The effect of string quality on wood memory

Choice of classical guitar strings and technical issues connected with their use.
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chrispeppler
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The effect of string quality on wood memory

Post by chrispeppler » Wed May 10, 2017 4:50 am

I have just come across the following statement in a Strings by Mail article on String Basics; 'since the wood in your guitar mimics the vibrations to which it's exposed, continuing use of worn strings can harm your guitar's sound temporarily or even permanently'. This implies a memory-like quality in the wood used for guitar construction. Is there any real evidence for this, or is the statement quoted just another form of the 'mystical' notion that guitar wood can be 'trained' by exposing it to quality sound?

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Re: The effect of string quality on wood memory

Post by rojarosguitar » Wed May 10, 2017 5:30 am

:lol: I'm not sure about the material memory of the wood, but I'm sure that their suggestion is good for their business. :lol:
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Re: The effect of string quality on wood memory

Post by Keith » Wed May 10, 2017 9:12 am

worn bass strings affect the overall sound so for the short term the statement makes sense. worn areas of bass strings over the frets is probably not good for the frets--micro nicks and such. having strings in good condition allows the top to vibrate in an efficient way and over the course of the life of the guitar each event of good vibration probably does have a cumulative positive effect. it seems logical that a good vibrating top will function better and all things considered equal the two things that make this happen are playing and the strings. assuming playing style, etc. is, for the most part, consistent then the one variable that changes is string condition. of course other variables can be tossed into the mix such as humidity, etc. if anything worn out strings sound like crap and need to be tossed.
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Re: The effect of string quality on wood memory

Post by pogmoor » Wed May 10, 2017 11:56 am

rojarosguitar wrote:
Wed May 10, 2017 5:30 am
I'm not sure about the material memory of the wood, but I'm sure that their suggestion is good for their business.
Just so :lol: :lol:
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Re: The effect of string quality on wood memory

Post by georgemarousi » Wed May 10, 2017 1:40 pm

I'll have nightmares of woods running after me, screaming about that old strings :shock:
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Re: The effect of string quality on wood memory

Post by Laudiesdad69 » Wed May 10, 2017 10:25 pm

I can't see how his could occur. Scientific explanation anyone?

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Re: The effect of string quality on wood memory

Post by wchymeus » Thu May 11, 2017 6:50 am

georgemarousi wrote:
Wed May 10, 2017 1:40 pm
I'll have nightmares of woods running after me, screaming about that old strings :shock:
You meaning asking for them back :D

I think despite the commercial aspect (rightfully pointed by rojarosguitar), it's plain BS. I don't know that structures have a long and short term memory... But I am not an expert... Basically if playing worn out strings influences the wood, then after some time with new strings the wood would have decided to stick to that time with old strings permanently? If so, since the guitar was built with new strings first, this structure would then be remembered even if strings are worn. Kinda paradox...
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Re: The effect of string quality on wood memory

Post by Keith » Thu May 11, 2017 10:27 am

chrispeppler wrote:
Wed May 10, 2017 4:50 am
I have just come across the following statement in a Strings by Mail article on String Basics; 'since the wood in your guitar mimics the vibrations to which it's exposed, continuing use of worn strings can harm your guitar's sound temporarily or even permanently'
Nothing in the statement that I can see suggesting "memory" but I think the word, harm, might be overkill. When we talk about spruce "opening up" or guitars sounding better with use/age it suggests that vibrations act on the wood and the those actions can have a permanent effect. Someone more knowledgeable in the area of wood physics could give a good explanation but I suspect it has something to do with the cellular structure and the effect vibrations have.
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Re: The effect of string quality on wood memory

Post by pogmoor » Thu May 11, 2017 10:54 am

This claim is quite similar to the idea that exposing a new guitar to vibrations from a speaker over a period of time can improve its tone. The underlying idea is that vibrations acting on the soundboard can alter the structure of the wood. This idea has always struck me as totally bogus. It may be that the structure of wood does change somewhat with age and with the loading exerted by the strings but the extra forces exerted by sound vibrations are likely to be too small to have any effect.

As far as I know such research that has been done does not support the idea that vibration induced changes affect tone. There is an online journal, the Savart Journal (published in collaboration with the Guild of American Luthiers) that features peer reviewed research articles and research notes on the science and technology of stringed musical instruments. There is an article from 2014 (CLEMENS, B., KADIS, J., CLEMENS, D., POLLAK, E., CLARK, P., GROVES, J.. Effect of Vibration Treatment on Guitar Tone: A Comparative Study. Savart Journal, North America, 1, Sept. 2014. Available at: <http://www.savartjournal.org/index.php/ ... le/view/22>. Date accessed: 11 May. 2017.) entitled: Effect of Vibration Treatment on Guitar Tone: A Comparative Study (admittedly carried out with steel-string guitars) that suggests this is not a noticeable effect. The abstract reads:
In order to study the widely-held belief that the sound of a guitar evolves with use due to vibration induced changes in the guitar, the tone of guitars subjected to controlled vibrations is investigated. The study uses three pairs of guitars, where each of the two guitars in the pair is the same make, model and year. One guitar from each pair is treated using a commercial device for effecting a tone change through imposition of vibrations. The guitars are evaluated before and after the treatment using double-blind player evaluations and physical property measurements. The player evaluations showed no statistically significant changes in the differences between the two guitars in each pair. Fourier analysis of instrumented hammer strikes were used to extract the frequency response function. Statistical analysis showed no significant change in the correlation between treated and untreated guitars due to the vibration treatment. It is therefore concluded that this vibration treatment had no significant effect on the guitar tone. It is suggested that the evaluation approach used here could be useful for studies of other instruments or treatments.
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Re: The effect of string quality on wood memory

Post by Ramon Amira » Thu May 11, 2017 1:59 pm

In order to study the widely-held belief that the sound of a guitar evolves with use due to vibration induced changes in the guitar, the tone of guitars subjected to controlled vibrations is investigated. The study uses three pairs of guitars, where each of the two guitars in the pair is the same make, model and year. One guitar from each pair is treated using a commercial device for effecting a tone change through imposition of vibrations. The guitars are evaluated before and after the treatment using double-blind player evaluations and physical property measurements. The player evaluations showed no statistically significant changes in the differences between the two guitars in each pair. Fourier analysis of instrumented hammer strikes were used to extract the frequency response function. Statistical analysis showed no significant change in the correlation between treated and untreated guitars due to the vibration treatment. It is therefore concluded that this vibration treatment had no significant effect on the guitar tone. It is suggested that the evaluation approach used here could be useful for studies of other instruments or treatments.

THIS STUDY IS ENTIRELY BOGUS!

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Re: The effect of string quality on wood memory

Post by pogmoor » Thu May 11, 2017 2:52 pm

Ramon Amira wrote:
Thu May 11, 2017 1:59 pm

THIS STUDY IS ENTIRELY BOGUS!

The ToneRite Company
Is there any reason to believe that? I can't find such a quote on the Tonerite site - but interestingly if I put Bogus into the search box on the site, no fewer than 9 products come up :lol:

- oh drat, it also says: "Your search for "Bogus" did not yield any results."
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Re: The effect of string quality on wood memory

Post by guitarrista » Thu May 11, 2017 4:19 pm

Apparently there are quasi-permanent changes in the wood nanostructure dependent on moisture, temperature and stress-loading. This is probably what is referred to a guitar "opening-up" - the formation of these frozen nanostructure strains - as a result of continuous loading from the strings and possibly due to some residual drying.

In other words, the influencing factors are the usual suspects - and they do not include vibration differences from old vs. new strings :-)

Here's an excerpt from a recent freely-available paper I found on "wood memory":

woodmemory.JPG
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Re: The effect of string quality on wood memory

Post by Beowulf » Fri May 12, 2017 12:57 pm

I have learned to avoid playing poor recordings or poor performances through my audio system speakers so as to avoid harming my speakers' sound temporarily or permanently. The speakers remember the ugly sound and thereafter will become conditioned to sound terrible even with good recordings or performances. :lol:
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Re: The effect of string quality on wood memory

Post by Ramon Amira » Fri May 12, 2017 3:05 pm

pogmoor wrote:
Thu May 11, 2017 2:52 pm
Ramon Amira wrote:
Thu May 11, 2017 1:59 pm

THIS STUDY IS ENTIRELY BOGUS!

The ToneRite Company
Is there any reason to believe that? I can't find such a quote on the Tonerite site - but interestingly if I put Bogus into the search box on the site, no fewer than 9 products come up :lol:

- oh drat, it also says: "Your search for "Bogus" did not yield any results."
It was just a joke.

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Re: The effect of string quality on wood memory

Post by pogmoor » Fri May 12, 2017 3:12 pm

Ramon Amira wrote:
Fri May 12, 2017 3:05 pm
It was just a joke.
I thought my reply was a joke too - perhaps not a very good one :(
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