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The Mythical Sustain - Discussion

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by gmstudio99, Aug 1, 2000.


  1. gmstudio99

    gmstudio99

    Mar 11, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    (I realize that this might belong in Misc, but since this issue comes up in this forum a lot, I'm leaving it here...)

    One of the most common modification suggestions I see here is the old "swap your bridge for a BassAss (or whatever)...you'll get much better sustain."

    I don't understand this. The other night I was playing one of my recent compositions and it involves lots of open ringing strings with a melodic line played above. The tempo is about 120 and most of the notes have to ring for about 2 bars (4 in the bridge section)...at no time did I notice that any of the notes seemed to "die out" too early or fade to inaudible at any time.

    I usually play this song on my MIA Jazz (because of capoing requirements), but then tried it on all my basses (See profile for list)...yes, they're all Fenders, and if I had any others I would have used them as well for my experiment.

    But all my basses are stock, no upgrades on any of them, and all of them, even the "lowly" Squier Affinity, sustained just fine through everything I asked of it.

    So here's my question for you "more sustain" guys...how much more sustain do you need? What songs are you guys playing that require a whole note to be sustained for longer than 4 bars?

    What are you all's general thoughts on "sustain"? Is there something I'm missing?

    -GM


    (The song I used for this is posted on my website as "Alex's Song"...click my profile and head to the site if you'd like to hear it.)
     
  2. Klaus

    Klaus

    Jul 12, 2000
    Hmmh, at least people need some arguments for more expensive neck-thru-body designs. I have some Fenders and on the other hand a Tobias (neck-thru) and an EUB (neck thru as well). All instruments offer by far enough sustain at least for the music that I am playing. <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by gmstudio99:
    (I realize that this might belong in Misc, but since this issue comes up in this forum a lot, I'm leaving it here...)

    One of the most common modification suggestions I see here is the old "swap your bridge for a BassAss (or whatever)...you'll get much better sustain."

    I don't understand this. The other night I was playing one of my recent compositions and it involves lots of open ringing strings with a melodic line played above. The tempo is about 120 and most of the notes have to ring for about 2 bars (4 in the bridge section)...at no time did I notice that any of the notes seemed to "die out" too early or fade to inaudible at any time.

    I usually play this song on my MIA Jazz (because of capoing requirements), but then tried it on all my basses (See profile for list)...yes, they're all Fenders, and if I had any others I would have used them as well for my experiment.

    But all my basses are stock, no upgrades on any of them, and all of them, even the "lowly" Squier Affinity, sustained just fine through everything I asked of it.

    So here's my question for you "more sustain" guys...how much more sustain do you need? What songs are you guys playing that require a whole note to be sustained for longer than 4 bars?

    What are you all's general thoughts on "sustain"? Is there something I'm missing?

    -GM


    (The song I used for this is posted on my website as "Alex's Song"...click my profile and head to the site if you'd like to hear it.)
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

     
  3. Rumblin' Man

    Rumblin' Man Banned

    Apr 27, 2000
    Route 66
    I always considered deadspots/hotspots to be more of a problem that overall sustain. Evening out the response of a wood necked and bodied instrument would be a big step foward IMO.
     
  4. I have always thought sustain had more to do with strings than bridges. Compare the sustain on the 1st and 2nd strings on a fretless guitar (electric guitar, not bass!) witht eh wound strings...no sustain on the plains. Compare something like a Thomastik flatwound with one of the deader Fender flats.

    The quality of the wood and the firmness of neck joint also play a large part. But I have never noticed greater sustain as being a quality of chunkier bridges. I get great sustain off my Rob Allen bass, and that has a synthetic bone acoustic guitar style bridge saddle...about as unchunky as you can get!

    I have always been very happy with my classic Fender bridges.

    Andy
     
  5. Gear_Junky

    Gear_Junky

    Jul 11, 2000
    Then why do so many people recommend BadAss bridges (other than the people who sell them)? I'm honestly interested in an answer - I haven't bought any replacement bridges yet. thanks.
     
  6. Scottzo

    Scottzo

    Jan 20, 2000
    I think good sustain is a a combination of a solid bridge, a good nut, the wood used in the construction and the technique used for plucking the string as well as the quaility of the string itself.

    The bridge adds stability. The more stable a string is the better it will perform and sustain. One of the arguements with cheap bridges is they don't hold the string well and that kills a note.

    Best stock bridges I think are G&L.

    Having a note last long is one thing. The trick is for the note not to degrade. Most cheap basses degrade notes quickly.

    ------------------
    Thump
     
  7. The only time I have yearned for great sustain whs when I wanted to know how Sting got that amazing sound on Regetta de Blanc. I think it's either Contact or No Time This Time where he sustains a note for 20 seconds or so. So to me unless you're going to do something radical like that, I don't see the point for enhanced sustain. And anyway a bridge wouldn't give you those kinds of tones anyway.

    I do conceed however, that the quality of the MIM bridges is pretty bad although I've not had any real problems. It's mostly a feel thing when making adjustments. I don't think it alters the sound, but maybe I'm wrong.
     
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Gear_Junky:
    Then why do so many people recommend BadAss bridges (other than the people who sell them)? I'm honestly interested in an answer - I haven't bought any replacement bridges yet. thanks.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


    L-E-M-M-I-N-G-S !! [​IMG] But I mean that in a good way.


    I don't get it either. One of my bolt-on fives will sustain a normally plucked E for over 30 seconds. The Old Tobias 5, over a minute (I got bored waiting for it to stop [​IMG])

    Is this someone's "dream" scenario?:

    You: Standing on stage, proudly holding that open A as it gently wafts in the air while...

    Your bandmates: Return from the break, ready to start the second set.

    I don't own a bass that can't hold a note for at least four bars at medium tempo. I can't recall the last time it ever seemed neccesary. Actually I can...never. YMMV Maybe I should look into Tantric bass playing.

    The Lakland I own has a Fender style bridge on it and it works extremely well. How could that be, it's low mass?? Must be the string thru body. Thank goodness for that, otherwise how could I show my face at the annual Droning Bassists convention?

    If you need more than "regular" sustain, do what Manring does...use an eBow.

    I'll bet this would cause a psychotic episode: a BadAss II installed on a bass with flatwounds... sustain or thump, which would win? Or is not having your saddles move reason enough? [​IMG]
     
  9. gmstudio99

    gmstudio99

    Mar 11, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    (pssst, between you and me, folks, I bet most of the guys that immediately think the first thing to do on a new bass is "swap out the bridge for better sustain" are the same folk that spend 90% of their time slapping, ironically attempting to play notes shorter than a snare drum on their "massive sustaining" bridges.)

    (-GM)
     
  10. rickreyn

    rickreyn

    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    Who uses the extra horsepower on a BMW in normal street traffic? But when you need it, you want it, and you want it, you want an ample supply of it. Being able to sustain a note at will is a musical choice you want to always have available, and the style of music will dictate the need. The issue here is this: you want your instrument to be able to sustain at any particular place on the fingerboard. Dead spots or quickly "degrading" spots on the fingerboard can cramp your style and become very frustrating. I don't believe the general sustain on a particular guitar is as much an issue as are these "dead spots." I also believe bolt-ons can achieve the sustain of a through-the-body, but must be well made.
     
  11. <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Brad Johnson:

    L-E-M-M-I-N-G-S !! [​IMG] But I mean that in a good way.

    Maybe I should look into Tantric bass playing.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    LOL that's a frickin' riot!

    Dead spots? To me, these too are mythical and it seems neck adjustment and technique are are the heart of taming this wild, silent killer.

    It's all G.A.S. baby, that's what this industry is about, riding the waves of a strong economy where it's not enough to over-pay for pieces of wood with strings but then go out and buy bridges, pickups, pre-amps, cords, straplocks, foot pedals etc etc. The reason I bought my Jazz bass was for the simplicity of instrument so that I could focus on playing, not buying! Although it is totally obsessive-compulsive disorder inducing no doubt.


     
  12. gmstudio99

    gmstudio99

    Mar 11, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by blipndub:
    The reason I bought my Jazz bass was for the simplicity of instrument so that I could focus on playing, not buying!
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Took the words right out of my mouth...


    (Tantric bass playing...hee hee hee! [​IMG] )

    -GM
     
  13. OK all you smarty pants badmouthing the badass. I recently put a Badass2 on my Mexican Jazz. It wasn't because I felt an unnatural need for more sustain, it was because the cheap bridge on a Mexican Jazz has saddles that can be moved side to side about an 8th of an inch with your fingers. Not good for your intonation. I think the Badass2 is a good bridge. I filed my string notches myself, and it has worked great.

    Now, with all this talk about there being no need to let a note ring for 5 minutes, let me just say that I wholeheartedly agree. But, the sound during the first second is going to be different depending on whether you have a 30 second bridge or a 5 minute bridge.

    It's all about damping. If the bridge is light, it's going to move and absorb the strings energy quicker. If it's really heavy, it tends to stay still while the string vibrates.

    If I want to ring out a note for 15 minutes, I stand in front of my speaker and turn up the volume on my amp. [​IMG]

    Chris
     
  14. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by blipndub:
    LOL that's a frickin' riot!

    Dead spots? To me, these too are mythical and it seems neck adjustment and technique are are the heart of taming this wild, silent killer.

    It's all G.A.S. baby, that's what this industry is about, riding the waves of a strong economy where it's not enough to over-pay for pieces of wood with strings but then go out and buy bridges, pickups, pre-amps, cords, straplocks, foot pedals etc etc. The reason I bought my Jazz bass was for the simplicity of instrument so that I could focus on playing, not buying! Although it is totally obsessive-compulsive disorder inducing no doubt.

    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I agree, it is G.A.S. for the most part. There is always something "better", whatever the hell that is. That may seem like hypochrisy from a guy who would have to check his profile to see how many basses he has this week [​IMG] but here's my justification, which almost works on my wife: I look for "different", not "better". Just like she does with shoes [​IMG]

    Rickreyn, I'm one of the three people (source: 1999 U.S. Census) who doesn't seem to have any problem with dead spots. Of course I also don't "think" about where or if I anchor my thumb or whether my loooong notes will give the audience maximum (ribbed??) pleasure and I don't wait 30 minutes after eating to take a bath either. I live on the edge, baby.

    GM, re:slappers, of which I am one, only of the Old School variety (I'm old and I went to... you get it [​IMG]). Sustain is very important, the more you have the more need for Scrunchees (sp)to mute those damned ringing strings (I like the Dalmation print ones, they're cute). How do you sustain stacatto notes, anywho?

    After playing over 20 years I haven't noticed dead spots and I look for them occasionally. Maybe I should change keys. I say, embrace the dead spot, make it your friend... and there'll be no more sex talk from me, young man. Understood?
     
  15. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by throbbinnut:
    OK all you smarty pants badmouthing the badass. I recently put a Badass2 on my Mexican Jazz. It wasn't because I felt an unnatural need for more sustain, it was because the cheap bridge on a Mexican Jazz has saddles that can be moved side to side about an 8th of an inch with your fingers. Not good for your intonation. I think the Badass2 is a good bridge. I filed my string notches myself, and it has worked great.

    Now, with all this talk about there being no need to let a note ring for 5 minutes, let me just say that I wholeheartedly agree. But, the sound during the first second is going to be different depending on whether you have a 30 second bridge or a 5 minute bridge.

    It's all about damping. If the bridge is light, it's going to move and absorb the strings energy quicker. If it's really heavy, it tends to stay still while the string vibrates.

    If I want to ring out a note for 15 minutes, I stand in front of my speaker and turn up the volume on my amp. [​IMG]

    Chris
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Then you put a BadAss on for reasons other than what this thread is about.

    Doh!

     
  16. I might put forth a better experiment to compare the relative value of a high mass bridge versus a stock stamped steel bridge:

    The need here (hear?) is to accurately measure pitch and volume simultaneously. Using a digital tuner, a Db meter, and a stopwatch, hit open notes and record how long it takes the pitch to waver of center, and how far it changes (if any), how long it takes to begin to decrease in volume and how fast it decreases. Then do the exact same experiment on a similiar bass with the opposing bridge and make the comparison. With that info, you might have better information to make a judgement that, unless it's done with all of the variables measured, is subjective at best.

    It may also test your motivation for asking the question.

    [This message has been edited by Hambone (edited August 01, 2000).]
     
  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I'm not that motivated [​IMG]

    My take on what GM's getting at is, there's a large number of people, not just here but elsewhere, who, when the subject of any mods comes up, suggest replacing the bridge, specifically because it will sustain better (how's that for a run-on sentence?).

    My 78 Ash Jazz sustains very well with all stock parts including the "cheap" stamped bridge. I think people sometimes confuse "simple" with "cheap". Sometimes simple is all you need. The bridge on this Jazz did not require a through body route but hey, it works and works well.
     
  18. Tuomas

    Tuomas

    Mar 14, 2000
    Helsinki, Finland
    I have a 78 ash jazz bass too that has a good sustain with the original brige. But I'd actually want less sustain sometimes. Sometimes I listen and I know that the notes are supposed to be long but I just hope that the damn thing would shut up someday [​IMG] Of course I can make it go silent but it ain't the same..
     
  19. Al Steen

    Al Steen

    Feb 1, 2000
    The last thing we recorded I ended up putting some foam under the strings on the JS2 and using a pick way up by the fingerboard. No sustain but a giant fat sound. Very Carol Kaye [​IMG] .. Al
     
  20. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I have GAS all the time (both kinds) and plenty of basses too. I still don't need no steenkeeng BadAss britches. Shoot, I can get unlimited sustain just by plucking a note and facing my amp. You can go out and wash the car while I sustain my note. Don't worry, I'll be here.