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Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby DC-Choppah » Thu Feb 28, 2019 4:51 am

I would like to record a song with my acoustic guitar playing the lead voice, and get more sustain, especially on the top string.

There is this simple device that adds weight to the head: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... for-guitar

Has anybody had any experience with this?

If it was that simple then why isn't that extra mass built into the guitar?

BTW, the guitar is this http://www.djangobooks.com/Item/altamira-m01f
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Re: Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby ef37a » Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:26 am

IF! That device actually works I reckon you could do much the same with a $5 3" G clamp and some bits of cardboard.

Getting technical! I suppose a guitar or any stringed instrument is a pretty messy "transmission line"? Energy is travelling all over the shop and who is to say that putting mass here or there will not change the sustain?

Maybe this is why luthiers favour certain woods? Their mass in the right places could be a factor in the sound?

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Re: Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby blinddrew » Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:19 am

I'm with Dave! Grab a clamp from the garage and a couple of bits of cardboard and see if it makes a difference! :)
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Re: Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby Wonks » Thu Feb 28, 2019 10:35 am

You have an archtop with F-holes designed to reduce sustain to make fast note runs clearer. Then you ask why it hasn't got more sustain? :D

You need to understand your guitar.

No experience with those devices though I know some people use them. I suspect that whether it works at all will depend on the particular guitar. Guitars with heavy headstocks and/or heavy tuners may not see any extra benefit from increased mass. Some with small headstocks and light tuners might.

And it may only slightly increase sustain when played with open chords or near the nut, with reducing effect as you play further up the neck. It may also rob some acoustic volume - to pay for the increased sustain.

Add too much mass at the headstock and the guitar becomes neck heavy. This will (rightly) be criticised in reviews which is not something manufacturer's want. The solution to this is to make the body heavier. But doing that can reduce resonance and sustain (depending how and where it's done) so you can then end up with the same sustain and a heavier guitar that costs more to make.

Also don't forget that wood itself varies in density from log to log, so you will get variations between otherwise identical guitars in terms of neck to body balance, and possibly sustain, at least with mass-produced guitars.

Not everybody wants masses of sustain - one reason why most archtops have F- holes rather than circular sound holes. And sustain on a standard acoustic is generally down to its construction, bracing pattern and selection of tonewoods. Some can have amazing sustain, but it's not down to a lump of metal on the headstock.
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Re: Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby ef37a » Thu Feb 28, 2019 11:37 am

Well, waddaya know! I always though the F holes were just there to make Elvis's guitar look super cool!
I only had a round hole acoustic as a 12 year old and DESPERATELY wanted one of those!

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Re: Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby Wonks » Thu Feb 28, 2019 11:53 am

I'm only going by what I found on the web when I was looking up details about archtop bracing, but it seemed to be reinforced by several different websites including some makers.

All to do with speed of sound in wood being much faster/slower with the grain and slower/faster across the grain (I forget which way round it is). And pre-amplification, the Jazzers were looking for guitar volume but not too much sustain as it made the notes stand out more clearly - they didn't want open strings to ring too much.

Possibly why violins/cellos etc. ended up with F-holes rather than round holes, so that pizzicatos were very short as all other sustain was controlled by the bowing. The actual curvy F-shape was probably mainly extra decoration, (although rounded holes are less likely to split compared to holes with angled corners) but adding a break in the top parallel to the strings reduced the effective size of the top that was resonating from side to side (which I believe produced the longest sustain) as well as providing extra volume compared to a closed-top instrument).

Worth trying to look this up for yourself as I'm going from memory (I looked at this about 2 years ago), so I may have got some things slightly wrong, but the basic gist should be correct.
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Re: Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby artzmusic » Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:59 pm

I was not aware that such a sustain attachment existed so I can't help. Interesting though. And I didn't see any reviews on it.

Mostly, and I suppose especially with that beautiful guitar that projects so well, the vibrato technique is what players rely on for sustain, where the motion in the left hand imparts additional energy to the string to keep it ringing. I do see the gypsy guitarists using that to great advantage.

I would really like to hear you on that guitar!! :thumbup:

Rick
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Re: Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby BigRedX » Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:36 pm

IME the Fat Finger is used for reducing dead spots on solid bass guitars with bolt-on necks. I've not heard of it as a solution for increasing sustain on acoustic guitars.

As others have said try a (small - the Fat Finger doesn't weigh very much) G-Clamp and see if it makes any difference.
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Re: Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Feb 28, 2019 11:49 pm

Wonks wrote:You have an archtop with F-holes designed to reduce sustain to make fast note runs clearer. Then you ask why it hasn't got more sustain? :D

You need to understand your guitar.


I agree with the rest of your post Wonks but that is not an arch top guitar, it is a variation on the Selmer style that Mario Macaferri originated (ladder braced flat top with, usually, a 'pliage' or bend in the top just south of the bridge, though many modern versions have a slightly arched top, similar but more exaggerated, to a modern 'flat top'). Like arch tops they were designed to be loud but I have not heard of them being designed to reduce sustain. My understanding is that archtops were designed to to compete with the Banjo's volume in brass dominated bands. Maybe reduced sustain was an acceptable compromise in that scenario. The Maccaferri design came from his desire to build a louder classical guitar so I suspect compromising sustain was not on the agenda. The shape of the soundholes makes much less difference the sound than the bracing , Archtops have parallel bracing and Maccaferri/Selmer's have ladder bracing, a Selmer style with f holes will sound much more like a Selmer with D or oval hole than an Archtop with F holes.
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Re: Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby Wonks » Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:24 am

I must admit that I only had a glimpse at the small image when on my phone and now I'm on the PC the website won't open for me ATM!
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Re: Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:35 am

A couple of my Gypsy Jazz mates have f hole Selmer style guitars and they sound much more like Selmers than Archtops. AFAIK the f holes on a violin or arch top serve a specific purpose by allowing the active part of the top to move. On a flattop or Selmer they are only there to alter the resonant frequency of the body so position is mostly irrelevant.
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Re: Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby Wonks » Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:56 am

Managed to see the site then look for demos for the Altamira M01 (small oval soundhole) and M01F (F-holes). None of the demos were recorded well, but I did find one where they played both in the same demo and the F-hole one definitely sounded more mellow, with less treble, so the change in hole type and position is certainly doing something. No obvious change in sustain - though they weren't being demoed for that.
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Re: Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby blinddrew » Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:00 pm

I don't know about the OP but I'm definitely learning stuff on this thread. :)
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Re: Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:32 pm

Wonks wrote:Managed to see the site then look for demos for the Altamira M01 (small oval soundhole) and M01F (F-holes). None of the demos were recorded well, but I did find one where they played both in the same demo and the F-hole one definitely sounded more mellow, with less treble, so the change in hole type and position is certainly doing something. No obvious change in sustain - though they weren't being demoed for that.

There are many other things that would change the tone but I will pay attention next month at the Gypsy guitar festival in Anglesey. I'd be interested to know if the bracing on the f hole versions is the same as the oval and d hole guitars. I do l do know the oval and D hole guitars sound a little different but that is down to the different sound hole area affecting the resonance of the body. Adding a sound port also shifts the resonance a little bringing an oval hole closer in sound to a D hole, all else being equal. I guess the f holes will change the stiffness of the top around the bridge so that is likely to make a difference but a luthier must take that into consideration when thicknessing the top so what a combination of the two would do I don't know.

I will ask my luthier mates their opinion and report back.
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Re: Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby Wonks » Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:38 pm

I'm not reporting from any position of strong knowledge here, just reporting what I read, so will be interested to hear anything with some decent backing.

I'd probably assume that the bracing between F and oval holes was going to be different, but it's a question of is it between 'slight' to 'very'. It's going to be another of those questions with mainly subjective answers, as unless you first build two identical guitars with a bracing system that will accommodate both types of hole, then it's very difficult to say exactly how much is the bracing and how much the hole shape/size/position.
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Re: Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:22 pm

Agreed, and a Gypsy Jazz guitar is probably a good way to compare as they are otherwise similar. However, a knowledgable Gypsy Jazz player/mate has said that the bracing is different on the f hole models. Not sure how different but the luthiers will be along soon to explain no doubt. If you do fb it's here but it's a closed groups you may not be able to read the posts :- https://www.facebook.com/groups/363471863725904/
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Re: Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby Wonks » Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:33 pm

Yes, I can see those, thanks.
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Re: Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby DC-Choppah » Sun Mar 03, 2019 12:56 am

blinddrew wrote:I'm with Dave! Grab a clamp from the garage and a couple of bits of cardboard and see if it makes a difference! :)

I clamped a small metal vice grip, or 'locking plier' (about 6 oz) to the head with some cotton cloth in between the clamp and guitar.

I recorded the song both ways, with and without the vice-grip.

With the vice-grip on, the guitar is quieter and the bass is lacking. The instrument is not as expressive sounding and sounds, well, clamped a bit - especially the bass. The bass is open normally but not boomy and certainly not clamped. One reason I like the F-hole is the guitar does not have that 'hole' sound that you get when recording a normal acoustic. The lack of a hole means I can mic it where it sounds beautiful but I don't get that hole boominess sound. You get the deep bass, but without the boomy hole-sound. But with the clamp, the nice bass has been reduced. It sounds like the guitar is not resonating, especially the bass tones.

There is no noticeable increase in sustain. Even if there was, the change in depth of the sound would not be worth it.

I moved the vice-grip around a bit on the head, but I can't discern any real difference in where I place it. It seems to reduce the volume and bass no matter where it is and doesn't do anything for sustain.
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Re: Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby DC-Choppah » Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:10 am

Wonks wrote: Some can have amazing sustain, but it's not down to a lump of metal on the headstock.

That certainly jibes with what I am hearing when I tried adding mass to the head.

How about a heavier E string?

It is really the top string that needs more sustain. I am feeling that the notes on the high string decay too fast, while the notes on the lower string are actually good. Sort of out-of-balance.

I am using these: http://www.savarez.com/argentine-boucle-1510mf

I wonder how much higher in thickness I can go than .011" on the top E string and if that will give me more sustain?

I would switch back to the normal set after this recording. I am just trying to do something for this particular song.
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Re: Acoustic guitar sustain increase device?

Postby DC-Choppah » Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:22 am

Sam Spoons wrote:The Maccaferri design came from his desire to build a louder classical guitar so I suspect compromising sustain was not on the agenda.

Yes, that is it exactly. That is how I think of this guitar - a louder, classical guitar for playing jazz. I love the beautiful tone.

I play contemporary jazz with it, and also swing in a big band with pickups, and also Gypsy jazz. I really just use it as an acoustic jazz guitar, not just a Gypsy jazz guitar.

It does feel and play like a classical guitar but without nylon strings. The strings are silver coated classical guitar strings.
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