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  #1  
Old 03-03-2008, 03:20 PM
engr_scotty engr_scotty is offline
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Default Guitar Break-In: How long, what to expect

Hi,
Have a 3yo Seagull MJM6, mahogany/sitka. Was wondering how long it takes to break in a guitar like this and what I should expect...? Will it play more like a cedar top guitar when broken in...?

I play daily, at least an hour on average, some open mic and band playing, so my MJM6 gets some attention...well humidified and all that too... Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 03-03-2008, 04:36 PM
Freeman Freeman is offline
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Opinions vary - there are even a few that think guitars don't open up, their owners do. I recorded my home made 000 literally when it was first strung, at 30 days, 6 months and one year (it is over two now). Like my other recording endevors I tried to keep everything the same - put the same kind of new strings on before, same mic, settings, etc. There is a definite change at month 6 from zero - the A and D string both show an increase in amplitude using Audacity so I am going to say that the low mids are "opening up". I believe that the git is a little more "responsive" (whatever that means) which I attribute to the top braces loosening slightly.

Hard to say what you will experience - but I seriously doubt that a spruce topped guitar will ever gain that warmth associated with cedar - sorry, just different animals. And some luthiers argue that modern guitar are lightly braced to start with so they tend to be "open" out of the box - again, I don't know whether that applies to your 'gull or not.

You can have a great deal of fun (or waste a great deal of time) reading all the opinions about (1) do musical instruments really "open up", (2) what is the mechanism, (3) how can it be helped.

Last comment - when my old D-18 was scalloped and the b/p replaced it really opened up, LOL - but that is major structural surgery.
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Old 03-03-2008, 04:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engr_scotty View Post
...I play daily, at least an hour on average, some open mic and band playing, so my MJM6 gets some attention...well humidified and all that too... Thanks!
Hi Scotty...
Good for you! Playing an hour a day, and keeping a properly humidified and well attended guitar is a great thing. And if it improves in a few years, that will be a plus.

If it's going to age/mellow/open up, it will happen gradually over a few years of regular play. It's not going to be as noticeable with laminated sides and back as with an all solid guitar.

It will likely never sound like a Cedar topped instrument. I've played quite a few 30+ year old solid instruments and invariably they have mellowed out not become brighter, so If you forced me to predict, I'd say if you keep playing it and keep it in good condition, it will likely be mellower in 25 years than it is now.
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Old 03-03-2008, 05:26 PM
Jeff M Jeff M is offline
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The vast majority of "breaking in" occurrs in the first week after the guitar is strung up.

After that, it's variable.
Some guitars "open up" alot over the years.
Some don't.

Bottom line, nothing you can really do about it.
I take that back.
You can try all kinds of gimmicks......setting it in front of a speaker playing your favorite music, vibration/shaking devices, playing it for the purpose of breaking it in.
Again, may or may not work....you may or may not hear much of a difference...you may or may not like it.

I don't play my guitars to break them in. I don't even think about it.
I play them to play music.
There is a HUGE chance (in fact, I'd say it is most likely) that if you don't like a guitar the way it sounds when you buy it, you won't like it later on....even if it "breaks in".
If you DO like it when you buy it, it doesn't matter whether it "breaks in" or not. If it does, and you like how it sounds, that's just an added bonus.
Gets back to the Carlos Santana 10 second rule.
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Old 03-03-2008, 06:03 PM
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I can vouch that the "infront of a stero speaker" method works... at least it did for my Martin D-16GT. 9 hour work day in front of cranked Cerwin Vegas, and it was definitley a louder, more open and complex box. This may sound silly, but I had CD's in rotation that were in standard tunings and those where the band drops 1/2 step down. The guitar gets hit with different frequencies from the notes that otherwise do not get utilized much in 440. Sounds like hoodoo, but hey, something happened.

Nothing beats playing the thing though.
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Old 03-04-2008, 09:08 AM
engr_scotty engr_scotty is offline
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Thanks, I appreciated all of your input!

I think I'm happy with the sound of my mini-jumbo, but I am more interested in the responsiveness I anticipate after break-in. I had imagined it would play more like a cedar-topped guitar at that point, but I may be mistaken there....

Again, thanks for your input. Interesting stories for those who have tried the speaker method. Here's an old article that I found a while back on the subject:

http://www.acousticguitar.com/gear/a...ibration.shtml

Peace!
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Old 03-04-2008, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engr_scotty View Post
Thanks, I appreciated all of your input!

I think I'm happy with the sound of my mini-jumbo, but I am more interested in the responsiveness I anticipate after break-in. I had imagined it would play more like a cedar-topped guitar at that point, but I may be mistaken there....
Hi Scotty...
I have never experienced that kind of changes in a guitar that is solid top only...and I've played a lot of guitars in the past 45 years! Not saying it couldn't happen, but would not expect it from a manufactured mid-level guitar solid-top or not.
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Old 03-04-2008, 10:18 AM
Jeff M Jeff M is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engr_scotty View Post
Thanks, I appreciated all of your input!

I think I'm happy with the sound of my mini-jumbo, but I am more interested in the responsiveness I anticipate after break-in. I had imagined it would play more like a cedar-topped guitar at that point, but I may be mistaken there....
...

Yep.
It will sound like and be as responsive as.....it was when you first got it. That's the best way to look at it. You won't be disappointed then.
Cedar? If it doesn't sound like cedar now, it won't.
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Old 03-04-2008, 10:58 AM
Acoustic Rick Acoustic Rick is offline
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A few months ago I bought a brand new Martin D35. Within 6 weeks or so it started opening up noticeabley. The higher strings became clearer with longer lasting sustain. Yet it still sounded a bit stiff tone wise. That will mellow and get better with age (someone elses problem now because I sold it). Went back to the same store and played every highend guitar they had and though most of them sounded nice the Martins all had that new stiff sound just like the D35. The D35 was still the best sounding guitar on the wall at that time. A few days ago I went in there again and played every high end guitar they had....again. Though there were different guitars there this time becuase some had sold. I picked up a Gibson Jumbo in there that out sung every other guitar in the room. IN fact it was the best sounding acoustic guitar I've ever played. If it sounds that good brand new imagine what it'll sound like once it opens up. It doesn't have a stiffness to the tone at all and just rings out when strummed. A few years of mellowing out and that guitar will be incredible. So, though I can't afford to buy it right now, it's on lay away. Thankfully I have a good working relationship with the music store owner and he'll work with me. The lesson in all of this for me is that I never again intend to buy a guitar that I've not had the chance to play before hand. I would rather spend the extra money and have a chance to find that really special piece of wood.
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Old 03-05-2008, 01:16 AM
TAYLORFAN50 TAYLORFAN50 is offline
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Default I don't play my guitars to break them in. I don't even think about it.

That is the BEST response I've seen yet on the subject of guitars 'opening up. Well stated!
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  #11  
Old 10-08-2010, 01:25 AM
oldane oldane is offline
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Apart from the subject of breaking in (or not), one thing must be considered. The tone the player hears is not the same tone the listeners hear even from only a few meters distance. The player will hear a lot of treble, and attack sounds such as pick noise will stand out very audible, but the projection of those high treble sounds is less than lower frequencies. Choosing a guitar only from what it sounds like to the player himself is fine and the thing to do if one only plays for one self in the living room.

However, a guitar that sounds perfect to the player will likely miss some higher frequencies when heard by an audience - the projection will suffer. To sound good to an audience some distance away, an acoustic guitar will likely have to sound a little harsh to the players ears. That was very noticeable back in the days of the big swing bands where big archtops were used as rhythm guitars. They were often somewhat harsh and metallic sounding to those close to it, but it was necessary to project (=cut through) in the noise of a full big band with brass and sax sections. A guitar that to the player sounds mellow and with plenty "bottom" will never be heard clearly by the audience in such a set up - maybe not even by the other band members (which is worse because in swing bands the role of the rhythm guitar is to be the metronome of the band).

It is the same with wind instruments. An experienced wind player will go for a tone that to himself sounds somewhat brighter than he himself likes to hear, because a good deal of the brightness has disappeared when the tone reaches the listener. Sounds such as wind hiss from a reed or a slight moisture bubbling in a mouthpiece are almost never heard by the audience.

So I would say, that not only should one play a guitar oneself before buying. One should also have somebody else playing it, so one can hear how it sounds from a distance.
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Old 10-08-2010, 05:48 AM
ewalling ewalling is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff M View Post
I don't play my guitars to break them in. I don't even think about it.
Yep, that's my take. What a guitar might sound like in X months or years never enters my head.
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Old 10-08-2010, 05:59 AM
Jeff M Jeff M is offline
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Post deleted.

Just saw how old this thread is.
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