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Old 11-17-2019, 11:41 AM
champ0608 champ0608 is offline
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A tale of D-28s...

I have a 1996 HD-28 I bought in 2004, and it was my every day player, and twice a week gigger for ten years. I can tell you it has opened up significantly, and sounds tremendously better now. Decades of time and playing morphed the sound from good to fantastic, especially in the bass. If its possible, I think its also lighter than when I got it.

I also have a 2013 D-28A '41 that I bought brand new. Supposedly it was one of the first few made, and was the first one in Arizona. It has always sounded better than my HD-28, but I haven't noticed it open up as dramatically yet. I also don't gig nearly as much anymore, and I think that may be the difference. It gets plays just as much, but not as hard.

Bottom line, real opening up does happen. I believe it happens over the course of decades not years. I believe that's why Herringbone D-28s got their reputation; when the vintage guitar craze first started in the late 60s, those old bones were decades old, and had scalloped braces. They've always just sounded better.

Keep playing, and keep enjoying. The most important thing you can do with any guitar is to keep it, and play it, on the order of decades, which is a rule most of us break far too often in the internet age.
There's only two things in life that make it worth living...

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Old 11-17-2019, 11:54 AM
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ljguitar ljguitar is offline
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Originally Posted by RalphH View Post
I've bought a couple of guitars in the last couple of weeks, and I swear that both have sounded MUCH better after a couple of days of being played.

Do they loosen up, break-in and open up tonally over a short period of time? (I know woods improve over the years, but that's not what I'm talking about here).

It's also quite possible I'm subconsciously adjusting my right-hand technique to get the most out of them as I'm getting used to the guitars, but I could swear both have really improved tonally with a bit of playing in.

Just curious
Hi Ralph

I've played guitars fresh off the bench (including the last one I commissioned) and they change drastically over the first few hours and days they are played. I used to go down to a friend who is a luthier's shop and play guitars in for him over a period of the first several weeks. I'd show up and play a given guitar for 2-3 hours.

He'd sit across from me and listen before and then after (but not to me playing in between), and we'd chat about what each of us perceived. His thought was guitars improve in their first three hours of play, and over the next three weeks, three months, and three years (he heard audible changes).

All my all-solid guitars have changed for the better the more I play them. They are all in excess of 10 years old (one is 26 yrs old).

I don't know if they "NEED" to change. I don't think guitars are alive, nor that the guitar itself controls anything. Strings change, and that changes the sound of guitars in ways we don't like…which is probably the primary reason we change them.

My view is…I have always bought guitars based on what the sound like NOW, and how they perform NOW, not looking to what they will be like in the future. And as they changed, they always sounded better in my mind.

There is a lot of conjecture, speculation, and discussion on whether guitars age on the forum. I can tell you I have serious guitar playing friends who visit us every year or two years when traveling through our area, and they hear differences which they call improvements in my guitars over the years.

And I've played enough of them over the past 55+ years I've played acoustics to know they continue to change. I suppose some players might NOT want or like the changes. I don't believe it's possible for guitars not to change with play.

I hope this adds to the discussion.

Larry J

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Last edited by ljguitar; 11-17-2019 at 12:03 PM. Reason: added a thought
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Old 11-17-2019, 12:22 PM
RalphH RalphH is offline
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I think Bob Taylor once said that when you first get your guitar home, that's the worst it'll ever sound.
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Old 11-17-2019, 12:27 PM
alnico5 alnico5 is offline
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My guitar must be broken in after 23 years. I can't remember how different it sounded 23 years ago.
I don't have a bunch of guitars because they all sound just like me.

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Old 11-17-2019, 12:51 PM
RalphH RalphH is offline
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Hmmm.. I was just thinking that i didn't experience this when i bought my taylor 2 years ago- if its matured, it's happened so slowly I've not been able to hear it happen.

But when I bought it, they had one hanging up and 3 or 4 in the stock room unopened. I tried them all and one way sounded better than the rest so that's the one I bought. As it happens, it was the one they had hanging up in the shop, which probably had a few hours of being played under its belt.

Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

Last edited by RalphH; 11-17-2019 at 12:57 PM.
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Old 11-17-2019, 03:34 PM
Red_Label Red_Label is offline
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I have no doubt about guitars opening up with play. I picked-up my new koa Breedlove Legacy Concerto E on Tuesday. It's been opening-up every day. At first it was a bit congested. It's now airy, more lively, and bassier (but tight). In my experience though, some guitars and woods open up more than others.
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Old 11-17-2019, 03:46 PM
DukeX DukeX is offline
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I don't know. But I always give the guitar I'm playing that day 100 sturdy strums at the beginning of the session just to get the top moving. Can't hurt.
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Old 11-17-2019, 04:39 PM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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Originally Posted by RalphH View Post
I think Bob Taylor once said that when you first get your guitar home, that's the worst it'll ever sound.
I heard Chris Martin say that at a Martin roadshow in Brighton UK, sometime in the early eighties.

... and it is true. I used to be friends with two luthiers who would give me their newly finished instruments to be "played in" before telling their clients that they were ready for collection. Apparently I was considered good at bringing out the tone.

For flimsy, sensitive instruments like acoustic guitars I prefer the term "open up" to "breaking in".

I know from many experiences that good guitars tend to improve in tone from new over time, and more usually with being played and/or being vibrated.

I have a Tonerite, and have used it on various guitars (not new - but "used" but unused, if you understand).

It does work but not in days, or weeks, and not in any easily perceptible way.

However, the most obvious demonstration I've had of this was in 2016/7.

I bought a brand new Waterloo WL-12 in late November 2016. I bought it because it sounded and played better than the Gibsons I had intended to buy - but once home I felt that I didn't much care for the sound. The sound spectrum was limited ... "tight" was what came to mind.

I used it to video a song or two in December :

Shortly after they told me I had cancer so my life was hospitals, biopy operations and very little playing, but I humg the guitar on the wall in my little office where I spend much of my time and always have the radio on - listening mainly to BBC talk radio through a pair of very old very large speakers.

Some months, maybe a year after. I took it down and the change was quite remarkable. A guitar like this is never going to sound like a well played Martin dreadnought, but it did change.

Of course one must not discount the possibility of our perceptions varying, or our hearing becoming acclimatised/accustomed to the sound of an instrument.

So, I am most definitely a believer.
Silly Moustache,
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Old 11-17-2019, 04:55 PM
beatcomber beatcomber is offline
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Originally Posted by HeyMikey View Post
In my limited experience to my ears I’ve found that unplayed new or NOS guitars can takes weeks or months to fully open up - 100+ hours. Something that’s been sitting unplayed for even a few weeks or months will also need to be rejuvenated with a few days of playing.
Hifi speakers are often the same way, for the same reasons.
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Old 11-17-2019, 05:56 PM
Ralph124C41 Ralph124C41 is offline
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Originally Posted by bufflehead View Post
A search that may provide the greatest amusement would be to search the keyword "Tonerite," a device used by many to promote the process of opening up a new guitar.

I'm on guitar No. 3 for my test of that used ToneRite thingamajig I bought for $10. (Yes, $10) I would say I heard improvement on Guitar No. 1, little to no improvement on Guitar No. 2 and I'm just starting day 2 on Guitar No. 3. When done I offered to sell it to the manager of a local Guitar Center ... and he politely passed on it. GC, however, does have a used one listed for about $55 at another store but he didn't want to gamble the $10 on my unit. Oh, well. I think I've already gotten $10 worth of improvement out of it.
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Old 11-17-2019, 07:13 PM
Edgar Poe Edgar Poe is offline
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O.K. Let's take this to the next level.

List precisely what you think is happening when a Guitar opens up.
I don't mean, well it sounds brighter.
What specifically do you think happens to the wood, how exactly does that change happen.
Does that same change reverse if not played, if it doesn't change, why not ?
Think for example if you over humidify your guitar by mistake, all kinds of changes can happen. How is it that the opened up guitar seems to hold that pattern even when the guitar is subjected to say a move from Tennessee's high humidity, to Arizona. How does that same guitar all of a sudden seem to adapt over night.
Using that same scenario, how do you explain two exact same guitars adjusting themselves to those varied conditions.

How can two of the same instruments both appear to improve dramatically over time, even though subjected to opposite conditions. Which would assume that both would have to be exposed to conditions regulated according to area the guitar lives in. Just by questions asked here about conditions, I would confidently say that 50% or more of all new guitars never get any special treatment regardless of where the owner lives.

Just too many variables.


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Old 11-17-2019, 07:42 PM
rwhitney rwhitney is offline
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Yes, if only for the player to acclimate to the guitar; but I believe an acoustic guitar's tone does change over time. All of mine became deeper (without losing high end) and more responsive after a year or so. I would think these are the qualities "opening up" refers to, though I don't really know what others mean by it.
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Old 11-17-2019, 08:46 PM
stormin1155 stormin1155 is online now
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I'm firmly in the camp that believes that guitars open up the more you play them. Some will open up noticeably with just a few hours of play, others it takes a lot more. If I've had a guitar in storage, unplayed, for a long time... months, I can usually tell the difference after a few hours of play.

I have a ToneRite. On some guitars I can hear an improvement after several days, on others not so much. I think you get better improvement in tone by actually playing the guitar than with the ToneRite.

I think there is a shorter term opening up that comes from playing that is different from the effects of aged wood. The effect of time... 50 years... 100 years on wood is one thing, and I'm not sure it is the same thing that happens to wood when it is played.

The problem with all of this is that it is subjective. Our hearing is imperfect, our memory is inaccurate, we believe what we want to believe, and over the course of days, weeks, months, and years other things change that can influence our perception of tone... temperature, humidity, room acoustics, the last guitar we played, age of strings, wax buildup in our ears.....
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Old 11-17-2019, 10:03 PM
Pinetreebob Pinetreebob is offline
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I bought a new Taylor 312ce this past spring and it sounded outstanding in the store right andafter I brought it home. It was brilliant for about the first two months. After that it seemed to go through a period where it didn't sound as nice. Not as full sounding for some reason, a little dull. This went on for several weeks then suddenly it started really ringing again when I played it, It is sounding incredible now. I suspect part of it might be humidity changes but also the fact that my playing it and creating vibrations throughout the guitar has caused it to "open up".
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Old 11-17-2019, 10:28 PM
gmel555 gmel555 is offline
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Originally Posted by RalphH View Post
Do they loosen up, break-in and open up tonally over a short period of time?
I believe most new guitars do open up over time and some may do so more quickly than others. With that said, in just "a couple of days" it's possible you're just hearing new strings "settling in".
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