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Is there something to this idea of "opening up"?


hardycreek1

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Just curious what you guys think - does a guitar mature with time and get deeper, richer sounding?

 

I read somewhere that as the cells in the wood age, they dry up and get stronger, and this changes the tone of the wood.

 

How long does it take for a new guitar to "open up" and does it vary with the amount of playing time?

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You have it down quite right - An acoustic guitar opens up as the component break in and learn to vibe together.

 

It'll begin after, let's say 18 month and keep goin'.

15 years is an interesting mark; by 35 the sonic identity of the instrument has become 'vintage voiced' and so on.

One group of people are highly sensitive to this dimension while others don't really care.

 

Some guitars will even over-open and thus produce a blopped tone like an old fat frog singing from the swamps

- with the overall sound unfocused when activating chords or complex fingerpatterns.

 

All extraordinary exciting and an ever important, thrilling part of the acoustic ticket.

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The breaking in process varies depending on the woods used in the build. Cedar tops, Ive heard say, pretty much are what they are. Spruce takes longer, especially Adirondack, which has a stiffer grain ("green as a granny smith" , as an owner of a new Gibson OJ once described it; my 07 J35 is nice and ripe).

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.

I thought I read one of the manufacturers was now "aging" guitars toward a more vintage sound (using heat? on the tops?).

 

 

.

 

 

Torrefaction. Developed to concentrate the energy content of burnable biomass, but has an interesting side effect when not taken to the extreme.

 

Taylor torrefaction

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Torrefaction. Developed to concentrate the energy content of burnable biomass, but has an interesting side effect when not taken to the extreme.

 

Taylor torrefaction

 

And Martin and Gibson have some Toasted tops!

 

 

I smell a Tonerite coming up? Tonerite the atorrified Adi!

 

 

The Adi top on my old L-0 has well and truly opened up, but I can see my OM28 Marquis top needing another....30, 40, 50 years!

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

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Natural aging and torrefaction change the cellular structure of wood, in very much the same way. The result is wood that holds much less moisture. It's not only drier in general, it changes much less with atmospheric humidity changes. This cellular change can be seen under a microscope and is unquestionably real. I know of no such tangible physical change due to "playing in" or vibrating with a Tonerite, so I tend to believe that the sonic change we hear is a result of the physical change, not a metaphysical metamorphosis as the guitar begins to understand that it is no longer a tree, but YMMV. :)

 

P

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Consider the guitar to be a machine, and like any machine (automobile, human body) it needs to be used and exercised to reach full potential...How long? ain't the journey the same as the destination?

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Natural aging and torrefaction change the cellular structure of wood, in very much the same way. The result is wood that holds much less moisture. It's not only drier in general, it changes much less with atmospheric humidity changes. This cellular change can be seen under a microscope and is unquestionably real. I know of no such tangible physical change due to "playing in" or vibrating with a Tonerite, so I tend to believe that the sonic change we hear is a result of the physical change, not a metaphysical metamorphosis as the guitar begins to understand that it is no longer a tree, but YMMV. :)

 

P

 

I seriously believe that one of the factors behind a mint guitar breaking in is the components learning to vibrate or swing with each other.

The development of my 1963 Southern Jumbo certainly speaks for it too.

 

As some might know I found the dear oldie very nice'n'right sounding, but heard a hollow, lesser cool bi-flavour to the G-string.

Thing is that the guitar had a newly installed rosewood bridge with a ditto maple bridge-plate.

 

As I been playing the darling over the last years, this hollowness seems to have gradually diminished and is now considered no problem.

Have a thought the original bridge was one of the plastics and this whole operation needed time to sink in for the SJ.

 

In other words the old components had to learn the new ones to groove right.

As the entire instrument shakes like raspberry-jelly, it's not difficult to imagine these physics goin' on - every part must be in synch with the rest.

 

This process works in parallel with the drying of the wood, which in my vintage case probably played an almost non-existent role.

But the general waking up of the 45 year old sleeper might have, , , , and on a whole different bill the fact that I screwed back the two original nuts, can't be out-counted either.

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I seriously believe that one of the factors behind a mint guitar breaking in is the components learning to vibrate or swing with each other.

The development of my 1963 Southern Jumbo certainly speaks for it too.

 

]

 

And you might be right. But as far as I know, there is no physical, verifiable explanation for it.

 

Tim

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The only proof I need is my ears.

But, I can look out my window and see the difference in my cedar fence as it has aged over the past 3 years.

I think it is obvious wood changes over time as it ages. How much? I guess it depends on the wood and the environment it's kept in.

And, yes - if it is sonically influenced.

If I put my acoustic in its stand in the middle of my 'surround sound' - I can feel the wood vibrating to the music coming out of the speakers.

Does that make it better or worse? I believe better.

Can you measure it? Is there physical, verifiable proof? Someday, someone will invent an instrument sensitive enough to prove it.

Just like Columbus proved the world wasn't flat.

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The only proof I need is my ears.

But, I can look out my window and see the difference in my cedar fence as it has aged over the past 3 years.

I think it is obvious wood changes over time as it ages. How much? I guess it depends on the wood and the environment it's kept in.

And, yes - if it is sonically influenced.

If I put my acoustic in its stand in the middle of my 'surround sound' - I can feel the wood vibrating to the music coming out of the speakers.

Does that make it better or worse? I believe better.

Can you measure it? Is there physical, verifiable proof? Someday, someone will invent an instrument sensitive enough to prove it.

Just like Columbus proved the world wasn't flat.

 

Fair enough, but I've played old acoustics that spent the last 30 years in a closet, and my ears told me they still had that dry, woody sound we associate with old wood.

 

P

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Does varying frequency resonance need to be able to be seen under a microscope? Or to put it another can varying frequency resonance or sensitivity be determined by viewing a piece of woodunder under a microscope? Can a microscope define all physical properties? You may be asking for something that does not exist. (Maybeit does exist but that is out of my expertise)

 

 

 

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Does varying frequency resonance need to be able to be seen under a microscope? Or to put it another can varying frequency resonance or sensitivity be determined by viewing a piece of woodunder under a microscope? Can a microscope define all physical properties? You may be asking for something that does not exist. (Maybeit does exist – but that is out of my expertise)

 

 

 

 

No, of course not. The response of an instrument has much more to do with the design and build than it does with age, and we certainly don't need a microscope to see the visual differences. My only point is we don't really need unsubstantiated fantasies about guitars "learning" to vibrate as a single unit or "discovering" that they're no longer a tree. We have a solid, verifiable reason, a physical change in the wood to explain the aging process, and I'll stick with that until the less substantive and theoretical are shown to be more than wishful thinking. YMMV. And yes, I trust my ears. My ears tell me that dry, woody tone exists in old guitars found under beds. I've seen nothing linking it to playing instead of aging. Again, YMMV.

 

p

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My only point is we don't really need unsubstantiated fantasies about guitars "learning" to vibrate as a single unit or "discovering" that they're no longer a tree.

Ye yey ye, , , but don't you accept that things, mechanisms and so need a time to warm up, find themselves, break in ?

A car - a Spitfire - a sewing-machine - a pair of boots - a couple of lovers - an acoustic instrument.

Admit not being a scientist, but my idea about guitars goes something like this -

 

 

For the circus in Green-town it was time to get a new safety-net. Therefore they bought one, which consisted of the following.

4 flexible poles, the net itself and a system of wires w. pegs to keep it all standing.

Perfectly up it went, but in the first 4 weeks the airborne acrobats felt it a bit stiff – as if the wanted elasticity hadn't kicked in yet.

However it soon started to soften and over summer got better and better each day, , , (until this net too reached a state where the material became so loose the artists were in danger of hitting the sawdust when landing - a point they obviously paid severe attention).

 

Simultaniously the circus in Red-town also needed a fresh net. So they contacted the same net-company and purchased exactly the same product as Green-town Circus. Up and forward it went, precisely as in Green-town, , , and btw, Blue-town,Yellow-town, Purple-town Circus etc.

By now all the acrobats in Green and Red-town were secured, but some were happier than others. After a visit in Green-town Circus where the reds had tried the green facilities, about half of the Red-town Circus-fliers got the thought their own net had a lower standard than what they just experienced by their neighbours. But as said, only 5 of the 10. The discussion of course flamed up : How come this, how come that – why would the green net be better, why didn't 5 red fliers think so and further. . .

 

Then the big Net-lord chimed in from above -

 

"Answer is that tastes are different, but also that some net-set-components as a whole swing better together than others.

Scientists would state that the red net fx, contained one less flexible pole and as this stood in corner where the actual net by coincidence had a firmer structure, an asymmetry - which didn't exist in Green-town - occurred. As understood this worked splendidly for some, but not so good for others who's landing tecnique was different. Far most of the artists accepted these nuances as the fate of their trade – while others didn't wan't to speculate and other others just fell a sleep. But one stood out and reacted actively – packed the trunk and changed circus. Some claimed she was a real net-nerd, but all knew this sensitive soul was a virtuoso flying princess."

This said it's easy to imagine all the variables from net to net, set to set, troup to troup in this complex - and the rhyme is there to see.

 

Can you follow, Phelonious P ? , , , or am I the lost white clown here. . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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With opening out, talking guitar and running in, talking car - the next stage is what we could call 'The Foibles'.

 

 

Guitar tech says to just 'run with it', so save going back over and over, you dont play that 15th fret or the first string at the first fret can make your eyes water.....

 

 

 

Car mechanic says it is running beautifully, and it can.......but every morning you start it the warning lights on the dash are lit up like a Christmas Tree...and next start...no lights.........and that freeway trip is just asking for a weird intermittent tappet rattle..... :unsure:

And the mystery start problem that NOBODY fixes!

 

Foibles...

 

 

New guitar properly setup - nothing.

 

New car - nothing.

 

 

BluesKing777.

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