The Coastal Path wrote:My experience is that some sustainer guitars seem to work better than others. .... Make of that what you will, but it certainly seems not all sustainer guitars (including Fernandes own brand) are created equal, and perhaps not all sustainer circuits function as well as they might.
Yes that's mostly true. That even the same Sustainier from Fernandes or Maniac Sustainiac STEALTH systems may require too much of tinkering, and calibrating afterwards, so it's no set in stone. It's too many things that must gel with the other pickups used, distance both between pickup, distance to strings, and whatnot. Open, slightly microphonic pickups is a bitch to make even the slightest sustain without any squealing.
When I used to work as a repairman in a partly owned music shop before internet and online shops killed things, I installed 2-3 Fernandes systems on guitars that already had HB pickups. Those 2-3 came back and wanted them changed out to Maniac Sustainiac. I installed Sustainiac too on "brand new" or first installement, i e on guitars that hadn't had any system before. It took a while. The customers were pleased with the Maniacs moreso than the Fernandes. A couple of years down the road they got fed up, and either sold them, traded them in, or lifted the system out again.
I don't think Fender has changed the EOB pickups at all, they use the same Fernandes sustainer kit that has ever been there, with no betterment or development at all. It's a too niched genre or effect to go into. Hence there are basically just two on the market still, these two, Fernandes and Maniac Sustainiac. BTW the Fernandes "sustainer" pickup works as a neck pickup too when not sustaining, and has poorer sound, and weaker output than Maniac ones. The STEALTH system from Maniac uses BiLateral driver which means you can have any pickup /single coil / humbucker in bridge position, slanted too. But when reading their "caveats" and browsing the site, there's just too many things and terms that must be fulfilled beforehand before you install it. Everything has to be checked out that it works with each other, and the guitars total scale and fret numbers too. Maniacs SEEMS to work best in conjunction with other active pickups, like EMG. Even and balanced sustain throughout the strings.
But still, no one of these I did, where polyphonic in any way. The chords just lasted a bit longer, but then, eventually the thickest gauge strings won out. Maybe 2 string I could get running at the same time, which isn't bad by any means. As it is, most people I know, won't use it polyphonically in chords beacuse when they solo they can't dampen the other strings, so stray notes are left open and starts to feed back. The still want it for solos.
Nonsense tale of caution: Old 70s hard rock band from Scotland, Nazareth, with their guitarist Manny Charlton, are often "accused" for using a sustainer of some sort, like E-bow on their 2 most famous hits, "This Flight Tonight" and "Love Hurts". Both contains whining slide solos, however, this is neither e-bow or something else. It's just that Manny turned the amp up loud in the studio, stood close to it, and it sustained infinitely, naturally, and he just moved the slide up and down on one string. Those two hits, came way before any E-bow or something else was invented.