What you would say if I could offer you a exquisitely make 30 year old guitar with a perfectly straight neck, no fretwear, and not so much as a single nick in the finish? I know… you’d ask how much? Then if I said under $600, you’d rightly be skeptical. Nonetheless, the Recording King Torrefied Adirondack Spruce 000 puts the feel and tone of a great vintage guitar into your hands at that affordable price, with none of the problems that come with decades of wear and tear.
A handful of modern guitar makers are extending just such a claim, by way of a special process called Torrefaction (high super high heating in a low-oxygen environment under pressure). As the theory goes, if a guitar’s tone does indeed improve with age, it must be due to changes in the woods over time. Virtually all woods used for making things are dried, either naturally or in a high-heat kiln. Extensive drying is necessary because wood undergoes significant changes in density, grain, and shape as it looses moisture. Making things from insufficiently-dried wood therefore results in a rather short shelf-life, because they warp, shrink, pull apart at joints. etc.
Woodworkers have been drying woods for those very reasons for thousands of years. which is why well-made antique musical instruments can last for centuries if properly cared for. According to Huw Price at guitar.com, vikings used torrefied wood in some of their ships, though that claim proved difficult to verify. Huw does, however, deliver a highly informative article on the use of torrefied wood in guitar making, specifically as an alternative to natural aging.
So the question is, what else about the wood changes over time? According to Dana Bourgeois, the answer is the slow release of oils, sugars, and resins, a process that that modern torrefaction facilitates in a matter of hours. The obvious result is notable darkening. The structural effects include a wood that is lighter, harder, and relatively impervious to temperature and humidity. Even total submersion in water for several hours is unlikely to affect the wood.
The Recording King’s line of torrefied top models deliver the tone for a fraction of the price of comparable models. The Torrefied Adirondack Spruce 000 is no exception. This 000 honors the short scale and wide neck of Martin’s early 000 models, and with a vintage tone to match.