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  1. #51
    I know this won't make an impression on Marcel A (so you can ignore this ..I can almost write your response. It will be brief and negative.) Sometimes it's just fun to discuss ideas and concepts which is what I imagined forums were for.

    However
    Luthiers are sometimes an eccentric lot, sometimes not.
    One could argue that they are very close to the acoustic guitar(and I am talking only about acoustics) build process and materials.

    I took a guitar building course from a well known local builder of much experience, and he always told us that old defunct pianos were often coveted by luthiers who would repurpose the soundboards and other woods for guitar tops etc. He believed that they had been used in a musical sense for many years and thus would be perfect for guitars. He was not alone in this. There has to be something for knowledge gained empirically from practical experience. These individuals, often working alone, are not always trying to scientifically document their findings, They are craftsmen and artisans. They build from feel and intuition sometimes which suits the musical process frankly. However that does not make them any less intelligent or discerning.

    Artur Lang, who has a very solid reputation for precision high quality beautiful sounding acoustic guitars, used some woods that were almost 250 years old for his tops because he believed it had superior sonic qualities due to the aging process. He was very meticulous about his wood choices and his archtops are great sounding.

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  3. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by What now? View Post
    He believed that they had been used in a musical sense for many years and thus would be perfect for guitars. He was not alone in this.
    The thing is, this has nothing to do with breaking in a guitar after one did't use it for a while.
    This is wood aging and sounding different/better through the years. I don't read in your post that the luthier is in a rush to use these old pianos, because the wood will go dormant again.

  4. #53
    Okay I understand what you are saying
    You don't believe in guitars being 'woken up' or "brought back to life' etc. after a long period of disuse
    (I think for mine it must've been at least 10 years)

    I don't know if I believe in that either and I agree that it can be as much the player learning the particular guitar.
    I also don't believe in the magic power of capacitors, vacuum tubes or speaker/pickup magnets yet many will fight to the death to back these claims. (I happen to have some electrical engineers in the family)
    We'll discard that aspect of my initial question.

    I was lumping the two concepts together and perhaps that isn't correct

    We'll leave wood choices, and weather (humidity etc.) out of the equation though of course they matter.

    2 separate concepts then:

    -Guitars sounding better with age

    -Guitars sounding better with playing (over years)

    Couldn't one experience a combination of these factors?
    Last edited by What now?; 09-24-2020 at 01:29 AM.

  5. #54
    An anology (and perhaps an inaccurate one)

    I also make traditional one piece wooden bows..as in archery.
    These are pieces of wood split from a tree, air dried and then shaped and in the process 'trained' to bend. All one piece no laminates

    A bow is shaped on a tillering stick with graduated notches allowing you to pull it farther and farther as you remove wood, ensuring the entire time that the curvature is equal and smooth. Each time you remove wood it is recommended that you pull the bow to the draw length you have currently achieved 10 to 20 times . This helps reveal what the wood removal has done. Eventually you have it pulling to 28" or so and if you care for your bow it will continue to allow you to bend it in this crazy fashion again and again for years! One of the most extreme working uses of wood and frankly amazing. Most bows have some sort of 'set' or string follow meaning after they are made and 'shot in ' usually about 100 or so shots they develop a slight curvature that follows the string. A bowyers mission often is to try and mitigate this with his skill as one doesn't want a bow to be significantly bent when unstrung, it loses power that way.

    The only reason I'm discussing this is that it shows that wood, when used can in a mechanical way can be affected by it's usage. There is a series of books (traditional bowyers bibles) where the concepts are pulled apart , tested and examined scientifically (by actual scientists who also happen to be bowyers) Older bows that haven't been used for a while should be treated cautiously and slowly drawn in stages, checking all the while for 'hinges' or compression fractures etc. before they are used properly. Also it's often good practice to pull any wooden bow a few times gently before pulling it to full draw. Pictured is 50 lbs Osage Orange recurve I built pulled to it's full draw of 28' on my tillering stick.Guitar Breaking In/Playing in-osage-recurve-jpg

  6. #55

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    Nice job!

  7. #56

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    I refuse to believe guitars are made of wood

  8. #57

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    This has been a good discussion and remained on a high level. Kudos to all for that mindset. So, firstly, congrats to What Now for your beautiful recurve bow and the details of its construction. I was a bow hunter for many years and shot a Browning Bushmaster Compound wood bow and it was ,for me, a beautiful and cherished instrument but nothing like your masterpiece!
    I think the most relevant information concerning this discussion is that which revolves around luthiers who build instruments for a living and their science and art. Among my 6 guitars, I own two high-end Classical guitars built by two of the best American luthiers living today. I have known them personally for years and have had these discussions ,many times, when buying a new instrument or doing a repair. And, there has never been a remark by either person that a handmade musical instrument of excellent craftsmanship and materials does not change morphologically over time which includes its:
    1.) response
    2.) tone
    3.) ability to reawaken after a period of dormancy
    Does it matter that a formal scientific study(by non-luthiers) has not, to my knowledge, been done to ascertain these allegations or their denial when luthiers who build these works of art and have devoted a lifetime to creating a personal sound for their instruments have attested that the above elements are quantifiable and real? And, this has nothing to do with "Black Magic" that some feel about a certain instrument but when a serious guitarist who has played thousands of hours on a particular guitar and knows its intricate personality and vagaries can attest that these things are real, is it any less credible than the words of a superlative luthier?
    A case in point: my 1966 Gibson ES125 had lain in a humidity-controlled storage, un-opened, for 40 years. When I opened the case, about a year ago, it was in pristine cosmetic appearance and with the exception of some beautiful natural checkering, unchanged. I took it to a luthier for a professional set-up, changed the strings and brought it home. I have been playing it now daily along with my Classical guitars and there is to me ,and my wife, a quantifiable change in its sound. After settling on a choice of strings that worked best for the instrument(and me) over several months, its sound, acoustically, has changed from a very bright, thin, resonant-suppressed sound to a moderately bright, more rounded/full sound. And, the strangest thing was that when I first got the guitar back from the luthier, he told me there were some intonation issues on octave G and low E string that he couldn't resolve yet, over time and playing daily, have "magically?" been resolved. The instrument has as close to perfect intonation as is possible in an acoustic guitar.
    So, I am a believer in science and I believe an acoustic instrument whether a violin, cello, or guitar built by a quality luthier with quality tonewoods does change over time in both rest and play. However, I don't think it would be true for my first '60's Kay Value Leader Triple Pickup electric guitar wherever it is today!
    Play live . . . Marinero

  9. #58

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero
    A case in point: my 1966 Gibson ES125 had lain in a humidity-controlled storage, un-opened, for 40 years. When I opened the case, about a year ago, it was in pristine cosmetic appearance and with the exception of some beautiful natural checkering, unchanged. I took it to a luthier for a professional set-up, changed the strings and brought it home. I have been playing it now daily along with my Classical guitars and there is to me ,and my wife, a quantifiable change in its sound.
    if this true, you must be at least 60 years of age but probably much older. you should count yourself lucky hearing anything at all, let alone detail!



    but count me in. one should break in a guitar. if your wife says it is quantifiable, it must be. at least, if it is quantifiable better!
    Last edited by Marcel_A; 09-24-2020 at 12:30 PM.

  10. #59

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcel_A
    if this true, you must be at least 60 years of age but probably much older. you should count yourself lucky hearing anything at all, let alone detail!



    but count me in. one should break in a guitar. if your wife says it is quantifiable, i must be. at least, if it is quantifiable better!
    Yes, M,
    Many musicians have had this problem as they age and it showed in their playing: Segovia, Bream, Rubenstein, Wilhelm Kempff, Chick Corea, Dizzy, Ellington,Von Freeman, etc. . .(do I neeed to write "ahem?") and, of course, the real case--Beethoven. I would agree with your inference . . . musicians get worse as they age. . . I know I was a much better musician at 12 than I am today! Age does these things to creative souls.
    Secondly, many women who are wives are also musicians . . . and to what I would deem your imagined surprise . . . some very excellent ones.
    Play live . . . Marinero

    P.S. I think I made my comment about civility prematurely. What a difference a day makes! M



  11. #60

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    "I would agree with your inference . . . musicians get worse as they age. . . I know I was a much better musician at 12 than I am today! "

    Seriuosly? Couldn't disagree more. Maybe from a purely technical standpoint, ie, chops. But I'm a way better musician than I was a few yrs ago, let alone when I was 12. If I felt that way I'd have given up back then.

  12. #61

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcel_A
    oh, i didn't mean to be.
    let me tell you my story.
    i live in a castle. there was this room i didn't go to that often, but on one fine morning i did. turns out there was an old guitar in the closet! what do you know? hadn't been played for at least 50 years, since that is when the previous owner died in battle. so, i plugged it in and it sounds awfull. i kept on playing and my daughter says 'dad, i think it sounds quantifiable better then when you picked it up!'. I agreed. I kept on playing and it sounds like a freakin' stradivarius!
    .

    I must admit, M, you are a fortunate soul: a.) you live in a castle, b.) you own a close approximation to a Stradivarius, and C.) you have an intelligent daughter. I can't imagine life being much better. However, on a personal note, I do have a suggestion for your angst . . . I'm certain somewhere close to home there's a lonely, big-eyed puppy in a dog pound just waiting for someone like you . . . Play live . . . Marinero


    P.S. On second thought . . . will someone please call the ASPCA . . . . immediately!!!! M

  13. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon
    "I would agree with your inference . . . musicians get worse as they age. . . I know I was a much better musician at 12 than I am today! "

    Seriuosly? Couldn't disagree more. Maybe from a purely technical standpoint, ie, chops. But I'm a way better musician than I was a few yrs ago, let alone when I was 12. If I felt that way I'd have given up back then.

    Hi, W,
    I meant that as a tongue in cheek comment. Sorry. Play live . . . Marinero

  14. #63
    Gosh I missed the castle story.

    You 'plugged in ' a guitar that had magically appeared after 50 years in a castle closet having been left there by the previous owner who had died in battle.
    If I was to pretend you were being serious, instead of the myriad of more likely alternatives, I would have to assume this was the second world war the mystical PO died in? and that it was one of the earliest electric guitars??

    That's interesting information but I'm not at all talking about electric guitars, as I find that when electro-magnetic pickups are involved a large part of the guitars sound IS the pickup. That's why you can put pickups on a block of wood with a neck and get a guitar sound out of an amplifier.

    I'm talking about acoustic instruments, played acoustically, and constructed out of solid tone woods. I would, myself, leave laminate instruments out of the discussions as well, as laminates are generally far more stable than solid wood (thus the reason for making laminates..plus costs and availability)

  15. #64

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    The funniest part of all of this discussion is the (already noted) concept that all perceived changes to a guitar are “positive” as it ages, and is somehow “played in”.

    Why are there no observations that, as we exercise our personal interaction with an instrument, it sounds worse?

    It seems we are actually discussing our opinion of the perceived value of our personal touch, rather than any actual musical sound.

    So let us stipulate that we somehow are all magical beings, with inexplicable, AND 100% positive, impact on all that we touch.

    And that this magic is reproducible via a mechanical vibrating gizmo.

    And that this truly exists in some deeply believed, yet unmeasured, way.

    ***********

    Or we could return to the land of the simple realities. Inconvenient as that may be.

  16. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bezoeker View Post
    The funniest part of all of this discussion is the (already noted) concept that all perceived changes to a guitar are “positive” as it ages, and is somehow “played in”.

    Why are there no observations that, as we exercise our personal interaction with an instrument, it sounds worse?

    It seems we are actually discussing our opinion of the perceived value of our personal touch, rather than any actual musical sound.

    So let us stipulate that we somehow are all magical beings, with inexplicable, AND 100% positive, impact on all that we touch.

    And that this magic is reproducible via a mechanical vibrating gizmo.

    And that this truly exists in some deeply believed, yet unmeasured, way.

    ***********

    Or we could return to the land of the simple realities. Inconvenient as that may be.

    Hi, B,
    It doesn't happen with poorly constructed instruments with inferior tone woods. It would, logically, never be perceived by low-level musicians. It is a known phenomena to luthiers and advanced players of all quality wood instruments. For me, your "magical beings" concept reflects your limited mindset and experience as a musician and owner of quality instruments. For my part, there is nothing left for me to add to this discussion that would express my and others beliefs that have not been previously discussed. However, may I give you some sound advice: when buying a wood instrument in the future, may I suggest not spending more than $300. to $400. There's no sense to spend untold dollars when all you're buying is Black Magic. Play live . . . Marinero

  17. #66
    Personally I haven't come down on either side regarding 'playing in of dormant instruments' but I do think instruments usually improve with age provided they are not maltreated, which could certainly be an example of the sound getting worse. I couldn't see it happening from it's intended use. Frankly that's a bit of a strange concept.

    What I do find interesting is that those who seem disbelieve in any change in an instrument at any time do so so scornfully and frankly rudely. It's really like they enjoy crushing someone's idea more than they actually have an idea of their own.

    Perhaps it's this lack of individual ideas that makes them feel a need to crush others to feel they have worth.

    It's certainly a far easier thing to do than to put yourself out there, so I guess I understand the appeal from an effort point of view.

    I wonder if these people create anything, or write music in anyway.

    Or do anything that could be deemed 'magical'

    Rather than cling to the mundane and pedantic.

    I'm not saying they don't, I don't really know but I find the vehemence and deliberate rude scorn to be kind of ridiculous. Why bother?
    Unless you need to scorn others to make yourself feel good

    This was meant to be a discussion, but this is the internet and the internet is the realm faceless trolls.

  18. #67

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    I have a 85 Ovation that has hardly been touched, it sounds "tight" and I've been trying to fit the time in to play it in and "loosen" it up. I expect more highs, lows and detail as the top begins to vibrate more easily. This is actually measurable with good equipment. For a non biased study please PM me to send the gear and I'll publish the results.

  19. #68

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    Quote Originally Posted by What now? View Post
    Personally I haven't come down on either side regarding 'playing in of dormant instruments' but I do think instruments usually improve with age provided they are not maltreated, which could certainly be an example of the sound getting worse. I couldn't see it happening from it's intended use. Frankly that's a bit of a strange concept.

    What I do find interesting is that those who seem disbelieve in any change in an instrument at any time do so so scornfully and frankly rudely. It's really like they enjoy crushing someone's idea more than they actually have an idea of their own.

    Perhaps it's this lack of individual ideas that makes them feel a need to crush others to feel they have worth.

    It's certainly a far easier thing to do than to put yourself out there, so I guess I understand the appeal from an effort point of view.

    I wonder if these people create anything, or write music in anyway.

    Or do anything that could be deemed 'magical'

    Rather than cling to the mundane and pedantic.

    I'm not saying they don't, I don't really know but I find the vehemence and deliberate rude scorn to be kind of ridiculous. Why bother?
    Unless you need to scorn others to make yourself feel good

    This was meant to be a discussion, but this is the internet and the internet is the realm faceless trolls.
    There is much to be learned and enjoyed both in playing the instruments and in understanding what makes them work well, or less well.

    Regarding how they work, and how to make them work better, some demanding objectivity consistently gives results. Beliefs are comforting, I understand, but they will not adjust a truss rod.

    Most often, felling better about your guitar (or yourself, really) can improve your playing, I definitely get it.

  20. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bezoeker
    The funniest part of all of this discussion is the (already noted) concept that all perceived changes to a guitar are “positive” as it ages, and is somehow “played in”. (...)
    I have always been suspicious about used instruments: what if the previous players played horrible music in horrible technique and out of tune?! How would such treatment affect on the cells of the wood?!

  21. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by What now?
    An anology (and perhaps an inaccurate one)

    I also make traditional one piece wooden bows..as in archery.
    These are pieces of wood split from a tree, air dried and then shaped and in the process 'trained' to bend. All one piece no laminates

    A bow is shaped on a tillering stick with graduated notches allowing you to pull it farther and farther as you remove wood, ensuring the entire time that the curvature is equal and smooth. Each time you remove wood it is recommended that you pull the bow to the draw length you have currently achieved 10 to 20 times . This helps reveal what the wood removal has done. Eventually you have it pulling to 28" or so and if you care for your bow it will continue to allow you to bend it in this crazy fashion again and again for years! One of the most extreme working uses of wood and frankly amazing. Most bows have some sort of 'set' or string follow meaning after they are made and 'shot in ' usually about 100 or so shots they develop a slight curvature that follows the string. A bowyers mission often is to try and mitigate this with his skill as one doesn't want a bow to be significantly bent when unstrung, it loses power that way.

    The only reason I'm discussing this is that it shows that wood, when used can in a mechanical way can be affected by it's usage. There is a series of books (traditional bowyers bibles) where the concepts are pulled apart , tested and examined scientifically (by actual scientists who also happen to be bowyers) Older bows that haven't been used for a while should be treated cautiously and slowly drawn in stages, checking all the while for 'hinges' or compression fractures etc. before they are used properly. Also it's often good practice to pull any wooden bow a few times gently before pulling it to full draw. Pictured is 50 lbs Osage Orange recurve I built pulled to it's full draw of 28' on my tillering stick.Guitar Breaking In/Playing in-osage-recurve-jpg
    Beautiful one!

    Off the topic: I have planned to make bows with my 9 and 11 year sons. What is the best wood to make it from? Maple? Sorbus? Can You direct me to some informative site about one piece wooden bows? We will not hunt with them, but it would be nice to shoot on the target. Thanks!

  22. #71

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    Quote Originally Posted by Herbie
    Beautiful one!

    Off the topic: I have planned to make bows with my 9 and 11 year sons. What is the best wood to make it from? Maple? Sorbus? Can You direct me to some informative site about one piece wooden bows? We will not hunt with them, but it would be nice to shoot on the target. Thanks!
    Save the Osage Orange for guitars!!!


  23. #72

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    I’m just going to drop this here. I haven’t had a chance to look through it. It’s apparently a study done on the effects of an external source of vibration on violins.

    https://henrystrobel.com/lehmannweb.pdf

  24. #73

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    Nice conclusion . . .Guitar Breaking In/Playing in-schermafbeelding-2020-10-11-om-17-26-03-png

    Furthermore it is typical that it is called 'tone improving effect' instead of a description of 'the effect'.

  25. #74

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcel_A View Post
    Nice conclusion . . .Guitar Breaking In/Playing in-schermafbeelding-2020-10-11-om-17-26-03-png

    Furthermore it is typical that it is called 'tone improving effect' instead of a description of 'the effect'.
    Funny that the ostensible study embraces the assumption/mythos of tone improvement. I had failed to notice that while plowing through the details. Thanks for noting this.

  26. #75

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcel_A View Post
    Nice conclusion . . .Guitar Breaking In/Playing in-schermafbeelding-2020-10-11-om-17-26-03-png

    Furthermore it is typical that it is called 'tone improving effect' instead of a description of 'the effect'.
    It seems to me that the "breaking in effect" from playing music with an instrument must be greater than the "loosening up effect" of the application of more or less random vibrations. Musical tones are composed of multiple, arithmetically related frequencies. Random vibrational energy cannot duplicate that. Twenty or thirty years of harmonically related frequencies are bound to have an effect.

  27. #76

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74 View Post
    It seems to me that the "breaking in effect" from playing music with an instrument must be greater than the "loosening up effect" of the application of more or less random vibrations. Musical tones are composed of multiple, arithmetically related frequencies. Random vibrational energy cannot duplicate that. Twenty or thirty years of harmonically related frequencies are bound to have an effect.
    Hi Cit’74,

    “Related frequencies” are in absolutely no way whatsoever “bound to have an effect” based on anything except the possible desire that they would.

    The minuscule amount of actual study of the subject (vs. imaginative description) suggests that very high amplitude and duration of vibrations are remotely, almost, possibly able to have some measurable effect. And that that there is NO reason whatsoever to associate this effect with improved (vs. somehow possibly “changed”) tone. And why does this never, ever result in reported deterioration of “tone”?

    Put a scope on a mic’ed acoustic (or the output of an electric arch top) sometime. You will see the overwhelmingly highest amplitude comes from the atonal transient vibrations in the attack. There is a secondary (far lower) peak at the resonant peak frequency (or in some cases, frequencies) of the instrument.

    Any actual study of this has never associated the harmony of the vibrations, vs. a lack of same, to have any bearing whatsoever.

    This discussion is about human perceptions of human values of subjective human interpretations of human experiences. That is also what music is, which is absolutely fantastic in my human opinion.

    The need to associate invented concepts to add an illusion of objective fact to this seems remarkably odd.

    If someone feels that their guitar sounds better the more they play it, that is great. I want to hear the music.

    The pseudo-science, not so much.

  28. #77

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    If players/collectors/owners enjoy feeling great about their instruments and associate improved sound based on playing, well that is hard to beat as an experience.

    I do not at all get the need to then synthesize concepts to explain this. It closes the opportunities for improved understanding.

    We all learn more all the time, on the whole. But there are periods of remarkable regression mixed in there. Those are regrettable periods.

  29. #78

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    Just read these words from Pat Metheny in another thread, then remembered this "playing in" thread: "For me, kind of the most important thing with any guitar is how much it’s been played. If you play somebody’s guitar that’s five years old but they’ve played it 18 hours a day, it’s going to have a thing going on that the guitar that’s never been played from 1932 will not have".

  30. #79

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    I am not the believer of the breaking in thing. However if an instrument was resting for years or more in different temperature and humidity, I can imagine it needs to accomodate for even a few days to a normal room temp and humidity before it gets in shape.

  31. #80

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabor View Post
    I am not the believer of the breaking in thing. However if an instrument was resting for years or more in different temperature and humidity, I can imagine it needs to accomodate for even a few days to a normal room temp and humidity before it gets in shape.

    I am not a believer in the theory either.
    I can imagine that a guitar that was resting for years sounds better because it rested.

  32. #81

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    My experience with instruments has been that playing them does open them up, and makes a noticable improvement in how they sound. I can hear this even in electric guitars. Most musician friends tend to agree.

    Probably one part of it is the player getting "in tune" with the instrument better, as hours and days pass. You fine tune your playing and really start to get as much tone as you can out if it. But the guitar plays a big part also. I have about 20 guitars, and every now and then months will pass and I'll gravitate towards a few different ones, so this process of breaking in a guitar is very familiar to me.

    Since moisture and temperature can play such a big part and totally transform how a guitar sounds under various conditions, I have no problem believing that vibrations and playing has an effect too.

    Whether player or guitar, the end result is the same. You will sound better on it as you spend time with the instrument..

  33. #82

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alter View Post
    My experience with instruments has been that playing them does open them up, and makes a noticable improvement in how they sound. I can hear this even in electric guitars. Most musician friends tend to agree.

    Probably one part of it is the player getting "in tune" with the instrument better, as hours and days pass. You fine tune your playing and really start to get as much tone as you can out if it. But the guitar plays a big part also. I have about 20 guitars, and every now and then months will pass and I'll gravitate towards a few different ones, so this process of breaking in a guitar is very familiar to me.

    Since moisture and temperature can play such a big part and totally transform how a guitar sounds under various conditions, I have no problem believing that vibrations and playing has an effect too.

    Whether player or guitar, the end result is the same. You will sound better on it as you spend time with the instrument..

    Hi, A,
    And, to those who are listening, the words above are written by a very accomplished, creative musician that has achieved mastery of his instrument as is attested by his excellent musical postings. Play live . . . soon--I hope? . . . Marinero

  34. #83

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    How 'bout some blues??? Thanks, Alter.
    Play live . . . Marinero