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  #1  
Old 06-24-2014, 10:46 AM
TWork TWork is offline
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Default Do classical guitars "wear out"

Hi Folks,

I'm not a classical/nylon player, but I was listening to a podcast the other day where some classical players were talking about how after a number of years classical guitars get worn out - that they're 'played out/tired' and don't sound as good as when newer.

I did a search and didn't see anything (not sure what the right keyword might be), but this idea seems contrary to the traditional steel string convention.

I was just curious to get some thoughts on this from folks who actually play classical. Anyone have any experience with this phenomenon?

Thanks,

T.
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Old 06-24-2014, 11:37 AM
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Hmmm......I'd not heard that in regards to classicals before, but cedar topped guitars in general seem to have that possibility, and since many classicals are cedar topped, I suppose it could be a real phenomenon.

I'd assumed (maybe wrongly) that the less tension on the strings would keep that from happening as much on classicals.

I had an '89 Taylor 512c that I probably played almost 1000 gigs with, and when I sold it in '03, it certainly didn't have the sparkle it once had. That one had a Sitka top too
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Last edited by fitness1; 06-24-2014 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 06-24-2014, 01:36 PM
zhunter zhunter is offline
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This is a pretty interesting aspect of guitar aging. I have long heard that classical instruments do wear out. Sound worse as they age. Much as I have long heard that steel string acoustics open up and sound better with age.

Nylon worse with age, steel better with age.

Pretty stark difference in result. I wonder what is up.

Aside from the curiosity of it all, I am a relatively recent nylon player and have no long term experience to share.

hunter
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Old 06-24-2014, 01:51 PM
Dogsnax Dogsnax is offline
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Andrew York playing his beautiful composition "Squares Suspended" on an 1888 Torres.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIHkWwG-4TM

I'm sure there's been some restorative work done over the years, but this instrument has aged quite gracefully.
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Old 06-24-2014, 03:04 PM
ZippyChip ZippyChip is offline
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I would be very happy to have a guitar with that kind of tone!
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Old 06-24-2014, 03:22 PM
frankmcr frankmcr is offline
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according to an article on classicalguitar.net Segovia used to drop by the Jose Ramirez shop at the end of every concert season & trade in the guitar he'd used for a brand new one.
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Old 06-24-2014, 04:05 PM
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Thinking about this a little more, classicals are so light to start out - as a guitar ages it can get dry out and become even more lightweight. As a result, it can be almost too resonant. I experienced this with a "real" 1897 Washburn parlor I owned some time ago - I loved the acoustic sound, but it was so warmed up that I couldn't mic it.......just way too bass oriented, which is obviously surprising for a parlor.

I'm sure an old classical with a cedar top could head down that road as well.
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Old 06-24-2014, 04:30 PM
scottishrogue scottishrogue is offline
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Cool Do classical guitars "wear out"?

All guitars wear out if played regularly. James Taylor agrees, and estimates somewhere around 50 years, when the tone begins to go away. If you take proper care, and do the maintenance, they can last much longer. But, if not cared for, the sound they produce will be less than optimal. Because steel-string guitars are subjected to more stress, it stands to reason they would not last as long as a nylon string model. It's not just the wood. The glue might lose strength over time, the tuners will need to be replaced, if not oiled. The finish can start crazing if the humidity is allowed to fluctuate, causing the wood to expand and contract, the guitar will still be playable, but it probably won't sound quite as good as it once did.

I have a beautiful Spanish style guitar handmade by a Mexican luthier. The laminated back & sides look new, but the solid top is showing age. No cracks, but the finish doesn't look as good as it once did. The sound is still good, but probably less than optimal. But, it has a very ornate rosette and peghead, with MoP designs that remains intact. I replaced the tuning machines with a set of 18 to 1 gold plated, with black worm gears, and a brand new case. I expect this guitar to make music for many, many years to come. How long it will last will depend on my children and grandchildren.

Glen
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Old 06-24-2014, 07:05 PM
franchelB franchelB is offline
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Interesting. I've had my Takamine since 1998, and I can't say for sure it's "worn out". I'm guessing others have better hearing/playing than mine...
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Old 06-24-2014, 07:21 PM
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I didn't realize that classical guitars were built that much lighter. I'll have to check a few of them out next time I get a chance.

I'm still a bit puzzled. Short of something coming loose, the sound should be still be present and reasonably similar to it's original sound. I can see where a guitar changes in sound as the wood ages with time and use. Maybe it's this change (less powerful or focused) that traditional classical players don't like (and bluegrassers look for)?

I had a chance to play a mid-30's Martin 00-18 a couple weeks ago. By all appearances, it had a pretty hard life. Yet, sounded remarkable -- but definitely more character in the voicing than it probably had when it left the factory.

T.
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Old 06-24-2014, 08:17 PM
Gcunplugged Gcunplugged is offline
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For Exhibit A (in opposition to this theory), I give you Willie Nelson's guitar :-)
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Old 06-24-2014, 08:38 PM
brucefulton brucefulton is offline
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One problem with these kinds of questions is that it is very difficult to test myths and assumptions. For example, Strads are considered great violins, but the reality is that only the best of them survive as current concert instruments, and even then, when blindly tested, don't always come out on top compared to other high-end luthier made custom instruments of current and other recent manufacture. There is actually a strad guitar that is still playable and sounds pretty good; an album was recorded with it. Listen to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNvMRuC6uEc

I think it sounds fantastic, but it is not comparable to modern instruments and we don't know how it sounded when it was built.

I think this question is nearly untestable. There are a lot of myths and preconceived opinions out there. I'm not sure the question is even relevant. Play the guitar and make up your own mind!
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Old 06-25-2014, 06:29 AM
Peter Lovett Peter Lovett is offline
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Classical guitars and violins are two very different beasts in their construction, especially in the way they are braced. A violin also has a post under the bridge that gives support to the downward tension the strings impart. Steel string guitars and classical guitars are also different in construction as well where essentially the tension of the strings is braced whereas in a classical guitar the tension is merely transferred onto the sound top.

Julian Bream certainly maintains that a classical guitar loses its sparkle after a few years but perhaps that has more to do with the amount of practice a professional player does. There must also be the possibility that the guitar "dries out" over the years and becomes less flexible and therefore loses resonance.
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Old 06-25-2014, 06:49 AM
Paikon Paikon is offline
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I think that the modern guitarist will change guitar before finding out for himself if the answer to that question is affirmative or not.
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  #15  
Old 06-25-2014, 08:08 AM
bohemian bohemian is offline
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Segovia believed guitars get worn out .
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