Poor Sustain on My Guitar


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beedster
06-21-2010, 08:52 AM
I recently bought an Ibanez ORM1 (Omar Rodriguez signature model) and found the pickup to be quite weak so I've thrown a Seymour Duncan JB Jr in there. The sound is definitely much improved but the sustain on the guitar is still pretty poor. Playing a note normally is decent, but artificial harmonics die out almost immediately.

I'm wondering if perhaps I need to wire the pickup differently seeing as there's only the one pickup and volume pot. I copied the way the old pickup was installed but the instructions that came with the JB had different wires in different places. But as I said, the sound is fine now, it's just the sustain, so I don't know if that would make a difference. Perhaps the pickup jusy isn't beefy enough, but I bought it as it was described as high output...

The guitar is a 24" scale length so I wonder if that could be the culprit? I still have the strings on it from the store but maybe if I switch to strings designed for a shorter scale length this would improve matters? At present the strings are super easy to bend so maybe a little extra tension would help?

If anyone has any ideas what I can do to remedy this I would love to hear them. I am eventually planning on routing space for a full size humbucker but I don't want to go to that effort if the sustain is still going to be a problem.

Dirk Gently
06-21-2010, 08:55 AM
How close are your pickups to your strings? Magnetic pull can choke off sustain.

beedster
06-21-2010, 09:08 AM
I've tried the pickup at all heights, same problem.

I just tried tuning the whole guitar a half-step higher to see if extra tension would make the difference. It didnt :( Even natural harmonics seem to die off pretty quick.

poipoi
06-21-2010, 09:16 AM
was it like that before you put the new pickup in?
Maybe there's a bridge or a nut problem that has nothing to do with your pups...
Do the harmonics last longer when you play without amp?

stompbox
06-21-2010, 09:21 AM
i dont think its the guitar pick ups ,for one thing you changed the pickup and its still doing the same thing so that tells you that the pickup is not what prob is , so the next thing is what are you pluging into befor you get to your amp it cold be a setting on your your setup so ck that and mess around with your setup that could fix it . i just told a friend about it and he told me he thinks its the way the guitar is wired he said you got signature model guitar so that guitar was setup the way he like it to be ,he set it up to play loud and clear so it wont wine and carry on so i think it was setup to be played loud and live ,so try playing around with that .let us kbnow what happends

beedster
06-21-2010, 10:25 AM
Do the harmonics last longer when you play without amp?
That's a good point, the harmonics are still weak unplugged, so yeah, can't be the pickup.

It's certainly not anything to do with my other equipment, my harmonics scream through it with my other guitars.

I would have no idea what to do if it were a bridge or nut problem, I'll hit up Google :)

Will be a shame if I can't get this guitar setup the way I like it, apart from this small issue this is one of the most comfortable guitars I've ever played.

beedster
06-21-2010, 11:58 AM
Something I've just noticed now. If I play natural harmonics the 3 lower strings will sustain forever, but the 3 highest will die out after less than a second

I also noticed that artificial harmonics on the lower string also seem to last longer, they're not great but still acceptable. It just seems to really be the highest 3 strings that are experiencing this lack of sustain...

TheWaydown
06-21-2010, 12:36 PM
Something I've just noticed now. If I play natural harmonics the 3 lower strings will sustain forever, but the 3 highest will die out after less than a second

I also noticed that artificial harmonics on the lower string also seem to last longer, they're not great but still acceptable. It just seems to really be the highest 3 strings that are experiencing this lack of sustain...


What about your action/string height? Maybe if it's too low on this particular guitar, this could affect sustain. Try raising it up a small amount, and see if your sustain improves. At least you'll know.

Tinderwet
06-21-2010, 12:59 PM
The above suggestion about the action is a good call. If your strings buzz against the frets just a tiny bit, it can kill most of the sustain. Also, you should use thicker gauge strings for the 24'' scale length to get similar tension thus similar sustain compared to a regular scale guitar.

beedster
06-21-2010, 01:12 PM
I've tried raising the action until it was rediculously high and unplayable, same problem.

I will certainly be putting thicker strings on it soon, but like I said above I tried tuning the guitar a half-step higher to simulate normal tensions but the problem remained. I even tried a whole step up, no dice :(

It certainly seems to be a problem with the guitar itself rather than the pickup.

Maybe the smaller body size just doesnt cut it for sustain. Maybe the bridge is crap. Maybe the nut is crap. Maybe the strings are just old and decrepit. Arg.

Tinderwet
06-21-2010, 01:17 PM
I will certainly be putting thicker strings on it soon, but like I said above I tried tuning the guitar a half-step higher to simulate normal tensions but the problem remained. I even tried a whole step up, no dice :(

That will never be the same as putting on thicker strings. Because thicker strings have more mass, and more mass means more sustain. Think about it, on a 25'' scale there's more resonating mass between the nut (or a certain fret) and the bridge for any given note. So you can't easily simulate it with tuning your existing strings higher. It's actually not recommended to do that.

beedster
06-21-2010, 01:27 PM
I see, learn something new every day :)

At the moment all I know is that it has D'Addario Nickel Wound XLs on it. The label has an orange circle on it, which judging by the images on their website seem to be 'light'.

What would you suggest I try for this 24" scale? Considering I really want to pump out the distortion and have some awesome pinchies going on :D How heavy to go...

Tinderwet
06-21-2010, 01:53 PM
Well for starters, you could try the .012 set, if you want to bend the G, get the EXL-145 set with a plain G. You'll need to open up the nut slots and tighten the truss rod a little bit for the heavier strings.

Lollage123
06-21-2010, 02:25 PM
Technique Technique Technique?

beedster
06-21-2010, 02:42 PM
Thanks, I'll give the heavier strings a go tomorrow and see if they help any

Technique Technique Technique?
No...

MrFlibble
06-21-2010, 02:51 PM
A sub-500 guitar with a multi-part bridge and 24" scale isn't going to sustain notes for that long, no matter what you do to it. We're not exactly talking about AAA-grade woods here. I notice your guitar has a pretty thin neck too, again something which an be key to good sustain. For the record, using strings which are too thick can harm sustain just as much as using strings that are too thin. However, certainly your technique will be a big factor. Good sustain from plain notes comes mostly from clean fretting, a strong picking action and good vibrato; with pinch, tapped and natural harmonics, it's all about precision and your technique, nothing else.

Tinderwet
06-21-2010, 03:02 PM
Price of the guitar or the wood grade have nothing to do with sustain. String mass has, and heavier strings will not sustain less unless they have only minimal or no flexibility, and then we're talking about rods not strings.

I agree on neck thickness generally, cause thinner necks tend to be more flexible, at least using the usual basic construction and materials, but it's only a minor factor.

beedster
06-21-2010, 03:15 PM
A sub-500 guitar with a multi-part bridge

Sub 500? Try sub 250..I couldn't believe how cheap this thing was, especially considering it's a signature model. The build quality/finish is terrible but there's something about this guitar that I love. I could definitely see myself going the custom route and having a high quality one made. My main guitar cost more than 10x this one, but I haven't touched that one in 2 weeks :D

Whilst I appreciate that you are trying to help, I can assure you this is not a problem with technique. Otherwise my post would have read 'why can't I haz pinchies'

I'll need to start reading these forums more often, what a useful resource

beedster
06-22-2010, 03:23 PM
I've tried the thicker strings tonight, but unfortunately didn't make any difference.

Lower strings can get decent enough harmonics, it's just these damn top 3 :'(

Tinderwet
06-22-2010, 05:30 PM
:( I'm sorry to hear that.

MrFlibble
06-22-2010, 05:46 PM
Price of the guitar or the wood grade have nothing to do with sustain.Okay, this is now the fourth thread where you've done nothing but prove how much rubbish you can spout about subjects you clearly know nothing about. I appreciate you're trying to contribute and that is what this forum is for after all, sharing experience and knowledge. But I've yet to see you contribute something which is actually correct, despite how you present yourself. Spreading false information makes these boards look bad and worst of it it misleads new and inexperienced musicians.

Higher quality wood resonates better (one of the factors which decides how good any given cut of timber is considered to be); better resonance equals better sustain. It's that simple. I'm not trying to slam OP's gear or whatever, it's just a simple fact. You can't expect legendary sustain from a standard production guitar, the cheaper the guitar the lower quality the wood and construction will be and that equals less sustain.


OP: try adding mass wherever you can. A lot of people stick a capo or a block of wood or metal on the headstocks of their guitars to increase sustain; adding steel strips to the inside of control cavities can increase sustain a little too, just make sure they're not in contact with any other components. Most importantly, make sure the nut, tuners and all elements of the bridge are tightly fitted and aren't moving at all. A lot of sustain can be lost at the bridge saddles and nut if they're loosely fitted. Moving the pickup far back from the strings will help you sustain harmonics specifically too, but only so long as everything else is secure first.

Gargoyle2500
06-23-2010, 12:17 AM
Neck stiffness can contribute to sustain and tone. I get the feeling the neck on your guitar isn't very stiff, If you had the guitar refretted by a pro who compression fretted the new frets into the slots (And refrets are expensive) You'd have a stiffer neck and it would sustain longer. However, You'd be further ahead to just buy another guitar unless you plan on getting in the guitar repair business. Refretting a guitar properly takes knowledge, patience and experience.