I am playing a Gibson Les Paul Standard and a Fender Stratocaster through my pedal board into my amp. I have problems with my sustain on both guitars. I was able to have a nice sustain (for sure with my Les Paul) but recently my guitar fades away almost immediately. My pedalboard chain looks like this:

Tuner --> Wah --> Whammy --> Tubescreamer --> Overdrive --> Delay --> Reverb

I have tried several combinations, but even with only my OCD enabled (which has a lot of gain), I barely have sustain which annoys me a lot. Sometimes it just fades away, sometimes it converts into feedback. Any tips on how to have a much longer sustain or what my problem could be?

  • I can't comment yet, so... Just wondering, are all your cables good? I've had some funny things happen (including what you describe) with cables that had shorts.
    – blakek
    May 16, 2014 at 15:51
  • I have the best of cables. But I guess that wouldn't be a bad idea to test my gear with only my OCD overdrive and see what that does. May 16, 2014 at 17:03
  • Do any of your effects have a built in noise gate?
    – Matthew
    May 16, 2014 at 19:06

2 Answers 2


If it's for both guitars, I guess it's probably not the guitars themselves. Having said that, old strings can cause loss in sustain or if they've both got damp or something. Or muck on the bridge, or if you've changed gauge of strings to lighter ones.

Do they both play with good sustain unplugged ? ie, same as before ?

Assuming the guitars are ok, and your effects board hasn't changed to cause the poor sustain ..

  • Try swapping out the leads. Sometimes leads do weird things on their way out as the resistance or conections become unreliable. A muting /muffling effect isn't uncommon in my experience.

  • Don't forget this could also be the patch leads between effects

  • Check the voltage to your effects board. If it's lower than it should be, this can cause odd thigns to happen too. This is more likely if you use a universal power supply capable of several voltage ranges. Is the issue still there when not connecting through your pedalboard?

  • Amp. I don't know what kind of amp you have but I have noticed a particular kind of fault where you play a chord or note, it's loud (as usual) for maybe a quarter of a second, then it dies prematurely. Next note played seems to 'peak' through the issue but dies again soo after. I've found this ona few amps as jam nights and one of my own. I don't know the cure unfortunaely- probably something for a technician to look into. I guess the test would be to try someone else's amp, ideally one similar to your own.

  • Have you changed your technique lately ? Maybe it's finger-error ? This seems unlikely but I'm just trying to think of everything

If you want more sustain, a compressor will do that. They smooth the sound out very well ! But I guess that doens't help you find the real cause.

  • I have changed my pedal board layout recently (a few times) but I had the problem prior to that. That's why I changed the layout. Furthermore, my guitars are perfect in shape, I didn't change my playing technique, I use 0.11 strings, they are pretty new and I haven't changed the thickness of them. For my voltage, I use the Voodoo Lab Pedal Power which should work perfectly. I will however check the voltage. May 16, 2014 at 14:37
  • 5
    Does the problem occur when plugged in direct? That would be my first test. May 16, 2014 at 19:46
  • I agree with VarLogRant - that, then if no luck try a different amp. May 19, 2014 at 8:34

I would take a trial and error approach. Plug your guitar directly into your amp and test sustain without the effects. Then add in each pedal until you notice your sustain lacking. As Matthew suggested, it's highly probable that one of your pedals has a noise gate built into it that you didn't realize. I bought a multi effects pedal a long time ago, and when I first started using it, it destroyed my sustain until I figured out how to mess with the noise gate. I doubt it's the guitars that cause the problem as you have tried more than one. Last resort, Try a different amplifier if you have one, or can use a friends. Maybe you have some tubes on their way out.

  • The tube thing is interesting. And indeed. I will first do the trial and error approach. May 16, 2014 at 20:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.