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Author Topic: Do "opened up" guitars close up again?  (Read 7853 times)
L07 Shooting Star
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« on: August 20, 2013, 07:15:22 PM »

I'm starting this topic not so much to debate if guitars open up with playing, how long does it take, and all that.  This has been discussed much already.

I'm more interested in a discussion about this angle:
Assuming guitars do improve with playing time, I'm wondering if a guitar that has been played to the point that it has supposedly "opened up" will revert back to it's original state if left unplayed for a long long time.  Also, if this does happen,  how much playing would it take to awaken it again.  Just as much as before?  Or will it wake up more quickly once it has gone through at least one break in period?
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2013, 07:27:41 PM »

I have heard people say that when they don't play there guitar for a while they sound dull.Me I don't know but I wouldn't disavow the theory.
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2013, 10:14:43 PM »

    
Do "opened up" guitars close up again?

Only if you put a "Tone-rong" on them for a couple of weeks.   whistling
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« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2013, 10:21:49 PM »

   
Do "opened up" guitars close up again?

Only if you put a "Tone-rong" on them for a couple of weeks.   whistling

 
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ducktrapper
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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2013, 11:26:50 PM »

I have to say no on that. Opening up is a one way street. The changes involved in that process don't undo themselves. Just my opinion based on logic and 50 years of playing guitars, however.   
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« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2013, 11:30:04 PM »

   
Do "opened up" guitars close up again?

Only if you put a "Tone-rong" on them for a couple of weeks.   whistling

I suppose one of those would vibrate exactly out of phase with the Tone-rite, eh?
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« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2013, 11:46:49 PM »

I have to say no on that. Opening up is a one way street. The changes involved in that process don't undo themselves. Just my opinion based on logic and 50 years of playing guitars, however.   

Logic and experience leads me to believe you are right, Ducktrapper.  A couple of my acoustics have been sitting in their cases unplayed for about a year.  When I pulled them out, they seemed dull and "thuddy".  It might be simply that they always sounded like that and I can't remember.

Or it could be simply a humidity issue.  All my guitars have been in my basement and the humidity has been unusually high here for most of the summer.  Whenever I have checked in the last few months, the RH was at least 55% and often 65% or more.  So, I brought all my guitars up to the main floor a couple of weeks ago and they are spread out all over the house outside their cases.  That is how I ended up giving all of them a play.
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ducktrapper
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« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2013, 01:51:08 AM »

Logic and experience leads me to believe you are right, Ducktrapper.  A couple of my acoustics have been sitting in their cases unplayed for about a year.  When I pulled them out, they seemed dull and "thuddy".  It might be simply that they always sounded like that and I can't remember.

Or it could be simply a humidity issue.  All my guitars have been in my basement and the humidity has been unusually high here for most of the summer.  Whenever I have checked in the last few months, the RH was at least 55% and often 65% or more.  So, I brought all my guitars up to the main floor a couple of weeks ago and they are spread out all over the house outside their cases.  That is how I ended up giving all of them a play.

After a year, the strings would be my first guess for a culprit. Humidity will have an effect on strings too, especially if non coated.
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« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2013, 03:13:34 AM »

I've been told by a very good musician that some instruments close up. Actually they call it "go to sleep" but this had to do with Banjo's mainly and a couple other instruments.
Need to be vibrated loose again and "wake up"  The guy that told me that is the best musician around on anything with strings on it electric or acoustic. He didn't talk about guitars doing it.  I wouldn't put it past the realm of possibility for the resin between the grains to bond up some, but I don't really know. I've never left a guitar unplayed that long.
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« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2013, 03:18:26 AM »

Yes I believe they close up a little if not played, the wood fibers need to stay loose to sound more open. But what the hell do I know anyways? I got one of those voodoo magic tone rites.
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« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2013, 11:51:01 AM »

Please describe the physics of "opening up" and explain how they would reverse if not played. Otherwise it's more likely that the perceived change is due to a different process. I acknowledge that new guitars change for the better and think I get the reason for that but I can't quite get my head around the closing up process in one that has gone through opening up. After a considerable time of not being played, isn't more likely due to other factors, not the least of which is memory?
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Danny
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« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2013, 03:34:35 PM »

My main guitar certainly does close up if it's not played. I'd always thought it was just ticked off for being neglected 

Violins apparently do tighten back up - referred to as losing their ability to "speak" - a longer delay between when the bow grabs the string and when the sound reaches it's full timbre and volume.
I was thinking of violins as well. +1
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« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2013, 03:43:32 PM »

After about 4 beers my guitars lose treble (and tone generally), and become much harder instruments to play. Would strapping a tonerite to my skull improve things maybe?
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« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2013, 03:45:11 PM »

 
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« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2013, 03:53:29 PM »

Well, it may be voodoo, but I believe that my 25 years old Lakewood needs about 30 minutes to sound really great, when not played for a while. If I play it at least once a week, it will sound awesome right from the start. That's what I can say about old instruments. Will see, how my new Larrivée will behave.
 
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« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2013, 03:55:46 PM »

Only acoustics that I've been told close up are the ones put on the "Tonerite", and set aside for a spell.  Don't have first hand experience with this, anyone else?  J.D.  
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Danny
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« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2013, 03:56:23 PM »

Well, it may be voodoo, but I believe that my Lakewood needs about 30 minutes to sound really great, when not played for a while. If I play it at least once a week, it will sound awsome right from the start. That's what I can say about old instruments. Will see, how my new Larrivée will behave.
 
  In the past when I played the Lakewood D-1 I found myself putting it up pretty quickly and reaching for one of my Larrivees. I think a new set of strings and a month of play time would help it out as well. I'm going to pull it out right now.
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« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2013, 04:32:12 PM »

After about 4 beers my guitars lose treble (and tone generally), and become much harder instruments to play. Would strapping a tonerite to my skull improve things maybe?





I just pour the beers right into the guitar, gets the same results.
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« Reply #18 on: August 21, 2013, 04:51:13 PM »

I just pour the beers right into the guitar, gets the same results.
mad That's a waste of cultural goods and liable to prosecution in Germany.
(just kidding  )
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« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2013, 07:00:46 PM »

What if you mix the  with  's before you pour it in?


I'm a bit of a skeptic on this too. But as ducktrapper is saying, a good skeptic wants to hear the argument/rationale they are opposing before they can debunk it.

Certainly the concept of "closing up" is moot if you don't buy into the concept of "opening up".

Virtually everything I've heard or read about this subject points to it being largely, well, subjective.  blush

Every player holds a guitar differently, and more relevantly, picks differently. When you play the same guitar frequently, you remember the hold and picking position that you found to get the sound you like from that instrument. When most players first play a given instrument, they tend to choose a position for their optimal comfort, not for the sound of the guitar. Assuming they like the guitar enough to keep playing it, then the more they play that one guitar, the more chance that they will either learn to like its sound, or slightly adjust their playing to find a sound they like.

So "opening up" is primarily a function of the player warming up, sussing out the instrument, and adjusting their playing to get the sound they like. The sound they like is identified as "opened up". And a guitar "closing up" is really the player cooling off, effectively forgetting how they obtained the sound they consider to be "opened up".

All that said, I'm confident in my muscle memory and technique, yet there are still times that I could buy into the "opening/closing" scenario.

So now, for your entertainment, I speculate:

The only physics that isn't applied through technique would have to be some mechanical change in the wood.

Assuming the strings aren't simply crusted in grunge that needs a few good Townsend windmills to clear off, I'm thinking any physics involved must be related to a change in water content.

Each time an instrument is played, it's temperature is raised through body warmth and vibration. More extreme in a violin - the bridge is smaller, unfinished, and exposed to serious vibration from bowing plus the heat and moisture of the players breath. With a guitar it's more just gut, forearm, fingers, and vibration. Vibration and heat could allow more penetration of humidity into the wood, allowing an instrument that is played regularly to be potentially differently humidified, or "opened up". If that's true, then an instrument sitting unplayed could cool and de-humidfy, which would also cause some shifts across any wood surface, changing tensions between braces and tops or anywhere two pieces of wood connect . . .
  Many good thoughts here. I do remain in the camp of "guitars do open up more when played more" but I also believe that can be negligible in most cases. It's amazing what a new set of strings can do. Or a decent player. whistling
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