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Thread: Aged woods

  1. #1
    Registered User mandosonthemarsh's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    Southen Maine

    Default Aged woods

    Can someone explain to me the main factors effecting that aged tone we all love in a mandolin? How long does wood generally take to start aging?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Aged woods

    You might want to try this question in the Builder/Repair section.

    The wood used in instrument soundboards is usually a few hundred years old before the tree is even cut down. Some builders let planks sit around the shop for a decade or more to ensure stability. Most people attribute the perceived improvement with age of an instrument's tone to many years of playing, not simply the wood getting old. It was old to begin with.

    People have all sorts of explanations for what makes older instruments sound better, mostly having to do with playing-induced vibrations loosening up all the parts and making them sing together. Another thing to keep in mind is that vintage instruments were made differently than they are today. Hide glue and oil/spirit varnishes were the norm rather than space-age adhesives and lacquer.

    As for how long it all takes, it depends on what you mean by "that aged tone." There is a pretty dramatic evolution in the tone of an instrument in the first few weeks after it is first strung up, which tapers off over the first year, at which point the instrument pretty much sounds like it's gonna sound barring any major modifications. Any further changes over the lifetime of the instrument are subtle and subjective.

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