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My concert guitar sound is dull, when before it was bright and warm. It's 30 years old. I've played very little in the last 10 years and am now resuming practice.

How do I get the sound back to what it was?

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  • Are you talking about a classical guitar (nylon-string)? Apr 9, 2014 at 21:59
  • Many sources (I can put them in an answer later...!) assert that classical guitars age differently to steel-string acoustics and, unsurprisingly, electric guitars. This has been my experience. Apr 9, 2014 at 22:10
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    Have you installed a new set of strings?
    – user1044
    Apr 10, 2014 at 0:07
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    I suppose this is also assuming the concert sound hasn't left your hands... Apr 10, 2014 at 7:01
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    Maybe it didn't: how can you be sure the sound has changed, based only on your memory? :)
    – Maen
    Apr 10, 2014 at 16:55

4 Answers 4

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If you haven't changed strings, that's one obvious thing to do. Otherwise it's a very hard question to answer. Depending on humidity and other factors the instrument might have been damaged.

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  • Agreed on new strings. My teacher, Irvin Kauffman (irvinkauffman.com), recommended HIGH tension strings. I've always used Saverez 520R strings. (savarez.fr/anglais/carterougejb.html#tension)
    – Kirk A
    Apr 10, 2014 at 11:37
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Before anything else, get those strings changed.Strings on guitars are sacrificial - they are meant to last for some time, but not that long. A new set will revive the sound and it will be good again.At least that will be a start.Ask again after that has happened.

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  • I've changed strings twice in two months. Once a low tension Hannabach set. The second time a medium-high tension set of Luthier Corp (NY) The second sounds better than the first, but the depth and brilliance of previous years is not there.....
    – Santiago
    Apr 10, 2014 at 2:06
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"I've played very little in the last 10 years". Assuming the obvious that you do not have old stings installed, I have had a very similar experience with both my guitars (I also play a steel string guitar for blues) after not playing for about 7yrs. (I had a stroke). My guitars seemed "dead".

My classical guitar is about the same 30yr age as yours (and I started playing about 10yrs. before that) and is a "concert grand" made in Spain. I took it up again 12mths. ago, but it was not my guitars that were dead, but my playing due to lack of practice. both my guitars are starting to come alive again now after lots of practice which develops a stronger "attack" (that doesn't mean playing louder) which improves expression and thus, the sound of any guitar!

If you haven't already, investing in a quality set of classical strings like "D'addario Pro-Arte EXP45" or similar (avoid carbon or high tension strings at this stage) will also help a lot too.

Guitar playing is a bit like chess; your guitar nor yourself ever stay the same. Both are either getting better or worse, depending on practice!

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If it is not the strings, it could be moisture. I noticed that may guitars sound better, when it is dry and hot.

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