Where does the sustain come from in an electric guitar???


Senior Stratmaster
Sep 23, 2014
I hardly ever (basically never) record guitar direct into a DAW through an interface. It surprised me here that soft picking sustained better that way, as opposed to using an amp where stronger picking yields better sustain as one would expect.

Maybe that's why playing into an interface always felt odd to me, since I tend to pick with a pretty broad dynamic range. No doubt I was unconsciously expecting familiar results.

Very interesting that some factors which increased sustain on the low E actually decreased it on the high E and vice versa. That's another takeaway I hadn't really considered.

El Gobernador

fezz parka
Apr 21, 2011
Nunyo, BZ
I hardly ever (basically never) record guitar direct into a DAW through an interface.
Almost every track you've heard me play is recorded this way. There's 50 tracks on my SoundCloud. 47 of them are direct. :)



Senior Stratmaster
Jun 5, 2021
Palm Coast, FL
Good video, I'm not a sustain wh*re anyway. I would say sustain comes from as little friction as possible from the tuning peg to the bridge plate. Obviously the saddles & nut rob sustain because that's where the string contacts the rest of the guitar, any binding would be in those contact points that restrict string vibration.

Are the strings seated where the ball end is ? I would assume they are. If any guitar plays louder as unplugged that's a plus to me. Plugged in, if the note rings for 10-12 seconds like most every guitar does, I really can't complain about the sustain of the guitar. And if I can feel the vibrations in the body & neck that's a good sign that the guitar is good enough for anything I'd use it for. Alignments from nut to saddle, the neck pocket and over the poles of the pickups also matter. So if a $ 100 Monoprice Telecaster meets all that criteria, short of the pickups being duds & microphonic, the guitar is a keeper. If wax potting the pickup myself resolves the microphonic pickup(s). I'm good with a guitar that doesn't say Gibson or Fender on the headstock.

I do agree that a guitar's strings will vibrate on it's own if you are close enough & the amp is loud enough that there's a frequency causing the strings to vibrate that my ears can't hear. I take that noise as a sign the saddles & nut slots aren't binding the string(s) that are vibrating. The individual strings themselves may have varying durations of vibration simply because they are different sizes, different total lengths The Low E is to the first peg, the ball end pretty much is the same starting point on most guitars and the saddle to nut distance is about the same distances to tenths, hundredths or thousandths of an inch.


Senior Stratmaster
Silver Member
Jan 26, 2022
Northwest US
I donā€™t like to over polish my frets.
I leave the leveling polished at 600grit
Vibrato makes those strings sing on like a violin.
I know people like them to ā€œplay like butterā€.
I love butter but, not in my guitar.
Polish by playing.

Thatā€™s just one denominator in the sustain equation, and thatā€™s all I have to offer.


Feb 4, 2022
Summing up the video:
Good sustain comes from your left hand technique. (assuming a right-handed player on a properly set-up guitar)