by Marc Diebold

One of my old ‘better than new’ guitars – a 1993 Collings

There aren’t a whole lot of things that get better with age. Red wine comes to mind for most people. For me, life outside of work and family is all about music, so what comes to mind for me is guitars, specifically acoustic guitars. I have a few…ok, more than a few, and I can tell you that a well-built older guitar with a specific body shape and tonewood that’s been played a lot sounds way better than a brand new one with the same specs and build quality. Why? The wood on an acoustic guitar, particularly the top of the guitar, vibrates as the strings are strummed or plucked and produces the sound that you hear. The more the wood is vibrated, the more the cellular structure of the wood ‘opens up’ and allows the guitar to produce more volume, resonance and dynamic range, resulting in the guitar player’s Holy Grail – better tone. Granted, guitar construction methods are better now than ever, so this phenomenon won’t hold true for every old guitar vs. new guitar comparison. It’s interesting though, that there is a company called ToneRite® marketing a device you attach to the strings of an acoustic guitar (when it’s not being played of course) that transfers energy to the strings to accelerate the ‘aging’ process. For those of you who are interested, I’ll be talking about other music instrument and recording-related information in future blog posts.

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