What Type Of Glue Was Used In Furniture In 1940 Experiencing Tonal Nirvana From Your Guitar

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Experiencing Tonal Nirvana From Your Guitar

Everyone agrees… older stringed instruments generally sound better and feel better than their modern counterparts! They almost breathe life! They have a live feeling, a “vibe” that often turns into musical magic! As you play, you can really feel the exceptional instrument vibrating with itself. This is what we are talking about! If you’ve ever been lucky enough to strum a well-played 1950s Fender Stratocaster© or a 1940s-era Martin® Acoustic, then you’ve truly experienced tonal nirvana. If you’re a die-hard player, chances are you’re familiar with this elusive tone! The strange thing is that not all older tools have this feature. That’s a phenomenon across all brands, no matter the infamy or lack thereof. Just because a guitar is old doesn’t necessarily mean it will sound exceptionally good, although it will generally sound better than a new instrument.

New instruments rarely have this character, not even expensive custom instruments! Even the most expensive tools available today support their design features, fine finish and fantastic appearance. They often promote the resonance and great feel of their guitars. While all of this may indeed be true, in reality they are still a new tool that is dying to be broken. Still, some older guitars that have spent most of their lives in a closet or under a bed don’t have that sonic charm. They often don’t sound significantly better than a newer, well-made instrument. Why is that?

Until now, most experts have agreed that old, aged wood, drying out over many years, contributes significantly to a guitar’s sonic signature. Musicians will pay a premium to have their guitars made from old or older wood, or wood salvaged from an old building; then made to look old, similar to an old instrument. However, these efforts still may not guarantee that the resulting instrument will offer the elusive tone they desire. Usually not. Many players often choose looks over tone. Why do that when you can actually have both!

Experienced violinists will evaluate many factors when choosing woods for a premium guitar. They realize that each wood family and individual piece has unique properties. They often use the “tap test” where a piece of wood is struck with a knuckle, fingertip, or other piece of wood and the resulting tone is observed. They will critically listen to attack, resonance, harmonics, sound velocity, ringing and other factors. Some take it much further and evaluate the sonic properties of the wood using sophisticated software analysis. Here’s the thing… all woods have undeniable sonic qualities and their assessment is largely subjective.

The sound is created when the energy from the vibrating string is transferred through the saddles and bridge to the solid body guitar itself or to the top of the acoustic instrument. The resulting “tone” is a combination of many factors, the most important of which is the type of wood itself. Mahogany, swamp ash, alder, korina, maple, spruce, cedar and others all have their own distinctive sound. In addition, each is available in many variations from completely different places. It is also best to use a single piece of wood with no glued joints to dampen these critical vibrations. Even a two-piece body with one glued joint can cause the vibrations to be out of phase or end abruptly, limiting their ability to reproduce the desired tone. Multiple pieces of wood are suitable for fine furniture, but generally not for fine musical instruments.

Another critical factor affecting tone is the finish applied to the wood itself. A thin nitrocellulose or oil/stain finish will allow the wood to continue curing. The wood literally breathes with these surface treatments! They protect and beautify the wood without barriers and allow all the natural sound properties to be available. Modern fish such as polyurethane, polymerized oils and others literally dampen the wood, encapsulating it in an impenetrable casing, preventing further curing and dampening vibrations.

It is said that playing the instrument literally opens up the cellular structure of the wood and allows it to actually sound better as it ages! Wood is sensitive to changes in humidity and generally retains less moisture as it hardens over time. Wood tends to become more stable and brittle as it dries. These tube-shaped wooden cells that once contained resin or water, now dried and shriveled over the years, serve as mini “concert halls” where the vibrations vibrate and together project what we perceive as an amazing tone! Gentlemen!

Fine wooden instruments need to be played regularly and consistently to develop their true sonic potential. It’s no secret! Well-made guitars, violins and pianos get better with age and frequent, continuous play. You already know it’s true. Fine tools require “breaking in” over time. The wood needs to be massaged abundantly with the vibrations arising from active and consistent playing of the instrument. The more you play and enjoy your great instrument, the greater your sonic reward!

If you’re looking for that holy grail of tone, then it’s not enough to buy a quality wooden instrument or even build an instrument made from aged wood. All of the above factors must be incorporated into the design, care and power of your instrument. Well-designed, well-made stringed instruments were literally made to produce beautiful music that continues to evolve sonically year after year. Unleash this sonic magic, listen closely and experience true tonal nirvana that gets better with every pluck of the string.

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