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I own a Simon & Patrick Woodland Cedar acoustic guitar, and the manufacturer claims that it will sound better the more I play it. I suppose it will sound better since the more I play it the more my skills will improve, but I'll assume that is not what they mean.

Is there any truth to this claim?

"...its sound (as with all S&P models) will only get better the more the guitar is played over time."

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The strings get better over time (and then worse when start getting older), this I have found in first hand, the instrument I doubt it. –  jackJoe Nov 23 '11 at 9:20

2 Answers 2

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Yes, this is probably true. As you play a new guitar (or other wooden instrument), the fibers in the wood settle somewhat due to the vibration, and over time this causes the wood to become stiffer, more stable, and more resonant, which in turn improves the sound.

Different woods experience this phenomenon differently; for example, spruce takes about a year of playing to break in, and a guitar with a spruce top will sound better after a year of playing than it did right out of the box. After that, the aging process is slower and the marginal improvements smaller. Cedar, on the other hand, breaks in both sooner and more steadily---you may notice a slight improvement in resonance earlier than you would with a spruce top, but the overall improvement after a year may not be as much as with spruce.

All of this is subjective, of course, but it reflects a lot of people's experience with wood instruments.

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I've also heard such explanations from luthiers as: the glue on the braces relaxes a bit, the bent wood of the sides relaxes into it's shape, and the molecules of the finish gradually relax. I think it's one of those things that's a combination of so many different factors, we'll never really know for sure. But it happens! –  Josh Fields Nov 22 '11 at 12:39
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I am actually one of those people who thinks new strings sound awful. So yes, after a while, your strings will oxidize and become unspeakably dirty, mellowing the sound as well. Two other people agree with me ;) –  horatio Nov 22 '11 at 18:42
    
This would mean that ALL decent guitars would get better over time, not just those from the manufacturer in question. So it means that this manufacturer tries to take advantage on a general concept that is true for all, but they want to give impression that their guitars are better because of it... –  awe Nov 23 '11 at 14:44
    
Thanks for the info. I just bought a spruce parlor from the mentioned manufacturer. I can still smell the glue from the sound hole so I assume it's brand new. I wonder if I'll hear a difference a year from now? :-) –  MdaG Dec 29 '11 at 10:53

The conventional wisdom is that the sound will improve over time only if the top is a solid top (a single layer of carved wood), as opposed to a laminate top (plywood).

Note that virtually all solid tops are made of two pieces of a single layer of wood cut and glued side-by-side. This is still considered a solid top.

A laminate top is like a piece of plywood. Several thin layers of wood veneer are glued together under pressure.

The point is that cheap guitars are usually made with laminate wood tops, and these do not improve with playing and with age. This guitar manufacturer whose advertisements you are reading is making the point that this is an inexpensive guitar, yet it has a solid top, and this will confer the advantage of its tone improving with use.

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Simon & Patrick guitars are inexpensive? Could have fooled me. ;-) –  MdaG Dec 29 '11 at 10:51
    
@MdaG, yes, this is a US $600 guitar. Many professional-calibre guitars from the C. F. Martin company cost $3,000 or more. This is an inexpensive guitar aimed at novices and beginners. –  Wheat Williams Dec 29 '11 at 15:03
    
From my point of view $600 isn't inexpensive, but I'll agree with you if compared with Martins and other high range guitars. –  MdaG Dec 29 '11 at 15:38

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