Why playing-in a guitar will make it sound better
Author: Ian Bush Date Posted:26 November 2012
I noticed a very curious thing in our showroom over the years.
When someone would try a guitar on display they would often choose the guitar that had been hanging on the wall over a new guitar, fresh out of the box. That got me to thinking, what made the same guitar on the wall sound better than the guitar in the box?
Now, this answer mainly applies to solid-top and solid wood guitars, ply guitars generally don't play-in the same way. The answer is quite interesting, and a few different factors can make the guitar sound better:
1. The wood in the guitar is a little older
It has been held at pitch, which adds some tension to create a resonance in the wood. Eventually, the wood starts to age and vibrations react with the wood of the guitar. These vibrations can actually alter the fibres in the wood, and eventually will help give the guitar a mellow, resonant tone. This can take many years of consistent use. Also, as the solid wood ages, the natural oils are lost and the materials will become more brittle. Brittle wood has great musical qualities and your guitar will sound better.
2. The first few times you play the guitar you will take some of the very fine hard edges off the frets
Just the process of playing the guitar will smooth out the fret surface a little and make for a really nice contact with the string. Frets wear down over time, and just through general use, the strings will smooth the tips of the frets down. This can negate buzzing or very slightly sharp or flat notes.
3. On all of our solid wood guitars we use bone nuts and saddles
Due to the nature of the material, these nuts can be a little rough when they are first made, and benefit from being tuned and played. Through usage, the string will move back and forth in the nut slot to create a smoother channel, this provides a better connection to the nut, and as a result better resonance.
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