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Author Topic: Instruments improving with age - truth or myth?  (Read 2549 times)
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
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« on: November 03, 2011, 03:55:42 AM »

Here's another question that I could have emailed Roger direct, but it seemed like it might be a good topic for discussion on the forum.  That said, I'm REALLY hoping to hear Roger's opinion on the matter:

Does the tone of an instrument really improve as it gets older?  Is this just a mythology, a romantic notion that's perpetuated by players and luthiers, in part because we 'want to believe' it?  Or is there some empirical evidence to back it up?

This has been on my mind lately because my fretless Sadowsky - NYC 24/5 - is coming up on 6 (maybe 7?) years old now and I'd swear that it's sounding better to me than ever.  Specifically, I think I'm perceiving a more focused top end and the low freqs feel... I don't know... I hate groping for words to describe tone... more luxurious, richer perhaps?  The tone coming up to me off the fretboard - acoustically - sounds warmer and more expressive than I ever remember; and I've always thought it was a great sounding bass.  

Now I know that I have to factor in my having spent a LOT of time playing this instrument over the last several years - if one keeps an instrument long enough and plays it enough it can be a bit like a marriage; there comes a point where you just know how to bring the best (and perhaps the worst!!??) out of the instrument and adapt your technique accordingly.  And maybe I should even factor in some changes in my hearing (due to years of loud stage volume). Plus, as I've gotten older I find that I listen differently than I used to, if that makes any sense.  And strings, of course, can make a huge difference in how an instrument sounds; I've been using the same strings - Sadowsky Blue Label Nickels - for several years now, so that aspect of the tonality has remained consistent.

But all these things aside, I've started to really wonder about this notion that instruments change (improve?) with age...
« Last Edit: November 03, 2011, 04:06:46 AM by EscapeNote » Logged
Age: 52
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« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2011, 10:53:34 PM »

I am curious about that myself! And I have a 23 year old Sadowsky which I can say sounds amazing!  I am not the original owner of the bass (actually it was made for Steve W. Rabe, founder of SWR), so no idea what it sounded like when it was new. But compared to a Metro I had, the older Sadowsky has a better tone.

But I do know this, I also have a 1972 Fender jazz. I have yet to play a new Fender jazz that sounds anywhere near as good as my 39 year old jazz.

Location: Dallas TX
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« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2011, 09:48:41 AM »

I agree with  Mr.classicjazz and EscapeNote,  my 18  old Sadowsky sound much better with time, but I also  believe that I know my bass much better and I know how to get "that sound". The strings are the Blue Label from Sadowsky , so bottom line I guess is 50-50 %, the bass sounds much better with time and also I know how to get that sound from my bass. or maybe is all in my ears?, any way my Sadowsky bass sounds awesome every time !!!

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Location: New York City
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2011, 09:46:20 AM »

Here are my thoughts (a lot of it based on my knowledge of acoustic instruments).

If you took a new instrument and just put in storage for 25 years, it would sound like a new instrument.   The question is not a matter of age, but a matter of how much the instrument has been played.   I think the more they are played, the better they sound.


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« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2011, 08:45:30 AM »

I have experienced this too. My Metro is about 4 years old and I've noticed a much more "focused" sound and the highs have gotten "softer". To my ears it is sounding better than new...
« Last Edit: November 09, 2011, 08:47:06 AM by rulyongo » Logged
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