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Old 08.03.09, 5:18 PM
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Low sustain problem. Strings? Pickups?

I have new American Strat, the guitar sound is great, but I am worried about the sustain - when I play on the same settings the gain and sustain is really much shorter than on my Epiphone Les Paul. Now I do not know, where could be the problem.
I always used 10. gauge, and nowe there is 09. on my new guitar - should I go up? What is the difference between nickelplated steel and pure nickel strings? Maybe it is a fault of pickups? Or maybe the sustain is smaller because of vibrato system?
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  #2  
Old 08.03.09, 5:53 PM
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I don't know about Epiphone Les Pauls (I guess it depends which model it is; custom?), but I reckon Les Pauls generally have more sustain than strats. The tremolo also cuts on sustain compared to a tailpiece.
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Old 08.03.09, 6:19 PM
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The pickups could be too close. That's a big sustain killer on Strats. Fender single coils don't really allow for as much sustain due to the design of hte pickups and their pull on the strings. Also, you're dealing with more string tension which will not allow for quite as much sustain as the shorter Gibson scales.
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Old 08.03.09, 7:51 PM
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I guess it is a personal thing. The setup and the build will determine the sustain. Some Strats are dead...even expensive new ones....even more expensive old ones. I always play a Strat unplugged to hear the natural sustain it has. If it doesn't sing I pick up another one. FTR I find a good Strat to have excellent sustain. I don't see how you can really compare an LP to a Strat anyway. Apples and oranges. If your Strat doesn't sustain take it to a good shop and ask why. It may be a lemon. It might be the setup. It might be the neck joint. It might be your technique. There are lots of variables to the equation. Play another Strat and see if you like it better.
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Old 08.04.09, 1:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olddawg View Post
I guess it is a personal thing. The setup and the build will determine the sustain. Some Strats are dead...even expensive new ones....even more expensive old ones. I always play a Strat unplugged to hear the natural sustain it has. If it doesn't sing I pick up another one. FTR I find a good Strat to have excellent sustain. I don't see how you can really compare an LP to a Strat anyway. Apples and oranges. If your Strat doesn't sustain take it to a good shop and ask why. It may be a lemon. It might be the setup. It might be the neck joint. It might be your technique. There are lots of variables to the equation. Play another Strat and see if you like it better.
Oh man, that is not good news at all The guitar itself should be ok, I took it to the technician for general checkup and he told me it is in perfect condition. When I play it unplugged it also seems ok, the sustain is not dramatically lower. The problem is I am not in a situation I could choose from variety of strats - the region I live in is pretty "stratless", the guitar shops here have only cheap Squiers, you can order better guitars from the e-shop. That is it, I am thinking about changing nut to something better and getting greater gauge, because some say it provides better sustain.
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  #6  
Old 08.04.09, 3:58 AM
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Try toghtening up the trem up to improve sustain. Either screw down the bridge a bit or move back the claw in the cavity. Also make sure your saddles and string trees are ok and not too loose or anything. Your new nut idea is also good - try bone or metal nuts.
Strats will sustain less than les pauls due to the body mass, fixed neck and fixed bridge of the LP
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Old 08.04.09, 9:08 AM
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I've always used heavy strings and high action with my strat, and it is quite loud unplugged. You might have to pick up some extra springs to balance the tremolo out if you use heavier strings, but its probably the first thing I'd try for more sustain.

Like Olddawg said though, there are a lot of factors involved and it might take some experimenting to figure it out.
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Old 08.04.09, 9:37 AM
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Ah, Strats... Don't get started on the neck's dead spots...
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Old 08.04.09, 10:05 AM
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1-Get your guitar set up by a professional luthier. We have an excellent one in town who has done work for the following:

* Jon Bon Jovi (Bon Jovi) - custom double neck
* Robert Charlbois (Charlebois)
* John Choi (Claude Dubois)
* Denis (Piggy) D'Amour (Voivod)
* Stephane Dufour (Eric Lapointe and Saints & Sinners)
* Howard Leese (Heart) - two custom guitars, one very unique with photos of ex-wife & model Pamala Santini covering the complete guitar
* Frank Marino (Mahogany Rush)
* Aldo Nova (Aldo Nova) - two custom guitars
* Micheal Pagliaro (Pagliaro)
* Walter Rossi (Walter Rossi)
* Jeff Stinco (Simple Plan)
* Jean-Yves (Blacky) Theriault (Voivod) - three custom basses

and me! lol

a luthier will help fix the stadard imperfect set up of the guitars and remove the dead notes on your strat.

2-If your tremolo bar is not being used fill the hole where it would typically go. Ask a luthier to fill it with wood or some sort of composite.

3-change your nut. the Nubone nut is quite good.

4-remove the back plate the hides the spring. I personally made Mauro make the hole bigger.

5-replace your diecast bridge, bridge saddles and inertia bar with a metal ones

6-heavier tuners=more sustain. I recomend grover.

7-get a fat finger clamp from groove tubes.

8-pickups...even if they are fender's finest...you might not like them.

Thus concludes Mr.Wednesday's awesome guide for making your strat screamous.


Wednesday

p.s. hold on to any parts that you remove as it will make a difference in resale.
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Old 08.04.09, 1:51 PM
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definitely use the heavier strings. i've got 12s and i'm moving to 13s shortly. it really adds some heft to your notes. agreed on the new nut as well. if you've got money to throw around, try some jumbo or extra-jumbo frets.

however, strats generally don't have as much sustain on them as gibsons, or even teles. the tremolo bridge doesn't help in that regard, and the longer scale also creates less sustain. to that end, it might be a plan to consider non-guitar options such as a compressor pedal. they help add sustain. the mxr dyna or super comp, barber tone press, even the boss cs-3. they could all help give you what you're looking for in the strat without really altering your tone in any unpleaseant way.

a last point is that a lot of it is in your technique (not meant as a knock in any sense). i have a similar issue with my strat (especially so because it's a squier body and bridge. latter part is being altered soon though!), so i slung on some heavy strings and really practiced holding my notes. it involves some painful finger practice, but it can be done. i'm no sustain expert, but i've definitely improved my tone and sustain capability as a result of the work. don't fool yourself into thinking that it's all in your instrument; guitar playing and sound is all in your hands!
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Old 08.04.09, 3:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Wednesday View Post
1-Get your guitar set up by a professional luthier. We have an excellent one in town who has done work for the following:

* Jon Bon Jovi (Bon Jovi) - custom double neck
* Robert Charlbois (Charlebois)
* John Choi (Claude Dubois)
* Denis (Piggy) D'Amour (Voivod)
* Stephane Dufour (Eric Lapointe and Saints & Sinners)
* Howard Leese (Heart) - two custom guitars, one very unique with photos of ex-wife & model Pamala Santini covering the complete guitar
* Frank Marino (Mahogany Rush)
* Aldo Nova (Aldo Nova) - two custom guitars
* Micheal Pagliaro (Pagliaro)
* Walter Rossi (Walter Rossi)
* Jeff Stinco (Simple Plan)
* Jean-Yves (Blacky) Theriault (Voivod) - three custom basses

and me! lol

a luthier will help fix the stadard imperfect set up of the guitars and remove the dead notes on your strat.

2-If your tremolo bar is not being used fill the hole where it would typically go. Ask a luthier to fill it with wood or some sort of composite.

3-change your nut. the Nubone nut is quite good.

4-remove the back plate the hides the spring. I personally made Mauro make the hole bigger.

5-replace your diecast bridge, bridge saddles and inertia bar with a metal ones

6-heavier tuners=more sustain. I recomend grover.

7-get a fat finger clamp from groove tubes.

8-pickups...even if they are fender's finest...you might not like them.

Thus concludes Mr.Wednesday's awesome guide for making your strat screamous.


Wednesday

p.s. hold on to any parts that you remove as it will make a difference in resale.
I'm sure all of this stuff could probably help, but I have an old '83 Japanes Squier Strat that I've been playing for years. It's stock except for the tuners, pickups, and the electronics. I put Grovers on it a while back because an old stock tuner wore out. It's a simple fact that some guitars are good and some are crap even the same model of the same year. Just because something was expensive does not necessarilly mean it is great and an inexpensive guitar is bad. BTW, I would block the trem before I filled anything in. I always hear people talk about increased sustain from more massive tuners, set necks have more sustain, and the like. IME it just isn't so. That said, a good setup will make a lot of difference. Keep in mind that there are a lot of shops doing setups that don't know what they're doing really and at a good shop you have to tell them what you want. I have my action and my bar set high because of my style, attack, and tendancy to use a slide. Your setup might be different. Your touch might be different. My pickups are also overwound.
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Old 08.04.09, 4:05 PM
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Well, as I said - I play both guitars the same way and the difference in sustain is HUGE. I mean even when I play single simple chord - when Les Paul sounds like full gain, Strat on the same setup sounds like overdrive, it is even not feedbacking. It also might be a problem of my Jeckyll and Hyde pedal (it was flooded and it behaves strange), I am getting a new pedal in a few days. But generally - do Strats need higher gain, when played through distortion or overdrive?
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  #13  
Old 08.04.09, 6:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freemind View Post
Well, as I said - I play both guitars the same way and the difference in sustain is HUGE. I mean even when I play single simple chord - when Les Paul sounds like full gain, Strat on the same setup sounds like overdrive, it is even not feedbacking. It also might be a problem of my Jeckyll and Hyde pedal (it was flooded and it behaves strange), I am getting a new pedal in a few days. But generally - do Strats need higher gain, when played through distortion or overdrive?

Hold on...... Are you talking sustain or output? A stock Strat single coil will not have near the output of a hot humbucker. It will sound just like you are describing and will not drive the amp like a humbucker will withthe amp at the same settings. To get the same GAIN you will have to increase the amp gain, use an OD pedal, or put in some hot pickups like Hot Rails (a stacked humbucker) or active EMGs or something. Since you say that the Strat sustains when unplugged, I think that you may be confusing sustain with gain. Try using a boost pedal or crank the amp. Bare in mind that your amp might not have enough gain to give you what you want out of a Strat if you are looking for a searing lead tone without a boost.
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  #14  
Old 08.05.09, 1:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olddawg View Post
Hold on...... Are you talking sustain or output? A stock Strat single coil will not have near the output of a hot humbucker. It will sound just like you are describing and will not drive the amp like a humbucker will withthe amp at the same settings. To get the same GAIN you will have to increase the amp gain, use an OD pedal, or put in some hot pickups like Hot Rails (a stacked humbucker) or active EMGs or something. Since you say that the Strat sustains when unplugged, I think that you may be confusing sustain with gain. Try using a boost pedal or crank the amp. Bare in mind that your amp might not have enough gain to give you what you want out of a Strat if you are looking for a searing lead tone without a boost.
I am talking about both problems - but yes, the main problem seems to be with a lack of gain. With my Les Paul I played Jackyll and Hyde with both modules on 50percent gain. When I use these settings on my strat, it hums like hell, when I turn the middle position, the hum is gone, but the gain is much, much lower than on the Les Paul. I can put both modules even higher, but then I can play only in middle position, the hum will break my ears if I use single coil position.
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  #15  
Old 08.05.09, 3:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freemind View Post
I am talking about both problems - but yes, the main problem seems to be with a lack of gain. With my Les Paul I played Jackyll and Hyde with both modules on 50percent gain. When I use these settings on my strat, it hums like hell, when I turn the middle position, the hum is gone, but the gain is much, much lower than on the Les Paul. I can put both modules even higher, but then I can play only in middle position, the hum will break my ears if I use single coil position.
It sounds like you are having ground hum and shielding issues. I do not think that your problem is sustain. First, if you have lowered your pickups raise them back up. Now plug direct into your amp. Do you have hum. If so is there a triac light dimmer, fluorescent lighting, or computer running in the room or off of your AC mains? If you have hum you may have a defective bridge ground, maybe even a bad switch. When the issue is resolved and hum is not present straight in add your J&H and crank it. Do you still have hum? If you do then you will have to shield or check the cavity shield ground. You might also try a different boost pedal. Once the problem is under contol straight in and with one pedal, add one pedal at a time to your chain. They may not all get along together with your Strat. That's a start anyway. I believe you have a gain/ground hum/ground loop problem. Not a sustain problem. BTW, I boost the f-ck out of my Strats with overwound single coils into a variety of amps and have no excessive hum or squeel even though my Strats have very little shielding, just a little foil on the jack plate.
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