How to Increase Sustain on Guitar (Electric)

Hey guitar pals! Want to make your guitar notes last longer and sound cooler? Our awesome guide on ‘How to Increase Sustain on Guitar’ will show you how!

To increase sustain on your guitar, try adjusting your amp and guitar settings, using thicker strings, changing the bridge or nut, and incorporating pedals like compression or overdrive.

We’ll explore fun tweaks like changing strings, adjusting your guitar and amp, and even cool pedal tricks. Get ready to make your guitar sing with notes that keep going and going! Let’s rock this!

How to Increase Sustain on Guitar

1. Adjust Your Amp Settings

Adjusting your amplifier settings is a crucial step in enhancing the sustain of your guitar. To start, focus on the gain control. A higher gain setting can significantly increase sustain.

However, be mindful not to overdo it, as too much gain can lead to unwanted noise or feedback. Experiment with the EQ settings as well; a slight boost in the midrange frequencies can help your notes stand out and sustain longer.

Also, consider the amp’s reverb setting. A touch of reverb can add depth to your tone and subtly extend the sustain without overpowering your original sound.

2. Dial In Your Guitar Settings

When it comes to increasing sustain on your guitar, the onboard controls play a vital role. Start with the volume knob.

A higher volume setting can drive the signal harder, leading to longer sustain. Next, adjust the tone controls. Depending on your guitar and playing style, a brighter or warmer tone setting can impact sustain.

For a richer sustain, experiment with rolling off a bit of the high end. Remember, the key is to find a balance that enhances sustain while maintaining the desired tonal quality of your guitar.

3. Adjust Pickup Height Or Change Them

Pickup height adjustment is a subtle yet effective way to influence your guitar’s sustain. If the pickups are too far from the strings, you might lose volume and sustain; too close, and you risk unwanted interference and a muddy tone.

Adjust the height so that the pickups capture the strings’ vibrations effectively without any negative effects. In some cases, replacing the pickups with higher quality ones can also lead to a notable improvement in sustain.

Different types of pickups, like humbuckers or single coils, have distinct impacts on sustain and overall tone.

4. Adjusting The Tuners

Fine-tuning your guitar’s tuners can also contribute to better sustain. Ensure that the tuners are in good condition and properly tightened. Loose tuners can cause instability in tuning, affecting the guitar’s ability to sustain notes.

If your guitar has old or low-quality tuners, consider upgrading to higher-end tuners for more stability and improved sustain.

Additionally, proper string winding on the tuners is crucial. Ensure the strings are wound neatly and securely, as this helps maintain consistent tension, which is vital for good sustain.

5. Clean Your Guitar

Keeping your guitar clean is more than just about aesthetics; it can significantly impact the sustain of your notes.

Dirt, grime, and old strings can dampen the vibration of the strings, leading to a reduction in sustain. Regularly cleaning your guitar, especially the strings, fretboard and the area around the bridge, ensures that the strings vibrate freely.

This includes wiping down the strings after each use to remove oils and sweat from your fingers, which can corrode the strings over time. A clean guitar not only looks and feels better but also sustains notes more effectively.

6. A New Set Of Strings

The type and condition of your guitar strings are crucial in determining sustain. Old, worn-out strings tend to lose their ability to vibrate freely, resulting in poorer sustain.

Replacing them with a new set can instantly improve the quality of your sound. When choosing strings, consider their material and construction; some strings are specifically designed to enhance sustain.

For instance, coated strings or those made from specific alloys can offer a brighter tone and longer sustain. It’s worth experimenting with different types of strings to find the ones that best suit your playing style and enhance sustain.

7. Use Thicker Strings

String gauge plays a pivotal role in the sustain of your guitar. Thicker strings, generally, provide more sustain than thinner ones. This is because they have more mass, allowing them to vibrate longer and produce a fuller and richer sound.

However, thicker strings also require more finger strength to play and can affect the playability of the guitar. It’s important to find the right balance between gauge and playability.

If you’re comfortable with a slightly heavier touch, opting for a thicker string set could significantly improve your guitar’s sustain.

8. Change Your Bridge Or Tremolo Block Or Adjust It

The bridge and tremolo block of a guitar are key components in sustain. A well-made, solid bridge can enhance the vibration transfer from the strings to the guitar body, resulting in longer sustain.

If your guitar has a tremolo system, upgrading to a high-quality tremolo block can add mass to the bridge assembly, further enhancing sustain.

Additionally, ensuring that the bridge is properly adjusted and securely fastened to the guitar body is crucial for optimal vibration transfer. Sometimes, even small adjustments can make a noticeable difference in sustain.

9. Change the Nut

The nut, often an overlooked component, plays a significant role in the sustain and overall tone of the guitar. A poorly fitted or low-quality nut can hinder the strings’ vibration, reducing sustain.

Upgrading to a higher-quality nut, such as one made from bone, graphite, or high-quality synthetic materials, can improve the contact between the strings and the guitar, enhancing sustain.

The nut should also be properly cut to fit the string gauges being used, ensuring optimal string height and tension for better sustain.

10. Use The Vibrato Technique

Vibrato is a powerful technique in a guitarist’s arsenal, not just for its expressive quality, but also for enhancing sustain. By slightly oscillating the pitch of a note, vibrato adds energy to the string, allowing it to vibrate longer.

This results in a note that not only sustains longer but also sounds more lively and dynamic. The key to effective vibrato for sustain is consistency and control – ensuring the motion is smooth and even.

Mastering vibrato can take some practice, but it’s well worth the effort for the beautiful, sustained notes it produces.

11. Use a Different Pick

The type of pick you use can significantly influence the sustain of your guitar. Thicker picks generally produce more sustain and a fuller sound as they transfer more energy to the strings compared to thinner picks.

The material of the pick also plays a role; picks made from harder materials (like tortex or acrylic) can enhance sustain more than softer ones (like nylon).

Experimenting with different thicknesses and materials can help you find the pick that best suits your playing style and enhances the sustain of your guitar.

12. Get a Compression Pedal

A compression pedal is an invaluable tool for boosting sustain. It works by evening out the dynamics of your playing, raising the level of quieter notes and reducing the peaks of louder ones. This results in a more consistent sound where notes sustain longer and more evenly.

While using a compressor, it’s important to find the right balance in settings to avoid over-compression, which can make your playing sound lifeless. Properly used, a compression pedal can significantly enhance the sustain and overall sound quality of your guitar.

13. Get a Distortion or Overdrive Pedal

Distortion and overdrive pedals are not just for adding grit or crunch to your tone; they can also increase sustain. By naturally compressing the signal, these pedals make notes ring out longer and with more intensity.

The key to using these pedals for sustain is to dial in the right amount of gain and tone settings. Too much distortion can muddy up your sound, while the right level can add warmth and richness, making your notes sustain beautifully.

Experiment with different pedals and settings to see how they affect the sustain and character of your sound.


In conclusion, increasing sustain on your guitar can be achieved through a variety of methods. From guitar and amp settings to playing techniques like vibrato, each adjustment can contribute to a richer and more resonant sound.

The choice of picks, use of pedals like compression and distortion, and even simple maintenance tasks like cleaning your guitar and changing strings play significant roles.

The best approach is often a combination of these methods, tailored to your specific playing style and the sound you’re aiming to achieve.

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