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Thread: Are older, well used ukuleles better?

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by kkimura View Post
    I believe there's a bit of Darwinism at work here. Those great sounding old instruments are those that survived due to qualities that kept them out of the scrap heap. Nobody goes to any great length to keep a poor sounding instrument. It's the outstanding ones that have the best chance of surviving.
    Yeah, but I bet there's also plenty that just sat in someone's closet, but are just meh.
    Ask NOT what your country can do for Uke...ask what Uke can do for your country.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ukecaster View Post
    Yeah, but I bet there's also plenty that just sat in someone's closet, but are just meh.
    Good point UC, it's sad to think that some will just gather dust, although I think the OP was asking more about the ones that do get played.
    All the best,
    Campbell

  3. #33
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    Thats a loaded queztion, Wood maturity is only one factor in a uke to sound good, quality of wood, quality of build,
    Having a good Luthier and materials before you add in wood maturity into the equation. A bad sounding uke will always sound bad...if you had said after decades of playing to season the wood..it could improve well wish hard
    Alot of people think their ukes have improved in the years don't take account they have improved too.
    Another factor is higher quality higher end uke such as martin used higher grade of woods back then, which may
    be a reason foe some ukes COULD, improve with maturity being seasoned. However if you had a tourist uke and
    Waited 60 years, it probably WOULD sound the same subpar tone...
    Making music is a gift in itself, and when you can share it ....it is your gift to others

  4. #34
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    I just can't help but chime in. I've sold pretty old ukes that just did not sound good to me at all. I've sold some late model ukes that I thought sounded pretty crappy too. I've sold ukes that I no longer played because they brought memories I wanted to lose.
    I think I've kept the best 2 I've ever had, and one gets played every day, unless I feel rotten. Then I just hold it.
    Of course, the more I play it, the better it sounds, but that may be a factor of my playing improving a little each day. Hopefully.
    I don't keep what I don't like, no matter what stories are behind it. I like Booli's expression "hedging into minimalism."
    I have one uke I'd just as soon throw onto a campfire, but it's too darn pretty to look at. Reminds me not to waste money on impulse buying.
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

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  5. #35
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    I guess that, like people, there's good and bad ones of all ages. I just took the Tonerite off my lapel, I haven't opened up yet, although I'm already well seasoned!
    Ask NOT what your country can do for Uke...ask what Uke can do for your country.

  6. #36
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    Ah ha! I found the text that got me post this thread in the first place:

    Acacia (Also look under "Black Acacia" and "Koa".)
    Keep in mind that there are 1300 species of Acacias, spread all over the world, and that even experts may have difficulty in telling them apart. Many do not grow large enough to be used for guitars. But for our purposes, their similarities are far greater than their differences. That does not mean they are all identical, but it may be hard to differentiate between them and make generalities that transcend the inherent differences caused by a luthier's particular build methods and the individual differences n a piece of wood of the same species.

    From the Pono Website - "As for tonal comparisons to Mahogany, the Acacia family (including Acacia Koa) is different in weight and density. Mahogany is lighter and less dense, and thus produces not only a warm tone, but a unique tonal clarity and open brilliance. And in time, Mahogany changes in color and tone more than any other wood we have experienced. For those who own vintage mahogany guitars and ‘ukuleles, the aged tone is unsurpassable.

    Acacia is heavier and more dense than Mahogany, and thus has it’s own unique tonal projection. And of course a beauty all it’s own. Most people are familiar with the sound of Acacia woods, having owned or played instruments made of Hawaiian Koa. All Acacia woods are similar. The Acacia that we use for our Pono instruments is similar in appearance to what was known to old timers in Hawaii as “black Koa.”

    For lack of a better description, Acacia wood produces what could be called a deep woody tone. ... Acacia Preta does lack the rich red color tones of Acacia Koa, but still has beautiful black and brown figured grain patterns. "

  7. #37
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    I agree with those who say that old, much played instruments were good instruments all along, and that this is why they survived all this time.

    Besides this, though, my 1920s Lyon&Healy mahogany soprano feels and sounds different than modern mahogany sopranos. The age of the wood may contribute to this, but it was likely also built differently than most instruments are crafted now. The "vintage sound" is probably part material and part construction. There is also the psychological component: the "mojo" that old, well-played instruments ooze is an inspiring motivator that contributes to the experience. Brandnew instruments "feel" a little soulless.

  8. #38
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    I think there could be another side to this, in the past, the trees that were used were likely very old themselves.
    The woods we use are just plain different, young against old, because we harvest them more quickly, and, in the past wood was dried naturally, which took time, 3 years wasn't uncommon, whilst nowadays we kiln dry it, all this must affect its tonal quality.
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  9. #39
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    A lot of my friends are into vintage stuff. I think that for them it is the fact that they are holding a piece of history in their hands. I would guess that people who like vintage ukes feel the same way. It is fun to try to imagine who played them and where. It isn't about the sound in their own basement or living room, or wherever they play it, it is about imagining that sound somewhere else at another time in history, and in a different context, that makes it sound so good.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.
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  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by uke1950 View Post
    I think there could be another side to this, in the past, the trees that were used were likely very old themselves.
    The woods we use are just plain different, young against old, because we harvest them more quickly, and, in the past wood was dried naturally, which took time, 3 years wasn't uncommon, whilst nowadays we kiln dry it, all this must affect its tonal quality.
    That is the same issue with clarinets and oboes. Less good wood and they hurry the process. As to ukes, I used to wonder about the whole vintage thing until I had the opportunity to play some. A few that I had tried had a resonance, depth and ring unlike anything I had heard from some fine modern luthier built instruments. It made me rethink the issue. I am not sure why they sounded that much better. Perhaps some of the new instruments will sound even better in another 75 years.

    I am not firmly in one camp or the other. A great instrument is a a great instrument. There have been some amazing things made in all eras. some from years ago were mediocre, while some today are fantastic. I would say you have to judge each instrument on its own merits, not by the brand or year.

    Despite all that, in the hands of a great player even a meh instrument sounds pretty darned good.

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