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Any way to get more sustain from the E and B strings?

jtv variax sustain

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#1 ajktsb

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 05:27 AM

I love my JTV-69. However, I have felt like the E and B strings just don't sustain like they should. They sound fine, just don't sustain well. I've tried adding sustain with compression with a little success but still not right. I've also played with the height of the strings. If it helps, I ALWAYS use the VDI connection to a HD500x because of the ability to store guitar models in the patch.

 

Any suggestions?


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#2 mdmayfield

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 07:12 AM

Sustain is a physical phenomenon more than a modeling thing - it's the interaction between the nut, string, bridge, vibrato, and guitar body. It all depends on how that whole system resonates together, and is different from individual guitar to individual guitar (for example, compare any two Strats and you'll find slightly different sustain times).

 

Having said that, although modeling can't exactly increase sustain, I believe Line 6 have some kind of amplitude curve shaping thingamabob in their modeling, as some guitar models actually create a sharper attack and quicker decay - - thus, less sustain than the physical instrument (for the tradeoff of more punch). You can experiment with different guitar models to find the one that has the most sustain (that is, the full sustain the physical instrument is capable of).

 

Either way, if you switch to the magnetic pickups, you'll hear the "100%" mark, the total amount of sustain that your personal JTV-69's physical parts can achieve. If it's not enough, you'll need to take generic "any electric guitar" approaches to trying to get more sustain, because there's nothing Variax-specific about that physical aspect. For example,

 

- Convert the guitar to a hardtail

- Alter the setup (i.e. sometimes higher action is more sustain)

- Experiment with different string gauges

- Change the neck, body, vibrato, nut, etc...

 

Good luck!

 

Matt

 

--- Quick edit: Of course you'll also hear the physical sustain unplugged, too. Also, something to watch out for is to make sure the magnetic pickups aren't too close to the strings, because their magnetic fields attract the metal strings, causing "drag" that reduces sustain.


Edited by mdmayfield, 20 August 2014 - 07:14 AM.

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#3 ajktsb

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 05:21 AM

Thanks Matt! Great information.

 

I never use the tremolo bar. Could the springs inside that mechanism be stealing some of the energy in the body? If so, is it possible to remove those springs?


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#4 mdmayfield

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 07:56 AM

Since I almost never use the whammy bar either (and prefer guitars without them) I'm not exactly sure. I don't think the springs absorb too much per se, though you'd figure they must come into play to some degree. My main problem with springs over the years has been a sproingy/reverb-y resonance when playing overdriven.

 

With Strats and my JTV-69, what I ended up doing - not for sustain purposes, but just to turn it into a hardtail - was tightening the springs all the way, re-setting the action to take the new position of the bridge into account, and then putting some felt, foam, or other damping material under the springs to avoid the sproingy sounds.

 

I don't know the physics in-depth enough to say what exact difference that makes to the vibrations, but it seems to help sustain a bit, maybe because the bridge is in contact with the top of the guitar body at that point. If there's a pro luthier around, they would probably know for sure and have a more detailed explanation.

 

Another thing people like to do is get a wooden or metal block, shaped to just the right size, to wedge in the vibrato mechanism to keep it from moving. That might be worth asking a repair person or luther about, as well.


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#5 ajktsb

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 07:58 AM

Will do.


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#6 mdmayfield

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 11:10 AM

Found this link while browsing over lunch - this sounds intriguing: http://forums.fender...php?f=6&t=84000

 

 

With no springs connected, the machined aluminum block just barely squeezes between the trem inertia block and the body wall. The aluminum block is a very tight fit. However, once the springs are connected between the claw and trem inertia block, tightening the claw actually pulls the inertia block away from the aluminum block slightly. I adjusted the claw by placing my ear on the upper bass bout of the guitar and listening to the vibrations through the body as the strings are strummed. I found that I could easily adjust the claw to maximize the vibration transfer. Too tight, and the vibrations decreased due to reduction of the contact pressure between the inertia bloc, aluminum block, and body wall. Too loose and the springs would begin to vibrate too much and muddy the sound of the vibrations through the body.


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#7 snhirsch

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 01:05 PM

And as a long-time strat owner, I have no idea what he's talking about.  What is "..the machined aluminum block" being referred to?  I understand what he means by "inertia block", although the term is a little strange.  Under normal setup conditions, the only direct contact between the floating tremolo components and the guitar body is at the bridge plate pivot points.  Beyond that, there is indirect coupling through the strings on top and the tension springs underneath.  If the claim is that somehow the springs are pulling the "inertia block" away from the bridge plate, then either the screws holding them together are loose or those are a very manly set of springs!

 

That said, I can well believe that varying the tension on the springs affects coupling with the guitar body.  But that's very different physics from a variance in metal-to-metal contact pressure.


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#8 BillBee

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 03:48 AM

FWIW - years ago I switched the floyd trem block on an Ibanez RG to a big ole brass one which increased the bridge mass and did "seem" to increase the sustain not night and day but it did increase. There may be something out there that one could retro fit into the JTV.

 

Like Matt said there are ways to tweak a guitar for more sustain (though to be honest a good compressor/sustainer works wonders).

 

Thought I would throw that out there for ya.


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