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PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2016 7:10 pm 
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I think there is more or less general agreement that as a guitar ages and gets played a lot its sound tends to improve.

A month or two ago my wife and I spent a few days at a wilderness camp in northern Maine. To get to it, you have to drive 25 miles on logging roads. 25 miles, 25 miles out, with stretches of bone-jarring washboard surface. The guitar was in the trunk of the car and got well vibrated and shaken up during the transit.

I may be making this up, but it seems to me that the guitar sounds better after undergoing that shakeup. The bass seems fuller and general tone quality seems better.

As I say, I may be imagining it...but it's an interesting possibility of a way to "break in" a new guitar. (The guitar in question is the first one I built a couple of years ago so it's not "a new guitar," but it's not really old, either.)

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2016 7:30 pm 
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Location: Chadds Ford, PA
It would be interesting to know what physicochemical changes are taking place to lead to the improvement in sound. An easy guess is the drying of glues and the drying of the finish. I'm also guessing that there aren't any changes in the wood itself other than the harmonization of moisture levels and maybe changes in resins. But that stuff doesn't really explain why playing also seems to mature the sound quality.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2016 8:18 pm 
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my guess is the wilderness setting. No 60 hum for lights and compressors, and all the other noises that are a part of modern life. Also food always tastes better when I am up in the mountains.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2016 9:47 pm 
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I noticed (or think I noticed) the improvement in the sound after we got back to civilization, so it wasn't the wilderness setting that was making the difference.
There was some cycling of warm days and cool nights while we were there that might have had an influence, I suppose.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2016 7:24 am 
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Location: Hegins, Pa
one thing is also the RH . I find guitars sound better when they are exposed to lower RH. Will vibrating a guitar help. I am open on that but agree the more they get played the better they are.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2016 2:52 pm 
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There is a gadget (can't remember the brand name at the moment) that one can clamp to a guitar to allegedly speed up the breaking-in process. It's a variable-frequency oscillator. I've seen reviews ranging from "it works miracles!" to "it's totally worthless."
The sound of a guitar is so subjective I don't know how one can tell, for sure, what effect anything has on the sound unless it is so dramatic as to be completely unmistakable.
Although I'm sure there are people with much better ears than mine.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2016 6:27 pm 
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Tonerite is a gadget that you place on the strings and bridge, that vibrates. It's supposed to open up a new or rarely used guitar. One of my clients sent me one to use on his new guitars. I'll let you know how well it works. I just bought my first Martin (!!). I'll put it on it and let you know what I think.

But, we know that playing a guitar opens it and makes it sound better. Since it's vibration that causes it, perhaps your trip really did help. Maybe the combo of RH and the vibration helped to open it more.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2016 7:16 pm 
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Yes -- Tonerite is the thing I was thinking of.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2016 8:48 pm 
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Location: Hegins, Pa
a small air pump for an aquarium does the same thing for about 1/4 the cost

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http://www.bluescreekguitars.com


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 11:05 pm 
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Location: St. Louis area
Just pokin around and found this thread, worthy of a comment Over years, the internal structure of wood breaks down through thermal cycling and humidity cycling. The inner, hard wood of a tree is composed of tubes called xylem, that pumped water and nutrients when the heartwood was sapwood. The xylem of heartwood is clogged with resins and volatiles, a repository for waste as the tree grows. In a sawn board, Vibration, thermal and humidity cycling, over years, cause these resins and volitles to be released as the xylem straws are broken. Internally the wood is lighter, but harder and more brittle on the exterior, or tempered, like the blade of a fine cutting instrument, lending to a better resonance. The breaking down process is excellerated by the vibrations created by playing a guitar. This process can also be accelerated through a proceess call torification. It's the same process that turns hardwood into charcoal. My estimate is that your guitar underwent a 50 year equivalent of vibration, combined with perhaps some temperature and humidity cycling on the round trip. Torrified ( high heat, no humidity, zero oxygen atmosphere), or toasted tops will become more and more prevalent because they are in many ways equivalent to wood that has aged a hundred years. Have you ever torn down a cedar deck? An old deck is incredibly light, and seemingly "brittle". Or tried to drive a nail into a 25 year old pine 2x4 that's been tempered by the same cycles? Can't hardly be done. Plenty of sources for more information. My $0.02

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