Do acoustic guitars sound better with age?
The idea that guitars sound better with age gets thrown around a lot in the guitar world. Many guitarists wonder if it’s true or not and if their old guitar that’s been lying around in the corner for years is better than a guitar they might buy from the store today that’s brand new.
The fact is, that older guitars often do actually sound better than newer guitars. This is because older wood allows for a more resonant tone, and gives the guitar more sustain. Since the sound in an acoustic is affected by the wood more than an electric guitar, this is more the case with acoustic guitars than electric ones.
That being said, there’s a lot to know about guitars and how they age! Read on to find out everything you need to know about aging guitars and why they sound better than new guitars!
Do Older Acoustic Guitars Sound Better?
As mentioned above, older acoustic guitars do in fact sound better. This is because as guitars age, the wood becomes both drier and denser. Both of these factors contribute to a better-sounding guitar.
The reason that a guitar made of drier would sound better is that it resonates better, and the sound travels through it more effectively, as it doesn’t need to move through the water. As the wood ages, the gaps in it that allow it to absorb moisture effectively grow smaller, therefore creating a guitar that sounds better over time, provided it’s kept in the right conditions.
Wood also gets denser as it ages. This is especially true of wood in guitars. As vibrations are sent through the wood in the form of sound from your guitar’s strings, the sap inside the wood is broken up and becomes loose. This will let the sound move more through your guitar, allowing for better resonance and a better tone.
Do Acoustic Guitars Sound Better The More You Play Them?
So, can you just let the guitar sit there for a couple of years, or do you actually have to play it?
Well, sort of. Your guitar will dry out over time whether you play it or not. So in that case, it will sound better as it ages whether you play it or not.
However, the breaking up of the sap that really gives you the deep, resonant tone you’re looking for only happens when you’re playing the guitar. This means that for the best possible tone, it’s important to play your guitar as much as possible. This will allow all the sap to break up and for the moisture to disappear.
Without playing your guitar, you will not get both of these benefits. Only the lack of moisture.
Why Do Some Acoustic Guitars Sound Better?
There are a few reasons that some acoustic guitars may sound better than others.
Firstly, as covered above, it could be because of age. Older guitars tend to sound much better than newer guitars, especially if they’ve been playing consistently for a long time. This is because they contain less moisture and less sap, both of which inhibit the vibrations from the sound of your guitar string from traveling through the wood appropriately.
Another reason that one guitar may sound better than another is due to the type of wood that it’s made out of. There are too many types of wood to really get into here, but the general rule of thumb is that denser woods sound sharp or twangy. Meanwhile, less dense woods sound dark and resonant, often resulting in what’s considered a “better” tone.
Thirdly, some guitars are just set up better than others. This is a very important part of how your guitar sounds. There are a few factors to this, such as the height of your guitar’s bridge, truss rod adjustments, the age and quality of your strings, whether your nut and headstock are set up properly, etc. Make sure your guitar is properly set up by bringing it to a luthier!
Lastly, some guitars simply have better build quality than others. While some guitars are mass-produced, others are crafted by hand, often resulting in a better setup and a more personalized product. This can often end up being a better-sounding guitar than one that came off of a factory line.
Do Acoustic Guitars Get Louder With Age?
Many guitarists claim that not only do guitars develop a better tone as they age, but they tend to get louder as well. While not as backed up scientifically, this is still a common bit of guitar knowledge that is passed around.
While it’s hard to say definitively if this is true or not, there is some merit to the idea that guitars get louder as they get older.
The main reason this would be the case is not that the actual volume of the instrument is louder. It is actually that, with the increased resonance that comes with the drier and denser wood, you will be hearing more frequencies that would have been inaudible before while playing your guitar.
These new frequencies stacked on top of what you’ve already heard can create a fuller and louder sound.
Conclusion – Do Acoustic Guitars Sound Better With Age?
So, if you’re looking for a short answer for “Do acoustic guitars sound better as they age?”, it would be yes. Older guitars are made of wood that has become drier and denser. This means that there is no water or sap blocking the vibrations from your guitar’s strings from moving through the wood.
This results in a deeper tone and a more resonant sound, which are often considered better tone than sharper and more twangy tones.
However, there are a lot of factors to what makes a guitar sound good, so make sure it’s set up properly, made from the right kind of wood, and well taken care of before you worry about how old your guitar is. Keep it in a constant low level of humidity and make sure to play it regularly if you want it to age well.
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