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-   -   Do mahogany top guitars open up with time? (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=321065)

blacknblues 12-12-2013 01:41 PM

Do mahogany top guitars open up with time?
 
I know that spruce and other similar types of wood open up or improve with time, but what happens to mahogany after 80 years?

mstuartev 12-12-2013 01:46 PM

scientifically I can't say
I had a 1934 Martin 0-17 (all mahogany guitar) that sounded really good. Definitely open

catdaddy 12-12-2013 02:02 PM

I will give you a full report on my Martin J-15 in 2088. ;)

In the mean time I can tell you that there was a noticeable opening up of that guitar after about one year. That kind of change is something I've observed in every new guitar that I've ever owned regardless of the type of wood involved. I suspect it may be more of a general construction settling process rather than 'opening up' of the top alone. Since that time I haven't noticed any change.

stephenT 12-12-2013 02:22 PM

I bought my OO-15m custom pretty much fresh from Martin via LA Guitar Sales. I noticed an improvement after a few days of playing it in, but that's the case with most any guitar. It sounds real good now but it sounded real good when new.

I've had a couple OM-15s and they didn't change much. I did put one of the OM-15s on a tonerite and it loosened it up a little.

I think an all mahogany guitar needs to sound pretty good from new to improve much over the years.

Ted @ LA Guitar Sales 12-12-2013 02:52 PM

The short answer is yes, like other tone woods, Mahogany will open up with time. It will take a bit longer to notice a difference than with a Spruce top guitar, but a bit faster than Koa. Bottom line, any all solid wood guitar will improve with age.

themissal 12-12-2013 02:57 PM

I would not buy one if you do not like the tone out of the box. My current D15s (Mine and my son's) are 4 years old, and I do not notice a difference from when we bought them. This ain't bad; we love them when we bought ours!

#1's: http://i123.photobucket.com/albums/o...e/086ec7d9.png

Mine:

http://i123.photobucket.com/albums/o.../photo-8-2.jpg

fishstick_kitty 12-12-2013 03:03 PM

I know this is anecdotal, but Richard Hoover (Santa Cruz) specifically chooses old "aged" mahogany when building the 1929 all mahogany guitars to get that open sound. I personally think it makes a big difference compared to other brand new mahogany guitars...so I would say that the aging process will have an affect for sure.

Tony Done 12-12-2013 03:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ted @ LA Guitar Sales (Post 3731157)
. Bottom line, any all solid wood guitar will improve with age.

Some just get worse (and worse and worse....) with age. Did I ever tell you about my J-40? :(:mad:

FWIW, I wouldn't buy any guitar on future expectations, and my J-40 expereince is the reason I favour oldish guitars when buying.

Bowie 12-12-2013 03:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tony Done (Post 3731184)
Some just get worse (and worse and worse....) with age. Did I ever tell you about my J-40? :(:mad:

FWIW, I wouldn't buy any guitar on future expectations, and my J-40 expereince is the reason I favour oldish guitars when buying.

Please elaborate, I'm interested in this story.

psychojohn 12-12-2013 03:17 PM

Yes but...
 
Isn't there a machine that you can use to make 'em open up quicker. OOoops. !! Going to call troll on myself. Never mind.

Seriously though, I posted a question about the opening up process in general, and the consensus seemed to be play time was a central factor over age of guitar. I imagine that opening up time would vary with wood density as well, so that hog would open up at a different pace or rate than cedar, for example. My uneducated opinion.

Tony Done 12-12-2013 03:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bowie (Post 3731187)
Please elaborate, I'm interested in this story.

This was maybe 18 years ago. I bought the guitar new because it sounded big and bright, good all round in fact. Over a period of about three years it turned into a miserable dull clunker, and I couldn't even get my mate at the music store to trade it for something else. Apart from the tone, it had other major issues, like the finish lifting in front of the bridge, a low neck angle and a fretboard extension that went up and down like a seesaw. - I couldn't get the action height anywhere near as low as I wanted it - about 1.6-1.8 mm. The importer (I'm in Oz) is responsible for the warranty, and the best he would offer was to steam the top back down again. No thanks.
I eventually did trade it, but at a big loss.


It had always been kept in my music room which is a good environment for keeping guitars, and I used a humidifier on it during dry spells. I'm quite confident that storage conditions weren't the problem, because my other guitars are just fine.

:) This might help you understand why I'm so cynical about more expensive/big name is better.

Bowie 12-12-2013 05:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tony Done (Post 3731220)
This was maybe 18 years ago. I bought the guitar new because it sounded big and bright, good all round in fact. Over a period of about three years it turned into a miserable dull clunker, and I couldn't even get my mate at the music store to trade it for something else. Apart from the tone, it had other major issues, like the finish lifting in front of the bridge, a low neck angle and a fretboard extension that went up and down like a seesaw. - I couldn't get the action height anywhere near as low as I wanted it - about 1.6-1.8 mm. The importer (I'm in Oz) is responsible for the warranty, and the best he would offer was to steam the top back down again. No thanks.
I eventually did trade it, but at a big loss.


It had always been kept in my music room which is a good environment for keeping guitars, and I used a humidifier on it during dry spells. I'm quite confident that storage conditions weren't the problem, because my other guitars are just fine.

:) This might help you understand why I'm so cynical about more expensive/big name is better.

Wow, thx for sharing and sorry to hear that. I would expect that form a Gibson but not a Martin. Goes to show how little these "lifetime warranties" mean. I would never buy a new guitar just for a meaningless warranty if I could find the same one used.

My experience has been that they sound smoother with age but I do have a nice Tak that was too dark and murky for my tastes so it sat in the case for 5 years. Amazingly, when I pulled it out to start playing it again it was vibrant and shimmering. I wouldn't believe it if I didn't have old recordings to prove the difference. That experience re-invigorated my interest in acoustics.

muscmp 12-12-2013 05:18 PM

wood is wood! very simple!

play music!

addisj 12-13-2013 09:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by muscmp (Post 3731351)
wood is wood! very simple!

play music!

Not that simple, Laminate doesn't tend to change over time like solid wood does. Defo not in my experience.

Tone Monster 12-13-2013 09:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by blacknblues (Post 3731016)
I know that spruce and other similar types of wood open up or improve with time, but what happens to mahogany after 80 years?


depends but I had once a 63 Hummingbird that I wish I never gave up.

blacknblues 12-13-2013 09:12 AM

A lot of different perspectives..

I agree that if a guitar doesn't sound good to begin with all the time in the world probably won't turn your 'sows ear into a silk purse'. However, I do have a sitka-topped guitar that to my ears has become more responsive over the years.

ljguitar 12-13-2013 09:20 AM

Hi blacknblues...

I had a middle school student who I helped shop for his 000-15, and it was pretty harsh sounding when it was new.

He grew up, went through high school, and right before he went away to college and I was asked to do a photo shoot. I told him to bring along 'artifacts' which were meaningful to him, and he brought the 000-15 which was at that point 5 years old.

While shooting the pics, I grabbed it and played a few bars. Wow…how that guitar has changed! Here's a pre-edit proof shot...

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2142/1...d28c0b2e10.jpg


I like it when guitars 'open-up', 'age' or whatever you want to call it.



jmg257 12-13-2013 09:21 AM

Quote:

I would expect that form a Gibson but not a Martin. Goes to show how little these "lifetime warranties" mean
Various companies' warranties only apply in the US & Canada re:full coverage/limited lifetime etc.

ljguitar 12-13-2013 09:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by blacknblues (Post 3731016)
…what happens to mahogany after 80 years?

Hi b-n-b....

Hope you are around and in good health to find out in 80 years.



flaggerphil 12-13-2013 09:50 AM

I owned this all-mahogany 1964 Gibson LG0 (seen here in December 1965) from 1964 until 1976 and it most assuredly opened up over that time. Wish I'd never sold it...

http://i657.photobucket.com/albums/u...band1965-1.jpg

I have a 1996 Taylor 412-M that I bought used in 2007. It sounded pretty good when I bought it and it sounds even better now. I recently bought a Taylor 528e and a 322. Both sound amazing now...if/when they open up over the years they will sound unbelievable!

http://i657.photobucket.com/albums/u...ps8662f970.jpg

http://i657.photobucket.com/albums/u...psadd7e170.jpg

BTW, Bob Taylor says that most guitars will open up over time whether you play them or not. FWIW.

blacknblues 12-13-2013 09:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ljguitar (Post 3732098)
Hi b-n-b....

Hope you are around and in good health to find out in 80 years.




Actually, I only need to wait about a month...I recently bought a 1934 Martin 00-17 off of Craigslist that went directly into the shop for a neck reset:


http://i1113.photobucket.com/albums/...Martin0017.jpg

ljguitar 12-13-2013 09:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by blacknblues (Post 3732118)
Actually, I only need to wait about a month...I recently bought a 1934 Martin 00-17 off of Craigslist that went directly into the shop for a neck reset

Hi bnb...

Looks like a fun little machine!



Shades of Blue 05-31-2016 01:40 PM

I never experienced this with my acoustics, but I thinking it may be because they were opened up when I bought them. I had a 414ce for about a year and it sounded the same when I sold it as it did the day I bought it. My 15 year old Seagull S6 I suspect I never even realized it opened up because I was such a new guitar player. Other than my Seagull and the Taylor 414, I've never kept an acoustic more than a year. I've been an electric player my entire live and really only plinked around on the Seagull from time to time.

As I get older, I am gravitating towards acoustic more and more. I'm honestly flirting dangerously close to becoming primarily acoustic as I haven't touched my electrics in close to a year.


PS (sorry for old thread resurrection....didn't realize it when I posted)

dneal 05-31-2016 01:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ted @ LA Guitar Sales (Post 3731157)
...Bottom line, any all solid wood guitar will improve with age.

Tell the classical players that. ;)

merlin666 05-31-2016 01:59 PM

If you don't like the sound of your guitar now then good luck with waiting for the magical opening up to happen. I bought a higher end guitar in the mid-70s mainly for it's crisp and bright sound. Didn't play it for more than 30 years, and when I played it again I found it sounded fairly boring and unbalanced, with a tad too much overtones. Now if it "opened up" and I simply didn't like the result, or my hearing changed with age and exposure to other instruments ... who knows ...

WHguitarNYC 05-31-2016 02:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bowie (Post 3731345)
Goes to show how little these "lifetime warranties" mean. I would never buy a new guitar just for a meaningless warranty if I could find the same one used.

I can't talk specifically to Gibson's warranty but for Martin, unless you're in North America, Martin does not honor the warranty - I believe it would be up to the dealer.

Wade Hampton 05-31-2016 02:14 PM

What I have found is that guitars with hardwood tops - whether mahogany, koa or walnut - tend to take three to four times as long to fully open up as similar guitars with spruce tops tend to take. The wood of the top is harder, so it takes longer.

When shopping for a new guitar, whether all-mahogany or spruce-topped, I agree that it's best to find one that has a good sound while still brand new. That's always the safest practice.


whm

Ted @ LA Guitar Sales 05-31-2016 03:24 PM

Wow, yet another zombie thread. :)

RP 05-31-2016 03:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ted @ LA Guitar Sales (Post 4955665)
Wow, yet another zombie thread. :)

Since the OP asked specifically about opening up after 80 years, maybe we should consider this particular zombie a progress report....:guitar:

smurph1 05-31-2016 03:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ted @ LA Guitar Sales (Post 3731157)
The short answer is yes, like other tone woods, Mahogany will open up with time. It will take a bit longer to notice a difference than with a Spruce top guitar, but a bit faster than Koa. Bottom line, any all solid wood guitar will improve with age.

I tend to agree with this. No scientific evidence, but it's what I believe. :)


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