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Author Topic: Do acoustic instruments really improve with playing?  (Read 2957 times)

Offline oatman

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I've been told by a few people that you need to 'break in' new violins/guitars by long hours playing them, is there actually any truth/evidence for this, and the nature of wood actually changing by being subjected to sound?


 

Offline bizerl

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Re: Do acoustic instruments really improve with playing?
« Reply #1 on: 03/12/2012 00:00:05 »
I know my cricket bat needed to be bashed with a cricket ball repeatedly when it was new before I was supposed to use it on the pitch. I'm sure this process would change the acoustics of a guitar or violin! ???

Seriously though, it could be they are referring to new strings? In my anecdotal experience, it often takes a while for new strings to "settle down" and stay at the right tuning.

There may also be some adjusting of the neck which if it is being strung for the first time, may need to acclimatise to the tension of the strings. I know that in some guitars you can adjust the tension of the neck as required. I'm not sure actually playing the instrument - especially in the case of the violin where the strings are stroked with a bow, would be any different to just having the strings on there and re-tuning periodically.

Where is our resident guitar-maker? We need some verification!
 

Offline RD

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Re: Do acoustic instruments really improve with playing?
« Reply #2 on: 03/12/2012 08:16:23 »
... new violins/guitars ... the nature of wood actually changing ...

The humidity of your home may be different from where the new guitar/violin  was stored causing it to change sound ...
t=1m24s

so a wooden musical instrument may change in the weeks after you purchase it , but this wood would happen whether or not you played it.
« Last Edit: 03/12/2012 08:20:09 by RD »
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: Do acoustic instruments really improve with playing?
« Reply #3 on: 03/12/2012 16:29:22 »
I know my cricket bat needed to be bashed with a cricket ball repeatedly when it was new before I was supposed to use it on the pitch. I'm sure this process would change the acoustics of a guitar or violin! ???


Here's a site that might be of interest to you.

I think your best option would be to try a dedicated search engine: I suggest www.yahoo-di-menu-in.con

 

Offline graham.d

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Re: Do acoustic instruments really improve with playing?
« Reply #4 on: 03/12/2012 16:34:47 »
I think it is also true that new instruments can deteriorate and sound worse as they age. An acoustic guitar can become dull for example. This is not to do with strings, which can also become dull and so need replacing fairly often. I suspect both improvement and deterioration may be due to the properties, in particular the stiffness, of the structure which is usually wood. The formation of various resonances in the body is dependent on many factors - e.g. the direction of the grain and thickness and various points as well as the overall shape. It is not hard to imagine that these resonances can change with time (and, for example, the humidity of the room in which it is kept).  Modern techniques of manufacture (using layered materials i.e basically plywoods) are used, especially in lower cost instruments, to give a good average quality but the very best use more traditional techniques. I am no expert, but I expect that it is the empirical knowledge of how to make the very best has yet to be surpassed and it may well be these are the sorts of instruments that may improve with time.
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: Do acoustic instruments really improve with playing?
« Reply #5 on: 03/12/2012 17:33:38 »
I doubt sound waves would make a difference to the wood. But 'breaking in' an instrument might be instrumental (sorry, this isn't the punning thread) in settling the instrument and for the musician to get the 'feel' of a new instrument. This might mellow the musician rather more than the instrument.

It has been discovered that one of the reasons that the Stradivarius is so good is the nature of the grain of the wood. The wood used would have been from trees which had suffered rather cool summers, so put on less than usual growth. Hence the wood grain was close. This appears to tie in with other weather indicators of the years leading up to when trees would have been cut for the Strad violins.
 

Offline oatman

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Re: Do acoustic instruments really improve with playing?
« Reply #6 on: 03/12/2012 19:30:34 »
Im sure most changes are the result of the players improvement and fresh strings, but there is a prevalent belief among many musicians that playing and resonating sound through the instrument genuinely improves its tone. I wonder if anyone knows of any attempts to test this on its own and discount changes in temperature/humidity etc
 

Offline RD

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Re: Do acoustic instruments really improve with playing?
« Reply #7 on: 04/12/2012 05:33:55 »
... there is a prevalent belief among many musicians that playing and resonating sound through the instrument genuinely improves its tone. I wonder if anyone knows of any attempts to test this on its own and discount changes in temperature/humidity etc

The resonant modes of a guitar depend on the frequency of the note played ...


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Chladni#Chladni_figures




http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13573631


So when playing many notes (a tune / scales) the vibration-induced deformation would average-out to have a uniform effect on the guitar. [ Perhaps if only one note were repeatedly played for hours that could cause a Chladni pattern of moisture in the wood ...
t=45s ]
« Last Edit: 04/12/2012 05:43:19 by RD »
 

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Re: Do acoustic instruments really improve with playing?
« Reply #7 on: 04/12/2012 05:33:55 »

 

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