Guitar Making Tip Number 77 is about toning wood. When you find dead piece of wood, it’s best to leave it behind. Even if the piece is very beautiful, the guitar is more about the sound than the look. Here is why.
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Toning Wood and Dead Boards
Some wood is just not good for guitar making, and will not perform as well. From the outside, the pieces may look the same. However, one can be significantly better than the other for making into an instrument.
Thankfully, the process for deciding on guitar making wood is pretty easy. Also, the way to avoid dead pieces is easy too.
Don’t let the tap toning part of guitar making get you too nervous. For some people, this is a paralyzing step. Don’t worry worry too much about the tone of each individual piece, instead focus on skipping a piece when you hear something bad.
There is one kind of piece that when you hear it, you need to avoid it like the plague. The piece may look beautiful, but inside there is something wrong, and here is how you can identify those pieces…
Tapping for Dead Pieces
When you tone your wood, which you should be doing even if you don’t understand it right away, you need to listen for dead pieces. These are pieces that are about the same size as the rest, but they produce a noticeably weaker tone.
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Some pieces will produce a smaller tone, with less strength. Others may not even produce a tone at all. Both can be pieces that when made into an instrument, just fall flat. It’s the way the wood was grown, or some other internal defects that reduce the vibration.
Since a guitar is all about vibration, anything, visible or not, that reduces the vibration needs to be avoided. Dead boards are a perfect example. Even in cases where one board is not as good looking but tones better, go with the louder board.
Building a Tone Reference
Tap toning is a process where you listen to how your wood vibrates. This is not a specific science, but more of a feeling or experience. Over time, you develop a memory of experiences with tap toning your pieces, and that is what you draw from.
This is kind of like knowing where you are by knowing where you have been. It takes background and lots of toning to build that experience. Each time you tone a piece of wood, feel the weight, and listen to the sound, you are building that background.
Over time, your tone reference will guide to to making better decisions with each time you visit the store. Your bank will be larger, and your experience will be greater. This will become your reference, and you will be able to see the best in a piece of wood from the understanding all of the other pieces that you have toned previously.
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