Do electric guitars sound get better as they get played more?

theleman

Tele-Meister
Joined
Sep 11, 2017
Posts
297
Location
Mars
I used hear and read about this - only on acoustic guitars, that they get sound better as they get played more.
If that is true, would it be the case for electric guitars too? Or it doesn't make sense?
 

brookdalebill

Tele Axpert
Ad Free Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2009
Posts
114,907
Age
64
Location
Austin, Tx
I think electric guitars PLAY better, when you get used to each other.;)
I don’t know if the instrument sounds better.
I think the player/operator adjusts to the instrument, and it (might) sound better for this reason.
I DO think acoustics improve with age and use.
 
Last edited:

andy__d

TDPRI Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2014
Posts
83
Location
Saint Petersburg, FL
I think a lot of it is about how you the player feel about a guitar. Does the guitar I’ve been paying 35 years and feels like a comfy pair of slippers that fit me perfectly sounds better now than when I first got it, or do I now play it better because it feels so familiar? I genuinely don’t know - but I’ll bet you if I was to pick up someone else’s trusted ol’ faithful, I wouldn’t sound as good on it as I do on my guitar, and it likely wouldn’t sound as sweet as it does for its owner. There may be some wood aging magic that works alongside this player / instrument connection that does age the tone of a tonewood like a fine wine, but, like fine wine, I doubt I have the ability to notice the difference: BUT, like wine, I know what I like, and I like what I know.
 

old wrench

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Feb 2, 2017
Posts
3,110
Location
corner of walk and don't walk
I've played a lot of guitars (electrics and acoustics) over the years, and I've never noticed any discernable change in sound for the better

I have noticed that some get worse, but that's just because they got played a lot and some part or another was wearing out and needed to be repaired or replaced

But as far as a noticeable change for better strictly due to time? - Nope, not for me anyhow.

Some acoustic guitars might be a little different story since an acoustics tone can depend on properties of the bodies wood - the soundboard in particular

But even so, I don't think every acoustic guitar sounds better as it ages - I think we are talking about some rare and special acoustic guitars that actually do improve - enough to be noticeable

Wood starts out as a living, growing thing - after it gets killed, it undergoes changes and some of those changes occur over a long period of time -

.
 

jvin248

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Apr 18, 2014
Posts
11,188
Location
Lions & Tigers oh Mi !
.

They will sound better as you tweak them over time. Adjust neck relief. Adjust pickup height or bass/treble tip. New strings.

The usual stories, like those acoustic myths, are Marketing Stories to convince you to spend more cash for profits.

.
 

NoTeleBob

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Feb 12, 2020
Posts
2,956
Location
Southwestern, USA
I think everything settles in over time. Wood dries more, parts assume the place the tension is pulling them. Some wood fibers might compress a little bit around bushings, screws, etc. But after a few years, that's done. I suppose you might pick up some unplugged resonance as the wood matures and hardens (fiber collapse).

So it probably doesn't hurt - assuming the maturing doesn't pull anything apart. Certainly affects setup a time or two. After that, it plays how it plays.
 

kuch

Tele-Meister
Joined
Sep 30, 2011
Posts
304
Location
Great Northwest
My thought would be that wood solid body guitars with proper care would improve slightly as far as sound with age. More than that I think that a guitar would "play" better and more comfortably as you use it over time, which I think would be beneficial to the player

my $0.02
 

tonfarbe

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Jun 24, 2004
Posts
1,051
Location
Berlin, Yer-up
Guy who taught my guitar making class (acoustic) used to say the wood has to forget it was a tree and learn it is now a guitar.
This is exactly what I wanted to write.
One of my best friends is a renowned Classical guitar luthier and I have experienced this with my own Classical guitar as well as with his models coming back to his workshop for a modification or a shellac touch-up.

I believe that this is also true with electric guitars, but of course not as dramatic, compared to an acoustic guitar.

For example, the wood cells of a guitar neck, coming fresh from the factory, have never ‘experienced’ the tension of the strings pulling and the vibrations, generated by heavy strumming.
Wood is a living, organic material and of course its physics changes over time and with different forms of usage.
Everything settles over time.

This is not esoteric. We all know that Leo Fender did not travel to the Italian Alps to get the best tonewood but rather used what was lying around to build his guitars.
So why does everyone nowadays rave about the phenomenal resonance of vintage Telecasters?
 

somebodyelseuk

Tele-Meister
Joined
Nov 24, 2020
Posts
487
Age
55
Location
Birmingham UK
I used hear and read about this - only on acoustic guitars, that they get sound better as they get played more.
If that is true, would it be the case for electric guitars too? Or it doesn't make sense?
No, but hopefully, the guy playing it gets better.

You hear this garbage all the time, but no one ever thinks about the fact that the player is X number of years more experienced.
My 40 year old Yamaha SG2000S sounds better today, because I've been playing 40 years and know what I'm doing, whereas when I bought it, I'd been playing a year and knew nothing.
 

TejonSorceror

TDPRI Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2022
Posts
15
Age
56
Location
San Diego
Anecdotally, I have always found that old guitars sound better. Particularly acoustics, and I can imagine various physical reasons why. But also electrics, where some of my imaginations wouldn't apply. But I trust my ears and fingers, whether I can explain it or not. (Same principle applies to tube vs solid state.) But here's the thing: old guitars only sound better in this way, if they've been heavily played. Beat up and scratched old guitar with ruined frets will probably sound good; beautiful showpieces that rich people store in glass cases and almost never play, often have disappointing sound quality. So figure out the molecular physics on that! (To throw some more fuel on the fire, I've heard that it's good to store instruments such as acoustic guitars and violins, on top of or nearby your stereo speakers. Vibration training or something. "I've heard" is not a statistically-valid and comprehensive double-blind scientific examination, of course. But just in case it works, I follow this practice to some extent.)
 




Top