How do I get more sustain on my Hot Rod?

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by erlomd, May 20, 2021.

  1. erlomd

    erlomd Electromatic

    Apr 12, 2021
    Miami, FL
    So im lucky enough to have been playing my 2005 Gretsch Hot Rod with TV jones Filtertrons a little over a decade now.

    Ive always thought that guitar was just perfect! the tone was just unbeatable for me.

    Last month, I bought an EVH Wolfgang for those high gain dive bomb kind of songs. I upgraded the pots, input jack, switch and pickups and yes it was much more vibrant but...

    after swapping the 37mm Chinese pot metal tone block for a solid 42mm Brass block, the guitar just rings for days!!! The sustain and chime is outstanding especially on cleaner sounding songs...So much so that my Gretsch now sounds a bit on the muddy side in comparison and just does not sustain as I would like it to.

    Both guitars have D'Addario Pro Steel 9-42 strings. (although I do use the Dunlop BFG 7-38's sometimes on the Gretsch).

    The Gretsch still sounds great but I would just love to get it to sustain and chime a bit brighter. Any thoughts?

    Ive seen some comparisons using Compton chambered bridges or the Tru-Arc bridge which may help but there really aren't that many sound comparisons out there that I am aware of.

    Thanks for the help!
  2. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    IMO, a bar bridge may help some, but a hollow body just isn't going to sustain like a solid body does.
    Outlaw, Mogg, ruger9 and 2 others like this.
  3. erlomd

    erlomd Electromatic

    Apr 12, 2021
    Miami, FL
    Yeah, I was thinking the same...I think it may be time for a duo jet in my life! :D
    stiv, speedicut and audept like this.
  4. stevo

    stevo Friend of Fred

    May 1, 2012
    Muddy is one thing, lack of sustain is another. As already stated, I don't expect the same sustain. But there is no need for it to be muddy. Maybe it's just the ear to ear comparison that does it?
  5. mrfixitmi

    mrfixitmi Country Gent

    Mar 20, 2010
    Solid bridge was a step in the direction, if you can find stainless bridge that will help, however it will be brighter. We have both stainless Comptons both a solid and the tone chamber. The tone chamber has a slightly longer sustain.
    The only guitars that I have noticed with a very long sustain are the old RKS guitars. Especially when using their classic hollow body, the aluminum ribs act as tuning forks, so from the physics one would expect that having (5) tuning forks contained in the tone chamber would help.
    erlomd likes this.
  6. Waxhead

    Waxhead Country Gent

    Aug 30, 2014
    4 ways to increase sustain

    a) pup height adjustment.
    b) bar bridge like a compton/truarc/dBridge
    c) a compresser pedal
    d) use a better/different amp
    drmilktruck likes this.
  7. TSims1

    TSims1 Gretschified

    Jun 18, 2013
    Different animals. Gretsch guitars sound fantastic. Sustain is not one of their strengths. Can you improve it? Maybe, but it’ll never ever ever be like the EVH.

    So. We all know the real solution. MORE GUITARS.
  8. mr coffee

    mr coffee Country Gent

    Oct 7, 2009
    Another factor that hasn't really been mentioned, I felt that my tone and sustain were both notably improved when I pulled the bridge base and replaced it with one of my own making - the one I'm currently using is maple, carefully fitted to the top of the guitar. It contacts the top across its entire length, I don't know whether that's a good thing, a bad thing or a non thing, but it contacts well. There's plenty of debate and discussion on jazz box forums about it. As mentioned, the stainless Compton helps. All the tweaking in the world is going to be just that, tweaking. It's not gonna be the same ballpark. If you've got decent tone unplugged, check your signal path.

    Outlaw, Waxhead, mrfixitmi and 3 others like this.
  9. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    Yep, IMO a big part of that Gretsch sound is the almost instant decay that just so nicely fades away. Very complex thing going on.

    Nothing else comes close. Just need more guitars for sustain.
    Gregor, mrfixitmi and erlomd like this.
  10. Duo Slinger

    Duo Slinger Synchromatic

    Sep 11, 2020
    California, USA
    Well... you could always rip the gain up, hold it in front of the amp and strike a chord. It'll sustain for ever. Will it sound good? Probably not, but it'll work.

    Actually, I've played around with using feedback, and it can yield some interesting results. What I do is I increase the gain on my amp a bunch, and mute all the strings, except for the few notes for the three or four string chord I have, then I wait. If you do it right, you get this weird woodwind like sound.
  11. slickfaster

    slickfaster Country Gent

    Dec 29, 2009
  12. Robbie

    Robbie Friend of Fred

    Jun 17, 2013
    Sarnia Ontario Canada
    It’s really an apples and oranges deal. Sustain is not a Gretsch strong point.
    new6659, drmilktruck and mrfixitmi like this.
  13. erlomd

    erlomd Electromatic

    Apr 12, 2021
    Miami, FL
    All great points! Thanks guys. I figured as much so I guess the chambered Compton sounds like it may be a winner.

    It may not sustain as long as the EVH for obvious reasons but I’m sure it will make a noticeable improvement compared to the tune-o-matic that’s currently installed.

    The pickups are at a good height as well as the poles so I think that’s not an issue. Although I have been contemplating on switching them out for the new TVJ BS signature filtertrons.

    Amp sounds great. It’s a 1963 Bassman.
    pedals I use are the Strymon Riverside Overdrive, A Keeley Caverns Delay/Reverb, a Joyo Classic Chorus and a cheap 6 band EQ pedal.
    I’m looking for a good compressor pedal at the moment maybe that will help.
    mrfixitmi likes this.
  14. Craig Encinitas

    Craig Encinitas Electromatic

    May 3, 2021
    Encinitas, Ca
    My Broadkaster Jr sounds like it has plenty of sustain...

    Perhaps due to the center-block and string-thru vibrato Bigsby?

    (newbie here, please correct me if I’m wrong) :rolleyes:
    mrfixitmi likes this.
  15. HypotenusLuvTriangle

    HypotenusLuvTriangle Country Gent

    Oct 27, 2010
    Whittier, Ca
    A Titanium Tone Chambered Compton. Seriously. That thing is amazing. I have 3 of them. Better than any bridge I've ever had. Bigsbys tend to kill sustain as well. You're also comparing a solid body with a Floyd/strat trem to a floating bridge bigsby equipped hollowbody. These things are not the same. As you know. :)

    I would suggest what a few others have.
    1. Titanium tone chambered Compton
    2. Sustain pedal.
    3. Make sure the pups are fully raised.
    mrfixitmi and Craig Encinitas like this.
  16. Electrosynthesis

    Electrosynthesis Gretschie

    May 11, 2011
    São Paulo
    + 1 for the compton bridge. For me, it made a huge difference in sustain and tone.
  17. DennisC

    DennisC Country Gent

    May 11, 2017
    A bridge might be part of the solution here. I thought about this beforehand, as I fell in love with a red/gold 5420, if I'dbe ok with the properties a brass bridge would have, in it being a lot heavier than your usual TOM or alu bar bridge, and still a bit heavier than steel.

    Anyway, a bridge will improve twang, chime, treble and that gang by being stiff and light.

    The heavier, the longer the strings will ring, and the stiffer, too.

    Brass isn't that stiff, but as I already had in mind that I might get a set of Magnatrons for her, which I did, ... I thought this would be ok, and I didn't have any worriery about a bit more sustain or the quality of a Truarc bridge, or brass being that less stfff than, say, steel, ...

    The weight of the bridge is by far not one of the greater influences to the electric signal. It's pretty deep in the details, it won't scream "Congrats, comrade, that bridge is heavy as a whale!", so even if the Twang is compromised already, I'd consider a heavier bridge.

    A one-piece design is to be prefered for a lot of reasons. Truarc, dBridge, Compton, Gretsch themselves are known to deliver those.

    I'd try out steel I think. No chambering, as this reduces weight, and is meant to, but therefore won't help increase sustain. The transition from the stock TOM to the Truarc brass made my guitar ring out about twice as long, at least!

    But, admittedly, this advise for a choice of a bridge is of highly subjective nature, and ignores the effect on Twang the bridge has, as there are other means to achieve an improvement there which are also easy to access, but improving sustain, otherwise than by changing the bridge, isn't that easy. Taking Twang into account, I might be in favor of a chambered bridge and a lighter material. Titan is about half as heavy as steel (a little bit more than), and has a pretty high coolness factor, and, often, looks nice, too.

    The lack of Twang may stem from something totally different. The elecronics should be clean and nicely working. A pot with a nice collection of dust may affect the tone as well as dirty switches and the like. There,everything is fine? If not, curing it might help.

    If you're just disappointed in the lackof Twang, it may be worth changing out a few components. Master pot for 1 MOhm, maybde a treble bleed if you use the pot to actually adjust, and as a final resort, a bass cut, either adjustable via a pot, or a fixed one or switchable one. If that comes into question, by this or another reason, ... then, we might engage in a discussion about details.

    In general: Your strings seem extremely light! Hyve you tried out thicker ones? I'm not sure about their effect on Twang, ... well, strings aren't that expensive - may be worth a try.
  18. drmilktruck

    drmilktruck I Bleed Orange

    May 17, 2009
    Plymouth, MN
    you are correct. A center block acts more like a solid body in that regards. It can be properly called a semi hollow
    Craig Encinitas likes this.
  19. TV the Wired Turtle

    TV the Wired Turtle Gretschified

    Jul 25, 2009
    Sandy Eggo
    a gretsch wasnt designed for those crazy heavy metal 9 gauge strings at 24.6" scale, nor was a bigsby as Paul Bigsby was using motorcycle valve springs and set up 'his' guitars w 13's if I recall :). That said, you need to at least go to 10gauge strings, then make sure your pickups are 3/16" spacing from the bottom of both E strings. Doesnt cost much for that, but a tru-arc made of solid stainless steel will really add sustain to the mix. my 2 cents
  20. hippdog

    hippdog Electromatic

    Jul 23, 2013
    NW Arkansas

    press harder and longer.
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