I have a lack of sustain on my 3 string guitars: using A-D-G strings tuned G-D-G, my lowest string (the A tuned to G) has a noticeable lack of sustain, especially with a slide, from about the 10th fret on up. I notice it more with a tailpiece than with strings coming through the bottom of the neck. Any suggestions? Note- it is not really a big deal to me, but if I can improve it, it'd be nice.
By the way, I build fretless, so using the word fret really means the line on the neck. I also expect fretless fingering to be more muted, it's more of an issue with slides in glass or brass.
Materials used for the nut and saddle can improve or hinder sustain, as well as the mass underneath these two points of string contact.
A lot of builders I see are using stove bolts or threaded rods...but bone is better. Even better than that is stone, but difficult to shape.
Tailpieces look nice, but for cbg purposes regarding sustain, I prefer to run strings through tail end of neck.
Also, might try something like Randy Bretz's half n half bone slides.
I've tried bone, hardwood and bolts on many builds, while bone has a cool sound, nothing beats metal bolts.
maybe try thicker strings and or tuning up a step
seems like the opposite to me, tuning up gives even less sustain, as does raising the bridge.
Slack strings don't have the energy for sustain, so tighter is better. Longer scales help increase tension. Also, if there are any components vibrating it will rob energy from the vibration of the string, and cut sustain.
One other thing; harder woods will also help increase sustain... if you are using pine step up to poplar, if you're using poplar step up to maple or oak, or even ash, hickory or walnut if you can find them.
Try bracing the sides of your cigar boxes, especially the long sides, and add a rigid support under the neck - inside the box. For this purpose I have used some scrap 1x2 pine that is light weight.
The box lid is a big factor as well. Hardboard lids are likely worse than all-wood lids for sustain (I guess).
Screw or glue the perimeter of the lid to the edges.
Try a different brand and alloy of strings. I have some acoustic strings that just seem numb while the Elixir nanoweb strings just seem to growl and shine.
Just some ideas that I have tried. My second build is an all-wood Punch box with the aforementioned specs. The sustain is surprising given the all-thread nut and thumb screw bridge.
I'm going to jump on the string bandwagon. The longest sustaining build I've made is a one-string boat paddle bass. 36" scale. .105 gauge string, tuned to D. Sting vibrates past 30 seconds. Using a one-pole flatpup it just goes forever. I don't know what wood the paddle is made of, but it's not exotic hardwood and since it's a paddle, there's no sound chamber or box.
If your strings are tight enough they'll vibrate long enough. I wager that a cigar box isn't a sensitive enough thing to amplify the strings past a certain point in the sound's decay, but that doesn't mean the strings aren't still vibrating.
it's all about vibrations
pretty much what has been said I have found success. A compressor can help a bit if you are electrified,
i would suggest:
- a thin soundboard that is free to vibrate
-a long scale length
-bone, metal, or corian nut and bridge