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  Is a Sustain Device standard ?

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Author Topic:   Is a Sustain Device standard ?
Sigi Meissner
Member

From: Duebendorf, Switzerland

posted 21 November 2005 08:09 AM     profile     
I'm considering to buy a sustain device
like the Super Sustain Matchbox from Goodrich.
My Emmons Legrand ll sounds great over
a Nash 400 with mod Kit in the Country Rock band I play. But now we've persuaded our female Singer of doing a few Ballads and my question is if a sustained tone will sound better. What other sustain devices can you recommend?
Bob Hoffnar
Member

From: Brooklyn, NY

posted 21 November 2005 09:01 AM     profile     
Save your money. Besides turning up your amp and easing in your volume pedal there is no device sold to steel players that actually increases sustain. You have great gear already. If it makes you happy to buy stuff and have lots of extra wires and knobs to turn there are all sorts of gizmos available. The way to get great sustain is to train your hands.

Bob

Calvin Walley
Member

From: colorado city colorado, USA

posted 21 November 2005 09:06 AM     profile     
i won't play without my goodrich match box i don't know about the substain but it sure helps the tone ...just my 2 cents

calvin

------------------
ZumSteel

Jack Stoner
Sysop

From: Inverness, Florida

posted 21 November 2005 09:18 AM     profile     
I agree with Bob. The "gadgets" won't increase whatever you think it will do for you.

You need to develop your technique.

John De Maille
Member

From: Merrick,N.Y. U.S.A.

posted 21 November 2005 11:45 AM     profile     
You could crankup your reverb a little bit, or you could use a DD-3 or 5 (digital delay). Both ways will sweeten up the sound for the slower tunes. You'd have to experiment with them to find what's right for you. But, I agree with Bob and Jack about learning to get a better sustain by using your hands and volume pedal first. Excellent technique has no comparisons when it comes to electronic devises. Electric toys will not make you a better steel player, they will only enhance your skill, when properly used.
Brad Sarno
Member

From: St. Louis, MO USA

posted 21 November 2005 11:54 AM     profile     
Yea, sustain is a function of the guitar and the volume pedal. Fresh strings help. Some guys like John Hughey play with the volume pedal way back down, like at 20%. That gives you lots of extra volume to add as the strings decay. There's your sustain right there. Also good picking technique helps to make the strings ring longer.

Brad

Larry Bell
Member

From: Englewood, Florida

posted 21 November 2005 01:00 PM     profile     
Sigi,
Since I have not heard you play I won't make any comment regarding your technique, but agree with the others that a good command of right- and left-hand technique will improve your playing across the board -- not just sustain.

A 'sustain device' (e.g., the Hilton or Goodrich units) are a bit of a misnomer. They are actually buffer amps -- also known as a 'match box'. If you use a volume pedal that has a potentiometer and NO BATTERY or AC POWER, you should try a match box -- the SuperSustain is fine. There are several models out there. It will solve an electronic problem that is related to using a potentiometer that causes your high end signal to drop off when your pedal is back (partially closed / less volume). Wide open it sounds fine but when you back off you will lose some of the highs. Some people just set their amp with a bit more treble and live with it, but a match box will solve that problem.

Will it give you a bunch more sustain? No

The pedal steel has an ENORMOUS reserve of sustain without any added devices if you learn how to let your hands and feet coax it out of the guitar and amp.

A little more reverb and/or delay on a slow ballad can also help some, as others have suggested, but your guitar should have plenty of sustain to play ballads.

------------------
Larry Bell - email: larry@larrybell.org - gigs - Home Page
2003 Fessenden S/D-12 8x8, 1969 Emmons S/D-12 6x6, 1984 Sho-Bud S/D-12 7x6, 1971 Dobro, Standel and Peavey Amps


Klaus Caprani
Member

From: Copenhagen, Denmark

posted 22 November 2005 01:15 AM     profile     
The phaenomena of loosing treble while backing the volume pedal down can actually be helped to some extend by bridging the pot with a small capacitor (47-100 nf). The value of this capacitor is subject to experimentation, as it depends heavily on factors like the impedance of your pick-up, the DC-resistance of the pot and the input impedance of your amplifier or fx rack.

I know it's somewhat off-topic, but might be a help for some.

I haven't done it in my rig though, since this issue isn't a problem for me.

------------------
Klaus Caprani

MCI RangeXpander S-10 3x4
www.klauscaprani.com


Nic du Toit
Member

From: Milnerton, Cape, South Africa

posted 22 November 2005 01:19 AM     profile     
I go with Brad on this one. Works for me.

------------------
Nic du Toit
1970 Rosewood P/P Emmons D10 Fatback 8x4
Peavey Session 500 unmodfied
CD "Nightmare on Emmons Steel"
CD "Steel Smokin'"
Veruschka's CD "Don't Dream it's Over"

Click here to E-mail us.

Nic du Toit
Member

From: Milnerton, Cape, South Africa

posted 22 November 2005 01:23 AM     profile     
For 'sustain' units to work, it has to compress and expand your signal. So, whatever you play have will have that slight snap in the notes....very disconcerting when doing a slow song. Your whole playing style may have to change to compensate, or accomodate, the sustain unit. Go with what Brad suggested...it works!!

------------------
Nic du Toit
1970 Rosewood P/P Emmons D10 Fatback 8x4
Peavey Session 500 unmodfied
CD "Nightmare on Emmons Steel"
CD "Steel Smokin'"
Veruschka's CD "Don't Dream it's Over"

Click here to E-mail us.

Bob Martin
Member

From: Madison Tn

posted 22 November 2005 04:27 AM     profile     
Well I promised myself I wasn't going to go against the grain in this thread but I just have to interject my 2 cents.

If you buy a profesional level compresser/sustainer there are a lot of options. There are 2 particular parameters on a compresser that will eliminate that annoying pop and pinched sound of compressers. If you set the threshold pretty high the compresser will not kick in and sustain the note until it falls below a certain level ie until the note starts to die out then it will kick in and give you longer sustain.

The other parameter is how many ms before it kicks in ie if you set it to start compressing after 2 ms it will not work on the attack of the note but rather on the middle of the note where you don't hear that pinched or popping sound it's called the attack parameter.

So if you learn how to work the compresser you can get a lot of sustain from a compresser without all the annoying downsides of normal compression.

Bob

Larry Bell
Member

From: Englewood, Florida

posted 22 November 2005 07:14 AM     profile     
A compressor was not what Sigi was talking about.

------------------
Larry Bell - email: larry@larrybell.org - gigs - Home Page
2003 Fessenden S/D-12 8x8, 1969 Emmons S/D-12 6x6, 1984 Sho-Bud S/D-12 7x6, 1971 Dobro, Standel and Peavey Amps


Mark van Allen
Member

From: loganville, Ga. USA

posted 22 November 2005 12:02 PM     profile     
No, but I'm curious if it's not what he's looking for!
A good compressor pedal (or rack device) can be set to give a noticeable sustain characteristic, beyond what you get from the guitar and volume pedal. Most of the pedal units are difficult to get just sustain without squashing the input signal, the more hi-fi units (Karl Martin, etc.) might have a better sound on steel than a Boss unit, for instance. Most compressor pedals also change the overall tonal characteristic a bit, but it may be a sound you like. There have been some threads here in electronics about compressors with steel, and there seem to be a few guys who really dig it. I use compression very occasionally as an effect.

As mentioned, the "digital sustainers" are more of buffer boxes that improve high end definiton with passive volume pedals.

As for me, I'd recommend trying an active pedal (Hilton or Goodrich), using a large reserve on the volume pedal to ease in as your phrase decays. You really need some room to goose the softer notes, harmonics, etc.

Another reason why most steelers prefer hi-wattage, hi headroom amplifiers, as well.

Jeff Peterson
Member

From: Nashville, TN USA

posted 22 November 2005 05:27 PM     profile     
The real advantage to using the Goodrich is, if you have a very long cable run to your amp. All the tech talk is good for basic knowlege how the stuff works, but what it comes down to, to me, is if you have a close run(10-15 or so ft.), you don't need it..it just kinda' makes some EQ fussiness. Sometimes I have to run over 50 ft. to my amps...I use one at those times, and I don't suffer the 'cable loss' of highs and bewildered upper-mids.
Bob Martin
Member

From: Madison Tn

posted 22 November 2005 05:37 PM     profile     
Hey Larry, I should have prefaced my post as a solution to help him with sustain on the pedal steel rather than just tell him how a compresser works. Please forgive my eagerness to help a fellow steeler to get more sustain.

I just was trying to give him a way to get sustain artifically :-)

Bob

Larry Bell
Member

From: Englewood, Florida

posted 22 November 2005 07:15 PM     profile     
Sorry, Bob
I didn't mean to sound 'snippy' -- I guess that's how it came off.

And you and Mark are correct: a high quality compressor can add sustain if dialed in correctly, as you pointed out.

I also agree with Mark's conclusion that a good active volume pedal with lots of headroom is really all most steel players need to get all the sustain that's needed. A matchbox with a passive pot pedal is the next best thing to solve the problem of unequal tonal response at the low vs high end of the pedal travel.

------------------
Larry Bell - email: larry@larrybell.org - gigs - Home Page
2003 Fessenden S/D-12 8x8, 1969 Emmons S/D-12 6x6, 1984 Sho-Bud S/D-12 7x6, 1971 Dobro, Standel and Peavey Amps


Bob Martin
Member

From: Madison Tn

posted 22 November 2005 08:15 PM     profile     
No Larry no big deal I'm probably just to sensetive hee hee anyway thanks its always good to have someone be nice and courteous like you just were have a good one:-)

Bob

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