What do we mean by a guitar "opening up"?

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
LBrandt
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What do we mean by a guitar "opening up"?

Post by LBrandt » Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:17 pm

When we say that a guitar "opens up", what exactly are we saying?

And exactly "What" opens up, the wood fibers? And why does spruce typically take longer to "open up" than cedar?

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pogmoor
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Re: What do we mean by a guitar "opening up"?

Post by pogmoor » Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:38 pm

You might find some useful discussion here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=65296.
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LBrandt
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Re: What do we mean by a guitar "opening up"?

Post by LBrandt » Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:47 pm

pogmoor wrote:
Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:38 pm
You might find some useful discussion here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=65296.
Thanks. I'll check that thread. No need to go over the same materiall, if the topic has already been fully discussed.

Andrew Pohlman
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Re: What do we mean by a guitar "opening up"?

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Fri Jun 30, 2017 1:43 pm

LBrandt wrote:
Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:17 pm
When we say that a guitar "opens up", what exactly are we saying?

And exactly "What" opens up, the wood fibers? And why does spruce typically take longer to "open up" than cedar?
There are a few more threads on this topic that are noteworthy:
Guitars Waking Up and breaking-in a spruce guitar

This is a controversial topic to be sure. I think the controversy is based almost entirely on human subjectivity. The rest of the controversy is based upon an inability to obtain objective measurements, then to equate those to the subjectively observed phenomena.
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pogmoor
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Re: What do we mean by a guitar "opening up"?

Post by pogmoor » Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:15 pm

Andrew Pohlman wrote:
Fri Jun 30, 2017 1:43 pm
This is a controversial topic to be sure. I think the controversy is based almost entirely on human subjectivity. The rest of the controversy is based upon an inability to obtain objective measurements, then to equate those to the subjectively observed phenomena.
That's a good summary :)
Eric from GuitarLoot
Renaissance and Baroque freak; classical guitars by Paul Fischer (1995) and Lester Backshall (2008)
Yamaha SLG 130NW silent classical guitar (2014), Ramirez Guitarra del Tiempo (2017)

Alan Carruth
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Re: What do we mean by a guitar "opening up"?

Post by Alan Carruth » Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:43 pm

But it IS possible to obtain objective measurements of the way the guitar produces sound! Not only that, but it's even possible to measure changes when the guitar is played. The problems are in relating those changes to people's perception of the tone, and in finding a mechanism to account for them. None of this is easy, and since there's no payoff for doing it, it's hard to get it done.

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Re: What do we mean by a guitar "opening up"?

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:59 pm

Alan Carruth wrote:
Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:43 pm
But it IS possible to obtain objective measurements of the way the guitar produces sound! Not only that, but it's even possible to measure changes when the guitar is played. The problems are in relating those changes to people's perception of the tone, and in finding a mechanism to account for them. None of this is easy, and since there's no payoff for doing it, it's hard to get it done.
I can almost totally agree. The problem I see is taking objective measurements over larger periods of time. Whatever set up is used now would have to be reproduced 5 years from now to capture any differences, subtle or distinct, in "opening up". There are ways to guarantee consistency, like using highly accurate calibration sources, but it gets expensive. And as you say Alan, this type of thing doesn't feed the cat.

Anyway - go in peace guys!
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Re: What do we mean by a guitar "opening up"?

Post by Alan Carruth » Sat Jul 01, 2017 8:27 pm

Exactly; you need to make the measurement the same way every time. It's hard for most of us to get that stuff under control for any extended period. It would be really great to have access to a university/industry anechoic chamber for this sort of thing.

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Non Tabius
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Re: What do we mean by a guitar "opening up"?

Post by Non Tabius » Sun Jul 02, 2017 12:50 pm

I like to see it as one of those "mysteries" of playing guitar.One day it just sweetens up the more you play and the wood vibrates as you go along.
I suppose it's analogous to "hitting" a cricket bat in.Till you find the sweet spot.Here you just play and wait for the magic moment.The quality of the guitar would also be a major variable for sure.

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Re: What do we mean by a guitar "opening up"?

Post by djajasoekarta » Sun Jul 09, 2017 5:50 am

I think, because of continuous tension of the string on the thin soundboard, the guitar sooner or later will have a deformed soundboard up until it's reach structural equilibrium. Perhaps this deformed soundboard is the one which cause that 'opening up' or at least one of the factor causing it.
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Alan Carruth
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Re: What do we mean by a guitar "opening up"?

Post by Alan Carruth » Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:22 pm

Static deformation of the top could well play a part in changing the sound. So, of course, does the aging of the wood. However, there does seem to be a change that is caused by vibration, since it can be measured over a comparatively short term that would not allow for significant aging or 'creep' effects. This is the part we don't know much about.

As an engineering material wood is not considered to be subject to fatigue effects to any great extent. There are a number of reasons for this, but basically it looks as though a wooden part will tend to rot out long before it shakes apart. The concern there is mostly with the strength of the wood, but there are other properties, such as the damping factor, that can have effects on tone but not necessarily change the strength. Wood gets short shrift as an engineering material these days, and our application is pretty esoteric, so the places, like university materials labs, that do these sorts of experiments, aren't interested. There's not enough money involved to get industrial labs on the problem, so it's left to us amateurs to carry on the work. It's not difficult, but it is time consuming, and doesn't pay the bills, so....

Smith
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Re: What do we mean by a guitar "opening up"?

Post by Smith » Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:31 pm

Simple yet great question, plus I missed the earlier threads so good time to catch up.

I wonder what Bell Labs would charge to investigate this.

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petermc61
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Re: What do we mean by a guitar "opening up"?

Post by petermc61 » Sun Jul 09, 2017 9:43 pm

Smith wrote:
Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:31 pm
Simple yet great question, plus I missed the earlier threads so good time to catch up.

I wonder what Bell Labs would charge to investigate this.
I wonder who would pay.....

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Michael.N.
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Re: What do we mean by a guitar "opening up"?

Post by Michael.N. » Sun Jul 09, 2017 10:18 pm

Not sure it's their kind of thing but far, far more than anyone is prepared to pay. Let's face it, the classical guitar world struggles to fund an extremely modest budget film on Torres. That tells you a lot.
It's one for a Phd acoustics student/ university department. Probably someone who happens to be interested in stringed instruments. Sometimes happens in the violin world, a research chemist (who happens to play the violin) becoming interested in the mysteries of violin varnish. They have access to all sorts of wonderful machines such as Infra red spectroscopy. I did ask a chemist how much it would cost to analyse a bit of varnish in their RAMAN machine. Around £7,000 was the answer. That was a RAMAN machine at a university too. That's just a one off sample!
When you start to cost research over a lengthy period of time the true cost will be astonishing.
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Re: What do we mean by a guitar "opening up"?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Mon Jul 10, 2017 7:27 pm

Yeah but the analysis comes with a really tasty soup.
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