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Thread: Are older, well used ukuleles better?

  1. #1
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    Default Are older, well used ukuleles better?

    I recently watched a documentary on Elderly Instruments and in one of the interviews with their technician/craftsman he talked about how an acoustic stringed instrument sounds better as it gets older and played a lot. Wood ages and playing affects the wood and joints etc... making it a more desirable instrument. What do you think? Are you more likely to get a finer instrument if you find a well used ukulele?

  2. #2
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    The only "older" instruments that sound "better" are those that sounded "better" when they were new. The instruments that were never that good just didn't last ... were given to charity shops or for the kids to play with.

    YMMV
    There are those who will wax lyrical about the ability to play a double shuffle with a split fan and a tight G-string ...
    it just makes me walk funny!

  3. #3
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    No.

    John

    ...

  4. #4
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    Not in the way that I think you mean.
    An instrument that has been played has settled in to where it is going to be for the rest of its life.
    A new instrument goes through a settling in period, be it wood or laminate, just the same as strings do.
    Once its done that, that is the best it is going to be.
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  5. #5
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    I have pondered this as my playing time has passe. A Uke that I didn't think sounded all that great when I got it, now is one I appreciate more and more each day. I think it's because I learned how to make it sound better by playing it more, or I got used to it's 'voice'.

    As for Willi's Trigger, it has been repaired a good deal by a master luthier over the years and was a great instrument when new. Also Willy is a pretty good guitar picker!

  6. #6
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    I have found that some ukes "grow" on me, and some don't. Does it sound better because it has aged or because I was able to detect subtle nuances in tone that weren't immediately apparent? I believe that with a "quality" instrument, there must be subtle changes with additional curing of bracing and tonewoods as it "settles in" so to speak. Just my thoughts on the matter. Lots of folks here far more experienced on the subject than I.

  7. #7
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    Yes and no. The "good" ones tend to get played , so an old uke with no play wear is suspect. The wood has settled in so any warping/cracking will have sorted itself out. The older builders had some really nice wood to work with, hard to go wrong with an old Martin or Favilla.
    there is no substitute for LOVE

  8. #8
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    "Other well know players keep the same guitar for a few years so you can follow its sound via recordings and videos".

    When judging the sound of an instrument, I would be wary of any conclusions which are based on recordings. You are not hearing the true sound, but an electronic representation of that sound. Such representations will vary depending on the circumstances in which they were made, who made them, what equipment was used, and a host of other variables. A good instrument can be made to sound bad and vice versa.

    All comparisons are fraught with difficulty, unless you are listening (live and unamplified) to the same player, standing in the same place, in the same room.

    As regards "playing in". I find that a newly built uke will change quite noticeable over the first few days after the strings are first fitted, but after this fairly short settling period, it is hard to detect any more improvement.
    Last edited by ukantor; 10-03-2017 at 03:10 AM.

  9. #9
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    What sounds better is subjective. Also, I think that there are a lot of factors that affect the sound of instrument. I think that Willie makes Trigger sound good, not the other way around. I mean, big holes worn into the soundboard of an instrument probably doesn't make the instrument sound "better."
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.
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  10. #10
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    I think sometimes an instrument changes.
    And I think sometimes your ears change.
    And I think sometimes you start to prefer what you're used to as your base line standard.

    People often say "I know what I like" when what they really mean is "I like what I know".

    Also an instrument doesn't always get better as it ages. Sometimes it gets worse.

    Jake is an interesting example to think about... he changes his instrument fairly often, to a new one of the same model. It's not like the retired ones are falling apart, and every once in a while, you'll see one of his used ones go up for sale. I dunno if it was a donation situation or how it got into the wild, but I thought I saw one of his retired instruments up for auction at some point. (not his player model, one he actually toured with)

    The way I see it... judge an instrument for what it is right now.
    There's no way to really know if it will get better, or worse.

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