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Old 02-20-2014, 03:33 AM   #1
GuerillaGorilla
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What can I do to improve the sustain on my electric guitar?

Hey all, I was wondering if you could help me with an issue I'm having with my guitar. I have an Ibanez RG2EX1 that's been serving me well these past years (well, after switching out the pickups), but the sustain on higher notes (12th fret up) on this thing is killing me when I play with distortion and a noise gate. I've done a bit of research on my own and found that there are a few ways to increase sustain: adjust the truss rod (which I would like to avoid doing as I really like the action where it is now), buy a new bridge, buy a new nut, or rely on the sustain feature of a compressor. I've tried messing with compressors on my Pod HD but find that too much unwanted noise is created trying to artificially create the sustain, so that narrows it down to replacing either the bridge or nut.

What course of action do you guys recommend I take for getting better sustain? If it helps any I've also been having issues with my intonation from time to time and some occasional buzz on my D string at the saddle.

Then again, I could always just invest in a system like the Sustainiac, haha.
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Old 02-20-2014, 08:45 AM   #2
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If you don't use the vibrato, blocking it completely with solid wood helps a little. You could even upgrade the block (that the strings go through) to brass or tungsten but that gets really expensive.
Basically I would focus on the bridge before the nut or truss rod; the nut will only help you on open notes and your trouble is on the higher ones.
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Old 02-20-2014, 09:02 AM   #3
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new pickups might be a good place to start. what amp are you using? playing technique is often the last place looked at but often is to blame as well. has your guitar been professionally set up, if not start there.
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Old 02-20-2014, 10:42 AM   #4
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Monwobobbo mentioned a good setup.

Make sure your frets are level.
Make sure your nut is correctly cut (a too-high nut produce the wrong string angle and will show up as fretting-out above the 12th fret if you lower the bridge to get your action where you want it).

Consider supergluing your frets (http://www.stewmac.com/tsarchive/ts0043.html ) -- a good tech will know what this is about.

Consider adding a larger brass sustain block to your trem (the block itself usually runs under $40). Note that it will make a slight difference in the balance of the guitar (usually for the good) and in the operation of the trem (also usually good).

I've got Sustainers on a couple of guitars and love them. But you can also consider playing with your pedal delay settings.
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Old 02-20-2014, 11:32 AM   #5
cheesefries
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Consider eating a lot of ice cream and getting really fat. I bet the fatter your fingers get the more sustain you'll have
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Old 02-20-2014, 12:29 PM   #6
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For an RG, a good setup and a trem block will do wonders.
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Old 02-20-2014, 01:51 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by cheesefries
Consider eating a lot of ice cream and getting really fat. I bet the fatter your fingers get the more sustain you'll have


Wait -- you didn't recommend he eat cheese fries?
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Old 02-20-2014, 02:31 PM   #8
GuerillaGorilla
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Well this model of the RG series doesn't have a tremolo system at all, it just has a fixed bridge so that's not the issue. More info about the guitar is here: http://ibanez.wikia.com/wiki/RG2EX1 And I'm using Seymour Duncan SH-5b and SH-5n pickups in this so I doubt those are the issue either (I've tried lowering the pickup height to no avail).

I haven't had it professionally set up, though, I should look into that, although I have had it taken into shops a few time to adjust the intonation and other stuff. Nothing serious like you guys are recommending, though. As for the amp I'm using I'm using a Pod HD 500 with headphones so I can't get any feedback to help with sustain unfortunately.

Thanks for all the advice! I'll start going to my local guitar shops and asking around to see if they can set up my guitar to improve this issue.
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Old 02-20-2014, 02:59 PM   #9
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Change strings often/clean them after you use the guitar, get a heavier/better quality bridge, get a smoother nut made of better material, grease the nut with graphite

alternatively, get a better guitar
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Old 02-21-2014, 08:31 AM   #10
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When the guitar is not plugged in does it ping on those notes and can you hear some fret buzz? It is possible that there are some uneven frets if the problem does not persist over the rest of the guitar.
The three options are
1) Live with it.
2) raise the action a tiny amount on the treble side.
3) Have a pro setup done or learn how to dress the fretboard.
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Old 02-21-2014, 09:38 PM   #11
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Volume!
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