True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:35 pm

GuitarsWeB wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:05 pm
I remember back in the 70'’s, the belief was, cedar tops will go dead in 10 years, By the mid 80’s, it was 20 years. I think that thinking, in this day and age, is a dead horse...too many old cedar guitars around nowadays still going strong.
Well, as I mentioned, my cedar tops have in fact faded after around ten years. I must have had seven or eight by now, and that has indeed been my experience. As I also mentioned, I played them hard, and i do think this might be the deciding factor, they just seem to lose responsiveness and become a bit 'planky' (plonky?)

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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by riffmeister » Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:40 pm

Another couple of data points regarding 'older' guitars....I have owned several spruce top guitars made by Manuel Velazquez that are in the 20-60 year old range. All still with 'perfect' action and therefore no soundboard distortion or 'neck angle' problems. And all with what I would subjectively describe as a beautiful voice. Of course, these instruments have not been played hard every day by professional guitarists. And my understanding is that Manuel did not build with thin soundboards. So there you have it, my two cents from personal experience.

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

Post by Michael.N. » Sun Jun 02, 2019 4:13 pm

GuitarsWeB wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:05 pm
I'm clearly wasting my time. I give up. I cede to your greater knowledge on the matter.
It is not a “Greater Knowledge” for sure. It’s all subjective opinions. I remember back in the 70'’s, the belief was, cedar tops will go dead in 10 years, By the mid 80’s, it was 20 years. I think that thinking, in this day and age, is a dead horse...too many old cedar guitars around nowadays still going strong. John Gilbert never made a cedar for years. He lectured on attributes of spruce. THEN...he finally made a cedar top and that changed his mind...not that cedar was better than spruce, just different and very good. I know, we have UK builders that treat it, cedar, as a red headed step child.
It's NOT subjective opinion. You obviously haven't paid close attention to what I've actually been writing. All this about 'my 40 year old guitar hasn't got neck angle issues' blah blah blah. I've covered it. Read my posts. I allude to it in my very first post on the matter but later as well. Read exactly what I've said on the matter. I don't wish to bang on about it but I've been making guitars for nearly 40 years. That's a fair amount of experience by anyone's standards. I've never stated that any soundboard goes dead, neck angle issues or not. Now the point about a guitar going dead may well be a subjective opinion because we are referring to tone. The fact that a guitar goes through structural changes over a long period of time is no more contentious than saying that night follows day.
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Rasqeo
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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by Rasqeo » Sun Jun 02, 2019 4:37 pm

Michael.N. wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 4:13 pm
GuitarsWeB wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:05 pm
I'm clearly wasting my time. I give up. I cede to your greater knowledge on the matter.
It is not a “Greater Knowledge” for sure. It’s all subjective opinions. I remember back in the 70'’s, the belief was, cedar tops will go dead in 10 years, By the mid 80’s, it was 20 years. I think that thinking, in this day and age, is a dead horse...too many old cedar guitars around nowadays still going strong. John Gilbert never made a cedar for years. He lectured on attributes of spruce. THEN...he finally made a cedar top and that changed his mind...not that cedar was better than spruce, just different and very good. I know, we have UK builders that treat it, cedar, as a red headed step child.
It's NOT subjective opinion. You obviously haven't paid close attention to what I've actually been writing. All this about 'my 40 year old guitar hasn't got neck angle issues' blah blah blah. I've covered it. Read my posts. I allude to it in my very first post on the matter but later as well. Read exactly what I've said on the matter. I don't wish to bang on about it but I've been making guitars for nearly 40 years. That's a fair amount of experience by anyone's standards. I've never stated that any soundboard goes dead, neck angle issues or not. Now the point about a guitar going dead may well be a subjective opinion because we are referring to tone. The fact that a guitar goes through structural changes over a long period of time is no more contentious than saying that night follows day.
I think the problem, or misunderstanding, is because you keep arguing about construction issues whereas other people and the OP are talking only about sound quality. I pointed this out earlier but it seemed to fall on deaf ears.

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

Post by Michael.N. » Sun Jun 02, 2019 5:53 pm

You missed the point. It's the effect string tension has on the soundboard. I'm tired of stating it. Is that a constructional issue? It matters not, you can call it what you wish. The important point is that there has been a change in the structure of the guitar over time (undeniable) therefore it may explain why the tone has changed. So if you are of the opinion that guitars go dead after a number of years there should be some way of explaining it or at least an attempt made to explain it. The structural changes are real, the constructional issue becomes a prime candidate. Any other ideas on what could possibly cause it?
If you are of the opinion that guitars do not go dead, well then nothing really needs explaining.
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Rasqeo
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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by Rasqeo » Sun Jun 02, 2019 6:48 pm

Well I have to admit I was under the impression that any changes in tone that occur over the years was due to changes in the wood itself, not in the construction of the guitar. I have had remedial work done on vintage guitars before and it had no discernible effect on the tone. I’m not saying I don’t believe you - I just haven’t noticed it before though I accept I have far less experience.

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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by Marcus Dominelli » Sun Jun 02, 2019 7:02 pm

riffmeister wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:40 pm
Another couple of data points regarding 'older' guitars....I have owned several spruce top guitars made by Manuel Velazquez that are in the 20-60 year old range. All still with 'perfect' action and therefore no soundboard distortion or 'neck angle' problems. And all with what I would subjectively describe as a beautiful voice. Of course, these instruments have not been played hard every day by professional guitarists. And my understanding is that Manuel did not build with thin soundboards. So there you have it, my two cents from personal experience.
This is in line with my experience too. How the guitar is built is a big deal. A dealer I know who sells a lot of Velasquez' older guitars believes they start to peak in terms of sound quality after 30 years. They get better and better for many decades.

But if you build super light, or without humidity control and/ or with poorly seasons woods, and low grade glue (as many long since dead luthiers did) the guitars are not going to last nearly as long. So, I'd say in a nutshell, some guitars are on the way downhill after 5 years, while others will last generations.

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

Post by Michael.N. » Sun Jun 02, 2019 7:14 pm

Michael.N. wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 5:53 pm
You missed the point. It's the effect string tension has on the soundboard. I'm tired of stating it. Is that a constructional issue? It matters not, you can call it what you wish. The important point is that there has been a change in the structure of the guitar over time (undeniable) therefore it may explain why the tone has changed. So if you are of the opinion that guitars go dead after a number of years there should be some way of explaining it or at least an attempt made to explain it. The structural changes are real, the constructional issue becomes a prime candidate. Any other ideas on what could possibly cause it?
If you are of the opinion that guitars do not go dead, well then nothing really needs explaining.
Yes we know that there is hemicellulose degradation in wood that occurs over time. Interestingly I think it's given as one of the factors why old violins sound better than new violins. The complete opposite of the dead guitar. Make of that what you will !!
BTW. All those old Amati, Strad, Guarneri show marked distortion to their soundboards. Again the effect of age and string tension.
Historicalguitars.

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

Post by zavaletas » Sun Jun 02, 2019 7:47 pm

Any instrument that isn't cared for well will suffer structurally, but my experience suggests that good guitars continue to improve with age. The qualifier is good-- a guitar made of inferior materials will never become much better, no longer how much time passes. I have guitars in my collection going back to 1761 that I would put up against any "modern" guitar. You will find recording of them on our youtube channel.

www.youtube.com/user/guitarsZAVALETA/videos
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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by Brynmor » Sun Jun 02, 2019 9:45 pm

I'm clearly wasting my time. I give up. I cede to your greater knowledge on the matter.
There is no need to get abusive. I was simply stating facts about two of my guitars and asked you for an explanation in view of what you had previously said.

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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by Bowie. » Sun Jun 02, 2019 11:13 pm

This is one of "those things" I've seen said over the years, but never by anyone who seemed to have a real understanding of science involved. I've seen some lightly built instruments (both steel and nylon strung) suffer some warping from years of string tension. The idea I've seen posed that classicals sound great for about 30 years, and then start to degrade. I think, build-wise, that's a silly notion. However, I would say there is one consideration that has some validity. Older guitars do typically get a softer/sweeter high frequency response. In most steel string guitars this can be a major blessing.

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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by tateharmann » Mon Jun 03, 2019 3:34 am

I think it's something that's said and repeated without questioning. A gentleman who used to be the go-to classical guy at a local guitar shop (that's since closed it's doors) stated this idea as a fact. In the same breath he said that steel string guitars don't suffer from this "issue". I didn't buy it then and I don't now. However, my experience has been all with spruce instruments so I can't comment on cedar. Does my 1890's instrument sound like it did when it was built? Probably not but impossible to prove anything anyway. It sounds good now and that's what counts (its had very minimal repair work done during it's lifetime btw). I'd hardly describe the sound it produces as "dead". What can sound dead are the cheap plywood topped guitars that are a dime a dozen...the guys who buy into this idea try to tell you that your luthier built masterpiece will sound like plywood after 40 years. Sorry...that's just unfounded in my humble experience...subjective, sure - but I'm not alone.
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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by quixilver » Mon Jun 03, 2019 4:02 am

The answer of this question can be very subjective and relative, there are a lot of factor to consider - i.e. quality of material, how the guitar has been loved/abused during its lifetime, climate, etc...etc...

Not so much different from us being human, there are definitely wear and tear, foods we eat, drugs we consume, weeds we smoke, there are a lot of disease, cancer, superbugs, influenza virus mutations, accidents and terrorists are everywhere, nuclear radiation, tsunami, and we definitely live under a lot of stress of thinking if our guitars have a short lifespan etc...etc... Do you really think humans have a short lifespan?
"After food, air and water, classical guitar is the next necessity of life."

1988 Kazuo Sato | 2005 Tobias Berg | 2007 Rolf Eichinger | 2014 Alexandru Marian | 2015 Christoph Sembdner | 2015 Antonio Raya Ferrer | 2016 Masaki Sakurai P.C.

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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by tateharmann » Mon Jun 03, 2019 4:49 am

The wear and tear aspect is true. But like you say, it's true as to humans, classical guitars ...but also violins, cellos, lutes, chairs, skyscrapers, dog houses lol..

To say that violins get better with time but classical guitars get worn out is silly. They both experience wear and tear...but they both can still sound nice. Here's a quote from one of my favorite performers, Ulrich Wedemeier:
In the early 1980s, historical informed performance was still in its infancy among guitarists. The erroneous assumption that plucked strings did not mature and improve in sound with time like the bowed strings, but were on the contrary worn out by the strong energy impulse when plucked, was also widely spread. As a result, historical plucked strings were not much sought after by players, and in contrast to violins, there were only few people interested in old guitars.

All this made it easy for me to obtain my first old guitar. With this instrument, a whole world of new experiences opened up. I was considering nineteenth century guitar music less in a retrospective way, but more as having developed from the earlier repertoire of lute and guitar music. The original instrument, historical strings, and a right-hand technique without the use of the fingernails together produced a singular beautiful sound and caused a fascination in me, which in the end reveals itself in this collection.
But hey, if you think your Torres' or Arias' is "dead"...I'll gladly help you out and take it off of your hands!!! Hehe
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Re: True that classical guitars have a short lifespan?

Post by quixilver » Mon Jun 03, 2019 5:09 am

tateharmann wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 4:49 am
The wear and tear aspect is true. But like you say, it's true as to humans, classical guitars ...but also violins, cellos, lutes, chairs, skyscrapers, dog houses lol..
That is exactly the whole point, I have seen relatively young guitars (less than 10 years) suffer from unexpected structural issues like warped neck, top deformation, etc. I have also seen a life-threatening incident when the bridge was "flying off" when tuning up a string :D

Having said that, I have also played guitars from 50s and 60s which were still in a very good shape, sounded very loud and clean and projected very well in a decent size room. No issue at all!
"After food, air and water, classical guitar is the next necessity of life."

1988 Kazuo Sato | 2005 Tobias Berg | 2007 Rolf Eichinger | 2014 Alexandru Marian | 2015 Christoph Sembdner | 2015 Antonio Raya Ferrer | 2016 Masaki Sakurai P.C.

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