 

But please tell me.

 

What the heck are we suppose to do with all that sustain.

I thought acoustic playing was about the opposite – interrupting the last strum or touch all the time till the song is over.

Okay, certain strings once in a while ring a bit longer - a beat or something - but then it's back receiving the next right-hand contact like the others.

 

Just wonder what you think – if you are aware about this sustain-hype and what you make of it.

 

 

 

 

A good strong sustain may be fine if you play A Day in The Life and wanna do an impressing interpretation of the final giga chord,

but not even the A Hard Days Night-intro really needs it.

Solos, , , chaaa, then again nix.

No one enjoys a long acoustic note like they do an electric. It's a different thing and they fall into the mix fast.

 

This guitar has sustain for days !!!well, all very fine, but I basically only need a few seconds. What about you.

 

 

 

 

Btw. most of my guitars – high-enders as plain-janes – keep a power-chord running for between 20 and 23 secs.

Depending on the freshness of the steel. That's just how it is and have been as long as I recall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I have two of the best sustainers and overtoners- Lowdens!

 

1993 Lowden S35 Tasmanian Blackwood back and sides with Cedar top.

 

1993 Lowden LSE1 Mahogany back and sides with Sitka Top.

 

The bracing is the key, and an A frame that goes right into the neck joint, that's what I have been told.

 

 

 

So now I have been working on right hand damping for country blues for a long while, so I take the brakes off for sustain and put them back on stop it, a bit tricky sometimes -a massive motor in a little car! But to dig in on a lead or melody line and then add vibrato and let that sustain, well, not much like it in this planet!

 

Klacky for strumming open handed!

 

 

Now, the least sustainy guitar I have is my 1935 Gibson L50, gives a nice plunk sound, probably but not sure, designed for jazzers going hell bent 4 chords per bar ala Freddie Green. But like any guitar, it can be worked to sustain with a heavy vibrato.

 

Now an odd guitar sustain talk wise in my lot is the Blues King. Nice for country blues only if heavily right hand damped because instead of a plunker like the L50, it is a heavy sustainer because my model they decided to use Bubinga for the back and sides, which is in competition with my African Blackwood Cargill guitar for reflections of a hard surface - the interior of both! The BK must have been designed for those heavily sustained blues tunes I have not come across as yet! Or possibly, a marketing person said to call it the Blues King Extra Special Vintage Sunburst Sustainer Special and the boss said: 'Nah, just call it the Blues King, nobody will know the difference from the mahogany non sustaining Blues King! Will they?' Though it is just beautiful for long sustainy appeggiated chords and runs......

 

 

BluesKing777.

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I can sure hear all that sustain when someone's demonstrating it, but have never worried about it much otherwise. To my ear, the least sustain I ever heard was John Koerner on the original KR&G albums where it's so much a part of his sound that you can't imagine it any other way. And it made trying to duplicate his sound really difficult if you happened to be a young guy searching for your musical niche back in the day. I've always understood - to switch to a different genre of playing - that Norman Blake favors a lack of sustain when flatpicking to enhance note-by-note clarity. I wish my playing was sufficiently expert that I could better appreciate the nuances of sustain hands-on. Kind of doubt that it'll happen at this stage of life, so I'll continue to just play the thing and count myself lucky that it makes me happy and that (so far) I haven't been shot at by listeners😃

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So let's think of woodcarving and sculpture:

 

Sustain is like wood; we pluck and dampen our way through a piece, creating the contour and relief of the song that forms in the negative space.

 

In the appreciable absence of sustain, we touch and mould individual notes into clusters, rolling them together and shaping them until the song appears as we wish.

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It used to be almost laughable, so totally AGF, when acoustic reviewers would speak of how the notes would “blossom” on certain fine guitars. . . . but training the ear- not the sort that singers do, but the process of quieting oneself down and listening for a guitar’s true voice (and how it’s wood selection affects it’s tone, etc.) is something enjoyable about acoustic guitars, and it is something that is enabled by sustain. By itself, sustain- I’m not impressed, but what it allows the guitar to reveal. . . that is something to listen for.

 

 

 

Yes, mahogany has sustain, and it allows the note's fundamental to be heard nicely.

 

Yes, rosewood- like throwing a stone into a pool- it can get crazy when/if the rippling waves (overtones) run together, but can be pretty cool looking, too.

 

It is all good.

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So let's think of woodcarving and sculpture:

 

Sustain is like wood; we pluck and dampen our way through a piece, creating the contour and relief of the song that forms in the negative space.

 

In the appreciable absence of sustain, we touch and mould individual notes into clusters, rolling them together and shaping them until the song appears as we wish.

A very nice bit of writing👍

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I'm looking for all the sustain I can get in an electric guitar; with acoustics, especially vintage or torrefied ones, I desire exactly the opposite. A good acoustic has a quick response, dry sound, even balance string to string, strong projection—in short, good fundamentals without too many overtones, without too much sustain.

 

The reason all-solid-wood guitars have less sustain (overtones) than laminate ones is because the solid-wood back and sides in part absorb sound, especially overtones, in a good way, which makes for less sustain overall (which is desired) but quicker response, a snappier, more immediate sound due to less overtones ringing throughout than in a laminate guitar.

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I'm looking for all the sustain I can get in an electric guitar; with acoustics, especially vintage or torrefied ones, I desire exactly the opposite. A good acoustic has a quick response, dry sound, even balance string to string, strong projection—in short, good fundamentals without too many overtones, without too much sustain.

 

The reason all-solid-wood guitars have less sustain (overtones) than laminate ones is because the solid-wood back and sides in part absorb sound, especially overtones, in a good way, which makes for less sustain overall (which is desired) but quicker response, a snappier, more immediate sound due to less overtones ringing throughout than in a laminate guitar.

 

Really interesting point about solid vs laminate. I wonder if that's the reason behind Takamine and others using solid tops and backs with laminate sides?

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You will hear over on the AGF crapping on how their Martin authentics and Collings guitars sustain like ..... forever.

 

OK, goof if yourre into your drfiting, fall alseep any moment fingerstyle pieces, for anthing its usueless. All it does is muddy the sound. Projection is much more valuable than sustain or volume.

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The reason all-solid-wood guitars have less sustain (overtones) than laminate ones is because the solid-wood back and sides in part absorb sound, especially overtones, in a good way, which makes for less sustain overall (which is desired) but quicker response, a snappier, more immediate sound due to less overtones ringing throughout than in a laminate guitar.

 

Ive rarely come across a situation where a laminate has more sustain than an all solid, Ive found it to be very much the opposite.

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To me sustain and overtones are two different thingies. Sustain is how long the sound propagates while overtones make up the complexity of said propagation. A guitar string tensioned up between two nails on a two-by-four would have sustain with little to no overtones generated, very fundamental. But I could well be wrong.......I dunno..... [confused]

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Ive rarely come across a situation where a laminate has more sustain than an all solid, Ive found it to be very much the opposite.

. . . Isn't that the reason that the Gibson J-160 E was spec'ed out with laminate construction, in an attempt to avoid feedback?

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To me sustain and overtones are two different thingies. Sustain is how long the sound propagates while overtones make up the complexity of said propagation. A guitar string tensioned up between two nails on a two-by-four would have sustain with little to no overtones generated, very fundamental. But I could well be wrong.......I dunno..... [confused]

Damn, Buc - propagation? I got lost at 'thingies'😯

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Many a good comment here - rewarding to hear some awareness and thoughts on the ever present topic.

 

I believe a lot of the listen to the sustain-statements heard here and there are meant to say this is a fine guitar and nothing more really.

It comes a bit per auto-pilot and both the instruments and players deserve more than that.

 

THREAD # 20.000 - a sign of sustain in itself - tried to shed some light.

And the answers bring it closer to being worthy of that number.

 

 

Btw. we're already approaching 20.012 - LONG LIVE THE ACOUSTIC SECTION, , , Sustaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnn. . . .

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For the ones that have no idea what we are talking about, I did a short track playing my Queen of Sustain - 1993 Lowden S35 small body guitar with Tasmanian Blackwood back and sides and a Cedar Top.

 

Depending what I am playing or if I am right hand damping to stop the strings a bit, the guitar can be like an upright piano with the 'sustain pedal' held down - the notes can start to run too long and merge in to the next. Which on a fast or clipped note tune is useless as has been mentioned above a number of times. But I love controlling it!

 

Left this 'uncontrolled' mainly - to demonstrate the sustain. Have to stop it sometimes - the guitar is still ringing in the music room as I write this up!!!!! [biggrin] [biggrin] [biggrin]

 

 

https://soundcloud.com/bk7-3/sustain-ence777

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

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