Why playing a guitar in will make it sound better
Author: Ian-Bush Date Posted:26 November 2012
I noticed a very curious thing in our showroom over the years. When someone would try a guitar on display they would often choose the guitar that had been hanging on the wall over as new guitar in a box. That got me to thinking, what made the same guitar on the wall sound better than the guitar in the box ?
Now this answer mainly applies to solid top and solid wood guitars. Plywood guitars generally don't play in.
The answer is quite interesting that a few different factors make the guitar sound better.
1. The wood in the guitar is a little older, had been held at pitch (which adds some tension to create a resonance in the wood) & the wood starts to age and react with the tensions in the guitar. The vibration of the notes creates fibers in the wood that eventually will help it to have a great tone (which can take up to 10 years)
2. The first few times you play the guitar you will take some of the very fine hard edges off the frets, just the process of playing the guitar will smooth out the fret surface a little and make for a really nice contact with the string.
3. On all of our solid wood guitars we use bone nuts and saddles, these nuts are a little rough when they are first made and benefit from being tuned and played, as they are tuned and played the string will move back and forth in the slot and make a smoother channel (which provides a better connection to the nut and more tone.
These are the main reasons why a guitar will sound much better when played in.
Also, after a number of years as the solid woods age, the materials will become more brittle (I think this is due to the sap and oils finally coming out of the wood). Brittle wood has great musical qualities and your guitar will sound better (but unfortunately it does become a bit more fragile).