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Artificially Aged Top - Impact on Longevity


uncle fester

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Hi All,

 

I'm seeing options out there to get new 'vintage' guitars with torrefied? (artificially aged) tops. My impression is it helps give the guitar the sound of an older guitar, which to me is good.

 

My question, what do you think the aged top is going to do to the overall longevity of the guitar. My understanding is the top is aged by drying it out (probably among other things).

 

If that's the case, and the top is dried - but the back, sides, neck etc... are not, i'm wondering if the top will age differently because it's already got a head start on the aging process, which could lead to problems down the road.

 

Does anyone have thoughts on this, thanks to all for any input? Rgds - br

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Hi All,

 

I'm seeing options out there to get new 'vintage' guitars with torrefied? (artificially aged) tops. My impression is it helps give the guitar the sound of an older guitar, which to me is good.

 

My question, what do you think the aged top is going to do to the overall longevity of the guitar. My understanding is the top is aged by drying it out (probably among other things).

 

If that's the case, and the top is dried - but the back, sides, neck etc... are not, i'm wondering if the top will age differently because it's already got a head start on the aging process, which could lead to problems down the road.

 

Does anyone have thoughts on this, thanks to all for any input? Rgds - br

With absolutely no technical background in this field I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's safe to say that no one can say for sure what will happen to these tops as they "age" naturally.But it would be truly ironic if it turned out that their longevity was shortened in an inverse fashion.Kind of makes me curious.Some (most?) of us geezers here won't have to worry about the distress that scenario could cause 'cause we won't be able to fret about it.It's the younger buyers who may see something they may not appreciate. Might be the rationale that put them into production ultimately.I'll return now to my usual home at the Conspiracy Network.

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You wont get evidence-based answers to this question - its a 3 year old innovation; too soon to tell.

 

Have fun on your journey. I had a thermally cured Hummingbird Vintage and it was fantastic. My own feeling was that the biggest contributor to its tone was the light weight.

 

Be also aware that I played two new J45 Vintages. One was amazing, and the other just nice. I actually liked a standard they had in stock better. Your ears are different than ours. If you are going to try out guitars at great store, be open-minded.

 

If you are buying online, there are no guarantees, although some sites (like Sweetwater for example) list the weight of the guitars in their inventory. I have seen guitars of the same model vary by 8 ounces, which doesnt sound like a lot, but it is. Again your ears and preference are the key here as well... For example if you like the "Ryan Adams sound", go for a 70s Gibson (wait what?) or a heavier guitar. If you want that low growl and thump, and the gravelly 3-d texture that I LOVE in J45s, go lighter.

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You wont get evidence-based answers to this question - its a 3 year old innovation; too soon to tell.

 

Have fun on your journey. I had a thermally cured Hummingbird Vintage and it was fantastic. My own feeling was that the biggest contributor to its tone was the light weight.

 

Be also aware that I played two new J45 Vintages. One was amazing, and the other just nice. I actually liked a standard they had in stock better. Your ears are different than ours. If you are going to try out guitars at great store, be open-minded.

 

If you are buying online, there are no guarantees, although some sites (like Sweetwater for example) list the weight of the guitars in their inventory. I have seen guitars of the same model vary by 8 ounces, which doesnt sound like a lot, but it is. Again your ears and preference are the key here as well... For example if you like the "Ryan Adams sound", go for a 70s Gibson (wait what?) or a heavier guitar. If you want that low growl and thump, and the gravelly 3-d texture that I LOVE in J45s, go lighter.

 

"that low growl and thump..." sounds about right. I'll throw weight into one of the criterias i look at. Thanks!

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Speaking solely anecdotal, I doubt it will have any effect. Mainly because wood doesn’t seem to shrink or weaken with age, such as can occur with a guitar’s binding. My 1936 Epiiphone Zenith’s sides and top and back, despite being having a different wood for its top vs back and sides, still is correctly fitted and sturdy, although the guitar’s binding has shrunk in some spots. Same with my 1955 Epiphone F79 (pre-Texan), and my 1965 Gibson 125TC, LG1, and Epi Caballero’s woods are fitted and sturdy just fine (and on those there is no binding shrinkage). Same with my 1994 Gospel and 1972 Southern Jumbo etc and my other guitars. I would think if different woods as well as laminated do not shrink or expand or or weaken or warp so they no longer fit one another with age, why would an older piece of wood (or simulated older) change in size or weaken. Just my thoughts based on anecdotal evidence. Maybe someone knows something more scientific.

 

I suppose Gibson’s lifetime warranty on new instruments would kick in if something did happen from the artificial aging process.

 

QM aka Jazzman Jeff

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Speaking solely anecdotal, I doubt it will have any effect. Mainly because wood doesn’t seem to shrink or weaken with age, such as can occur with a guitar’s binding. My 1936 Epiiphone Zenith’s sides and top and back, despite being having a different wood for its top vs back and sides, still is correctly fitted and sturdy, although the guitar’s binding has shrunk in some spots. Same with my 1955 Epiphone F79 (pre-Texan), and my 1965 Gibson 125TC, LG1, and Epi Caballero’s woods are fitted and sturdy just fine (and on those there is no binding shrinkage). Same with my 1994 Gospel and 1972 Southern Jumbo etc and my other guitars. I would think if different woods as well as laminated do not shrink or expand or or weaken or warp so they no longer fit one another with age, why would an older piece of wood (or simulated older) change in size or weaken. Just my thoughts based on anecdotal evidence. Maybe someone knows something more scientific.

 

I suppose Gibson’s lifetime warranty on new instruments would kick in if something did happen from the artificial aging process.

 

QM aka Jazzman Jeff

 

that was my main concern, shrinking / expanding at different rates, appreciate the input.

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I have a (M) with a torrefied top and a couple of years in, it is going beautifully......and there is no way I am opening that case after saying it - the Guitar Fairies lie in wait!

 

A good question to ask is when acoustic guitar ‘manufacturers’ started kiln drying their woods? 60s? And how do the kiln dried woods from then hold up in 2017? Only a handful of builders would hand dry timbers now, but everyone used to dry and rotate until they thought it looked ‘about right’

 

Now it is all kiln dried, with different woods and their different moisture levels getting different amounts of drying and some even go to different kilns for different speeds of drying.

 

To me, torrefaction is just another process like kiln drying, with the hoped for result being an acoustic guitar with a top that sounds older than the fresh faced kiln baked cousin - marketing dept says they can adjust the process to make a guitar top sound 80 yrs old or even 250 yo...

 

The back and sides and other parts of mine were not toasted, so I put the guitar on a Tonerite for a week ( a guitar playing-in device). I recorded a few test tracks with other guitars and a lot of people picked the new torrefiied guitar as the vintage guitar! I do have to say that I felt the need to scratch the guitar up and maybe scratch my name across the top to make it look as old as it sounded...... [biggrin] I didn’t.

 

Regardless, it is a beautifully made and sounding guitar and gets better daily, toasted or not!

 

I might hear the difference beetween 2 or 3 acoustics with different top treatment - if I played it for a week in my music room. In the shop? Phew. Recorded? Phew. Through a pickup? Not in a million years! ( maybe with a dual source pickup with mic full on but still, nope!)

 

 

BluesKing777.

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I have a (M) with a torrefied top and a couple of years in, it is going beautifully......and there is no way I am opening that case after saying it - the Guitar Fairies lie in wait!

 

A good question to ask is when acoustic guitar ‘manufacturers’ started kiln drying their woods? 60s? And how do the kiln dried woods from then hold up in 2017? Only a handful of builders would hand dry timbers now, but everyone used to dry and rotate until they thought it looked ‘about right’

 

Now it is all kiln dried, with different woods and their different moisture levels getting different amounts of drying and some even go to different kilns for different speeds of drying.

 

To me, torrefaction is just another process like kiln drying, with the hoped for result being an acoustic guitar with a top that sounds older than the fresh faced kiln baked cousin - marketing dept says they can adjust the process to make a guitar top sound 80 yrs old or even 250 yo...

 

The back and sides and other parts of mine were not toasted, so I put the guitar on a Tonerite for a week ( a guitar playing-in device). I recorded a few test tracks with other guitars and a lot of people picked the new torrefiied guitar as the vintage guitar! I do have to say that I felt the need to scratch the guitar up and maybe scratch my name across the top to make it look as old as it sounded...... [biggrin] I didn’t.

 

Regardless, it is a beautifully made and sounding guitar and gets better daily, toasted or not!

 

I might hear the difference beetween 2 or 3 acoustics with different top treatment - if I played it for a week in my music room. In the shop? Phew. Recorded? Phew. Through a pickup? Not in a million years! ( maybe with a dual source pickup with mic full on but still, nope!)

 

 

BluesKing777.

 

Thank you - really appreciate the input. Right now I'm hearing a lot of upside and not much downside... probably not a deal breaker if it doesn't have it, especially if i find something from 2000 - '10 range, but do feel it's a 'nice to have.'

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The concept and processes of wood torrefaction aren't all that new; they're well tested in the electric guitar and bass world already (Music Man, Tom Anderson, Roger Sadowsky) to no recorded downsides. Electric guitar necks have been getting roasted for far longer than acoustic tops, making them lighter, stiffer, and more resistant to temperature and humidity changes. The pioneers at Bourgeois Guitars first attempted top torrefaction in the US in 2012. At that time several Canadian and European builders were already well aware of a multitude of torrefaction processes, and ThermoWood, a Finnish company, had already successfully finished patenting the process of torrefaction (with steam), providing commercial kiln setups world-wide.

 

I don't think the acoustic guitar industry will move away from torrefied tops anytime soon. It won't make bad wood sound great, but it will make all wood sound better than its original starting point.

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If I'm still alive in 20 years, I will probably have forgotten what a guitar is, much less how a terrified top might be holding up.

 

 

So, a combination of impatience for the young and fear of mortality for old geezers would be the main reasons for the popularity of torrefaction??? And we don't want an old broken geetar...

 

WE don't want to wait 25 years for the guitar top to sound old - we want it now....and that is the torrefaction promise, isn't it?

 

Well, I may have bought mine because of the sound, except I bought it online, so I bought mine because I hoped it sounded good and the reviews were glowing, even though those same reviewers have jumped ship to the latest craze - all torrefied and relic'd and built to exact specs of the 30s guitars, except a few things that are too hard. [biggrin] So it needs to be scratched carefully though! [biggrin]

 

But luckily for me, my toasted top guitar sounds superb!

 

 

I should mention, BillRoy, that a lot of people vehemently detest and hate the torrefaction concept and go livid with the mention of relics... except now Martin are on the relic bandwagon:

 

https://www.martinguitar.com/features-materials/aging/

 

 

Atkins relics:

 

http://atkinguitars.com/guitar/d-28/

 

 

 

Pre-War Guitar Co relics:

 

https://www.pre-warguitars.com/

 

 

 

 

 

So I thought I would save money and do the L-00 toasting myself! [tongue]

 

Before:

 

OK4yycwh.jpg

 

 

 

Except I think I left it on way too long when the phone rang....

 

After:

 

bzTqxpRh.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

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So, a combination of impatience for the young and fear of mortality for old geezers would be the main reasons for the popularity of torrefaction??? And we don't want an old broken geetar...

 

WE don't want to wait 25 years for the guitar top to sound old - we want it now....and that is the torrefaction promise, isn't it?

 

Well, I may have bought mine because of the sound, except I bought it online, so I bought mine because I hoped it sounded good and the reviews were glowing, even though those same reviewers have jumped ship to the latest craze - all torrefied and relic'd and built to exact specs of the 30s guitars, except a few things that are too hard. [biggrin] So it needs to be scratched carefully though! [biggrin]

 

But luckily for me, my toasted top guitar sounds superb!

 

 

I should mention, BillRoy, that a lot of people vehemently detest and hate the torrefaction concept and go livid with the mention of relics... except now Martin are on the relic bandwagon:

 

https://www.martinguitar.com/features-materials/aging/

 

 

Atkins relics:

 

http://atkinguitars.com/guitar/d-28/

 

 

 

Pre-War Guitar Co relics:

 

https://www.pre-warguitars.com/

 

 

 

 

 

So I thought I would save money and do the L-00 toasting myself! [tongue]

 

Before:

 

OK4yycwh.jpg

 

 

 

Except I think I left it on way too long when the phone rang....

 

After:

 

bzTqxpRh.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

 

Wow - that looks pretty amazing! How are you liking the sound?

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Wow - that looks pretty amazing! How are you liking the sound?

 

 

Billroy, BK is pulling your leg just a bit. That's his modern Blues King guitar taking a sunbath, and his 1930's L-OO, with 80 years of age on it(and a lot of mojo).

 

And the dude live up to his name. He is the Blues King!

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Ha!

 

While Nick is kind saying it, I am the King of Zip, maybe the King of Fools if anything....and it is Monday morning work here in 'Stralya' and the computer pc says I am a...SLAVE. :mellow:

 

So in my break, I have just proven that it is quicker to run in to the other room, turn on the Mac lappie, open the photos software, load the photos on to lovely Imgur...than to try and open old photos (I have thousands) in that POS Photobucket, who to add to the hysteria, send me endless emails asking if I want to sign up until 2050 or some gibberish.

 

 

 

NOw it is true that I have been experimenting with my own torrefaction process.

 

 

First, I light the Weber Q, get a bit of BBQ and heat going...lean the guitar against the side of the Q while I go inside and watch TV.

 

 

 

df6ACNfh.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tried my Martin OM so I wouldn't have to buy their new toasted one:

 

 

QFtMe7lh.jpg

 

 

 

But I left it leaning on the Q for a bit long when the TV show got exciting....and a couple of drinks....and I shrunk the Martin and it went ..brown....

 

 

 

1Pi3Fdsh.jpg

 

 

 

Next, I will try toasting my National Steel to se what happens! :rolleyes:

 

 

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

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Ha - well done, and nice collection!

 

 

Thanks BR!

 

 

I thought I had better mention that while others here know and are fully bored with my story, you are new, so here it is again.... [thumbup] .

 

 

The Blues King above was my first Gibson acoustic...and the only one really for quite a while...until I gave up smoking (cold turkey) and to trick myself into thinking other things maybe, not sure why, but I told myself that the money I would have spent on smokes would go to buying a nice acoustic. And I may have gone a little bit crazy, not knowing that years later I still haven't had a smoke..but boy-o, I have a few guitars!!!! [flapper] [flapper] [flapper] [flapper] [flapper]

 

 

And I don't have many friends or relatives or colleagues that still speak to me as I may have yelled a bit, but you know, two bit friends good riddance and thanks for your support smoking in my face as I gave up [cursing]

 

 

So...last year, I started 'consolidating' by trading some of the earlier nicotine lacking induced buys with higher end models - trading my Monopoly houses for hotels, if you will. I will continue this program in the future, any I don't play or like any more >>>>>gone towards something I want. I also lose older electronics as well, instead of having a 'junk room' of old guitar related stuff.

 

The swap program has halted for Christmas - everyone is buying other things I think - plus the 3 main shops that deal with trades and used guitars etc are...miles away, and the car is playing up, currently at the mechanic's for an indefinite period.... [huh] ) That means I am waiting for the 'phone call'. Yikes.

 

So the first guitar I am buying or trading for next is not going to happen and I will get a spare car!

 

PS: the guitars in the photos are 'keepers'.

 

 

I mention all this because some people seem to think they want to buy ONE guitar and marry it, while other..ahem..like to play the field, the whole field sometimes! (Which can be a fun and a learning experience.)

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

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Dana Bourgeois and others swear by the terrified top. The guys at the local music shop also rave about them.

 

The only possible downside I can possibly see is that the process does apparently make the wood more brittle. It takes a guitar a bit to realize it is no longer a tree. Nuking the top is really giving Mother Nature a nudge. I would wonder if you would not have to be a bit more cautious when making repairs down the road.

 

I am on the fence about the whole thing. It is not an issue for me at the moment. The youngster of the guitar gang is closing in on 50 years old and the one that has been on this mortal coil the longest close to 85. But I myself am looking down the barrel at 70. Chances of me hanging around to see a new guitar age gracefully are not exactly in the cards.

 

So would I reject a guitar because of terrified wood. I would say no. But is it something I feel I absolutely need. Also no.

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Dana Bourgeois and others swear by the terrified top. The guys at the local music shop also rave about them.

 

The only possible downside I can possibly see is that the process does apparently make the wood more brittle. It takes a guitar a bit to realize it is no longer a tree. Nuking the top is really giving Mother Nature a nudge. I would wonder if you would not have to be a bit more cautious when making repairs down the road.

 

I am on the fence about the whole thing. It is not an issue for me at the moment. The youngster of the guitar gang is closing in on 50 years old and the one that has been on this mortal coil the longest close to 85. But I myself am looking down the barrel at 70. Chances of me hanging around to see a new guitar age gracefully are not exactly in the cards.

 

So would I reject a guitar because of terrified wood. I would say no. But is it something I feel I absolutely need. Also no.

I wonder if playing the movie “Alien “ to the saplings as they mature would help with the terrification process? ;)

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Thanks BR!

 

 

I thought I had better mention that while others here know and are fully bored with my story, you are new, so here it is again.... [thumbup] .

 

 

The Blues King above was my first Gibson acoustic...and the only one really for quite a while...until I gave up smoking (cold turkey) and to trick myself into thinking other things maybe, not sure why, but I told myself that the money I would have spent on smokes would go to buying a nice acoustic. And I may have gone a little bit crazy, not knowing that years later I still haven't had a smoke..but boy-o, I have a few guitars!!!! [flapper] [flapper] [flapper] [flapper] [flapper]

 

 

And I don't have many friends or relatives or colleagues that still speak to me as I may have yelled a bit, but you know, two bit friends good riddance and thanks for your support smoking in my face as I gave up [cursing]

 

 

So...last year, I started 'consolidating' by trading some of the earlier nicotine lacking induced buys with higher end models - trading my Monopoly houses for hotels, if you will. I will continue this program in the future, any I don't play or like any more >>>>>gone towards something I want. I also lose older electronics as well, instead of having a 'junk room' of old guitar related stuff.

 

The swap program has halted for Christmas - everyone is buying other things I think - plus the 3 main shops that deal with trades and used guitars etc are...miles away, and the car is playing up, currently at the mechanic's for an indefinite period.... [huh] ) That means I am waiting for the 'phone call'. Yikes.

 

So the first guitar I am buying or trading for next is not going to happen and I will get a spare car!

 

PS: the guitars in the photos are 'keepers'.

 

 

I mention all this because some people seem to think they want to buy ONE guitar and marry it, while other..ahem..like to play the field, the whole field sometimes! (Which can be a fun and a learning experience.)

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

 

BluesKing - thanks for sharing, and yes - quitting something can be a tough road and bumpy for yourself and those around you... (got a few songs i wrote during bouts of similar things in my life!) Got to make your path though - and hope you're coming out of it ok. Sounds like you kicked the cigs' - kudos to you, not an easy task!

 

With respect to your collection, strategy of swapping out and message that a guitar can be many things - the one and only, or a fly by night relationship. I agree, and yes i'm trying to enter the game of nice guitars, and really want to do my best to hit the mark the first time, but I think instead of really waiting until i happen upon the one and only, I need to get started with something that if it's not entirely what i want (and i want to sell it in trade for another) i wont take too many steps back from an investment perspective. I do have some due diligence to do - but really just got to get something in my hands!

 

FYI- I feel the torrified top can get me where i'd like to be artificially, I can use that to get started, and then in my journey and my opinions form - i'll look for a real classic.... but who know's sometimes it's fun to fly the freak flag - try something totally off the radar, and maybe fall for that!

 

Again - thanks for your reply.

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