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Thread: Have You Used a ToneRite?

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluze View Post
    The only scientific study of this phenomena of which I am aware is this: https://www.savartjournal.org/index....iewFile/22/pdf
    This is great Cluze! I like the math, but it is not necessary to understand the paper. It is just what I hoped someone would find or know about. It does not cover every possibility of how a ToneRite works or does not work, but unless I find one to borrow someday, I doubt I will think about it much anymore.

    And the web site from the paper also was interesting with articles like "The Effect of Finishes on the Vibration Properties of Spruce Guitar Soundboard Wood"

    Thanks for posting it.

    P.S. It appears Kissing and this study came to the same conclusion!

  2. #12

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    I had read that paper as part of my informal 'research' at some point in the past.

    Also it's not something that can easily be tested given that no 2 instruments are exactly the same due to variations within even pieces of wood from the same log.

    Testing and experimentation is one aspect of science. There are some things in everyday life that don't necessarily need to be tested to be plausible, because you can deduce the outcome with existing knowledge of physics. For example, do red guitars play faster than sunburst guitars? You don't necessarily need an experiment to test it to know the answer.

    My previous post, while in layman terms, is based on a rudimentary understanding of the physics of waves and materials.
    Last edited by kissing; 05-05-2021 at 12:52 PM.

  3. #13

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    Anecdotal evidence is one of the least reliable. That's the reason why so many certain false beliefs survived for so long (eg: homeopathy). Given that perception of tone is highly subjective, the placebo effect would play a large role. If human trials are conducted in some bizarre scientific experiment, it would have to be double blinded, randomly controlled and demonstrate beyond placebo effect with a high level of confidence.

    In the absence of such papers (let alone repeat studies to validate the results), I rely on the theoretical physics.

    Physically speaking, there is no plausible mechanism by which sound waves permanently and significantly modify the structure of wood, let alone achieve an outcome that is universally accepted as an improvement. That's not how solid hard wood and sonic waves work. If the soundwaves were powerful enough to distort wood, it would be a destructive force, not one that neatly arranges the atoms to sound better as a tonewood.

    Just because some well established companies use it, or certain industry professionals endorse it does not make it true. Even the mainstream instrument industry and many professionals swear by anecdotes that have no basis in reality.

    For example, my friend's highly experienced cello teacher told him not to buy an expensive cello (~$25,000) because the way player plays changes how an instrument opens up, much in line with the theory that sound vibrations affect guitar tonewoods. By his logic, because my friend is a beginner, he would feed the wrong vibrations into the expensive instrument.

    Between me and the cello teacher, only the cello teacher is the trained professional musician who is also older and wiser. But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that his belief is wrong from physical reality. He probably believes it to be true because it's what he was told in his training, or some other anecdotal experience. It probably would not stand up to controlled, rigorous testing.


    Science is NOT just whether something has been formally tested in experimentation. It INCLUDES general logic and common sense derived from the understanding of theory.

    In my view, scientific theory and facts do not support the mechanism of Toneright and other similar assumptions to do with waves/vibrations magically improving tonewood. The psychological and placebo component is huge. The instrument industry also has a lot to gain in romanticising such beliefs from a marketing persepctive.
    Last edited by kissing; 05-05-2021 at 04:09 PM.

  4. #14
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    I do know that my new instruments have all sounded better after some time. But, I have always accredited that improvement to the strings settling in, and being slowly stretched to full extension. Of course, that's only my guess about what's happening.
    "The sole cause of all human misery is the inability of people
    to sit quietly in their rooms." - Blaise Pascal, 1670

  5. #15
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    I know from experience that some tenor ukuleles can open up and improve from playing.

    I bought a spruce/mahogany tenor uke that was somewhat quiet. Lovely, very sweet sound from it. I played it a lot. Lots of strumming. Lots of picking. After several months, I realized that the sound was louder and more resonant. And the sustain had improved.

    Other people who hadn't heard it for a while commented that it seemed to have a nicer sound than the last time they had heard it. I was asked if I had changed the strings?

    I read some articles about instruments opening up over time. The most common theory was that the vibrations from playing loosens up the glues and the finish, ever so slightly, to increase the flexibility of the woods. As does the further drying of the woods and the off-gassing and of some of the volatile resins contained in the fibers of the wood.

    Sorry, I can't give you source references. It was an informal Google search. And most of the articles were written about guitars.

    I don't know why my tenor improved after being played for several months. I only know that it did. Was it added hydration? Personal bias and expectation? I didn't measure the output volume, so maybe the perceived increase is only the product of my imagination.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don't begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    --Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill1
    Playing music is about culture and enjoyment, not science.
    I agree that the art of playing music is about culture and enjoyment. However, many things about it can be analysed and explained by science. In fact, why do some notes soind good together, whole others don't in music? There's a whole science behind that too.


    When I play my ukulele, I am not doing science. I am doing an art (or at least an attempt to do so).
    But my awareness of reality does not suddenly disappear. I know that sound is generated by the vibration of the strings at certain frequencies that resonate within the body of the instrument and project out. I know that luthiers have mastered their art through centuries of trial&error to develop tested methods of making good instruments. The fact that the luthiers are sticking to certain methods and order, rather than random chaos when making a good instrument shows that scientific concepts are at play.

    The study of making music and making instruments is both art and science.


    The example of a Cello being played in incorrectly by a beginner is an interesting thing to discuss. If you have no idea what is happening inside the cello, how can you have a logical or common sense approach to discussing what is happening inside the cello? How would you know what is logical or not? The science of the cello has not been fully explored yet, even though it has been around for so long, there is no equation to model its behaviour. Cello makers seem to use 100s of years of experience instead of a scientific design model to design, build and test Cellos. Sure the larger dimensions of size are determined relatively easily by the range of frequencies generated, but the fine tuning of the sound is still learned from experience, not science. There are only theories and you may have a belief, but at one stage people believed the earth was flat as well. Maybe you can get the front panel and excite it when its not fitted to the cello and test it a to single frequency, but logically when the cello is belting out Bach's Cello Suite you have around 70 shaped pieces of wood glued together, it is generating multiple frequencies and harmonics and logically the tension of the strings is changing with every beat, so logically its very hard to model. So logically most theories are not at a stage where they can be turned into engineered designs yet. Which is why a person who is a professional musician, trained to play and teach Cello, would base advice to students on things learned from experience, rather than a mathematical equation or unproven theory or belief system. In the example given, the professional cello player is probably giving excellent advice by advising a beginner not to buy a $25,000 instrument. If the beginner is stupid enough to ignore or question such good advice, they deserve to be ripped off.
    The process of cello makers discovering what works and what doesn't work in instrument making is, while not a pure science, uses a scientific method.
    Luthiers are seen as craftsmen, artists - but a lot of scientific theory also goes into the craft of instrument making. When an instrument sounds good, there is a reason why does that can be looked at scientifically to an extent. The cluster of knowledge luthiers gain with collective experience marry science and artform of making good instruments. It is possible to make a scientific analysis between a well made instrument and a badly made one.

    Furthermore, one does not need to be a master luthier or cellist to understand that it's made of solid pieces of aged wood and that sound is produced when strings are vibrated across it.
    It's basic science to understand that physical vibrations caused by playing does not align wood molecules into a better sounding instrument.

    That's like saying only certified electrical engineers understand why a lightbulb switches on when you flip the switch.
    Someone with basic understanding of electricity and physics can explain basic circuits and the conversion of electron movement into other forms of energy.
    At the very least, I wouldn't be the one saying that it lights up due to "magic".
    Likewise, while I'm not a luthier, I understand the physics behind the forces and materials at play. There's no scientific mechanism by which playing an instrument inherently improves the sound.


    If you own a Cello you can work it out for yourself, you do not need to get involve in social media arguments about what "science" is. You can just borrow or buy a bluetooth speaker, find some CDs of fine player like Yo Yo Ma, and put your device on loop, turn it up loud and put the speaker on the Cello and leave it for a while and see what happens. The question to answer is whether your musical experience is improved, the scientific explanation is as important as learning the equations for equal temperament. If you have loved your music for 20 years without ever learning how to spell temperament, or the Equal Temperament equations, the science of how the vibrations change or don't change the sound sound of your cello is even less important compared to how much it improves your musical experience. Maybe if you do have a choice of cellos, don't do the experiment on the one thats worth $25K if you are not sure of the outcome yet.

    So again I suggest, try it out for yourself. Find out if it works for you. Own your own musical experience and avoid allowing social media to tell you what to think all the time. Explore your musical world yourself.
    Again, as per my previous post there are multiple plausible explanations why some people may perceive that their instrument has improved after playing/vibrating it with soundwaves.
    -Placebo/psychological expectations
    -Player familiarity with instrument
    -Changes to the instrument over time (oxidation, wearing down of finish, changes in glue, wood drying, environmental conditions, state of the strings)
    Last edited by kissing; 05-05-2021 at 11:24 PM.

  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenn2018 View Post
    I know from experience that some tenor ukuleles can open up and improve from playing.

    I bought a spruce/mahogany tenor uke that was somewhat quiet. Lovely, very sweet sound from it. I played it a lot. Lots of strumming. Lots of picking. After several months, I realized that the sound was louder and more resonant. And the sustain had improved.

    Other people who hadn't heard it for a while commented that it seemed to have a nicer sound than the last time they had heard it. I was asked if I had changed the strings?

    I read some articles about instruments opening up over time. The most common theory was that the vibrations from playing loosens up the glues and the finish, ever so slightly, to increase the flexibility of the woods. As does the further drying of the woods and the off-gassing and of some of the volatile resins contained in the fibers of the wood.

    Sorry, I can't give you source references. It was an informal Google search. And most of the articles were written about guitars.

    I don't know why my tenor improved after being played for several months. I only know that it did. Was it added hydration? Personal bias and expectation? I didn't measure the output volume, so maybe the perceived increase is only the product of my imagination.
    I do believe it is plausible for new instruments to open up a bit in the early stages of ownership. However, I highly doubt the mechanism by which this may occur is due to "vibrations" from playing.

    I recently acquired an inexpensive solid Koa top baritone as a factory second from eBay. It was about half price, and considered a second because there was a split grain on the top.
    However, the instrument was repaired professionally.

    When it arrived to me, it was out of tune and strung with very old strings. After installing some new strings, it didn't sound very good. A bit dead.
    But after a few weeks I felt that the sound opened up.

    I think a few plausible explanations for this is that the instrument adjusted to the humidity and temperature of my room. New strings settled in. The neck and top took some time to adjust to the new constant tension of being in tune. I probably also adapted to the nuances of the instrument.

    These things are hard to measure, but the physical theories behind them seem plausible to me.

    However, vibrations from simply being played does not come across to me as a plausible explanation of causing any change to an instrument.

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