Thoughts from Lindy on pickups and sustain

Greywolf

Luthier and Sound Sensei
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From Lindy Fralin..

Which of your pickups has the most sustain?

If you’re looking for the short answer, it’s this: pickups don’t really affect your instrument’s sustain. Your guitar’s components make up the bulk of the reason why your guitar has a good sustain – or doesn’t. But – there’s more to it than that, so let’s dig in and further explain what’s happening with your guitar’s sustain.


WHERE DOES SUSTAIN COME FROM?​

Your guitar’s sustain is not solely dependent on the pickups. The pickups are designed to capture the vibrations of the strings. If the string isn’t sustaining, it’s not your pickups’ fault (…or is it? We’ll explore this further in a moment).

“If your guitar isn’t sustaining acoustically, it’s not going to sustain electrically”.
Lindy Fralin
The sustain of an instrument comes from the sum of its parts:

  1. The guitar’s body – the shape, design, and tonewoods chosen
  2. The string’s “contact points” – think the Bridge, saddle, and nut
  3. The setup of your instrument
If your guitar is a solid-body instrument with a quality Bridge and Bone nut, its strings will sustain more than those of a guitar without these attributes...
 
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Frm Lindy Fralin..

Which of your pickups has the most sustain?

If you’re looking for the short answer, it’s this: pickups don’t really affect your instrument’s sustain. Your guitar’s components make up the bulk of the reason why your guitar has a good sustain – or doesn’t. But – there’s more to it than that, so let’s dig in and further explain what’s happening with your guitar’s sustain.


WHERE DOES SUSTAIN COME FROM?​

Your guitar’s sustain is not solely dependent on the pickups. The pickups are designed to capture the vibrations of the strings. If the string isn’t sustaining, it’s not your pickups’ fault (…or is it? We’ll explore this further in a moment).


The sustain of an instrument comes from the sum of its parts:

  1. The guitar’s body – the shape, design, and tonewoods chosen
  2. The string’s “contact points” – think the Bridge, saddle, and nut
  3. The setup of your instrument
If your guitar is a solid-body instrument with a quality Bridge and Bone nut, its strings will sustain more than those of a guitar without these attributes...
I'm in the choir he's preaching to. ;)
 
Part of me always hoped PRS would introduce pickups made by Lindy in their guitars. It would be a cool mid Atlantic collaboration. But I feel PRS really invested in their pickups after the introduction of the 57/08, 59/09, 53/10, Paul’s pickups, 58/15, and 85/15. Now the silver sky pickups, near fields, and the ones on the tele like guitars…there won’t be any going back now.

But I’m still a huge Fralin fan. And have happily installed his pickups in PRS and Fenders.

But I do believe him in that the guitar determines sustain
 
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I'd also have to agree with this. My cousin had an old Gibson Heritage Les Paul that had really no sustain, regardless of what was being played anywhere on the neck. We tried a variety of different pickups and none of them were an improvement.
 
Part of me always hoped PRS would introduce pickups made by Lindy in their guitars. It would be a cool mid Atlantic collaboration. But I feel PRS really invested in their pickups after the introduction of the 57/08, 59/09, 53/10, Paul’s pickups, 58/15, and 85/15. Now the silver sky pickups, near fields, and the ones on the tele like guitars…there won’t be any going back now.

But I’m still a huge Fralin fan. And have happily installed his pickups in PRS and Fenders.

But I do believe him in that the guitar determines sustain
After comparing the sustain of my SE with that of a Core model, my thoughts are confirmed that the above is true. Oh. I still love to get ahold of a guitar that is less than and make it so much more, but after improving tone, playability, looks and character, one can only do so much with the sustain. Small improvements are usually all I can expect.
 
When I buy or set up a guitar, I do it unamplified so I can hear and feel the guitars sustain. I've gotten surprises on both cheap and expensive guitars. Good reason to have all levels in PRS.

Totally, my SE 245 (acoustically & ampified) is a feisty wee thing.

It’s very clear and rings beautifully when played acoustically.

Nice observation Paul.
 
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