Guitar age

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
Trev
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Guitar age

Post by Trev » Thu May 03, 2018 9:03 am

Is there a point over the years were the performance of a guitar noticeably drops , I can see there would be many variables but on average is it possible, say after 40 years for the sound board to lose some of it's vibrancy? I'm not talking of just a mellowing of sound but more of a dulling, less inspiring. I imagine it's more of an exception and down to an individual guitar and what sort of life it's had, there must be hundreds of guitarists enjoying their 40 year old's?
thanks

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Michael.N.
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Re: Guitar age

Post by Michael.N. » Thu May 03, 2018 10:17 am

There most certainly are and a lot older than 40 years. Instruments are under a lot of tension though and things do change over a long period of time. It's possible that yours is one that changed for the worse. It's also true that our hearing changes as we age, we start to lose the high frequency range, probably why I tend to like bright sounding instruments. That's all assuming there is nothing obviously amiss with the guitar - bridge starting to come off, saddle badly fitted etc.
Historicalguitars.

Keith
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Re: Guitar age

Post by Keith » Thu May 03, 2018 10:30 am

I would imagine a guitar follows a similar path to a human

1. Choosing your parents wisely. A luthier who does not bring good materials to the table to create an offspring stacks the deck from day one. Additionally, getting a risky morphology probably does not help. I would imagine a super thin top is at risk for burning out sooner than a typical top to say nothing of being at risk to injury.
2. Exercising. Sitting in a case and not doing much over the life span does not allow the guitar to develop. The guitar will not get a higher BMI/gut but it will not perform well.
3. Living a clean life. Living in a super dry or super humid environment or moving in and out of those risky environments is probably akin to smoking and drinking. One may dodge a bullet but the probability of not dodging the bullet is much lower.

The above assumes no trips to the ER--that is, no injury due to an accidental drop, being put into a trunk in the middle of July, etc.

But we get to the question, what is a normal life span of a guitar with good genes and a healthy and productive life style? We probably need good research where we can control the variables. Many of the guitars kicking around from the old days probably met the first two criteria but not criterion 3. Number 3 and injuries with poor medical care probably ages a guitar faster than a person using meth.
be true to the one you love but have many flings with different guitars

guitarras en la espiritu de la:
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Trev
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Re: Guitar age

Post by Trev » Thu May 03, 2018 10:53 am

thankyou for the replies,
I do have two guitars and sadly it's the finer of the two which appears to have lost it's sound quality. The action had to be lowered using a lower saddle bone to help playability, I don't think that in itself is the problem but it may indicate the bridge had become higher for some reason.
Many of the above points relate:- stood idle in it's case for years, enduring humidity cycles indeed last year the fret wires were protruding and had to be filed back. Prehaps a guitar of less fine woods may have faired better?

Alan Carruth
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Re: Guitar age

Post by Alan Carruth » Thu May 03, 2018 2:19 pm

It makes no sense that the guitar would be the only machine ever made that did not wear with age. I often think that 'playing in' is really the first stage of 'playing out'. It's sort of like 'stone washed' jeans; more comfortable than the stiff, new ones, but destined for a shorter life.

Generally speaking, the more heavily thhe instrument is built the longer it takes for it to play 'in', or 'out'. The Hills, in their book on the violins of the Amati family, reported that, based on dealer records, Amati and Stainer instruments tended to 'play in' in about 15-20 years, while Strads tended to require longer, on the order of 30-40, and some of the more robust Garnari 'Del Gesu' instruments took more like 60-75. With violins it's more then just how thick the wood is; arching shape makes a big difference, and possibly other things.

Even on a guitar wood thickness per se probably doesn't matter as much as you'd think. Stiffness along the grain at a given thickness for softwoods varies with the density of the wood, and that can range widely even within a given species. Segovia's '37 Hauser is famous for having a thick top, but without knowing how dense the wood is it's hard to say whether it's 'too thick'. One of the things a lutier does is to adjust the top thickness to get the 'proper' stiffness: Hause thought 3mm was about right for that particular piece, and who am I to argue with him?

At any rate, acoustic measurements I've made of guitars as they are played over long period suggest that the top tends to 'loosen up' a bit. Some of the lower order resonances seem to drop a bit in pitch, and the guitar moves more air in the low 'bass reflex' range. Guitars that start out sounding a bit 'tight' tend to improve, while those that are 'bassier' move toward 'tubby' sound. These measurements are hard to make reliably, since you need to use the same setup and equipment every time, and control things like humidity carefully.

JohnB
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Re: Guitar age

Post by JohnB » Thu May 03, 2018 3:31 pm

Obviously one guitar tells you very little about guitars in general but my Hermanos Conde 1968 is still going strong after 50 years. It isn't a "perfect" guitar but of the 4 luthier guitars I currently have (too many) I find the Hermanos Conde the most enjoyable and the most stimulating to play.
Hermanos Conde 1968, Stephen Frith 2007 "Guijoso"

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fast eddie
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Re: Guitar age

Post by fast eddie » Sat May 05, 2018 2:14 am

I have a Hernandis that I bought new around 1974 that was not played at all after about 1978. In 2017 I began playing it again and it really sounds excellent. So that's a little more than 40 years old but maybe not playing it is a factor. The wood has aged but has not been vibrating.
Fast Eddie
Cordoba C 10 Cedar
1974 Hernandis

astro64
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Re: Guitar age

Post by astro64 » Sat May 05, 2018 3:46 am

You might want to raise the action again. It could be that the reduced torque with the lower action also results in loss of sparkle. Was the action very high to begin with? For a classical, you want at least 10mm distance from the top of the bone saddle to top of the guitar.

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Contreras
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Re: Guitar age

Post by Contreras » Sat May 05, 2018 3:56 am

I don't know what my Simplicio was like 90 years ago, but it's sublime now
Anyone else think Fakebook has done enough damage yet?

theknowle
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Re: Guitar age

Post by theknowle » Mon May 07, 2018 10:35 pm

JohnB wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 3:31 pm
Obviously one guitar tells you very little about guitars in general but my Hermanos Conde 1968 is still going strong after 50 years. It isn't a "perfect" guitar but of the 4 luthier guitars I currently have (too many) I find the Hermanos Conde the most enjoyable and the most stimulating to play.
Mine too! I have a Conde from 1965 and it still plays beautifully.

Trev
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Re: Guitar age

Post by Trev » Tue May 08, 2018 4:58 pm

astro64 wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 3:46 am
You might want to raise the action again. It could be that the reduced torque with the lower action also results in loss of sparkle. Was the action very high to begin with? For a classical, you want at least 10mm distance from the top of the bone saddle to top of the guitar.
I have returned the saddle bone previeously used. There is no discernable improvement in the sound unfortunately. The action would have measured below 10mm, bone to guitar top, after the action was lowered. Measurements are currently 10.69mm, also to add, measurement at the bridge is 2.98mm,that's top of string to fret board, so no room for adjustment there. Curiously, both my guitars measure similarly at saddle and bridge but the one with the sound issue is much lower over the sound hole but higher over the fretboard.
My next step is probably to have it assessed by someone with a thorough knowledge of guitars.
thanks

Rick Hutt
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Re: Guitar age

Post by Rick Hutt » Wed May 09, 2018 2:33 pm

I have played an original Torres at the Brune workshop in Evanston. It hadn't lost anything. Beautiful sounding and a joy to play. I suspect that the quality of our currently luthier built instruments will last even longer. Of course none of us will be around to attest to this, but my 4 year old grandson might/
2010 Pimentel & Sons Concert Grand
1970 Taurus (Barcelona)
2009 Ramundi flamenco blanca
1962 Martin 0-16
2000 Martin 000-18
1963 Epiphone 12 Str

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