Over a year and a half ago, we introduced a new process to our guitar tops. We call it “Rarefication.” We discovered that this process has many positive effects on the wood while not changing the basic nature of the wood, unlike some other processes that have been introduced in the past few years. Today, I would like to discuss what it means when we say “rarefied tops” on all of our instruments.

The rarefication process happens after the drying process. The woods in our guitars spend months (usually 5-6) being air- and kiln-dried to make sure the wood is properly cured before the building process even begins. After the woods reach this point, we move the woods through the rarefication process. This involves placing the wood in an oxygen-controlled vacuum environment. That is one reason why we call it rarefication. One definition of rarefy is “To make thin or less dense, as air.” The wood does not become thinner or less dense; the air inside the rarefication chamber is what becomes less dense the more complete the vacuum becomes. As the vacuum increases, we apply very specific temperatures to the chamber to aid in the processes. The temperatures never reach more than 100 degrees fahrenheit. You can see where our process keeps the wood in its natural state, whereas some other processes change the makeup of the wood on a cellular level because very high temperatures are applied during the process.

Through the rarefication process, we see a number of highly beneficial effects.

  1. Even more moisture is removed after the air- and kiln-drying. This allows the guitar to be stored in less humid and even extreme shifts in weather. We still recommend that you take the necessary steps to make sure your guitar is protected in whatever environment you store it. The rarefication process is not meant to replace proper care, just add another level of protection.
  2. Removal of impurities, such as sap, sugars and dirt from the wood. This allows the natural wood fibers to be stronger and more stable. This is the second reason we chose the word “rarefy” to describe this process. A second definition of rarefy is “To purify or refine.”
  3. When finished, the wood that has gone through the rarefication process has enhanced tonal qualities. We don’t claim that it sounds like the guitar has been played for 20 years, but we think that this process provides a nice “broken in” tone. The best way I can describe it is that it sounds like a guitar that was purchased a few months ago and has been played on over that time. The wood fibers have loosened up a little and the guitar sounds more open. The top is more responsive which provides a lot of clarity to your tone.

Here at Teton Guitars Basecamp, we have always loved the tones we have gotten from our guitars. We have some cool secret sauces that have helped us be able to offer amazing tones at such great prices. But when we received our first group of guitars with the rarefied tops, we were blown away. It was great to see everything come together for a better guitar playing experience.

We hope you are enjoying your Teton guitar or guitars (we do have some collectors out there!). Our goal is, and always has been, to provide amazing instruments that every guitar player can afford. We enjoy seeing the art you create with the our instruments and look forward to what is to come. Thank you for inspiring us!

— Ben

Please send comments or questions to ben@tetonguitars.com