Aged Tone Guitar Series

Aged Tone Series

Bourgeois Aged Tone Guitar Series:

Bourgeois Guitars is proud to announce the Aged Tone Series, designed to capture some of the sound, look, feel and vibe of vintage guitars.

THE STORY:

Pre-war guitars are prized by players for lightning fast response, elevated volume and presence, tonal complexity, and the deep golden-brown color of their tops. These guitars sound different today, however, from the way they sounded when first strung up. Part of the difference comes from the effect of many years of playing. Another part is attributable to the chemical and structural transformations wood undergoes after decades of natural curing.

Dana’s vision for the Aged Tone models blends vintage appearance and Dana’s exclusive approach to voicing with the new Aged Tone finish and the Aged Tone top .


Dana Bourgeois.
Photo by Kevin Kinnear
A note from Dana Bourgeois about this series:“Aged Tone tops may be the most significant technological advance I’ve seen in decades, but these new guitars are about more than just the tops,” reports Dana Bourgeois. “A treated Adirondack top is, after all, just another tonewood; the thing that matters is what you do with it. To get the vibe I was looking for, I ended up modifying my approach to voicing and developed an entirely new finish. The combined result isn’t a substitute for a great vintage guitar, nor will it make people stop playing new guitars with untreated tops. It’s entirely new, yet partially old, totally different and overwhelmingly musical. I can’t wait to hear what different players do with these guitars!”

 Aged Tone tops

Our Aged Tone tops are treated with a unique curing process. The commercial version of this process, known as, “thermo curing”, “wood torrefaction” or “roasting”, was developed in Finland to enhance durability and appearance of such products as siding, decking, and outdoor furniture. Commercial processing typically uses higher curing temperatures to maximize stability and rot resistance. Higher temperatures, however, can also sacrifice structural integrity.

The process used to cure our Adirondack tops is a highly controlled, low-temperature variation of the basic commercial treatment. During processing, water, sugars, and resins are cooked off, leaving behind cellulose and lignum–the “glue” that binds cellulosic fibers together. Once processed, mass and weight are reduced, absolute stiffness is increased and internal damping is decreased; stiffness-to-weight ratio and Velocity of Sound (the rate at which vibration transmits through solid material) are dramatically increased.

Our observations concur with industry research data, which reports increased stiffness at lower curing temperatures. It’s thought by at least one expert that low-temperature curing optimizes the distribution of lignum throughout the cellulosic structure, while higher temperatures break lignum down. The trick is to find the temperature and curing schedule that optimizes Velocity of Sound.

Like naturally cured spruce, Aged Tone tops are darker in color, opaque vs. translucent, highly stable when exposed to changes in humidity, and have a sweet, woody smell. These same changes naturally occur in spruce tonewoods after many decades of exposure to oxygen, UV radiation and other environmental elements.

 

The picture shows our standard Adirondack top (on the left) and a Aged Tone Adirondack top on the right. Neither top has been stained.

The Aged Tone process gives the tops a dark, rich hue, without any aging toner or finish.

Bourgeois guitars made with Aged Tone Adirondack tops combine characteristics of both new and vintage guitars. Players describe their sound as “immediate, “open”, “ responsive”, “loud” and “surprisingly broken in”. New guitars made with Aged Tone tops will continue to break in as the top reacts to continuous string loading and vibrational activity.

Aged Tone finish

Dana recently developed a light but durable finish to complement Aged Tone tops. The Aged Tone finish, combines the sound and look of a well-preserved older finish with the durability of a modern catalyzed finish.

The Aged Tone finish began as an effort to replicate the sonic and aesthetic qualities of older nitro. Nitrocellulose never fully cures. It starts out thick and soft and becomes considerably thinner and harder over time. As it cures, weight and mass diminish, molecules become rearranged, damping recedes and this transformation contributes significantly to what we recognize as ‘vintage’ sound.

After several years of experimentation we found a finish in the cyanoacrylic family that’s hard enough to exhibit minimum damping, offers reasonable protection compared to other thinly applied finishes, and has much in common with the sound and look of older nitro. Like our varnish finish, it’s application is both labor and skill intensive; we’re entirely convinced, though, that the results are worth the added effort.

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