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Author Topic:  Does SD-10 Pad affect Tone and Sustain?
Dan Robinson


From:
Colorado, USA
Post  Posted 10 May 2020 7:36 pm    
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What happens when we fasten a padded arm rest to a single neck, full size body guitar? Does it dampen the cabinet's resonance? Does it reduce sustain? Enough to notice?

Does it matter how the pad is mounted to the cabinet?

If you've experimented with this I'd like to hear from you.
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Larry Behm


From:
Mt Angel, Or 97362
Post  Posted 10 May 2020 8:07 pm    
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Probably not any effect.
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Pat Chong

 

From:
New Mexico, USA
Post  Posted 10 May 2020 9:21 pm    
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Interesting question. Although I have not experimented with pads, it has been pointed out that loosening the neck increases sustain, and I did test that out. Loosening the neck increased audible sustain by about 1 second. Pat.
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Bill Duncan

 

From:
Lenoir, North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 11 May 2020 4:19 am    
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Not nearly as much as seat time.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 11 May 2020 5:34 am    
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Smile Smile Smile
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John Goux

 

From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 11 May 2020 7:01 am    
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The new Sierra’s take great care to decouple the neck and soundboard from the frame of the guitar, so they can vibrate freely.

I used to put neoprene bicycle handles on my knee levers, because it felt good on my legs. One day I removed them to do some work, and noticed the steel sounded better. I experimented with that and found the guitar sustained better with out them. That is just in metal parts dangling freely under the steel.

On the flip side, my Rittenberry is an SD with a traditional pad, and it is one of the best sounding steels I’ve ever heard.

The best test would be someone with a pad, removing it and A/B in the sound with and without.

It’s a good question.
John
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John Drury


From:
Gallatin, Tn USA
Post  Posted 11 May 2020 8:27 am    
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Dan,

That is a good question, first time I ever heard anyone ask about it.

Seymour and I experimented with different pads back in the day, he seemed to think that sustain was better without contact from the covering between guitar and the wood base of pad, the only option was using tacks to fasten the covering around the edge and it didn't look all that great.

In his final analysis he determined that our arms alone laying on the cabinet were somewhat of an issue. We scrapped the project.

I remember asking Master Craftsman Duane Marrs about the effect of a pad and he didn't seem concerned.

Fast Forward to a few months back when I picked up a Waco MCI from Damir Besic.

It has some kind of hard plastic material wich was color matched to the cabinet bolted directly to wood at the changer end, and the rest is a normal pad.

This axe has incredible sustain! Damir said that the pad was likely installed by Johnie King in LaVergne, TN, maybe he could chime in as to what its all about.

The assembly is screwed down and the screw holes were covered over flush underneath and painted to match the flocking, so I am not about to remove it until there is an issue with the pad covering.

The MCI's always had decent sustain, but this one is an anomaly! It may be due to the pad assembly to some extent. ??


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Donny Hinson

 

From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 11 May 2020 8:42 am     Re: Does SD-10 Pad affect Tone and Sustain?
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Dan Robinson wrote:
What happens when we fasten a padded arm rest to a single neck, full size body guitar? Does it dampen the cabinet's resonance? Does it reduce sustain? Enough to notice?


Probably not. I know some players constantly comment on the sustain of this or that guitar. But I've never played one (or, even heard one) that didn't have enough sustain.

Quote:
Does it matter how the pad is mounted to the cabinet?


Definitely! Anything fastened to the cabinet will have an affect. But whether or not it's a significant affect is another thing. Be aware that neck, pad, or knee lever brackets screws being over-torqued can stiffen the wood and deaden the sound. This I know for a fact.

The most significant problem, by far, is between the seat and the steel.

Winking
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Fred Justice


From:
Mesa, Arizona
Post  Posted 11 May 2020 9:31 am    
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No
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Tucker Jackson

 

From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 11 May 2020 10:33 am    
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The pad does affect the tone. Whether it's better or worse is a matter of opinion.

All you have to do to test this is remove the pad from an SD-10. Listen acoustically, too (not plugged in). You can sometimes hear what the actual acoustic part of the instrument is doing. If in doubt, make a 'before' and 'after' recording, like I did.

I have a Carter SD-10 where removing the pad made the tone thinner (in a bad way, in my opinion), but it also made the tone more bell-like and resonant. More 'open' and less like a thuddy cardboard sound when you pick the string and listen for the decay. Even people with a tin ear could probably hear it.

I found a happy medium by 'floating' the pad. Rather than having the entire length of it screwed down tight to the top deck, I put tiny rubber old-school faucet washers (OO size, beveled shape) under each screw. The screws are a perfect fit through the hole in the washer. So the pad is sort of floating slightly above the top deck. It only touches the top where the 5 tiny washers are. If you lean on the pad with some weight, you can flex it down and force it to touch the top deck. This doesn't affect playing and the normal weight of your forearms doesn't flex it too much.

Resonance is affected by where the screws are and how tight they are. Anything screwed into one of the ends (near the endplates, changer, or keyhead, which are already tight and restricting vibrations in those areas) doesn't have as much affect on tone as something screwed into the vibrating middle of the top deck. You can test this by removing the pad and playing acoustically in a quiet room and pressing down with your fingers at various points on the top deck. It's subtle, but if you have a good ear and a resonant guitar, you'll notice this effect.

So I have the pad floated slightly higher than normal, and it's still lower than if there were a C6 neck installed. I keep the screws somewhat loose, especially the all-important center screw. Tension is not your friend, so just enough tension on the screws to keep the pad from coming off when flipping the guitar over to put it in the case.

It even made a difference which side of the washer touches the top deck; I used a beveled washer and get more resonance if the thinner side of it is the one that makes contact. Less contact equals more resonance. I know, it sounds like cork sniffing, which I hate (see: my cheap-ass gear list), but I can hear the difference, at least on this particular guitar. And it cost $2 and 10 minutes effort.
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Johnie King


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 11 May 2020 11:40 am    
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John That’s my old MCI I designed the pad set up I’m glad your enjoying this MCI.
I set it up with a wood wrist rest an a thin flat pad so your bar hand don’t touch the pad!
When I sold this steel it was set up perfectly but I figure the previous owner did some strange stuff to this steel..glad you got her like you want.

Here a Legrande lll I did almost the same but I used a padded wrist rest.
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post  Posted 11 May 2020 12:04 pm     Re: Does SD-10 Pad affect Tone and Sustain?
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Dan Robinson wrote:
What happens when we fasten a padded arm rest to a single neck, full size body guitar?

Granted, his guitar was a double-neck, but adding a pad sure didn't seem to have a negative effect on Lloyd's tone or sustain.
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Charley Bond


From:
Inola, OK, USA
Post  Posted 11 May 2020 3:52 pm     NO, I've had two guitars I put after Market Pads on...
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I had a Dekley & I Have a Sierra , I added an external Pad on both guitars. The were attached to the back plate. Neither guitar was affected...




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Last edited by Charley Bond on 12 May 2020 5:02 am; edited 1 time in total
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John Drury


From:
Gallatin, Tn USA
Post  Posted 11 May 2020 4:48 pm    
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Johnie King wrote:
John That’s my old MCI I designed the pad set up I’m glad your enjoying this MCI.
I set it up with a wood wrist rest an a thin flat pad so your bar hand don’t touch the pad!
When I sold this steel it was set up perfectly but I figure the previous owner did some strange stuff to this steel..glad you got her like you want.

Here a Legrande lll I did almost the same but I used a padded wrist rest.


Johnie,

I love that guitar! The pad you designed for it is so cool! I would never have guessed that the wrist rest was wood! Nice job finishing it!

And yes, there was some weirdness going on with it when I got it, but the way I have it would probably seem weird to some folks as well, we're all different!

I added two pedals and removed one lever, the vertical, never had any use for one. I left the shaft in and saved the parts so the next guy, if there is one, can easily put it back.

The pedal setup is exact same one that my friend Duane Marrs used to use on his loafer. I played his guitar one time and knew I had to have that tuning!

Glad I didn't have to go through life without meeting up with your old MCI !

Thanks for jumping in to this thread!

J.D.

P.S. Nice LeGrande!
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NTSGA #3

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Dan Robinson


From:
Colorado, USA
Post  Posted 11 May 2020 6:28 pm    
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Interesting set of replies!

The original pad on my Carter was too thick for my comfort. The tooled tolex cover looked cool, but was sticky when it was hot.

I replaced the "stuffing" with a thin piece of dense foam. It's getting covered with suede fabric. With the pad removed the guitar seemed a little more resonant. Completely subjective, and could be wishful thinking.

I'm mounting the improved pad with standoffs, so it doesn't lay against the top of the cabinet. Similar to what Tucker did.

I'll never have enough seat time, and I only wish I could sound more like Lloyd (don't we all). I have what I have (love the one you're with). It's fun to experiment in pursuit of "THAT SOUND."
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Bobby D. Jones

 

From:
West Virginia, USA
Post  Posted 11 May 2020 7:15 pm    
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I have put narrow pads on 2 single neck guitars with no difference in the tone or sustain I can tell.
To keep the guitar bodies undamaged with no drilling of holes to attach, And to allow removal so they will go in their cases. I have attached the pads with 3 strips of Industrial Vel-Cro 1 3" piece on each end and a smaller section in the middle.
The pad floats about 1/8" above the body of the guitar with the flex of the Vel-Cro between the body and the pad.

I have used the space at the key head to carve a trough for bar and picks keeping.
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