Killing sustain

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Killing sustain

Postby 1four5 » Mon Jan 01, 2007 8:28 pm

Is it possible to electrically adjust/reduce/kill the sustain on an electric guitar?

I play banjo with a pick-up, and also play a National Radiotone with a P-90 pick-up. With one I have no sustain, the way it should be. With the other I have loads of sustain, also the way it should be. I'm not a sparky, and know little about electronics, but I do ok with the simplicity of my Roland Cube60 settings, and it works great for the small gigs we play. I love bare bones plug and play, and really not interested in a bunch of inline pedel electronic gadgets and stuff like that...however...There's a nitche between my two instruments that I juuust caaaaan't quite reach. There are some songs that I would like to use my reso and a faster fingerpicking with, but the sustain of the reso is too much, and they just aren't banjo songs (although I currently use my banjo with lotsa reverb for them).

Like I said, I don't know hardly anything about pedels (and terms like compression/noise gate/etc...), but if they make something simple that would knock the end off the notes on my reso, and let me use it in a more hard fingerpicking bluegrassy fashion...I'd be VERY interested to try it. I don't want to look like too much of a dope when I go to the music store tomorrow :shock: 8) Thanks for any insights!
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Re: Killing sustain

Postby lightninboy » Tue Jan 02, 2007 11:09 am

" if they make something simple that would knock the end off the notes on my reso, and let me use it in a more hard fingerpicking bluegrassy fashion...I'd be VERY interested to try it."

Something simple?
Yep, try a piece of sponge, the ones you do the dishes with.
Cut a slice and position it under the strings near the saddle.
With the rest, you can help the little lady with the washing up. :lol:

Its an old bass guitar trick, for when a P bass sustains too much.
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Re: Killing sustain

Postby maxx england » Tue Jan 02, 2007 3:22 pm

lightninboy wrote:" if they make something simple that would knock the end off the notes on my reso, and let me use it in a more hard fingerpicking bluegrassy fashion...I'd be VERY interested to try it."

Something simple?
Yep, try a piece of sponge, the ones you do the dishes with.
Cut a slice and position it under the strings near the saddle.
With the rest, you can help the little lady with the washing up. :lol:

Its an old bass guitar trick, for when a P bass sustains too much.


It does work. Different grades give different "plunk".
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Postby ricochet » Tue Jan 02, 2007 3:50 pm

And when you want a sitar sound, you can weave a strip of paper between the strings near the saddle.
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Postby bignick » Tue Jan 02, 2007 4:18 pm

You mentioned using a Cube 60. I have a micro-cube and that thing is a sustain MONSTER. I can only imagine that the 60s electronics produces the same results. There is ambience digitally recorded in to each setting on those. Make sure that you cut out your effects. The reverb, delays, and choruses will all add to that.

A compressor will add more pop to your sound, but should not cut your sustain. Most people use compressors to ADD sustain.

And as you know, muting is probably the best way. Whenever I do a banjo roll on an electric I have to fight the open strings from ringing out too much. Always a challenge.
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Postby Boogieman » Tue Jan 02, 2007 6:58 pm

You can also try a noise gate.
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Postby bignick » Tue Jan 02, 2007 9:15 pm

That is a possibility, but a decent noise gate is going to cost you about $100 and it may not be what you are looking for. However, I ditched my MXR Smart Gate for that very reason: it was affecting my sustain. If you turn the dial clockwise a tad too much, it really cuts your sound off. Maybe that will work for you.
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Postby 1four5 » Tue Jan 02, 2007 10:26 pm

Thanks for all the ideas :D :D ...it's been a fun day, especially being my last day before going back to work :x :roll:

I've actually used the sponge/foam trick on a banjo before. Today I spend a couple hours playing with strips of foam...it has possibilities, but man, it cut's tone as quick as sustain...kind of fun dialing some reverb or delay back into it...but for the most part, it took my sound and turned it into Cloink-cloink-cloink :shock: :shock: ...well wouldn't you know it, I just happen to have a fresh Guitar Center gift card just dying to turn into something musical...so this afternoon it turned into a Boss NS-2 noise gate pedel :D . Man...I'm loving it. Not exaaaactly what I was hoping for at full fingerpickling speed and voilume on the reso, but MUCH better than before, and only jamming with my bandmates will tell for sure. And oh man, how sweet is being able to dial out the amp hiss and fingerpick noise and all that other nasty little schmugeralistic sounds resos and metal fingerpicks make. Thanks again for the tips, and making my day...I'm learning, slowly, about electricity :idea:
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Postby ricochet » Tue Jan 02, 2007 11:49 pm

The problem with a noise gate is that it doesn't affect the decay rate, it just chops the sound off when it drops below a certain level. Yuck!

I think you need to work on the delicate art of palm muting.
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Postby maxx england » Thu Jan 04, 2007 3:40 pm

I'm going to query pickup to string height, and the effect on the pickup's sensitivity. Anybody know if it has an effect on sustain/decay?
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Postby ricochet » Thu Jan 04, 2007 7:13 pm

Not really directly, but it produces a more or less proportional decrease in sensitivity for strong and low level signals, which like turning down gain should seemingly reduce sustain.

I don't know if anyone markets one as a guitar effect, but a volume expander (the opposite of a compressor, it amplifies loud sounds more and quiet sounds less) would do exactly what's being asked for. Electronically simple, old technology.
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Postby texas blues » Fri Jan 05, 2007 4:44 am

This might sound like I'm on drugs but when I started to learn slide all I had was an Ovation. The neck was/is not ideal for that so to clean up the sloppy sound I sometimes got for lack of muting technique I would take a bandana and tie it around the headstock behind the nut. Seemed to knock off the resonance and sustain while still sounding good.
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Postby deltablues57 » Fri Jan 05, 2007 8:05 pm

I have 2 suggestions both of which I use because I like a little deader sound sometimes. #1 try using a set of flatwound strings. They sound much fatter and have less sustain than regular strings. #2 when I want a less bright deader slide sound I use a piece of PVC pipe as a slide. The PVC is not as smooth as a glass or metal slide and the sound dies quite a bit sooner than the glass or metal. You can get the PVC at a hardware store. It is the white pipe used for sprinkler systems.
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Postby ricochet » Fri Jan 05, 2007 8:11 pm

Now there are some great ideas, deltablue!

Hadn't thought about flatwounds, since I won't use 'em. Jazz players like 'em largely because they don't sustain well and because they don't have a bright sound with lots of harmonics. They don't want ringing sustain and loads of harmonics muddying up their complex jazz chords.

And lack of sustain has nixed a lot of slide candidates I've tried. Copper pipe is another. Probably would sustain better than PVC, but not nearly as well as a bottleneck, socket or brass slide.
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Postby Catweazle » Fri Jan 05, 2007 8:24 pm

You want to kill sustain? Put a guitar in my hands, mate. :lol: :lol: :lol:
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