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JR
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« on: October 30, 2008, 05:18:39 AM »

 I find that the sustain on my L-09 MR only lasts about 14 or 15 seconds when I strum a D chord hard. (The overtones seem stronger when I play this chord.) This seems to be a little short since I've read quite a few posts where owners say the sustain on their guitars "lasts for days." Is there anything I can do to increase my sustain? I already have a bone saddle and bone nut. Does the brand of strings one uses affect it?  I use Newtones PB Master Class mediums on mine. If it's the bracing or the topwood or the back and sides, or a combination of everything, I guess I can't do anything about it. Anyway, I'd really appreciate some of you chiming in with the length of your guitar's sustain and your explanation of what causes it to last so long.

John
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« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2008, 09:11:15 AM »

I think "lasts for days" may be an exageration. I find new strings will increase the sustain. This quickly tails off after about 2 days of practice, or one gig. So I tend to change strings after 2 gigs max, sometimes after every gig.
mel
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« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2008, 10:18:42 AM »

Adding mass may help. If you have ebonoid buttons try metal buttons. If you have ebony bridge pins try bone.
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« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2008, 10:20:36 AM »

I am not sure how you quantified your measurement, so it's difficult to say if it falls within the normal range for this model. There are so many factors to consider when setting up a test methodology it is unlikely that a few folks performing a test with no base line criteria would yield any reasonable data.
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Ron

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« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2008, 11:45:06 AM »

I find that the sustain on my L-09 MR only lasts about 14 or 15 seconds when I strum a D chord hard. (The overtones seem stronger John
Ok I'm curious about this! So I welcome other experiences or contradictions. I think 14 or 15 seconds is good. One of the things I do when I check out a guitar is play a note, single and fretted, and listen how long I can hear it. To me 10 seconds and over is good. 15 seconds and over is very good. Now I'm just counting off in my head, not using a second hand. My opinion is that it needs to ring more than 10 seconds and thats suficient. After that I'm listening to tone.  I did just strum a D chord and it rang rang signifigantly longer than single note, but never the less. I think 15 seconds on D chord is good for sustain. If it reaches that think about other things.  That's in the ball park of how long mine ring, the Gallagher a lttle  longer. Sustain is important but not something that trumps all other factors. Some styles of music, ie Django, too much sustain is even a bad thing. I think your'e guitar is fine. I don't know how old it is, but it's sustain could increase with time as well.
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Michael T
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« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2008, 12:34:42 PM »

14/15 seconds of sustain is great, I can't really imagine where I would use that long a sustain.
It is related to the overtones and harmonics that get that"ring" going when you get the top, and strings singing together (think a drone), but has a lot to do with decay in the sustain too (a sustain that  deteriorates rapidly could muddy up the balance).

I believe many references to sustain are related more to the rate of decay, where the tone holds in tune and at a usable volume. Your choice of round core strings with the Newtone's likely gives you a very usable and full sustain. Actually, I had to adapt to control the "ring" a bit when I started using the round core strings to get better definition on some transitions. (I've been using DR Sunbeams lately).

A good clean sustain can give you a very full sound, but as mentioned, that's not always a good thing, especially if the decay produces imbalance's.     
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« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2008, 02:58:51 PM »

that's not always a good thing, especially if the decay produces imbalance's.     
Good point as I have heard guitars that as a chord decays, it gets a little funky. (technical term)
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jimmy buffett
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« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2008, 05:24:42 PM »

  Is there anything I can do to increase my sustain?

Well, I know that this will freak out a few people around here, but you can always try shaving the top braces.  I have done this to both my L05 and L09, and they have opened up tremendously.  I have friends who have done this with Larrivee parlors, an SD 50, and even some Taylors as well.

These braces are generally over built, and in the case of my L05, they were left quite chunky and thick from the factory.  Believe it or not, they did not appear to be identical from one guitar to the other, as that first brace had quite a wide plateau along the top. 

I'm not talking about taking the brace down half way or anything, but you would be amazed at what will happen by shaving maybe 10% from the top brace.  The guitar will have more volume and sustain right away, and I am told that the wood will continue to "relax" for another 3 months.  That was definitely the effect on my L09, and after 3 months the guitar sounded better than ever...

jimmy
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« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2008, 05:28:30 PM »

A quick test with my L-10 produced and an average of 16 seconds of sustain from a pick-struck D chord....I think it may have actually been a shade longer but my ears ain't what they used to be.  I could still feel the top vibrating slightly but couldn't hear it beyond 16 seconds.  I did the same with my OM-03R and actually got a second longer with it.   Different strings probably made the difference there.
Sustain may be over-rated in some respects.  As long as the notes / chords still ring true and don't decay immediately I see no advantage to having a note ring forever with an acoustic guitar.


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« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2008, 05:43:40 PM »

I am not sure how you quantified your measurement, so it's difficult to say if it falls within the normal range for this model. There are so many factors to consider when setting up a test methodology it is unlikely that a few folks performing a test with no base line criteria would yield any reasonable data.
  +1

I would add that as your guitar opens up over time, your sustain will increase. Strings will definitely make a difference, IMHO, probably the greatest determining factor. You can try some other brands and even thicknesses. Be a little careful, because a Newtone MC Med/Light is the same string thickness as most other brands Lights. But experimentation is always good. Even when you don't like it, at least you know what not to buy. Generally, the thicker the string the longer the sustain will be.
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JR
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« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2008, 05:03:32 AM »

Thanks for all the replies. Let me clarify a few things. First, my L-09MR was built in 2007, so it still is fairly new. For my tests I'm just giving one hard strum with the back of my fingernails. I never use picks since I play mostly fingerstyle. (I AM very envious of all you who know how to flatpick, tho'!) As I strum the D chord I just watch the second hand of a clock which makes a quiet ticking noise, so I can actually hear as well as see the seconds passing.  The 14 to 15 sec. average is just how long I hear the last overtone - an A note which just beats out a D by a sec. Of course, all the other notes have long since decayed - the F# note on the high E string disappears after only around 5 sec. Michael T, I guess you're right - 14-15 sec. of sustain can be great. Probably my concern is more that the other notes don't ring out as long, so it doesn't sound as full as I think it should. As a comparison, my Huss & Dalton, which is also strung with the same gauge of Newtones, has a sustain time of 19-20 sec. On the otherhand, you've all brought up some good points. My L-09, being as new as it is, will open up more over time, and a long sustain isn't necessarily a good thing. Jimmy, I'm glad shaving the braces worked great for you, but I would never have it done myself. Wouldn't that void the warranty? Anyway, thanks again for all the feedback. I'm always amazed at the knowedge of this forum's members as well as the willingness to help! bowdown

John
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« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2008, 08:37:36 AM »

Hi John - just my 10c-worth here. In the end, does it matter if your sustain on a struck chord or struck note is 15 seconds? I've never yet played a song - particularly fingerstyle, like you - where I'd need that length of sustain! 15 seconds sounds fine to me. The other thing you haven't mentioned is what strings you use. I used to use Martin Phosphor Bronze Lites regularly but found that, after a couple of days of playing, the acid in my hands dulled them pretty quickly. I changed to Elixir coated Lights and they last me much, much longer - and ring out extremely well. Now I know that some people don't like Elixirs, and that Elixirs can sound differently on different makes of guitar, but they're fine for me. The 03 I play came factory-strung with Elixirs and it sounded great the moment I took it off the wall.
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JR
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« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2008, 02:03:36 AM »

The other thing you haven't mentioned is what strings you use. I used to use Martin Phosphor Bronze Lites regularly but found that, after a couple of days of playing, the acid in my hands dulled them pretty quickly. I changed to Elixir coated Lights and they last me much, much longer - and ring out extremely well. Now I know that some people don't like Elixirs, and that Elixirs can sound differently on different makes of guitar, but they're fine for me. The 03 I play came factory-strung with Elixirs and it sounded great the moment I took it off the wall.

Actually, I mentioned that I use Newtones PB Masterclass mediums in my original post. I used to use Elixirs on my old L-07 and I recall how great they sounded. However, I prefer a deeper tone, and the Newtones give me this. I'm fortunate in that I don't have an acid problem with my hands, so uncoated strings seem to last a long time for me.

I first posed the question about sustain because of 1. the posts I've read where owners say the sustain on theirs "last for days" and 2. because of all the soundclips and videos I've seen (like Denis' - awesome!) in which the guitars sound so incredibly lush. My L-09 seems to be lacking sustain in comparison. As I said before, only a couple of overtones sustain for the 14-15 sec. and that's in a very quiet room. In a normal setting, you wouldn't be able to hear them. All the other notes in the chord decay pretty quickly. Sorry if I didn't make it clearer what I meant. However, I've come to the conclusion that I just need to give my guitar more time to mature and open up. I'm sure the sound quality I'm looking for will come eventually. If not, it's still a great guitar bigrin

John
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« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2008, 04:31:00 AM »

  I've come to the conclusion that I just need to give my guitar more time to mature and open up. I'm sure the sound quality I'm looking for will come eventually. If not, it's still a great guitar bigrin

John
                                      This is the right track to be on. If you like the L-09 a lot, just play it a lot and let us know in a few months if it has improved.
                    Or fill it with rice, put it in front of some huge speakers and blast it for a week with some sound
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« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2008, 06:42:13 AM »

Check your technique if you want to get the most sustain. If your thumb is misplaced or you are holding your neck more like a baseball bat then it's possible that your fingers are not efficiently applying pressure to the string behind the fret. I was told that this happens to the best of us. Perhaps some vibration is being lost to your flesh. There is no such thing as a closed system. :)

Also, the bridge pins and saddle will probably help out a bit. Perhaps someone here knows about how saddle notching can impact sustain (if at all).


Nice guitar by the way, I love those Madroses!

Cheers...   
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« Reply #15 on: November 27, 2008, 06:54:08 AM »

Well, I know that this will freak out a few people around here, but you can always try shaving the top braces.  I have done this to both my L05 and L09, and they have opened up tremendously.  I have friends who have done this with Larrivee parlors, an SD 50, and even some Taylors as well.

These braces are generally over built, and in the case of my L05, they were left quite chunky and thick from the factory.  Believe it or not, they did not appear to be identical from one guitar to the other, as that first brace had quite a wide plateau along the top. 

I'm not talking about taking the brace down half way or anything, but you would be amazed at what will happen by shaving maybe 10% from the top brace.  The guitar will have more volume and sustain right away, and I am told that the wood will continue to "relax" for another 3 months.  That was definitely the effect on my L09, and after 3 months the guitar sounded better than ever...

jimmy

I enclose an interesting article on this very subject.  http://www.vanlingeguitars.com/parabolicbraceworks/index.html
Obviously the author (Scott Van Linge) won't supply too much info, since "hot rodding" is his business. I think the specific relevance to this quote from Jimmy is the fact that Scott has an affection for working on Larrivees.
This is an extract from his article: "If you want to start from scratch, my recommendation is to buy a Larrivee you like. They are good starting materials (as are most factory guitars) because they are well built and are not scalloped. Characteristically, the low E and D strings are louder than the rest on Larrivees, but I can balance that, as with balance differences on any guitar. Add my fee to the cost, and you will have an instrument unlikely to be touched by anything out there, no matter what the cost."

Please note that I merely added this post as a point of interest. I don't necessarily subscribe to the content, since I have no experience in that regard at all.   cop I won't let anyone near my guitars with a shave or plane at the moment....
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« Reply #16 on: November 28, 2008, 04:14:22 PM »

Greetings, Larriveets!  Or, is it Larrivites?

I hope you will forgive the shameless self-promotion on my website. 

Since increased sustain is one of the things my re-voicing work provides, I would like to comment on this question.  While it is true that sustain can be increased slightly by changing strings, nuts and saddles, bridge pins, the main cause of string die out is the shaping of braces--both internal, top and back, and on the bridge. 

It is my observation, if not discovery, that corners and ridges, even tiny irregularities of brace shapes absorb energy, contributing to dampening and die out.  I think this is because the strings' vibrational energy travels on the surface of all the braces.  Even if braces are shaped into an arched cross section along most of their length, I have yet to see a guitar whose brace ends are curved and flowing with the rest of the brace into the kerfing at the sides.  You can see on the back braces that the ends are just sanded down by sticking the brace end under a drum sander.  This leaves square corners on at least all the brace ends in the guitar, which I believe suck up energy.

In addition to balancing the brace strength to be no more than necessary to equal that of the string tension at any place along a brace, I shape the ends into a curved cross section and flow the lengthwise contour into each brace.  This makes an amazing improvement in sustain by eliminating energy absorbing/dampening corners and other irregularities in shaping.

I have developed a model for how I think each string, or even note finds resonance in a guitar which is that it finds resonance in a circular, or ring pattern.  Much the same way a stereo speaker works.  With its sides cut out.  The lower the frequency, the larger the ring, and vice versa.  On this guitar, my suspicion is that the D string ring has a brace or brace junction in it that has corners or is just too heavy.  More so than for the A string or its harmonic rings, which were noted to last a little longer.

Happy pickin',

Scott
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« Reply #17 on: November 28, 2008, 05:44:06 PM »

Have a luthier check to see that everything is fitted optimally and the set up is optimal (pins, saddle, nut).  Anything less than optimal will decrease the sustain.  After that, the fret wear will affect sustain.  After that, the strings med vs lights will affect sustain.
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« Reply #18 on: November 28, 2008, 06:16:25 PM »

Greetings, Larriveets!  Or, is it Larrivites?

I hope you will forgive the shameless self-promotion on my website. 

Since increased sustain is one of the things my re-voicing work provides, I would like to comment on this question.  While it is true that sustain can be increased slightly by changing strings, nuts and saddles, bridge pins, the main cause of string die out is the shaping of braces--both internal, top and back, and on the bridge. 

It is my observation, if not discovery, that corners and ridges, even tiny irregularities of brace shapes absorb energy, contributing to dampening and die out.  I think this is because the strings' vibrational energy travels on the surface of all the braces.  Even if braces are shaped into an arched cross section along most of their length, I have yet to see a guitar whose brace ends are curved and flowing with the rest of the brace into the kerfing at the sides.  You can see on the back braces that the ends are just sanded down by sticking the brace end under a drum sander.  This leaves square corners on at least all the brace ends in the guitar, which I believe suck up energy.

In addition to balancing the brace strength to be no more than necessary to equal that of the string tension at any place along a brace, I shape the ends into a curved cross section and flow the lengthwise contour into each brace.  This makes an amazing improvement in sustain by eliminating energy absorbing/dampening corners and other irregularities in shaping.

I have developed a model for how I think each string, or even note finds resonance in a guitar which is that it finds resonance in a circular, or ring pattern.  Much the same way a stereo speaker works.  With its sides cut out.  The lower the frequency, the larger the ring, and vice versa.  On this guitar, my suspicion is that the D string ring has a brace or brace junction in it that has corners or is just too heavy.  More so than for the A string or its harmonic rings, which were noted to last a little longer.

Happy pickin',

Scott
Howdy Scott, Glad you could join in. But do you mind saying this in ENGLISH, 5 words or less would be nice
              If you happen to see this post could you comment on why my 00 has so much sustain, even to the point that some songs are better left to my OM-21 or Gibson etc. In other words the chord played previously is still ringing while you have moved on. I know this happens more with some tonewoods than others and this is my first maple.   
              Anybody else experience this with maple or the 00 ? It doesn't bother me, I just am curious.    Danny
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« Reply #19 on: November 29, 2008, 01:09:06 PM »

Howdy Scott, Glad you could join in. But do you mind saying this in ENGLISH, 5 words or less would be nice
              If you happen to see this post could you comment on why my 00 has so much sustain, even to the point that some songs are better left to my OM-21 or Gibson etc. In other words the chord played previously is still ringing while you have moved on. I know this happens more with some tonewoods than others and this is my first maple.   
              Anybody else experience this with maple or the 00 ? It doesn't bother me, I just am curious.    Danny


Danny,

How about four words:  think inside the box?

When Martin abandoned hand shaping braces on their "Golden Era" guitars, in about 1944 (Or so I've read--I was only one year old at the time.) when they beefed up braces and went to machining them, I believe they forgot about minor subtleties that made those instruments so special.    Or, maybe they didn't realize or consider what they were.  The smooth, flowing shapes were replaced with approximations that lent themselves to machines, and these continue today in all guitars I've ever seen, hand built or factory.  And those approximations are what absorb energy and decrease sustain, along with braces that are stronger than necessary to make sure you don't break your guitar and send it back to be repaired.

The superficial things that can be easily changed post-production--strings, bridge pins, nuts and saddles, frets--all can influence sustain to some extent.  Beyond that, only reshaping the braces will bring more sustain.

I'd have to play your OO to analyze why it has more sustain, but I suspect that not all notes or chords have the same amount of sustain.  If so, I would attribute this to some braces resonating at frequencies of their own more than just holding the guitar together and spreading the sound around.

Chow,

Scott
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