The Canadian Guitar Forum banner

1 - 20 of 32 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
24,702 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Just finished reading an article in Downbeat on torrefaction: heat treating wood for acoustics. The process came o light after a 1998 Finnish study. Interest spread to Bourgeois, then Yamaha, then Eastman, Recording King, Washburn, Taylor and Martin, and Ibanez. Comments from builders are that heat-treating makes the wood more resonant and lively and mimics many aspects of good aging.

Naturally, I find this intriguing. Hell, what guitar player wouldn't?

I have never knowingly played a guitar with torrefied wood, but maybe some of you have. Any opinions? As good as they say?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,733 Posts
As far as I remember, the Yamaha LS-16 ARE I had owned had a torrefied top... but I was the second owner...
I finally got tired of her too cristal clear tone.

The idea behing torrefied wood top is the guitar has already (quite) opened up when it gets out of the factory compared to a non torrefied top that would clearly be opening up for months and years. So a torrefied top would be more stable as it would not "open up" more in its early years compared to a non torrefied top.

I cannot say more : Did anyone owned both, both brand new, and witnessed their evolution for months or years ?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,364 Posts
I have four dreads on the go and they all sound fine at whatever stage they are at with opening up. I bought them bcs I liked how they sounded when I bought them but I suppose if I played a guitar with a terrified top and thought it sounded good then that would be ok to. Not sure it would make much difference to me either way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
349 Posts
I think if you read enough about these sorts of things you'll get those who swear by them, those who swear there's no difference, those who swear they're worse, and those who just like to swear a lot.

There are so many variables in an acoustic guitar, bracing being a big one of course, that it's really so much a sum of its parts that you can't isolate any one part as being responsible for this or that. That's what I swear anyway.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,182 Posts
I have a Yamaha LL16M that has an A.R.E (Acoustic Resonance Enhancement) Engleman spruce top with mahogany back and sides. I tried several Taylors, Larrivees, Martins , and Gibsons the day I bought it. In the under $2,500 price range it sounded the best to me on that day. I have no idea if the torrified top made a difference or if it was just the construction of the guitar or the fact that it was much less expensive than the other guitars I tried, but to my ears it was the best. I've had it for almost six months now and I still play it every day. I haven't considered another acoustic yet. I still like the tone. It is full and rich without being overly bright. That said I am not a fan of the Yamaha SRT Zero Impact pickup. It sounds like crap unless you use an active DI with eq. With the right DI it sounds very good but that adds quite a bit to the price of the guitar and you often get pushback from the sound guy showing up at an open mic or jam with your own DI.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
12,243 Posts
I've played a few Martins and Taylors and they were alright. They sounded a bit more harmonically complex than their non-cooked bretheren, but I assume they won't change over time - they are already were they're going to evolve to. Didn't buy any of 'em, though.

I played a Huss and Dalton that was torrified spruce over 75 year old 'sinker' mahogany. Wonderful guitar, bright and full. Very tempting. But I chose my Lowden over it (no regrets). The Lowden has no torrification; the top is untreated Adirondack and the body is 125 year old Cuban mahogany - no torrification needed on wood that old. The spruce will only get better with age.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,046 Posts
I tried a Recording King with the t0rrified top-it had such thick plastic finish on it that whether the top was torrified or not made no difference
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24,702 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I've played a few Martins and Taylors and they were alright. They sounded a bit more harmonically complex than their non-cooked bretheren, but I assume they won't change over time - they are already were they're going to evolve to. Didn't buy any of 'em, though.

I played a Huss and Dalton that was torrified spruce over 75 year old 'sinker' mahogany. Wonderful guitar, bright and full. Very tempting. But I chose my Lowden over it (no regrets). The Lowden has no torrification; the top is untreated Adirondack and the body is 125 year old Cuban mahogany - no torrification needed on wood that old. The spruce will only get better with age.
The article was clear that wood quality and design was still paramount. Torrefaction simply brought out the good qualities of the wood used.

Some builders not only use torrefaction for the top, but for the braces and other parts as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,876 Posts
I love the tone of my D-28 Authentic 1941 VTS. I have no idea if its anything to do with the torrefied top. When I bought new in 2016 it was the only option as they stopped making this model with a non VTS top. I did own a D-18 authentic 1939 that I sold to a member here on GC. I loved that tone as well. I didn't sell it because it wasn't a torrefied top.
I've played many 1930's and 40's D-28's and I can't say that my guitar was the same although close. I even got to compare it to a vintage 1941 D-28 which was superior to mine. I don't think anything can compare to 70-80 years of ageing. I think mine will easily get there given time. Wish I'd be around to hear it in 70 years.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24,702 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Well, let's all hope you ARE around to hear the guitar with more years on it.
The impression I got from builders quoted in the article was that torrefaction would not completely substitute for extensive aging - i.e., not a replacement for 70 years - but would give a new production instrument a big head start from where it would normally be, coming straight off the line.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,563 Posts
It seems to work from all the comments I have read over on AGF. Yamaha has/had a very good explanation of their version called A.R.E. with good pics which help to describe it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
208 Posts
There is no way to say whether a torrefied top on a guitar is better than a non torrefied one with exact same specs. Unless, of course, you try both side by side. Which might be actually very hard to do. I mean, how often have you seen twin guitars in one place with one torrefied and the other not? But that would be the ultimate test to see the difference for yourself, wouldn’t it? Meantime, you have to trust the builders and reviewers.

This kind of reminds me of an expensive gizmo I had bought years ago to “enhance” wine. This thing was marketed as a “wine-improving technical breakthrough”. You put your bottle of wine on this thing and within minutes the “molecular structure of your wine is greatly enhanced”. Just like that, your wine is all of a sudden much better. Or so they said. I fell for it and spent the $100. Turns out this thing absolutely did change your wine. But in the wrong damn direction! I ended up doing blind tests with friends and family where I had samples of the same wine pre and post treatment and in 100% of cases, the treated wine was deemed inferior to the non treated - which it really was to me as well. Threw the gizmo in the garbage. Lesson learned.

I’m definitely not saying this is so with the torrefied top idea but a blind test would be ideal here too.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
12,243 Posts
The article was clear that wood quality and design was still paramount. Torrefaction simply brought out the good qualities of the wood used.

Some builders not only use torrefaction for the top, but for the braces and other parts as well.
Absolutely. Never said otherwise.

But I believe you are going to get significantly better quality woods, with or without torrefaction, from H&D than from Yamaha. Torrefaction just ages the wood, whatever quality it is. And I have no doubt you get similar improvements in either case. It's just that the starting points aren't the same.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24,702 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
I won't reject this. Something I bring up regularly is that when a company has the intention of turning out only a small handful of instruments each year, they have the luxury of being particularly selective about their wood and other materials. If their plan is to turn out thousands of instruments of the same type, they have to find sources that can provide access to large volumes of that wood. And sometimes that means being a little less selective. It's a lot easier to say "I want THAT log" and end up with quality, than it is to say "I want that pile of logs" and end up with similar quality. Not that a company like Yamaha doesn't care about quality. They do. They just can't get it in the volumes they need compared to the volumes that H&D need.

The good news is that Yamaha is a big company. The bad news is that Yamaha is a big company.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,563 Posts
I won't reject this. Something I bring up regularly is that when a company has the intention of turning out only a small handful of instruments each year, they have the luxury of being particularly selective about their wood and other materials. If their plan is to turn out thousands of instruments of the same type, they have to find sources that can provide access to large volumes of that wood. And sometimes that means being a little less selective. It's a lot easier to say "I want THAT log" and end up with quality, than it is to say "I want that pile of logs" and end up with similar quality. Not that a company like Yamaha doesn't care about quality. They do. They just can't get it in the volumes they need compared to the volumes that H&D need.

The good news is that Yamaha is a big company. The bad news is that Yamaha is a big company
.
What else is interesting is they make some standout guitars IMHO and the most expensive is only $1500.00 USD and that is without any discounts.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,586 Posts
What else is interesting is they make some standout guitars IMHO and the most expensive is only $1500.00 USD and that is without any discounts.
You need to get your hands on the high end Yamahas Steadfastly. I've played a couple LL26 and one LL36 and they are high quality guitars but pricey... too bad they have terrible resale value.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,563 Posts
You need to get your hands on the high end Yamahas Steadfastly. I've played a couple LL26 and one LL36 and they are high quality guitars but pricey... to bad they have terrible resale value.
I don't think they are shipping the LL26 to North America at this time. I don't see it listed at L & M or Guitar Center. I do see them on Ebay but they are all out of Japan. It is likely because of the Rosewood. I did play an LL16 a number of months ago and frankly, was very surprised at the quality. The sustain was just incredible.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,586 Posts
I don't think they are shipping the LL26 to North America at this time. I don't see it listed at L & M or Guitar Center. I do see them on Ebay but they are all out of Japan. It is likely because of the Rosewood. I did play an LL16 a number of months ago and frankly, was very surprised at the quality. The sustain was just incredible.
I ordered a 12 string LL16 from L&M a few years ago and that wasn't listed on their site at the time, if you're at all interested all it takes is a phone call. There's no doubt the Yamaha LL16 has a lot of sustain but I found every one of them lacked any real bottom end.
 
1 - 20 of 32 Posts
Top