Savart Journal

science and technology of stringed musical instruments

Effect of Vibration Treatment on Guitar Tone: A Comparative Study

B.M. Clemens, Jay Kadis, Daniel Montgomery Clemens, Eli John Pollak, P. Clark, James R Groves


In order to study the widely-held belief that the sound of a guitar evolves with use due to vibration induced changes in the guitar, the tone of guitars subjected to controlled vibrations is investigated. The study uses three pairs of guitars, where each of the two guitars in the pair is the same make, model and year. One guitar from each pair is treated using a commercial device for effecting a tone change through imposition of vibrations. The guitars are evaluated before and after the treatment using double-blind player evaluations and physical property measurements. The player evaluations showed no statistically-significant changes in the differences between the two guitars in each pair. Fourier analysis of instrumented hammer strikes were used to extract the frequency response function. Statistical analysis showed no significant change in the correlation between treated and untreated guitars due to the vibration treatment. It is therefore concluded that this vibration treatment had no significant effect on the guitar tone. It is suggested that the evaluation approach used here could be useful for studies of other instruments or treatments.

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Article published Sep 3, 2014.
This article has been accessed 20426 times since publication.


The Savart Journal is published in collaboration with the Guild of American Luthiers.

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About the Author(s)

B.M. Clemens
Stanford University
United States

Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Jay Kadis
United States

Daniel Montgomery Clemens
University of California, Berkeley
United States

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Neurobiology Division

Eli John Pollak
United States

P. Clark
United States

James R Groves
Stanford University
United States

Materials Scientist currently at a solar startup company in the Bay Area. Interested in stringed instruments. Hobby guitarist.