Jimmy Rosenberg's comment about putting cigarette ash guitar to dry it out and make it sound better

Feruza2134Feruza2134 The NetherlandsNew Phoenix D hole guitar

Hi guys,

What do you guys think about what Jimmy says in this interview:

at 20 minutes and 20 seconds about putting cigarette ash in a guitar to dry it out and make it sound better?

Curious to hear what you guys think.



  • AndyWAndyW Glasgow Scotland UK✭✭✭ Clarinets & Saxes- Selmer, Conn, Buescher, Leblanc // Guitars: Gerome, Caponnetto, Napoli, Musicalia, Bucolo, Sanchez et. al.
    Posts: 605

    althogh he was based in Cremona in northern Italy, Antonio Stradivari was found to have incorporated volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius in the varnish of his violins , presumably to “make them sound better”....

  • Posts: 4,833

    I read that mandolin virtuoso Frank Wakefield baked his prized Loar in the oven to dry it out, like for 20 minutes at 120 degrees. No kidding...

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • vanmalmsteenvanmalmsteen Diamond Springs ,CANew Latch Drom F, Eastman DM2v, Altamira m30d , Altimira Mod M
    Posts: 337

    Geez if I even look at my guitar wrong the top cracks! That’s some crazy stuff

  • pdgpdg ✭✭
    Posts: 473

    That was a big risk, considering the value of a Lloyd Loar F-5 mandolin!

  • Posts: 4,833

    And he said he thought it did sound better. He did add it could've been psychological. I sure have done my share of tweaks. Maybe I'm lucky the guitar can't fit in the oven.

    Since the Strad is mentioned, apparently there's a new light to the mysteries of Strad.

    But it's just a curiosity to me, I don't buy the whole thing about it being this singular superior instrument to anything else before and after.

    Another curiosity I found out relatively recent is that Strad and those guys favored Bosnian maple species. No joke, internet is full of references about it

    It's been a dream since to have an archtop built out of Bosnian maple. Probably after this virus is behind us and the guy I had in mind is still building.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • djangologydjangology Portland, OregonModerator
    Posts: 1,018

    If you left your guitar outside all night by the campfire, I could see how you might need to bake it to dry it out. Ha ha

  • ChristopheCaringtonChristopheCarington San Francisco, CA USANew Dupont MD50, Stringphonic Favino, Altamira Chorus
    Posts: 187

    TL,DR: The potential cons outweigh the potential pros, and I personally feel the effectiveness of ashing is a wives-tale.

    First I want to admit the concept of a "dryer" guitar producing desirable qualities isn't wrong. Examples include:

    • additional aging of wood, especially sound boards (guitar tops) before construction
    • vintage guitars in general having more interesting / "better" tone
    • modern torrefied wood to speed up aging

    However, the impact of ashing into your guitar is a mixed bag:

    1. Positive: Ash will help absorb moisture in overly humid (60%+) climates -- such as the Netherlands
    2. Positive: Ashed guitar drys faster over time, giving it better resonance and tonal qualities
    3. Negative: The ash over-drys the guitar causing it to prematurely crack
    4. Negative: The ash coats the inside of the guitar, dampening it's tone / resonance over time - potentially outweighing Positive #2.
    5. Negative: Other stuff in the ash (e.g. nicotine) will also coat the guitar, giving undesirable qualities (damping & smell)

    Though circumstantial, I would also add that Jimmy don't stick with a guitar very long before moving onto the next one - meaning his experience of changing tone is likely minimal, a placebo effect, or even anecdotal from others. Jimmy probably got the idea of ashing from talking to others, like his cousin Nousche Rosenberg (there's a video of Nousche ashing his cigarette into a vintage Macaferri somewhere, which he doesn't use anymore as he's also a serial guitar-swapper).

    Lastly, and also circumstantial, is a lot of great vintage guitars have fallen apart over time due to the "gypsy lifestyle," which ashing can definitely be a contributing factor. If you value your guitar for long-term usage or resale... perhaps avoid ashing.

  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,155

    Just a little anecdote, I remember watching a Rosenberg Trio soundcheck and Nous'che Rosenberg was smoking a cigarette while getting levels. At one point he looked around for an ash tray, seeing none close by he just ashed in the soundhole of his vintage Maccaferri 🤣

  • crookedpinkycrookedpinky Glasgow✭✭✭✭ Alex Bishop D Hole, Altamira M & JWC D hole
    Posts: 922

    Who wants their guitar to stink like an ashtray ?

    always learning
  • Posts: 4,833

    Christophe makes a good point, if you have overly humid climate where you live then it maybe helps to do stuff that will take the extra moisture out of the wood.

    I know my guitar is the happiest a few weeks in spring and a few more in fall. When humidity both indoors and outdoors is just right.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
Sign In or Register to comment.
Home  |  Forum  |  Blog  |  Contact  |  206-528-9873
The Premier Gypsy Jazz Marketplace
Banner Adverts
Sell Your Guitar
© 2024, all rights reserved worldwide.
Software: Kryptronic eCommerce, Copyright 1999-2024 Kryptronic, Inc. Exec Time: 0.017714 Seconds Memory Usage: 1.008842 Megabytes