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Old 09-15-2012, 03:39 PM   #1
DrewMeyer
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How to improve sustain

Okay so I've got a bit of money to spend on upgrading my guitar but need some help. It is an Epiphone Dot Deluxe which I have modded quite heavily with new tuners, new pickups and new electronics. However, the problem is that the guitar lacks the sustain I am looking for. The notes die out fairly fast and don't have a musical ringing quality to them (a bit hard to describe, but it's something I notice on other guitars I have played). I wanted to know if there was anything I could do to increase note sustain? Would an aftermarket bridge or nut help? Thanks and I can provide additional information as needed.
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Old 09-15-2012, 03:47 PM   #2
MrFlibble
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The only thing you can really do mod-wise is ensure everything as built and fixed as solidly as possible. The stock Epiphone nut is hollow plastic, so you should replace that. A brass nut will help with sustain, but it radically brightens your tone, especially the tone of open strings. Bone is a good optionfor a balanced tone with decent sustain and clarity.

The bridge that Epiphone use is actually about as good as money can buy. In fact Epiphone's stock tuners and bridges (not including the ones on the very cheapest models) are actually superior to the ones used on production Gibsons, bizarrely. So there's no point changing that if more sustain is what you want, unless you have a much older model which doesn't have the current locking bridge. In that case a new bridge may help, but it won't be a massive difference.

The main way to get maximum sustain out of the guitar is to set it up a specific way. Higher action, a more drastic break angle over the bridge and nut and lower pickups will all help. Using a medium string gauge for your tuning helps a lot too. Using excessively thick or thin strings can harm sustain.

And of course, work on your vibrato technique.
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Old 09-15-2012, 04:24 PM   #3
DrewMeyer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFlibble
The only thing you can really do mod-wise is ensure everything as built and fixed as solidly as possible. The stock Epiphone nut is hollow plastic, so you should replace that. A brass nut will help with sustain, but it radically brightens your tone, especially the tone of open strings. Bone is a good optionfor a balanced tone with decent sustain and clarity.


So you'd say brass offers the best sustain at the cost of a brighter tone? I wouldn't mind that, as the guitar sounds a bit dark as it is for my tastes.

Quote:
The bridge that Epiphone use is actually about as good as money can buy. In fact Epiphone's stock tuners and bridges (not including the ones on the very cheapest models) are actually superior to the ones used on production Gibsons, bizarrely. So there's no point changing that if more sustain is what you want, unless you have a much older model which doesn't have the current locking bridge. In that case a new bridge may help, but it won't be a massive difference.


That is quite bizarre. Mine is an '06 so would it have the newer bridge?

Quote:
The main way to get maximum sustain out of the guitar is to set it up a specific way. Higher action, a more drastic break angle over the bridge and nut and lower pickups will all help. Using a medium string gauge for your tuning helps a lot too. Using excessively thick or thin strings can harm sustain.

And of course, work on your vibrato technique.


The action is fairly high as it is (at least compared to other guitars I've played, its at a comfortable height for me) so I will try lowering the pickups. How would I go about changing the break angle (and what exactly is the break angle, for that matter)? I use 10s so I think I'm good there and I have decent vibrato, but I will take note of that in the future. Thanks for the help you've given, and I'll take this into consideration.
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Old 09-16-2012, 04:15 AM   #4
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The break angle is the angle at which the string passes over the nut slots and bridge saddles. Basically, if the string passes through them almost completely straight you'll find bends are easier to do but sustain will suffer. If you can make the strings pass through the nut and bridge at a more severe angle then you'll find sustain improves but bends become harder. On some guitars you can't change these things, but if you can then it's worth experimenting to get the best angle at both end.

A solid brass nut certainly will provide the best sustain. Don't expect it to work miracles of course, but it'll be an improvement over the hollow plastic one the guitar comes with.

Epiphoen started using the new hardware in early 2006, so you're right on the edge. There's an easy way to check which set of hardware you have. Simply take the strings off (or just loosen them) and if the stopbar and tune-o-matic are able to easily slide off, you have the old hardware. If they're stuck in place, you have the new stuff.
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Old 09-16-2012, 04:35 AM   #5
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If all the above fails, you could always try getting a compression pedal with a sustain setting. Sort of cheating, but it can't hurt.
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Old 09-16-2012, 05:13 AM   #6
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fernandes sustainer or a sustainiac. you replace your neck pickup with it and you get literally infinite sustain with the flip of a switch.
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Old 09-16-2012, 05:15 AM   #7
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^ You can't fit a sustainer in a Dot.
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Old 09-16-2012, 05:40 AM   #8
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I've never heard of not being able to put a sustainer in a dot, or any hollow body for that matter.

If that's the case, that leaves you to raising the action by a millimeter or two at the 12th fret, lowering the pickups (which will also change the tone, you've been warned), getting a brass or stainless nut, and putting more wraps around the tuning pegs when you restring.
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Old 09-16-2012, 07:36 AM   #9
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You can keep your pickups and simply use the Guitar Resonator... www.vibesware.com

You control it with a foot switch (in terms of feedback sustain or regular sustain), and you aim the device at the strings for the effect... then back off (pull the guitar away a few inches) to cancel the effect. Quite easy to use... a few videos and sound clips on the site.
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Old 09-16-2012, 03:55 PM   #10
DrewMeyer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFlibble
The break angle is the angle at which the string passes over the nut slots and bridge saddles. Basically, if the string passes through them almost completely straight you'll find bends are easier to do but sustain will suffer. If you can make the strings pass through the nut and bridge at a more severe angle then you'll find sustain improves but bends become harder. On some guitars you can't change these things, but if you can then it's worth experimenting to get the best angle at both end.

A solid brass nut certainly will provide the best sustain. Don't expect it to work miracles of course, but it'll be an improvement over the hollow plastic one the guitar comes with.

Epiphoen started using the new hardware in early 2006, so you're right on the edge. There's an easy way to check which set of hardware you have. Simply take the strings off (or just loosen them) and if the stopbar and tune-o-matic are able to easily slide off, you have the old hardware. If they're stuck in place, you have the new stuff.


Ah ha well mine comes out so I have the old stuff. A compression pedal isn't completely out of the option, but something to make the guitar itself sustain better is preferred. Sustainiac or the like isn't exactly what I'm looking for either as I don't need 20 second long sustained notes, just notes that don't seem to die out right after they are played (kind of like trying to pluck on a violin, just a little less so). Thanks for the suggestions and I will look into some new bridge hardware, a brass nut and maybe a compression pedal. Any more suggestions are, of course, still welcomed though.
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Old 09-16-2012, 07:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrewMeyer
Thanks for the suggestions and I will look into some new bridge hardware, a brass nut and maybe a compression pedal. Any more suggestions are, of course, still welcomed though.


After looking at your hardware the next step is to just crank the amp.

The best sounding sustain I get is when my amp is cranked and the mechanical feedback keeps that string buzzing long after it should have decayed off.

Combine that with good finger vibrato and the sustain / sound can border on orgasmic.
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Old 09-17-2012, 12:18 AM   #12
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You might be overlooking something. The guitar might just need a fret level, truss rod adjustment, or it could even be your technique.

Even guitars known for sustain really don't sustain that incredibly long without any kind of overdrive or distortion.


A brass nut isn't going to do anything for notes that are fretted.

Last edited by earthwormjim : 09-17-2012 at 03:34 AM.
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Old 09-17-2012, 11:44 PM   #13
TheThreeToe
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Try out Ernie ball Cobalt strings. Best sustain I've ever heard from a string. It's rediculous how much more sustain they have. YouTube it, if you don't trust me slash petrucci and vai can probably convince ya. Lol
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