True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

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Michael.N.
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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Jun 01, 2019 12:45 pm

Trev wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:26 am
I feel the question to ask is; has the guitar stayed as the luthier intended, if it hasn't, then sound quality could be affected.
I would have thought a guitar from a good luthier using proven build techniques and good materials, and to add looked after, is unlikely to change much.
Trev
Nothing stays the same and certainly not in a relatively thin wooden structure that is experiencing some 30 Kg + of string tension over years. We know for a fact that a guitar experiences distortion to the soundboard, it's undeniable. Now whether one thinks that is bad, good or indifferent (in terms of tone) is open to debate. Denian presumably thinks it bad, others think that a guitar improves with a few decades or more of age.
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richtm
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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by richtm » Sat Jun 01, 2019 12:47 pm

Beowulf wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 12:32 pm
Christopher Langley wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:15 am
Denian Arcoleo wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:10 am
In my personal experience it is true. Every classical guitar I've ever owned has reached a peak and then degraded in sound quality after ten to fifteen years, sometimes quite dramatically.
How long to hit the peak Denian?

How did the degradation show itself?

I'm sure the answer is a little different for the different guitars, just trying to get an idea of what you are experiencing.

What an interesting phenomena. I wonder why some guitars hold up bettter than others.

That 1864 Torres sure does sing. I wonder if there are any clear cut examples of guitars that were once good but lost their glory. Segovia's Hauser comes to mind.. Didn't something go wrong with his main guitar? I feel like this has probabaly happened to a lot of players. It must be a terrible feeling to realize your instrument has taken a turn for the worse.
Segovia's Hauser I suffered a recording studio microphone accident. The top was repaired/refinished by Hauser II and afterwards Segovia stopped playing it as he felt the the top e had lost its former glory. Richard Bruné (who examined the instrument in great detail) hypothesized that this might have been due to the delamination of a layer of wood between the fret board and the sound board...or to the refinishing process.
I was with Richard Bruné 2 days ago trying some guitars in his show room and he told me exactly the same story.
He also explained that the Hauser guitars have a weak point since the glue under the sound board gets loose at some time. But this is just a matter of repair/technic. It might be also that Segovia did not want his Hauser anymore since you still can see the scratch of the microphone. A lot of guitarists are very picky on the impression / finish of their guitar while I think the sound and playability is all.
I also played Richards 1888 Torres which he repaired and it is a wonderful and singing insturment and a powerful 1900 Manual Ramirez too .
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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Sat Jun 01, 2019 12:52 pm

I've only ever had cedar tops, apart from a spruce Alastair McNeil that went downhill badly after only a few years.
Christopher Langley wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:15 am
How long to hit the peak Denian?
They sounded great up to around the 10 year mark, more or less.
Christopher Langley wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:15 am
How did the degradation show itself?
Loss of tonal depth and 'complexity'. When I say complexity, it means (to me) something similar to what wine connoisseurs talk about when describing great wines. The guitars tend to lose their complex overtones I guess.

I have to say that I play the guitar quite hard, physically. I simply cannot understand how experienced players sell instruments with little or no signs of playing wear.

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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by Brynmor » Sat Jun 01, 2019 2:26 pm

I have a 1979 Robert Welford (spruce/Indian rosewood) that still sounds as good as it ever did - probably better in fact. I also have a Manuel Rodriguez hand made concert guitar from 1988 (cedar/Indian Rosewood) in as new condition which sounds as good as many current similar guitars. I think it is down to how you care for and play the instruments that is important. I accept that anything will deteriorate over time but my experience is that length of time over which this happens varies with circumstances.

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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by Beowulf » Sat Jun 01, 2019 2:28 pm

richtm wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 12:47 pm
I was with Richard Bruné 2 days ago trying some guitars in his show room and he told me exactly the same story.
He also explained that the Hauser guitars have a weak point since the glue under the sound board gets loose at some time. But this is just a matter of repair/technic. It might be also that Segovia did not want his Hauser anymore since you still can see the scratch of the microphone. A lot of guitarists are very picky on the impression / finish of their guitar while I think the sound and playability is all.
I also played Richards 1888 Torres which he repaired and it is a wonderful and singing insturment and a powerful 1900 Manual Ramirez too .
Segovia was not concerned with the finish...he did not take very good care of his Hauser, e.g., the upper bout was caked in sweat as he did not clean the instrument.
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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by robert e » Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:05 pm

Mark Featherstone wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:28 pm
I read or heard recently that even excellent classical guitars, unlike excellent violins, have a short(ish) lifespan. That is to say, they will get better with some months? years?, but the sound will then begin to degrade. So my questions are (a) Do people agree that this is generally true? (b) And if so, how old is too old for a classical guitar? I realize that there must be a ton of variables that might make it difficult or impossible to generalize. Let's say we are talking about guitars from respected luthiers in the $3000 to $5000 USD range (new and in today's dollars).

I ask because I am seeing used guitars on sale on e - b a y and Craig's list that were made by reputable luthiers, but going back to the 80s or even the 60s. Are these guitars likely to be past their prime?

Thanks!
Mark
I think you'll find that many in the violin community wonder the same thing about non-antique violins, and debate it ad nauseum. You'll hear stories of violins deteriorating after a year, and others blossoming after decades of "playing in". So there seems to be similar risk, or at least fear of risk, involved. AFAIK, reputable luthier violins tend to cost a lot more than equivalent guitars, so on the basis of cost/risk we come out ahead. And even if it's true that guitars wear out faster and you have to replace your guitar every decade or so, in your playing lifetime you may end up spending less than you would for a single violin.

This has me wondering now how luthiers feel about second- or third-hand owners of their instruments, of any kind, coming to them for maintenance or repair, or questions about materials or care. I suppose that's a very individual thing?

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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by soltirefa » Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:55 pm

I wonder how double-tops fit into all of this. Maybe they haven't been around long enough to know. A related question, is there a break-in period for double-tops? Do they get better with time?

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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by UKsteve » Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:03 pm

The overall best guitar that I have played personally was a 33 year old Hauser; that's young compared to some of the great sounding guitars posted on this thread.

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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by GuitarsWeB » Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:11 pm

Classical guitars that are in the 30 year and older range start to suffer from losing the neck angle and therefore suffer from action issues. In reality it's a very gradual process and starts the very first day that the instrument sees a set of strings. It's virtually impossible to predict the severity of this because much depends on the individual guitar and how heavy or lightly it was constructed in the first place.
That all depends on who made the guitar and what type of neck construction, etc. I know of tons of 50 year old guitars with no neck angle problems. Just look at many older instruments from Japan. The Spanish makers seem to have the neck angle issues.

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Michael.N.
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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Jun 01, 2019 7:10 pm

Sorry but that's a misunderstanding of what actually happens. It's not really the neck that moves but rather the soundboard that distorts because of the rotational forces of the bridge. The reason why you may have noticed that many of the Spanish guitars tend to have neck angle issues in comparison to Japanese guitars is because of the lighter construction of the Spanish makers. It's obvious that thinner soundboards are more susceptible to distortion than those that are built more heavily. Many of the early Spanish makers are noted for their thin soundboards (Torres, Hernandez), often frighteningly thin.
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Michael.N.
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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Jun 01, 2019 7:10 pm

Double post.
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Conall
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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by Conall » Sat Jun 01, 2019 7:25 pm

Martin Fleeson said in Cannington in the 80s that he believed guitars gradually deteriorated after about 10-20 years (or so - can't remember exact year span he quoted) but presumably this depends on how much & how hard the guitar has been played.

Then again it's in the interests of luthiers to suggest performers should change their guitars every decade or so!

My 1993 George Lowden still sounds gorgeous but looks pretty bad (big scratch on soundboard, dings etc). I can't say I've noticed it's deteriorated to any real extent in aural terms & I've played it an awful lot & I play loudly.

I suspect performers change their guitars regularly because they are constantly on the look out for the "perfect" guitar, guitars are cheap compared to violins etc and buying or lusting after a new guitar is addictive whether it is really better aurally or not than your old guitar.

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rinneby
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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by rinneby » Sat Jun 01, 2019 8:40 pm

"One man's pain is another man's pleasure" - A guitar WILL change over time, it's inevitable. For better or worse? Only you can tell...

/Jon
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Feel free to ask me anything about Japanese classical guitars.

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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by tkoehler1 » Sat Jun 01, 2019 8:45 pm

Not to beat a dead horse, but...
Michael.N. wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 8:23 am

Classical guitars that are in the 30 year and older range start to suffer from losing the neck angle and therefore suffer from action issues. In reality it's a very gradual process and starts the very first day that the instrument sees a set of strings.
Isn't this a good argument for installing truss rods in classical guitars? Moving forward from the present day of course.

I know the truss rod is primarily to adjust the relief of the neck. But they can also be used to some degree to counteract these neck angle issues.

I would think that this would help a guitar last longer without major repair.

TK

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Michael.N.
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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:44 pm

Again it's another misunderstanding. The issue isn't the neck, it's the continuous tension on the soundboard over a long period of time. Truss rods cannot prevent or remedy neck angle issues. Maybe we should stop calling it a neck angle issue, a body angle issue would be a more accurate description.
It's the angle of the soundboard in relation to the neck that has changed. In your minds eye picture the soundboard becoming higher in relation to the neck.
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