The Canadian Guitar Forum banner

45 second sustain "good guitar" test

3252 Views 76 Replies 31 Participants Last post by  xevek90490
In a recent article I came across, Paul Reed Smith says:

"A great electric guitar is harmonically rich and bright on the low strings, thick-sounding on the high strings, and rings about 45 seconds," Smith told Guitarist. "A very poor electric guitar is bassy on the low strings, tinny on the high strings, and rings for about 16 seconds. No pickup is going to fix that!"

I'm guessing he means unplugged? A casual test of a few of my guitars revealed about 16 seconds of sustain when I strum a chord (not an open chord). Open string, sure a bit longer, but not 45 seconds.

I guess my guitars have shitty unamplified sustain. Oh well. It's a good thing I have amps, then. 馃榿
  • Like
Reactions: 1
1 - 3 of 77 Posts
I don't care about acoustic sustain either, but I did a little test anyway. Strummed open strings an put my ear to the body of the guitar. My chambered and solid LPs went between 35 and 38 seconds, My SG and PRS 30. My tinnitus could very well falsify this scientific approach though.

Resting the butt of the guitar against a door jamb or a wall will reveal similar results. Unless the electric baseboard kicks in with its own sustain.
  • Like
Reactions: 2
This stuff is rather funny. People get way too caught up on stuff like sustain and resonance. Yes, they're both nice. But you can't really have it both ways (perfectly). There is definitely a balance to be found - and whether it's even or not depends on your preference. In terms of physics - sustain goes counter to resonance. Sustain for 45 seconds would be defined by the strings producing a sound until that acoustic energy is dispersed elsewhere (the body of the guitar, the air, etc.). So, when people start talking about guitars that have tremendous vibration (resonance) then what they are actually pointing at is a guitar that creates an easier path for the acoustic energy from the strings to dissipate elsewhere (the body). Thus, it's less sustain. I wonder if Paul Reid Smith also celebrates the resonance in his guitars or not? If so, how would that work with his idea of the importance of sustain? Or are his guitars the unicorns of physics - both offering tremendous resonance in the guitar body while miraculously not taking energy away from the strings and increasing sustain?
PRS = Perfidious Resonant Sustain. I thought everybody knew that.
  • Haha
  • Like
Reactions: 3
1 - 3 of 77 Posts