Science or folklore?

Discussion in 'Tone Zone' started by Darkness, Sep 14, 2021.

  1. Darkness

    Darkness Active Member

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    I over analyze so many things in life. I can't help it, it's how my brain works. It's why I get paid to analyze things.

    I've read a lot of mentions about some acoustic guitars. Lots of "the more you play it the better it sounds" and "playing it a lot will open the pores and sound better". Speaking solid wood of course, not laminate, and I mostly hear this about acoustic.

    Is there any science to that? I know wood changes a lot with conditions, be it humidity or temperature. Wood flexes, it bows, it shrinks and expands. I know for damn sure whenever I buy wood for a project I pick the straightest boards and within a week they're curled no matter how I store them. I can't imagine wood being vibrated "a lot" leading to pores opening or tonal qualities improving.

    Does the guitar actually make a "better" sound after years of playing it? Or are people hearing the result of playing for years and becoming more skilled at guitar? If the guitar gets better, why wouldn't factories build a machine that strums guitars 24/7 for a few months to simulate a well played guitar?

    I'm a car guy and I make a lot of car references. It reminds me a lot of hearing "this muffler sounds killer once it is broken in". Most mufflers have nothing to break in, they aren't packed with fiberglass these days, they are perforated or chambered metal. Nothing changes, you just get used to the sound.

    Not trying to be smart here, just very curious if it's a real phenomenon or a myth.
     
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  2. grinwer

    grinwer Active Member

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    Last edited: Sep 14, 2021
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  3. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    When first assembled, acoustic guitars, especially sold flattops seem to have a wear-in period that can affect the ultimate tone and volume characteristics. I have a solid spruce top acoustic that was tonally balanced but not very loud when new. After about 100 ours of play time it was very loud and has been stable since. I also have a laminate top that has been great the whole time.
     
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  4. BGood

    BGood Well-Known Member

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    I like that, I'll put it in my dictionnary.
     
  5. grinwer

    grinwer Active Member

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    It's never too late to learn something new.
     
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  6. Fred Garvin

    Fred Garvin Member

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    There's actually some truth to this. For example, when I put new Borla's on my Corvette, they were initially just a tiny bit "tinny" or "crisp" sounding. Not bad, but it was there. Once I had about 5k miles on them, and they had a bit of carbon (or whatever) built up inside, it absorbed this and changed the acoustics to a more pleasing, deeper "rumble". When heard side-by-side with a new set on an identical 'vette, you can hear a difference. It's no where near the difference of the old "glass packs" of days gone by though.
     
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  7. soulman969

    soulman969 Well-Known Member

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    I come down pretty much on this side of it as well.

    The sound board of any acoustic guitar is it's top. The vibration of the top is amplified and tonally sculpted by body. It's size, body style, and type of wood are the primary influences on this. The same can also be true of the top.

    How the top is constructed and braced will have an influence on the audible sounds from the strings that are sent to the body for final shaping and projection. In essence the top of an acoustic is somewhat like the pickups of an electric guitar with the body become somewhat like an amplifier. If you increase the "signal strength" you will generally increase the overall volume as well.

    To withstand the pressure and pull of the string tension the top must be strong and well braced but also flexible enough to vibrate and send its "signal" to the body for amplification. IME a solid wood top can be very "stiff" when new but through repeated playing it becomes less stiff and vibrates more freely.

    IMHO this is why as Biddlin' posted we generally experience more loudness and projection from acoustic guitars that have been "played into shape" via many hours of playing them. The top and it's bracing simply vibrate more freely after a period of time provided they been played a lot over that period of time.

    I don't believe that simply leaving an acoustic in it's case to "age" the wood will make much if any difference if the guitar has not been played. Wood may "season" over a period of time and cause minor changes in tonality but without the vibration from the top the body itself has no "signal" to amplify.

    Full disclosure: I'm not a trained luthier. Just a "player". But an old acquaintance I know who posts often on Strat-Talk is a very experienced luthier whose not only built $10,000 custom acoustics but whose company also rebuilds and restored older ones to their former glory and beyond. His name is Scott Baxendale and he's a pretty well known builder and restoration specialist. He's someone whose opinion on this I would seek. Mine is only personal experience.
     
  8. Raiyn

    Raiyn Well-Known Member

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    Probably more a product of heat cycling than build up.
     
  9. Old Woody

    Old Woody Active Member

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    Exactly the older the instrument the more the sap is crystalized. Which some builders are trying to replicate with torrified tops, back and sides, but don't ask me how they do this as I'm clueless. As for the old argument against plywood back and sides with a solid spruce top I will admit I like all solid wood for the beauty of the instrument , but are they better? Imho it depends on the builder Yamaha, Taylor, Martin, Takamine and many other high end companies ( including Epiphone) all make stellar instruments using plywood. Look I'm old but not as old as this lyric "My Momma told me you got to shop around"
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2021
  10. Raiyn

    Raiyn Well-Known Member

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    Umm, please read what I quoted for my response before you quote me out of context.

    Hint: We ain't talking wood.
     
  11. grinwer

    grinwer Active Member

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    PRS Private Stock Guitars, Paul Reed Smith & Music Store Live


    Hey Guitar Builders! Stop Doing This!



    Sap is Crystalized... Chladni figures...
    Has anyone seen these drawings? Maybe a microscope?

    PopCorn.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2021
  12. Old Woody

    Old Woody Active Member

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    Yeah I guess, talk about going off topic ... I just assumed and we all know that one.
     
  13. AJ6stringsting

    AJ6stringsting Well-Known Member

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    Good tone is in the ear of the beholder.
    What sounds good to some one, is probably another persons " pet peave " sound.
    Just like when some one adds a " low fi / am radio" sound in their sound on purpose.
     
  14. Old Woody

    Old Woody Active Member

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    Like in Pink Floyd's "Wish you were here" "nudge nudge wink wink"
     
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