Every now and then, new gadgets appear in the guitar market. Most of it is rubbish, but sometimes something that appears promising appears. A gizmo called ToneRite launched with noise & bang. It might not save the world according to advertising, but make all guitars sound better.
For me, it goes without saying that an old guitar always sounds better than a brand new one, especially an old guitar that has been played a lot. Not so obvious to all understanding thinkers, but if you ask me it is a fact. What is it then?
In the long run, it is the actual aging of the guitar's wood. Wood changes over time, some of the chemicals that are bound in the wood's structure evaporate. Micro-cracks form in the "putty" that embeds the wood fibers. The properties of the wood change over time, the weight decreases and the wood becomes more brittle and cracks more easily. But here it comes: old wood transports energy and vibrations faster! The latter makes guitars with old wood sound better 🙂 Nowadays they have started “torrifyNew wood by heating wood to high temperatures under controlled conditions. Then you can give a completely new piece of wood basically the same properties as naturally aged wood.
In the short term, it is the vibration when you play the guitar that makes it "open up". A newly manufactured or newly repaired guitar has fresh glue joints and pieces of wood that need to be "entered" just like new leather shoes. In the same way that they used to rent trampolines to go in shoes, in Stradivarius time the man on the street was rubbed on a newly made violin to get it started before the sale (probably in a separate room!). Another anecdote is the acoustic guitar on the wall in the studio, which was exposed to high volume during a recording and which was shaken up. Afterwards, it suddenly sounded better.
One can have theories. I believe that all wood and all joints need to be synchronized by exposure to vibration. After a period of vibration, all parts begin to move easily in the same direction simultaneously, the guitar becomes synchronized. The wood itself is also synchronized, not just the joints. The volume increases when less energy is required to move the lid and bottom a certain distance, the sustain becomes longer as the same energy is not damped as quickly. Subjectively, the guitar also sounds better.
The ToneRite is a vibrator that is clamped to the strings. Three days to a week with a ToneRite would be enough for the guitar to feel recorded. Bought one like that and tested. In fact, it worked just as expected. The guitar sounded much better after a cure. The disadvantage was that it was expensive and when it was fastened to the strings, it was just a matter of changing to new strings after the treatment, they were completely dead. It was not good quality either, mine broke down after a year.
When it broke, I was looking for something else that vibrates. Remember the old air pump for the aquarium. It vibrates and hums nicely! Instead of on the strings, I fastened it to the lid behind the stable. I quickly realized that the paint must be protected and nowadays I use a rectangle in soft PVC plastic as protection. Works very well and is both cheaper and better than the ToneRite!
Everything you need is in the picture. The cheapest and worst air pump for aquariums you can find, a strap and a cover for the paint. Can be a piece of PVC plastic or a stronger cardboard box.
The pump is clamped below the stable or where there is space. You can tighten properly. The protective plate under the pump ensures that the varnish is not damaged. I usually tape the pump to the clamping strap so it doesn't get loose. The best vibration is obtained if the guitar is allowed to hang, uses the laces and an old modified clothes hanger to hang the guitar in. You can adjust the tension and position and find a position that gives the most vibration. Good to have it suspended in a cabinet so you avoid the worst buzz!
The clothes hanger is good as you can easily turn the guitar in the position you want it in.
The air pump is much more efficient than the ToneRite as much more energy is transferred to the lid. I usually vibrate finished GammelGura for three days and the difference in tone, volume and sustain afterwards is big and for the better. But that's not the end of the story, you just cut off the first boring half year when the new / newly renovated guitar is stiff, stiff and dull. The more you play the guitar after the vibration, the better it will sound.
When you are still in a zoo shop to buy an air pump, also ask for dog bones for dogs made from real females of cows. Cooked and cleaned. Exactly the same material found in fine overs and leg bones! A bit difficult to cut out a suitable piece, but good if you need a larger piece of bone (for a lap steel for example) or want to upgrade the plastic piece on a cheap guitar.