Guitar Making Tip No. 76 is about using tap toning to decide on a piece of wood. Though larger pieces will have a deeper and longer lasting tone, that’s not what you are looking to find. You want a strong tone that doesn’t drop off too fast. Here is how.
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Tone Tap Your Wood Before You Buy It
When you are tone tapping, you are looking for a sound that is strong for the board itself, not strong when compared to different sized boards. It’s a little relative, because a big board will produce a more powerful tone than a small board.
On top of that, a big board with some defects may still out tone a smaller board, even if the smaller board is a higher performing example in it’s size. It’s about comparing to boards of the same size and density.
Comparing two boards of different sizes is almost like comparing two guitars that are completely different price points. It can be difficult or impossible for a low end guitar to have the same features as a higher end guitar, and for good reason.
So, when you are comparing boards by tone tapping, make sure that you are comparing apples to apples. Here is what to look for…
Tone Tapping for Life
When you tap the board, you are listening for life. It sounds fuzzy, but stick with me. A dead board will make a dunk or dink sound, almost like hitting a cardboard box. When you find one, you will know exactly what I mean.
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Finding a living board and tapping it is a completely different experience. You can hear the board vibrate, and you can hear it sing. The tone will be strong, resonant, and not drop off immediately. Some larger boards can tone for a few seconds, which is fun to hear the first time.
The smaller the board gets, the faster the tone will die off. This is perfectly fine, just make sure to compare the board to others of the same size. When you have a nice strong even tone, you know that you have a board that will vibrate well.
Tapping for Extra Senses in Building
Tapping is more about incorporating more of your senses in the building process than just the obvious ones. Everyone uses their hands, eyes, ears…and nobody that I know of tastes their wood. When you add toning, you are adding another way to learn about the quality of the wood you are buying.
Tone tapping is really about feeling and experience. Don’t worry in the beginning if you have a harder time understanding it. Keep on tone tapping the wood you buy and over time you will develop an ear for it.
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