A little less than a year ago, I wrote about a product called ToneRite. I’ve now been able to spend several months reviewing the device to see how it works.
In short, ToneRite simulates the effects of playing a stringed instrument to help mature the sound of the instrument. It’s actually pretty ingenious how it works. It essentially just sends continuous vibrations to the top of the guitar. You can adjust the rate of vibrations as desired.
I used the ToneRite device on my two acoustic guitars. One is a Takamine GS430S acoustic guitar with a solid cedar top, and the other is an Alhambra 7P classical guitar with a solid spruce top.
ToneRite recommends using the device for at least 24 straight hours for the initial application. For my tests, I did this for both guitars and then used the device intermittently for several weeks.
After letting the device work its magic on the Takamine, I played it to see how the sound differed from before. There was a subtle, but noticeable difference in tone. The guitar sounded a little warmer and a bit fuller than before. As this was the first guitar I tried, I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleased with the change, but, truth be told, I don’t think ToneRite’s market is the sub-$300 guitar market. The ToneRite device itself costs 50% of the total price of the guitar, and there just wasn’t enough of a difference to warrant paying for a device like this. I suspect that the quality of wood and bracing affects how much the ToneRite device alters the sound.
The results on my classical guitar were more in line with my expectations. The results were much more noticeable. The spruce top really opened up after letting the ToneRite device work for a few days. The sound was much warmer and fuller than before. Additionally, and I don’t know if this is imagined or real, but the top seemed to respond a little differently to plucking. I’m not even sure how to describe it, it just felt different. I’ve never owned an acoustic instrument that’s had time to age, so I can’t compare directly, but the ToneRite device definitely made a difference.
In my opinion, ToneRite is probably best suited for higher-end guitars and for guitarists who want to get the most out of their guitars in the shortest time. To that end, ToneRite is a solid device that breaks in newer guitars in a much shorter time than through playing. In my experience, the ToneRite device made for a warmer- and fuller-sounding guitar.
Perhaps you could leave the ToneRite on the G series for an extended duration and tell us what you think?
I’m going to give that a shot. Ryan at ToneRite let me know that they’ve found 72 hours might be a better timeframe to let the device work, so I’ll try that.
The tonerite is a very strange new thing to me, but I’m too curious to not try it out now I’ve read this article. Hopefully it will renew my interest in playing my acoustics instead of just rocking out on the strat the whole time!
I can believe that ToneRite could provide some of that natural seasoning that occurs with years of playing an instrument.
I would be curious to learn what effect it has, if any, on a solid body electric guitar.
I’m a week into my Tonerite trials. Having built a few guitars I can offer the theory that some top woods will benefit more than others. Cedar doesn’t tend to change much over the years… but a wood like adi or red spruce takes a considerable break in time. I’d say Tonerite should benefit the later more than the former.
So far mine is a mixed result with Tonerite. Four days had little effect on a McPherson with Carpathian spruce top… it sounded great anyway. A Martin J and a Gibson Jumbo had a three day run each on the Tonerite and I hear some definite “opening”. Volume increased – low range nice and throaty. String to string balance also improved – NICE!
@Rich – That’s been my experience as well. My classical changed noticeably, while my acoustic was much less noticeable. Glad to hear that your Martin and Gibson were positively changed.
Roger Cloud says
I have a very great sounding Breedlove acoustic C250/Cme (cedar top; onboard electronics and tuner) that I LOVE, but am always interested in optimizing my guitars, so I wonder if there are any further reactions in re cedar tops, “better than under-$300” acoustics – mine was $500, and on the unit’s use with electrics (I have two custom Strats with ash bodies. I’d be available to leave the unit on each of the guitars 24/7 for weeks upon weeks if it would make a difference – essentially on constantly for as long as it takes. Also, just curious – any effect if left on while playing? Or does having it on make playing impossible (I don’t know how it mounts)?
Roger, I can’t speak to how it will work on an electric guitar as I’ve never tried that. My understanding is that it could provide a little difference, but I doubt it would be all that noticeable.
When I spoke with the folks at ToneRite, they had increased their recommendation to leaving the unit on for at least a full week. You cannot leave it on while playing as the device sits on top of the strings. However, if you are playing it, you are doing the same thing as the ToneRite does, so you don’t need it on there while you are playing.
Ron WHITE says
I borrowed a Tonerite from another muso and used it for three days after which it became very hot and ceased to operate. It made no difference to a new Gibson Emmylou Harris model. I felt obliged to replace the unit and ordered it through EBAY. I received it on 25//11/2013 and placed it on the guitar initially for 24 hours then a few hours each day. It made a small but noticeable difference to the tone and volume however ceased to work. It did not get hot . I tried it in several power outlets with same result. I sent an email to tone rite at Spindrift guitars a few days later asking about replacement but have received no reply. It is now 21/12/2013 I would have thought a business like Spindrift Guitars would have responded well before now. I am sending them another email and hopefully will get a reply. I am of course annoyed with the poor business practice.