collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

I thought, 'I'm gonna get me up a one man band.' ... I decided I'd get into it and might make me some money. I didn't know, I thought I might get lucky enough to get something out of it. If I didn't, I'd just be the same old Jesse. I wouldn't cry about it. I figured I was gonna live till I die anyway - Jesse Fuller

Author Topic: Instant vintage guitars  (Read 6291 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline waxwing

  • Member
  • Posts: 2518
    • Wax's YouTube Channel
Re: Instant vintage guitars
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2005, 02:13:21 PM »
That's a great way to put it, John, "being lined up". You sure have got that nice OM of yours lined up.<G> Maybe it's the challenge of sounding good on the same "tub of guts"?<G>

Todd, I agree with you. I really think that bracing is perhaps the biggest influence on the tonal identity of a wood guitar, with body size and, yes, neck length (i.e. bridge placement) being seconds. Tone woods maybe third. Ah, but what do I know? It is exciting to me that you and a few others are reawakening the art of ladder bracing.

All for now.
John C.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2005, 02:14:29 PM by waxwing »
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Willie Brown's Liquor at CD Baby

Offline Cambio

  • Member
  • Posts: 172
  • Howdy!
Re: Instant vintage guitars
« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2005, 08:07:50 AM »
Bravo John, very well put.  I've seen a few Stellas where there was no rhyme nor reason to the placement of the frets, causing intonation nightmares, but, it had a "sound".  If somebody wanted to sound like Sam Collins or Rube Lacy, I'd say a guitar like that would be a great. 
I was thinking this morning that, while violin makers work in an age old tradition and are essentially all trying to make a very similar instrument, most guitar makers snub traditional methods in favor of the latest technologies and advancements, in order to save time and hassle.  Unfortunately, a lot gets lost in the process.  I'm mainly thinking about glues and finishes.  What do microwaveable glues and polymerized finishes, that a rabid wolverine couldn't scratch, do to the tone of a guitar?  Will some of the new guitars ever open up?  More than I lament the loss of tone, I lament the loss of tradition and craft.   

Offline GhostRider

  • Member
  • Posts: 1265
  • That'll never happen no more!
Re: Instant vintage guitars
« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2005, 09:57:13 AM »
Hi John:

Thnks for saying that about the guitars on the old recordings, I totally agree, most are terrible. In many ways I think that recreating the notes of old blues tunes on better guitars is "releasing" these creative works. I sometimes wish that I coul transport back in time and give some of these guys a decent guitar to record on.

Right on John!

Alex

Offline ozrkreb

  • Member
  • Posts: 51
Re: Instant vintage guitars
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2005, 02:58:33 PM »
I have to admit that I'm a little skeptical of the idea that guitars "open up" naturally over time. I hear knowledgeable people talk about it enough that I'm willing to give it some credence, but I'm highly skeptical. I realize it proves nothing, but I've been playing for 22 years and I've never experienced it. Does my Gibson acoustic sound different now than it did 22 years ago? Yes, but it's because I'm a different player now than I was then. Heck, my hearing ability has even changed over those years, so I'm bound to perceive the exact same sound a little differently than I did all those years ago.

Maybe it's my academic background....maybe it's that I'm from the Show-Me state....but I'm just skeptical of a phenomenon with no evidence to back it up. As a matter of fact, there is a wealth of evidence from the fields of psychology and economics that people regularly perceive differences when none exist.

My intent here is to generate a little discussion.....not to irritate those of you who feel that you are able to perceive an instrument that has opened up. Again, I hear enough knowledgeable guitarists discuss the phenomenon to still be willing to admit that it might exist. However, there are so many other variables changing that I find it very hard to believe that people are actually able to hear sounds that are produced by physical changes in the guitar over time.

People's playing ability changes, their hearing changes, the listening environment changes....heck, even your ability to hear the various textures of sound changes...how do you know you don't just hear the sound differently. Maybe the guitar is producing the same sound but you hear it differently? It also seems farfetched to compare vintage instruments today with how they sound on old recordings...they are bound to sound different because of the fact that you are hearing them through a completely different medium. It's like comparing an apple and an orange. If I record myself playing my guitar...and then we sit down and compare the recording with me playing live, it'll sound different.

Thoughts?? ?Those of you who can hear it, how do you know that what you are hearing is an actual physical change that has taken place in the guitar rather than something else?

Az
My hook's on bottom, but my cork's on top

Offline Cambio

  • Member
  • Posts: 172
  • Howdy!
Re: Instant vintage guitars
« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2005, 03:17:34 PM »
Sorry that you're so doubtful, but guitars open up, all stringed instruments do.  I don't really know how to explain it, but they do.  An educated ear can tell.  I think it's most noticeable with new instruments or instruments that have undergone some major work on the top, but you can tell that their sound radically changes from day to day.  When I finish a new guitar, I don't even bother listening to it for the first day, because it's not going to sound like much.   The second day it will start to sound better, and the third day and so on.  It's the same thing when I put a new bridge plate in an old guitar, it's always tight for the first couple days and then it starts to open up.  It's not just something that you can hear either, you can feel it too.

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10538
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Instant vintage guitars
« Reply #20 on: January 23, 2005, 03:42:34 PM »
I absolutely agree with Todd on this.  On occasions in which I have purchased a new guitar, and have done an initial heavy playing session of an hour or more I have heard the guitar pass through four or five distinctly different stages of sound/tonal development as the instrument starts to sort itself out.  The opening up/lining up slows down greatly after that initial period but continues for some time. 
The effects of being played show up even more dramatically on older instruments that, for whatever reason, were never played after their initial purchase.  I once bought a 1930 OM-18 that showed up at a music store of a friend of mine in Ithaca, New York.  The guitar had never been played; original bar frets, pyramid bridge, banjo tuners, etc. with zero fret wear.  When first played the guitar was quiet and boxy-sounding, despite being as dry as a bone.  I played it a ton, and did it ever wake up!  It had the potential, but playing woke it up.  Incidentally, I don't know anyone with extensive experience with stringed instruments who considers this phenomenon of "opening up" to be anything other than gospel truth
All best,
Johnm   

Offline waxwing

  • Member
  • Posts: 2518
    • Wax's YouTube Channel
Re: Instant vintage guitars
« Reply #21 on: January 23, 2005, 04:23:19 PM »
Az.
Coming from a Science family (and having a fair amount of background myself) I understand the desire for quantifiable data, that you can see. Since we are a more visually dependent species, variance in sound seems to be much more subjective say than the fact that a brand new  spruce topped guitar is usually quite light colored but over time, and exposure to light, that color usual darkens or "deepens". Of course, no one will argue with that, even if I said, "well the photo of the new guitar may have faded." Those who have trained their ear to be more discerning than the average homo sapien have no trouble hearing the differences because it's not just a slight increase in volume or slight shift in tone, but an actual dynamic change in the quality of the sound. John M describes it very well. And it is a phenomenon that has been known throughout the history of stringed instrument construction, particularly in the golden age of violin construction. The fact that no one has ever felt a need to set up an experiment to prove that it exists would seem to indicate an acceptance of it as reality. No?
All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Willie Brown's Liquor at CD Baby

Offline Slack

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8793
Re: Instant vintage guitars
« Reply #22 on: January 23, 2005, 05:26:50 PM »
Much more study and analysis of violins is available - but there has been some guitar analysis too - mosly in an old publication called The Journal of Guitar Acoustics.  This is still available and at least one article is a time study.

http://www.ukuleles.com/Technology/JGA.html

But the easier way is to befriend a luthier and tell him you'd like to play a newly strung guitar for an hour in his shop.  the changes in sound in that first hour or so (as mentioned above) are remarkable.

cheers,
slack

Offline ozrkreb

  • Member
  • Posts: 51
Re: Instant vintage guitars
« Reply #23 on: January 23, 2005, 06:02:27 PM »
Good replies. Again, let me just say that I'm not denying that it happens...all I'm saying is that I'm skeptical. I'm just curious as to why it hasn't been empirically verified. Sound is something that we can measure and represent graphically. So we should be able to "view" the sound and see if, objectively, the "opening up" phenomenon happens.

It seems perfectly reasonable to me that the sound of a guitar will change right after it has had work done...the structure has been altered and the physical structure of the object will change as the parts adjust to the new configuration.....I have no problem with that. Same with a brand spanking new guitar.

It's the opening up over long periods of time that I am more skeptical of. So many things change over time that I'm just hesitant to believe that someone can actually isolate the variation that is due only to the physics of the guitar itself. Humidity changes, the guitar's setup can change, the strings can change, how you hear the sound can change, how you interpret the sound can change, etc....and yet people can somehow peal all of that away leaving the "opening up?"

I realize nobody can give me solid evidence one way or the other, we obviously can't prove anything here....I'm just curious as to how confident people are that they are really identifying something that is real. This kind of remind me of the gambler's falacy, which is the term used to describe the belief that if you just experienced a loss, that event itself increases the probability of a win on the next try.....so people who just lost will tend to increase their subsequent bet.....all because they "know" that if you just lost, your probability of winning is higher on the next shot...because two losses in a row is highly unlikely....right? Wrong way to think about it....they are believing something that has no foundation in reality. But yet, they'll argue that it's real....and they can give you story after story about how it has paid off for them.

I believe that it's definitely possible...there are a lot of guitar players out there, some in here, who claim it's real, and that's why I've been thinking about it lately. However, history is full of example where people "knew" and experienced things that weren't real. I'm just curious.

It wouldn't really be that hard to test with the right equipment. There might be a creative component there for a masters music or psychology student. Heck...if you did it right it could be a dissertation. I'll check out that cite to the literature slack....maybe someone has already done it.

Az
My hook's on bottom, but my cork's on top

Offline a2tom

  • Member
  • Posts: 347
  • stickman's got 'em
Re: Instant vintage guitars
« Reply #24 on: January 23, 2005, 06:36:17 PM »
I have no desire to get into the middle of this one - I haven't the experience to claim or disclaim the phenomenon, and certainly know of many experienced players who assert it confidently (as seen) - but I'll throw out that I find the difference as new strings play in to be very obvious, even on an older guitar.  I never like the way new strings sound until a couple days time and a few hours of playing.   Too brash, if that's a word.  How much short-term guitar opening up is due to the new strings?

tom

Offline Slack

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8793
Re: Instant vintage guitars
« Reply #25 on: January 23, 2005, 06:37:56 PM »
Quote
I realize nobody can give me solid evidence one way or the other, we obviously can't prove anything here....I'm just curious as to how confident people are that they are really identifying something that is real.

Hi Az,

As an amatuer luthier - I'm very confident -- the first hour or two is only the most dramatic change.  Wood is (or was) a living material - one theory on why the sound changes over time is that the wood resins continue to harden and crystalize over time. 

I think you can find solid evidence - but you've got to look at luthier groups and violin groups in particular - because folks have studied violins to death. ;)  One of the most well known in the US is: http://www.catgutacoustical.org/

cheers,
slack



 

Offline ozrkreb

  • Member
  • Posts: 51
Re: Instant vintage guitars
« Reply #26 on: February 02, 2005, 01:44:24 PM »
Here's a post I found over on Ari's message board that reminded me of this discussion....thought you might get a laugh out of it. Sounds to me like he got a little ditch-weed mixed in with his other smoking material.
Az

_________________________________
Here's a little note of interest -
I had been touring around for the past couple of years and found, after playing in a lot of crowded Indonesian clubs, that my guitar started to sound a bit sweeter than usual. I started to think about what might be going on that would cause this. After doing some experimentation in my lab back in the states (I'm a research biologist), I found that cool humid clove smoke, when infused into dried wood, imparts a characteristic into the wood that causes it to vibrate a little differently. In Indonesia, tobacco is more expensive than clove, so most folks there smoke clove cigarettes, and fill the bars with clove smoke. Anyway, after a long set of experiments I figured out a way to "cure" the inside of my guitars with a mix of clove and some other scented barks. The smoke and vaporized oils appear to actually stabilize the wood, and causes it to "open up" and become more tonally complex. I also ring out chords up and down the neck while it’s curing, causing the soundboard to resonate at different frequencies. This also seems to open the wood up along a wider frequency range. A cool side effect is that after being cured, the guitar sort of “breathes” when you play it; causing a sweet clove/cinnamon bark smell to emanate from the sound hole while it’s resonating. Anyway, I don't suggest you go out and do this to all of your guitars (I went through a bunch of trial and error experiments until I got it right), but it is interesting to note.
 
My hook's on bottom, but my cork's on top

Tags: