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Beedster

Why do bassists seem to be so obsessed with sustain?

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3 hours ago, LukeFRC said:

I think the more important quality is the attack envelop of the note -rather than the sustain, though they are linked. 
 

Agree, that was in part the basis of my comment re my old Wal. It's all about energy, the world's most resonant bass can only do so in response to the energy put into it, it's not creating it's own. I get the argument that some instruments might simply soak up that energy resulting in no sustain but also no discernible improvement in other parameters, but is it possible that some basses transfer that energy in a different way, less sustain but a more pronounced envelope? 

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Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.  I know I've done a few pit gigs where you see huge extended notes spanning many bars.  Probably the only circumstance I can imagine it being useful tho.

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1 minute ago, Beedster said:

Agree, that was in part the basis of my comment re my old Wal. It's all about energy, the world's most resonant bass can only do so in response to the energy put into it, it's not creating it's own. I get the argument that some instruments might simply soak up that energy resulting in no sustain but also no discernible improvement in other parameters, but is it possible that some basses transfer that energy in a different way, less sustain but a more pronounced envelope? 

but if you were modelling that energy, sustain in itself wouldn't be the main aim.... 
longer sustain would mean a longer lower peak ... which I guess would sound more compressed. 
A sharp punchy attack would use up more of the given energy... 

(probably flawed physics on display here.) 

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7 minutes ago, LukeFRC said:

but if you were modelling that energy, sustain in itself wouldn't be the main aim.... 
longer sustain would mean a longer lower peak ... which I guess would sound more compressed. 
A sharp punchy attack would use up more of the given energy... 

(probably flawed physics on display here.) 

Exactly my point (more flawed physics I'm sure, there's never a physicist around when you need one is there)

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15 minutes ago, Beedster said:

Exactly my point (more flawed physics I'm sure, there's never a physicist around when you need one is there)

talking of flawed physics... noticed how purveyors of higher mass bridges suggest they both allow the vibrations to be better transmitted into the body, and also decouple the body from the strings vibration... at the same time! 

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Rereading the original post, I wouldn't say that bassists are  "obsessed with sustain".  Well, I don't know any who are.

Sustain is an option, like preamps, 5 strings, fretless etc and like all options people will pick and choose.

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I'm surprised it's taken this long for compression to get a mention...

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1 hour ago, Stub Mandrel said:

I'm surprised it's taken this long for compression to get a mention...

Why are bassists so obsessed with compression? 

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3 hours ago, chris_b said:

Rereading the original post, I wouldn't say that bassists are  "obsessed with sustain".  Well, I don't know any who are.

I'm surprised it took this long for someone to question the premise of the OP!

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On 04/10/2020 at 20:27, prowla said:

Why do some bassists seem to be so obsessed with sustain?

There y'go!

In my favoured land of Rickenbacker basses a lot of owners say "fit a Hipshot bridge" to seemingly almost any question. I often ask what it brings and they say "More sustain.", to which I ask what they want that for...

 

56 minutes ago, Nail Soup said:

I'm surprised it took this long for someone to question the premise of the OP!

 

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Beedster said:

Exactly my point (more flawed physics I'm sure, there's never a physicist around when you need one is there)

Physicist here :) How many MT do you want the gadget to yield?  In seriousness,  much good discussion (and good Physics) above, imo it is about energy transfer and dissipation - the rate at which input energy (fingers, pick) is wasted into the body, bridge, bridge body interface, pickup magnets damping strings etc.  My lifetime bass problem has been too much sustain, how often do I want more than 1 ~ 2 bars sustain.  Attack / decay envelopes and no dead or live notes are of much more interest to me in a bass.  Why do some basses (Gibson SG and Kramer Alu neck) 'play themselves' - have 'boing' and others on the same strings are just 'lifeless'? Why do some P basses (insert bass  of choice here) sound great, why do others sound 'naff', this applies to copies and the real thing.

Edited by 3below
grammar
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15 hours ago, acidbass said:

Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.  I know I've done a few pit gigs where you see huge extended notes spanning many bars.  Probably the only circumstance I can imagine it being useful tho.

Even for this, you’d assume a regular J / P would be up to the job? 

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3 hours ago, Drax said:

Even for this, you’d assume a regular J / P would be up to the job? 

Not if it involves a sustained note on the 4th or 6th frets ;)

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On 04/10/2020 at 08:53, simon88wilson said:

Interesting question and I’m sure a lot of people will have a better idea than me but I have always seen sustain as a by product of quality craftsmanship. 
 

I couldn’t give two hoots over how long a bass sustains for but I have noticed the better put together basses seems to acoustically sustain more or so it seems. 

This. Or do people confuse more sustain with more or better tone?

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1 hour ago, mikel said:

This. Or do people confuse more sustain with more or better tone?

They are two sides of the same coin.

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1 hour ago, chris_b said:

They are two sides of the same coin.

Care to explain that Chris (pulls up comfy chair, opens bottle of red, cancels appointments for rest of day) :)

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2 hours ago, Beedster said:

Care to explain that Chris (pulls up comfy chair, opens bottle of red, cancels appointments for rest of day) :)

..............might need a second bottle soon :)

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4 hours ago, chris_b said:

They are two sides of the same coin.

Really? Explain.

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On 08/10/2020 at 17:36, Beedster said:

..............might need a second bottle soon :)

6 bottles later and still no reply :)

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1 hour ago, Beedster said:

6 bottles later and still no reply :)

Basses with sustain would be easier to passably play after 6 bottles of wine? 

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3 hours ago, Beedster said:

6 bottles later and still no reply :)

You will be getting sustain after 6 bottles though not of the bass variety, more likely through the 'bass' without a 'b' region. :)

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Well, if I think about sustain and tone, I hark back to my previous reply that mentioned how energy is lost, absorbed in to the body etc., and the properties of the material means that it doesn't happen evenly across all frequencies. Some frequencies sustain more than others -> there's your effect on tone.

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One example where sustain is very useful is when playing a line originally written for a bowed double bass. An orchestra I play with has plenty of such numbers when fast decaying notes just doesn't work.

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