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Better with age...or just a myth?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by murdude, Nov 5, 2017.

  1. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I'd even pay 25 bucks in shipping to boot for a 1937 D-28.
     
  2. william tele

    william tele Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    It's always interesting when someone asks an electric guitar specific question and suddenly acoustic guitars wind up in the conversation. Yes, they both create sound...but in two different ways. It's like a sundial and a clock...they both tell time...but.

    In the case of an electric guitar improving with age...I think if it's YOUR guitar and you've played it for years...yes, there is an improvement...but it's in you, not the guitar.

    When I first got a used MIM strat I could play it just fine but there was always a moment of hesitation when I encountered a small depression half way up the neck. After years of playing it no longer is a concern. The guitar has gotten "better"...:)
     
  3. Kingpin

    Kingpin Friend of Leo's

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    I doubt there is any material change to the wood structure over the years...

    BUT...

    necks do get more comfortable (nitro finish wears off = smooth as a baby's ass) edges get less sharp, pickup height gets dialed in, string height and intonation get optimized (if you know what you're doing). It all adds up to an axe that feels better and sounds better.
     
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  4. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Poster Extraordinaire

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    I guess I hold the odd belief that guitars are made of formerly living materials that have been cut, sanded and reassembled in to a new shape. Then they suffer the indignity of serving as a vibration dampener for metal cables. They need to readjust to their new role before they really shine.

    In my own experience, even lately with a 2016 SG, I've noticed that a new guitar seems to take a bit of time before the vibrations travel through the wood efficiently. Out of the box, there seemed to be lots of 'clangy' overtones, as of the sound was jumping off the body and into the air. After a lot of playing, this seemed to be lessened (and yes, even with new strings).

    Now if I was plugged into a Marshall stack and playing at 11, I don't know if I could hear the difference between day one and year one. But I can feel the difference in the resonance.
     
  5. homesick345

    homesick345 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes; , mainly for the following reasons (that has nothing to do with wood):

    1. pickups get softer; demagnetised a bit with time (imho the biggest deal about vintage guitars)
    2. Frets & rough edges get sanded by playing; fret board becomes rounder, more comfy, etc...
     
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  6. fendrguitplayr

    fendrguitplayr Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Maybe the guitar does improve, but that may be indistinguishable from the influence of its player who really knows how to make it sing.
     
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  7. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    The places where you fret the strings become more rounder.
     
  8. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Acoustics : speaker enclosures with handles.

    Telecasters : cheeseboards with handles (per Brad Paisley)

    Acoustics : some, yes.

    Telecasters : no and since time machines don't exist we'll have to agree to disagree
     
  9. Rythameen

    Rythameen Tele-Meister

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    I don't really know if it's true, but I have a 21 year old Samick maple bodied acoustic that mostly sits in its case. Whenever I get it out, to my ears at least, it sounds better. As far as my electrics I think I am just more comfortable with them over the years and that translates to sounding better.
     
  10. 71Tele

    71Tele Tele-Meister

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    I too have lots of personal experience validating the opposite opinion. Sorry, but you have to be deaf or play only with distortion to say this.
    I’m convinced that an electric guitar improves with time, the 2 conditions being: It has to be of good quality to begin with, and it has to be played.
    Why the craze about vintage instruments? Decades ago, people had only one, maybe two, rarely three guitars, nothing close to the dozens of guitars that the average amateur owns nowadays. As a result, their guitar would be played, and played a lot. These guitars now have been played for decades. This, added to the better quality components and woods of the era, produced some incredible instruments.
    As well as countless threads on guitar forums. :lol:
    And no matter how often people deny the importance of age/played factor/components-quality factor on these threads and call that a myth, those old pieces of junk are still sought after. Fascinating, huh?
    In fact, I’ll go as far as saying that a brand new electric guitar will have clearly improved within a period of 1 to 3 years if played enough.
    I have lots of personal experience validating this…fact. :D
     
  11. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I LOVE "Better with Age".

    It begs the Question: "Better" than what?

    I bought my first And only Strat in '87. It was used, six months old. I thought it played as good as the ones that had twenty years on it.
    I still have it, I still play it, my opinion hasn't changed.
    I think the New ones (with comparable components) hold their own and will continue to do so.

    It was a bit of a head-rush to wake-up one day and realize my Strat was thirty years-old!
     
  12. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Only I am better with age!
    :):rolleyes::twisted::lol:
     
  13. JORear

    JORear Tele-Meister

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    Looks like a bidding war.
     
  14. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    pickups age, but it takes a long time
    the body wears, which looks cool
    and old strings suck

    better at what?, though

    not all wines age well, nor people

    but surviving is worth respect in itself
     
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  15. notmyusualuserid

    notmyusualuserid Friend of Leo's

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    I should have moused over the preview pane before I opened this, I've always been impetuous.

    Oh well, older and wiser...:)
     
  16. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    (re: solidbody electrics)
    IME old crappy guitars are still crappy despite their age, and new great guitars are great despite their youth.
    I'm not a big fan of scratchy pots and switches that cut out or have tabs that move back and forth. Short wires, corrosion, flaking chrome? Not a fan of those either.

    While I used to think old wood was better in electric solid bodies, I have enough old and new to be convinced that good new wood is as good as good old wood, based on comparing vintage Fender swamp ash and alder as well as maple and RW necks.

    That said, the nicest necks I've had were Brazilian RW board vintage Fender.
    Good ones never need a truss rod adjustment, though I attribute that to properly seasoned and milled high quality maple, not the origin of the RW.
    Two '80s MIJ necks that I refretted with jumbo wire were also similarly great, though they needed typical truss adjustment, and I have '89 and a '97 USA necks that are superb.
    I would concur that neck wood needs adequate age to be good, and suspect that the majority of current production does not get adequately aged before milling and selling.

    WRT vintage pickups, I will not argue that my observations mean anything, but my favorite sounding Fender type pickups are vintage Fender, despite having quite a few vintage style aftermarket pups that get put back in the parts bin.

    While many insist that we are in the electric guitar golden age with tons of great guitars at all price points, I am starting to strongly disagree with this.

    What I see is mass quantities of cheap good looking guitars that are adequate at best, or often can be made adequate if the proud new owner upgrades them and does a level and crown on the already small frets.

    Not that all vintage guitars are so great, I just don't find any more "great guitars" on the racks now than i did in the 70s 80s 90s or 2000s.
    In fact, I found plenty of great used parts fenders in the 2000-2005 time frame, but these seem to have dried up, maybe because all the small shops are gone and we have to buy based on pics or drive out into the sticks to Merles hunting camp.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2017
  17. Colo Springs E

    Colo Springs E Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Other than the neck possibly feeling smoother/more 'broken in,' complete myth.

    Acoustic guitars, different story-- but you're talking about pure acoustic (non-electrified) properties with an acoustic vs electric.

    I played a genuine 1959 Les Paul once. Played about average, and sounded no better than the 2000s Standards that I owned-- some with stock pickups, others with Duncans.

    Guitars are made better today than ever before.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2017
  18. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's

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    There is a tremendous change in wood as it ages, it dries out and the sap hardens.
    If you have any friends who are carpenters ask them the difference between hammering a nail into a new 2x4 from Home Depot and one that has been in a wall for 40 years.

    How it affects the sound for better or worse I don't know.
     
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  19. homesick345

    homesick345 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Definitely affects the sound of acoustic instruments imho.

    Solid body electrics not really imho
     
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  20. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Fair enough point, and I agree about wood, but IMO and historically the wood chosen for building guitars, even electrics, should be seasoned to that point before being made into guitars.

    Today though wood is probably all kiln dried and moved along as quickly as possible.
    I suspect that the old ethic was being phased out as long ago as the 1970s, though I'm sure plenty of guitar manufacturers still choose premium well seasoned woods for their high end guitars.
    IMO much of the reason cheaper guitars need fretwork is that the greener wood keeps moving after being made into necks.
    Certainly a top quality guitar will benefit from a light level and crown at the factory, even if the fingerboard was milled dead straight and stayed that way.
    But what I see on import guitars selling for $200- $500 is fingerboards that are not really dead straight.

    I generally don't want to buy any guitar that hasn't proven itself to be stable in another players possession for a few years, so I would call that an improvement.
     
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