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Does a basses/guitars tone change over time?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by paniak17, Dec 24, 2006.

  1. Let me explain to you what I mean by this. If I bought a bass or guitar or whatever today, and lets just say 50 years later played the same bass or guitar or whatever through the same amp I normally played it in, would the bass sound the same?

    Let me explain more with another analogy. If I bought a P-bass from the 60's, would it sound the same as it did back then if i plugged it in through all the same stuff, or does time affect tone and other stuff and makes it sound different. This might be a stupid question. I don't know. I'm just curious.
  2. TrooperFarva


    Nov 25, 2004
    New City, NY
    The strings would be a big factor. I find that how dead a set of strings are have a huge impact on the tone. But I think you're talking more about possible changes in the wood and that sort of thing. I suppose on a poorly finished bass, the wood could dry out, but that's unlikely. I suppose if the bass has a tone control, the capacitor could dry out, that would definitely change the tone. That's all I can think of right now.
  3. BassGod


    Jan 21, 2004
    That's an interesting question. I know that when solid-top acoustic guitars age, their tone changes (for the better).

  4. stefandisgust


    May 28, 2006
    Boston, Massachusetts
    Spector Basses-New Artist
    I believe pickups do demagnetise overtime
  5. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004
    Well on the double bass side of things they always talk how fully carved basses change over time and seem to sound better after a few years. I don't know if those holds true to bass guitars. Possibly it would more so on acoustic instruments since the flexing of the wood helps in reproducing sound.

    Another thing to consider is how does the player change over time. If after 50 years of playing the same bass. Is it your playing or the bass that would sound better? I think there could be a lot of psychosomatic effects there as well. If you pick up a vintage bass your going to almost expect it sounds better than a similar modern bass and therefore to you, it does.

    one more thing, if a 60's P bass falls in a forest and there's no one around to hear it fall. Does it actually make a noise?
  6. Sane


    Dec 4, 2004
    Melbourne Fl
    Unless you use another powerful magnet or heat them to high temperature(like throw them in a fire) that shouldn't happen.
  7. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    It is widely believed that pickups get weaker as they get older. I don't know if it is true, but many people believe it.
  8. Wood WILL change, but a solid wood body wouldn't change enough in 50 years to be noticable. You COULD have a bass that sounds better over time as the bass gets used to the specific vibrations of all the parts working together. Sort of how the longer a band plays the same song together, the song still sounds the same, but since every part of the band is so used to each other, it's a different kind of sound. It can work the same way between the different pieces of wood and metal.
  9. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Banned

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    I dunno, I'd guess it would take a *bit* longer than 50 years to notice the difference.
  10. Bone


    Oct 28, 2006
    In 50 years you'll be 70 and deaf, so yea it'll sound different.;)
  11. BrandonBass


    May 29, 2006
    i wont live another 50years :(
  12. Ten Four One

    Ten Four One

    Dec 5, 2006
    Wouldn't certain types of finish change chemical composition over time? I read on... was it ToneQuest that different lacquers can change the sound of an instrument.

    But +1 to whoever said that the player will change more in 15 years than the instrument.
  13. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    It seems that Seymour Duncan believes that pickups demagnetize over time. From his description of his Antiquity pickups:

    Antiquity™: The ‘50s Series
    The ‘50s marked the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and Antiquity pickups capture the tone of the era. Each Antiquity pickup is hand-crafted in Santa Barbara from the same materials and the same production techniques as the originals. I hand wind each single coil pickup using a “scatter wind” process that captures the original winding patterns in a way no machine can duplicate. The bobbins are carefully aged and impregnated with fine dust particles, the Alnico II magnets are ever-so-slightly demagnetized, and the wire and insulation are treated to duplicate the tempering of years of use. Of course, all of this is done in order to accurately replicate that
    unmistakable vintage tone of the early pickups in a way that could never be done with a mass production process.
  14. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    That doesn't sound like he believes they demagnetize over time. It sounds like they might have used weaker magnets back then. I don't know...that's for greater minds than mine to decide. I find a lot of this stuff irrelevant.

    I personally think tone does improve over time but not because of pickups or strings or whatever. I think it's because of moisture in the wood and finish evaporating over time. I also think that the difference is not all that noticeable in anything but acoustic guitars, so don't expect miracles with a bass.
  15. I just hope I'll be "ABLE TO HEAR" any changes in tone or sound in the next 10 years. I'm 55, but I don't drive 55. :D On a serious note, no pun intended, I'm also a woodworker and I have seen what "time" can do to wood. Even in the best of temperature conditions certain kinds of woods will develope cracks or splits called "checking" over long periods of time. I don't know if this would effect tonal quality or not, but to me, I would think it would have to have some kind of effect on the tone of the bass. The way I look at it is, lets say you have a brand new bass, basicly a solid chunk of wood with a certain tone to it. When it developes "cracks", it's not a solid piece of wood anymore, which could change the tone. I haven't owned my basses long enough for this to happen so it's not something I can say for a fact. Just thought I'd throw this into the thread for you to think about. :D I also agree with JimmyM, alot of this is irrelevant.
  16. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    As human auditory memory is notoriously unreliable over timeframes measured in minutes, trying to 'remember' what something sounded like years ago (accurately) is daydreaming.
  17. HMZ

    HMZ Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2003
    Never heard that one before...:confused:
  18. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    If the bass had been kept is reasonably good conditions I wouldn't expect much of a change in tone, certainly nothing like what you get with acoustic guitars!
  19. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
  20. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Hello fellow woodworker,

    Splitting, checking, warping, and other such conditions occur largely as a result of the expansion and contraction that accompany moisture exchange, which is most pronounced during the initial drying process.

    I have seldom seen splits or checking develop after construction when using properly dried wood unless something happened to cause splitting; the most frequent causes are improper joinery (failure to accommodate wood movement), and subjecting wood to widely varying extremes of temperature and humidity.

    That being said, however, sometimes splits and checks are present beneath the surface (e.g. windshake) that cannot be observed; these kinds of latent defects often worsen over time.

    When a slab bass is constructed of properly-dried wood, that is free of latent defects, appropriate joinery methods are used, and temperature and humidity extremes are avoided, it is highly unlikely splits will develop over time.

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