Electric guitars do mellow with age, much like acoustic guitars. The vibrations once again cause sap to break down, resulting in a more resonant tone with greater sustain. However, this is less significant with electric guitars than it is with acoustic ones.
In this article, I’ll go over the different factors that play into why electric guitars sound better with age and how you can make the most of this effect.
So without further ado, let’s just get straight into it, shall we?
Why do electric guitars sound better with age?
The main reason that electric guitars have a “better” or more noticeable tone with age is the vibrations caused by the strings. These vibrations break down the wood over time, which results in better resonance and sustain.
According to this article here, it takes about 20 years of playing/hours of guitar use for tones to start being affected significantly.
Another key factor is the aging of capacitors and resistors. These electronic components can change value over time, which can lead to a warmer, richer tone in the overall sound.
How can you make the most of this effect?
There are a few things you can do to make sure you’re getting the most out of your electric guitar’s aging process:
- Make sure your guitar is well-maintained: This includes keeping it clean and ensuring all the screws are tight. You should also check the neck for the bow and perform any necessary adjustments.
- Use high-quality strings: Not only do high-quality strings sound better than budget ones, but they also last longer. This is important, as a guitar with old strings will sound noticeably worse than one with new ones.
- Play your guitar regularly: The more you play it, the better it will sound over time. This is because the vibrations will cause the wood to break down more gradually.
Although there are other things you can do, these three are the most important.
FAQ – Electric Guitars
Q: Do all electric guitars sound the same, no matter the make and model?
A: No. There are actually large differences in the sound of certain makes and models, especially when it comes to electric guitars.
Q: Is there anything I can do if my electric guitar is already old?
A: Yes! You can get your instrument’s body re-routed for larger pickups (if you want a hotter tone) or smaller ones (if you want a more vintage-sounding one). After this modification, your electric guitar will definitely sound different than before.
Q: Is there any way I can make sure my current electric guitar sounds its best?
A: The best way to ensure that your electric guitar sounds its absolute best is to play it regularly. This causes the vibrations to slowly affect components like capacitors and resistors, resulting in a richer tone.
Q: How do you know if an electric guitar has been played a lot or not?
A: You can check for evidence of play wear, such as chips and scratches. Also, the frets will be worn down more where your fingers drag across them while playing.
Q: Are there any electric guitars that sound bad with age?
A: Yes! Guitars with necks that go too far back should probably be avoided unless you plan on re-routing them to make the neck straighter again. Otherwise, they’ll have a hard time staying in tune when you play them after 10 years or so.
Q: What makes an electric guitar sound bad with age?
A: The main things that cause an electric guitar to sound terrible are the strings changing, the wood not breaking down properly due to lack of use, and any necessary maintenance being neglected.
Q: Why do guitars break in over time?
A: Guitars break in over time because all of their components start to change the value, resulting in a warmer tone with better sustain. This is why brand new guitars generally aren’t as good-sounding as ones that have been played for years.
Q: Is it possible to make an old electric guitar sound like it’s brand new again?
A: Yes! You can get your instrument re-routed if you want a different pickup configuration, or you can replace the strings and clean it up to make it look new again. However, this process definitely won’t be cheap.
Q: How can you try to make an old electric guitar sound like it’s new again?
A: An affordable way to do so is by buying high-quality strings. Also, take good care of your guitar in order to ensure the wood continues breaking down at a steady pace over time. This will allow you to get the most out of your instrument’s aging process without spending too much money.
Q: Is there anything I can do if my electric guitar has gone out of tune after years of playing?
A: One thing that may help is replacing the nut with one that has more slots (which increases tuning stability). Another possible solution is getting the neck re-routed for higher gauge strings, which also helps prevent tuning problems.
Q: Do electric guitars sound different when they’re plugged into an amp?
A: Yes! Depending on the guitar, they may sound more powerful or have a natural compression that’s lost in most pickup configurations. This is why certain types of pickups are used for different playing styles.
Q: Why do electric guitars break so easily if it’s not your fault?
A: The main reason why some electric guitars break so easily is because of cheap components and poor construction quality. Of course, using it while you play will also weaken the strings and wear down the frets more quickly than usual.
Q: Can you tell how old an electric guitar is just by looking at it?
A: No, but you can spot signs of wear, such as chips and scratches. You can also check the finish for discoloration that’s beyond regular wear and tear. Also, if you have to tighten up the tuning pegs every time you play it, then this could mean that they’re worn out.