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Henning
02-09-2016, 09:53 AM
Hello, I wonder if this goes for a maple ukulele too?
I.e. will it open up or will anything happen at all to it. I have a Brüko made of maple that
I bought last year.
Is there any difference in how a mahogany or a koa ukulele will open up?
Is there any clear difference in what way ukuleles of different marerials (koa, mahogany or maple for instance) will sound once they have opened up?
Is there any certain way into which the tone will develop?

Please when answering, take into account an instrument made with a top of the aforementioned sort of wood.

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?92705-Instruments-Opening-Up&highlight=tone+developing

Best regards

cpmusic
02-09-2016, 10:14 AM
I don't know about specifics, but I believe it happens over time with solid wood. The problem is that it's impossible to judge, because there's too much variation in wood boards and perhaps in construction techniques to compare old vs new. For example, I have a Taylor 615 (spruce and maple) that was built in 1983, and it I know it sounds very different than a new one built in the past year, but how much of that is due to ageing, I can't begin to say.

I know about a device that can be attached to the strings, but I have serious doubts about it, partly because some of the claims and statements on the website don't make sense, and partly because it's unknown how much confirmation bias is in the mix.

Of course, confirmation bias may explain why some folks, like me, believe instruments open up over time. ;)

Doc_J
02-09-2016, 11:49 AM
Hello, I wonder if this goes for a maple ukulele too?
I.e. will it open up or will anything happen at all to it. I have a Brüko made of maple that
I bought last year.
Is there any difference in how a mahogany or a koa ukulele will open up?
Is there any clear difference in what way ukuleles of different marerials (koa, mahogany or maple for instance) will sound once they have opened up?
Is there any certain way into which the tone will develop?

Please when answering, take into account an instrument made with a top of the aforementioned sort of wood.

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?92705-Instruments-Opening-Up&highlight=tone+developing

Best regards

Hi Henning,

Maybe we could have your thoughts on this topic? Your question is very broad.

I've experienced an uke open up, on new ukes of various woods. It can take days or weeks depending on the build, for the same wood. Opening up won't compensate for over-built.

cpmusic
02-09-2016, 11:58 AM
Opening up won't compensate for over-built.

Agreed. It also won't change the overall personality of an instrument. If you don't like the way it sounds when it's new, you probably won't like it down the road, either.

Mivo
02-09-2016, 12:04 PM
It's a topic that guitarists have been arguing over for decades. Perhaps someone has made tests with artificial aging processes? I recall reading opinions from luthiers who said that if an instrument opens up (= changes the tone, not necessarily for the better), it happens early on, in the first few weeks or months, not years. It'd also make sense to me that it changes its tone as the wood dries out, over the course of decades. That may improve or decrease the tone.

But this probably needs some scientific tests. Human perception of subtle changes isn't particularly well-developed. I think it was Michael Shermer who once wrote in his book "Why People Believe Weird Things" that humans are story-telling animals who see patterns everywhere, even if there are none.

But I really don't know. If it happens, it would also seem likely to me that different woods are differently affected by age and the moon cycle.

Tootler
02-09-2016, 12:18 PM
It's a topic that guitarists have been arguing over for decades. Perhaps someone has made tests with artificial aging processes? I recall reading opinions from luthiers who said that if an instrument opens up (= changes the tone, not necessarily for the better), it happens early on, in the first few weeks or months, not years. It'd also make sense to me that it changes its tone as the wood dries out, over the course of decades. That may improve or decrease the tone.

But this probably needs some scientific tests. Human perception of subtle changes isn't particularly well-developed. I think it was Michael Shermer who once wrote in his book "Why People Believe Weird Things" that humans are story-telling animals who see patterns everywhere, even if there are none.

But I really don't know. If it happens, it would also seem likely to me that different woods are differently affected by age and the moon cycle.

It makes sense that "Opening up" or whatever you want to call it will happen early on. Given the materials that a ukulele (or guitar) is made from and the processes used to shape and assemble it, there are bound to be residual stresses in a completely new instrument. Stringing it and tuning it will add other stresses and over time these stresses will relax and the instrument will "settle down". But whether the wood "opens up" over a long period, I don't know and I think the jury is still out on that one and I think it's unlikely ever to be proven.

Some of the so-called "opening up" may have more to do with the owner becoming familiar with their instrument and coming to know its character and its foibles. I have three Bruko ukuleles in different sizes, made from different woods and all in different tunings and while they are all different, they all share a family likeness in their tone. That I am sure is mostly to do with the maker. Brukos are generally known for their bright tone, a quality I like in them.

Doc_J
02-09-2016, 02:35 PM
The current trend for using Torrefied Spruce, baked and aged, is related to this aging/opening up discussion. Looks real enough for Stew Mac to sell Torrefied spruce.

http://www.stewmac.com/Materials_and_Supplies/Bodies_and_Necks_and_Wood/Acoustic_Guitar_Wood/Acoustic_Guitar_Soundboards_and_Tops/Torrefied_Sitka_Spruce_Soundboard_for_Dreadnought_ Guitar.html

M3Ukulele
02-09-2016, 04:41 PM
My KoAloha Opio tenor with Sapele solid wood has been amazing in how it opened up. When Uke arrived some notes were "thud" but with playing and more playing this Uke has really come alive. I believe it has opened up. seven month of playing and this is a completely different instrument than the day I got it. I do believe different wood opens up differenltly.
YMMV

Ukulele Eddie
02-09-2016, 05:46 PM
Some people believe it resolutely. Others believe it to be myth; that it is actually people just getting to know their instruments better.

Here is a link to download a PDF of an article describing research done by Stanford students (it appears) where they compared three sets of paired instruments (each pair being identical) where one was vibrated and other was not. Blind subjective tests with experienced players comparing the pairs failed to reliably distinguish the treated instrument vs. the control. I'm not suggesting this ends the debate. I'm just sharing as interesting research project.

savartjournal.org/index.php/sj/article/download/22/pdf

As interesting as I find this experiment, plenty of experienced luthiers and players swear there is a difference.

actadh
02-09-2016, 06:13 PM
I have notice a richer sound over time in my three well made solid wood ukuleles - sapele Opio, maple Bruko, mahogany Silvertone. But I also am more aware of out of tune ukuleles than before, too. I can now detect what my tuner is telling me before I look at the tuner.

So... I think that I am developing an ear, along with the ukuleles changing to the environment of my surroundings.

But, going along with that, I have noticed is that any of my solid ukuleles that have been cased untouched for at least a week sound dull when I first go to play it. Not bad, not dead, just... dull.

But, an hour or so of playing it, putting it away, then playing it the next day gets rid of that dull tone.

So is it that my ears have become unused to the sound, and then get used to it? Is it that my fingers took a bit for muscle memory to remember how to coax the best sound?

All I know is that any time I play a ukulele, look at it and go "hmmm..." it is usually one that for whatever reason has not been out of the case for a while.

So, since these three ukuleles rarely leave the house, I think that what I have attributed to opening up is the wood balancing with the temperature and humidity. The 70+ year old Silvertone seems to bear this out. Any opening up would have already happened. In fact, the pill box humidifiers in the case are a big factor in making it sound better than when I first got it secondhand as it was extremely dry.

kohanmike
02-09-2016, 07:45 PM
Opening up won't compensate for over-built.

My Bruce Wei Arts custom solid flame maple top, solid acacia koa body never had the sustain or projection I was hoping for. Apparently, as was told to me by Pepe Romero when he did at presentation at U-Space recently, that flame maple is too stiff to be a top wood for a uke. It did open up in about a year to be smoother then at first, but still does not have the sustain or projection.

Bruce also built me a custom mandolele, all solid acacia koa and it did have the sustain and projection I like right from the start.

Henning
02-09-2016, 08:00 PM
[QUOTE=Doc_J;1810263]Hi Henning,

Maybe we could have your thoughts on this topic? Your question is very broad.

Hi Doc and all you other guys too

Yes, the topic is broad. So are the opinions too. It seems as though, for those who believe, a well made instrument with a solid top will open up if played.
Why?
The vibrations makes the parts mate tighter? (!?)
The wood dries(?).

Assumably, an instrument like a guitar with rosewood bottom is more likely to take longer time to open up due to the facts that rosewood is a harder material(?)
Who knows?

I have a solid top steel string Landola guitar that I bought new. I played it, I played it and I kept playing it. After five years in the summer during one week I realized what I remember as a dramtic improvement. It was like that I didn´t want to stop playing it. :drool:

Some persons as well as in the instrument making process would say that it is just a myth though.
Still I´ve read somewhere that vintage instruments kept at conservatories and museums, the staff got to take them home to play them to not loose the tone.
An important factor might be that you get used to how an instrument sound.
So, what might happen to my little maple Brüko nr 4?:cool:

Henning
02-09-2016, 08:03 PM
My Bruce Wei Arts custom solid flame maple top, solid acacia koa body never had the sustain or projection I was hoping for. Apparently, as was told to me by Pepe Romero when he did at presentation at U-Space recently, that flame maple is too stiff to be a top wood for a uke. It did open up in about a year to be smoother then at first, but still does not have the sustain or projection.

Bruce also built me a custom mandolele, all solid acacia koa and it did have the sustain and projection I like right from the start.

The flame maple will look outstanding. But it won´t be an outstanding tone material for a top(?). I suppose the same goes for any maple, even though it isn´t as beautiful as the flame maple.

DownUpDave
02-10-2016, 01:23 AM
Doc J has an all maple tenor that sounds sweet and warm and amazing so.........

Because wood is wood, meaning one board is different from another it is hard to make generalities. Chuck Moore of Moore Bettha ukuleles has said he feels if anything does happen it is usually in the first month. He said play it long, loud and hard for the first month so I do with every new uke I buy.

I had a uke built by custom guitar builder David Webber and I commented on how nice and lively it sounded. It is spruce top with cocobolo back and sides. He said the first string change will be interesting and just wait a years time and it will really improve. He has been building for 25 years and make about 1000 guitars a year so he has a lot of experience

So who really knows??? I have experienced it with an all mahogany Loprinzi, an all sycamore Mya Moe and I am hearing it with my spruce/rosewood LfdM which I got in August 2015

NatalieS
02-10-2016, 02:49 AM
I do think solid wood instruments have the ability to open up with time. More so guitars than ukuleles, though, as it seems there is a lot more surface area and potential for the wood to adjust. I saw this happen with my mom's guitar, which is now over 20 years old and plays effortlessly.

I can't remember who said this (maybe Jean Larrivee), but I like the idea. The wood that goes into an instrument has only known how to be a tree, up to now. Now, it has to adjust to its new life of being bent and making music, and that can take some time to occur.

Perhaps that's why it's so crucial to build instruments in temperature and humidity controlled environments.

UkerDanno
02-10-2016, 03:42 AM
I definitely believe in opening up. My Martin C1K sounded pretty good, new, but after a couple years of being played a lot, it sounded amazing! Same with my Kanile'a, which I got used, but hadn't been played much in 2 years. I was not real impressed with it right away, but now, after almost 10 mos. of being played lots, it too sounds amazing. They are both Koa, don't have any experience with maple.

70sSanO
02-10-2016, 04:04 AM
I won't disagree that a solid wood will open-up or maybe adjust to the bending pressures and string tensions over time. But one thing I have found is that environment plays a bigger role in how an instrument, especially a small size ukulele, will sound on any particular day.

For me, a ukulele will go through temperature/humidity phases where it can sound exceptional and at other times not quite as good. I've never really bothered to chart anything, but it seems that there are definite seasonal adjustments occurring that impact sound. I'm of the opinion that there are summer ukes and winter ukes based the preference, so to speak, of a particular instrument.

I know temperature does effect wood because years ago, when I played bass at our church, I found that I would get string buzz on an early cold morning when I first started to play. As the instrument acclimated to a warmer temperature the buzz would go away.

John

wayfarer75
02-10-2016, 05:21 AM
I had a LoPrinzi soprano for a couple of days before I returned it to the seller. It definitely went through some changes in sound over that time. I never thought it sounded bad, but the wood and the strings definitely went through an adjustment period.

I'm sure that an instrument changes over time, but I have not noticed anything dramatic with my own ukuleles. String changes and seasonal temperature/humidity changes are more noticeable to my ear. I would bet changes within the instrument are very subtle, one you would only notice if you had the same player, same strings, same song, same recording equipment, just two recordings years apart. Comparing two instruments, one old/vibrated and one new, I doubt that you would hear a much bigger difference in sound between those instruments than what was already there when they were both new.

ukeeku
02-10-2016, 05:31 AM
A few things I have come to know about instruments.
1. Finishes take a long time to cure. If it is a lacquer finish it could be 6-months to a year before it is truly done and at its hardest. that can make a difference over time. then it ages and can take on other properties. Yellowing, cracking?
2. Wood changes over time as it dries and ages. I look at my Spruce top and it is no longer the light wood it once was and it has picked up a lot of sustain over time.
3. Glue can take time to cure, as it stiffens or ages it can vibrate better, or loosen up as it starts to form micro-micro fractures. as you play the uke more, just like wearing jeans or playing with the same baseball mit, it will change and loosen in the parts that move the most.
4. solid wood instruments can be different from season to season. Winter it is more dry (20%), with summer being stupid humid (90%) here in Illinois. and temps from -20 to 110 degrees. although you may humidify, and have a tempature controlled house, it will make a difference.

So "opening up" is not a myth, it is just complicated.

experimentjon
02-10-2016, 06:18 AM
As someone who owned a ToneRite (and ran it non-stop on my instruments), I can say that opening up is a real thing. Even to my untrained ear, I could hear distinct differences in the before and after. I've got a few instruments sitting back at home in Hawaii, and look forward to them aging while I am away for school.

bearbike137
02-10-2016, 07:42 AM
All wooden acoustic stringed instruments "open up" over time. It just basic physics and chemistry. Anyone who has played a brand new instrument with a stiff Adirondack top over a period of time can attest to the significant change in tone.

Ukulele Eddie
02-10-2016, 09:35 AM
What I find so interesting about this thread is so many people are 100% convinced of the absolute truth about an instrument opening up with no control uke to compare to and based entirely on subjective data. They're not even remotely open to the notion it might be in our heads. It might be sort of like when everyone "knew" the world was flat. LOL.

I'm not saying they don't. I just think we have to be open to the idea that maybe they don't. See the article I shared earlier in this thread where there was at least an attempt to use science.

Camsuke
02-10-2016, 10:00 AM
I had one of these many years ago. It "opened up" straight away!

johnson430
02-10-2016, 10:34 AM
I searched the ToneRite after seeing it stated in an earlier thread.
This has convinced me something is going on with playing an instrument opposed to just letting it set and age to "open up":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsRhNzdB-g8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvDK6MQw-rk

Doc_J
02-10-2016, 10:42 AM
What I find so interesting about this thread is so many people are 100% convinced of the absolute truth about an instrument opening up with no control uke to compare to and based entirely on subjective data. They're not even remotely open to the notion it might be in our heads. It might be sort of like when everyone "knew" the world was flat. LOL.

I'm not saying they don't. I just think we have to be open to the idea that maybe they don't. See the article I shared earlier in this thread where there was at least an attempt to use science.

Eddie, you've had your share of new instruments. What have you personally experienced?

What those researchers did, doesn't change my observations of my instruments. The article shared was interesting but I'm not sure it answers any questions about opening-up for most folks. The authors acknowledged they only explored the effects of a vibration device. And they fully disclose "the vibration treatment is much more gentle than regular guitar playing and might not be expected to have the same effect".

I'm not even sure the vibration device was used correctly.

Snargle
02-10-2016, 10:54 AM
I search the ToneRite after seeing it stated in an earlier thread.
This has convinced me something is going on with playing an instrument opposed to just letting it set and age to "open up":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsRhNzdB-g8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvDK6MQw-rkI would be convinced if they started out with two identical instruments, same strings, same everything, and then set them side-by-side for a week, one with the Tone-Rite and one without. Then have the same player play the exact same thing on both instruments, into the exact same microphone and recording setup...and preferrably without him knowing which one was treated. A true blind test. If after that, there is a significant sound difference between the two instruments, then I'd become a believer. These two videos have too many variables for a valid evaluation.

Luke El U
02-10-2016, 02:50 PM
What I find so interesting about this thread is so many people are 100% convinced of the absolute truth about an instrument opening up with no control uke to compare to and based entirely on subjective data. They're not even remotely open to the notion it might be in our heads. It might be sort of like when everyone "knew" the world was flat. LOL.

I'm not saying they don't. I just think we have to be open to the idea that maybe they don't. See the article I shared earlier in this thread where there was at least an attempt to use science.

The OP essentially stated in the title of this thread that the opinions of skeptics or infidels are not wanted. So, probably a lot of us have kept quiet on the issue.

Ukulele Eddie
02-10-2016, 05:05 PM
Eddie, you've had your share of new instruments. What have you personally experienced?

I can't say I've noticed. But that may be because (a) I'm often experimenting with strings, which I personally think is probably a much larger contributor to tone differences than "opening up" and (b) the longest owned instrument is still only a year old. That doesn't mean I don't believe opening may happen. But I'm a data-driven guy and I will always hold the possibility that it's a fallacy until I see some science that tips it one way or the other.

Doc_J
02-10-2016, 05:38 PM
I can't say I've noticed. But that may be because (a) I'm often experimenting with strings, which I personally think is probably a much larger contributor to tone differences than "opening up" and (b) the longest owned instrument is still only a year old. That doesn't mean I don't believe opening may happen. But I'm a data-driven guy and I will always hold the possibility that it's a fallacy until I see some science that tips it one way or the other.

I totally understand and agree with letting accurate data be the basis for decisions and conclusions. But, only one real, true experience eliminates the absolute possibility of fallacy. I'm sorry you've not experienced it.

Camsuke
02-10-2016, 06:05 PM
My Kinnard Maple Kiku is a classic example. At first is was as tight as a fish's rear end. It had a wonderful tone but wasn't quite delivering the volume I knew it was capable of. I played it, and played it, probably a couple of hours a day for 4 -6 weeks and then it started to produce the goods. There was a noticeable increase in volume, resonance and sustain from then on. I am totally blown away by the transformation and enjoy the Kiku more than ever before.

Mivo
02-10-2016, 11:26 PM
(Edited this post because in retrospect I didn't feel it expressed my vantage point usefully. :))

Mivo
02-11-2016, 12:30 AM
Good points, Bill. Perhaps the better question is how strong, in terms of perceivable changes, the impact of aging is, and what time frame we're looking at for "substantial" alterations that aren't extremely subtle to a point where they can be measured only with difficulty.

When there were some blind tests for woods and strings, the results were pretty interesting. I speculate that the tonal differences of different strings and woods are far more significant than those caused by the aging process, especially if the time frame is short. Differently put, I wonder what it is that people hear when they talk about "opening up", and what it is that actually changed, in terms of causing the tonal differences (could be one's posture, for example, the finger nails could be half a millimeter longer or shorter, our skin could be softer or harder, etc).

I agree with the comment about the marketing aspect. I think that is really where my skepticism comes from. I also see more claims that instruments "opened up" and sounded better than claims that instruments "closed down" and sounded worse, which I feel should be as common if the aging process does lead to noticeable changes.

Doc_J
02-11-2016, 01:35 AM
This sounds condescending in a religious sort of way.

My ukuleles sound different to me every day, but I doubt they are musical clams. Even if I recorded myself every day, they'd sound different, because my ability to play consistently isn't there. The environmental conditions aren't the same every day. Now I'll go and make tea. And watch how my perception of the line I currently experience as "truly" and "really" condescending will be altered once the caffeine kicks in! :p

Sorry, didn't mean to be condescending or sound religious, just logical. One example to the positive, eliminates that hypothesis that it never happens.

Mivo
02-11-2016, 01:47 AM
Sorry, didn't mean to be condescending or sound religious, just logical. One example to the positive, eliminates that hypothesis that it never happens.

I did word that a little strongly -- certainly more so than I felt. Sorry. As mentioned in my response to Bill, my skepticism is really more about the degree and the discernible effect, and how reliable our own perception is. I'm not questioning that aging does have an effect on an instrument (and everything else). I have no solidified convictions about the "opening up" topic beyond that. I just don't know.

Rllink
02-11-2016, 02:13 AM
If all you have is science, math, or common sense, your're going to need more to convince me of anything. All three have failed me many times over the course of my life. They are a good starting point, but they prove nothing.

$149 for a machine that plays the hell out of your instrument for you, so you don't have to break it in yourself?

Mim
02-11-2016, 03:22 AM
Going to answer with my thoughts and opinions on this within the questions. I am HUGE about differentiating when I am talking about fact and opinion. Just because it is easy to take someone in the "industry's" opinion as fact, so... just to be clean... the opinion of Mim from my experience is as follows:

Hello, I wonder if this goes for a maple ukulele too?

I do believe there are variations to what tone woods open up the most. Maple is usually a back and sides wood. It has a harder, thumpy, very warm sound. And I find it does not open up as much because it is not a very "open" wood.

I.e. will it open up or will anything happen at all to it. I have a Brüko made of maple that
I bought last year.
Is there any difference in how a mahogany or a koa ukulele will open up?

I feel like I hear the most opening up personally when it comes to mahogany and koa. Less when it comes to spruce. I think each wood is different like that. Less when it comes to maple. And it is something where after a year, if you have a very overbuilt ukulele with a lot of gloss (not all gloss is created equal). Or if the wood of the uke is thick and heavy, there is very little chance the ukulele will change over time. That being said, I actually have very little experience with Bruko, so I am referencing factory made ukuleles in general and not your particular model.

That being said... even factory made Mahoganies and Koas are made equal and I have found some brands open up more than others. I had a problem once where someone at a uke fest wanted to buy my mahogany sopranino and not the one I had for sale. Mine was scratched, dinged, and very much loved. But they wanted that sound. I had to explain that it was the play time and the love of playing that uke that made it sing. And that most likely if they bought the stock one and played it as much as I played mine, then it would sound sweeter in a few months as well.


Is there any clear difference in what way ukuleles of different marerials (koa, mahogany or maple for instance) will sound once they have opened up?
Is there any certain way into which the tone will develop?

I think so. I think it even varies with each individual uke and each individual build.

That being said... I do think sometimes part of the "opening up" phenomenon has to do with the uke "Settling in", especially the strings. If the strings are still stretching and settling, the uke can go out of tune mid song and sound sour. And you think it is the uke. Because you can tune it and in a couple strums it sounds "a little off" not realizing that it is just that one string is slightly out of tune. A set up helps that too.

Heck, I had a uke yesterday that had come into stock that had been played at NAMM and it just sounded sour. I set it up, changed the strings which had been overtaxed, played it over and over with it sounding sour and off, re-tuned, played, retuned, played. And after a couple hours, that sucker sounded SWEET! I could say "wow, all my playing opened it up", but it was mainly string settling. And the fact I swapped out the Aquilas for Worth Browns probably helped too.

Ok, this was a little disjointed and babbly, but I love talking ukes and figured I would answer from my experience.

Ukulele Eddie
02-11-2016, 03:27 AM
I totally understand and agree with letting accurate data be the basis for decisions and conclusions. But, only one real, true experience eliminates the absolute possibility of fallacy. I'm sorry you've not experienced it.

By saying "one real, true experience eliminates absolute the possibility" is actually making my point. Your experience is entirely subjective. If you've ever "known" something and later found out you were wrong, logic should dictate that this is also possibly a fallacy. As another string example, loads of people "know" that a Stradivarius sounds discernibly better than any other violin. Guess what? It may very well be a fallacy. Check out this double-blind study that showed not only could they not identify them, they weren't even selected as the best sounding. http://www.thestrad.com/cpt-latests/blind-tested-soloists-unable-to-tell-stradivarius-violins-from-modern-instruments/

By the way, I did not take your comment as condescending, so no worries there.

Doc_J
02-11-2016, 04:00 AM
By saying "one real, true experience eliminates absolute the possibility" is actually making my point. Your experience is entirely subjective. If you've ever "known" something and later found out you were wrong, logic should dictate that this is also possibly a fallacy. As another string example, loads of people "know" that a Stradivarius sounds discernibly better than any other violin. Guess what? It's a fallacy. Check out this double-blind study that showed not only could they not identify them, they weren't even selected as the best sounding. http://www.thestrad.com/cpt-latests/blind-tested-soloists-unable-to-tell-stradivarius-violins-from-modern-instruments/

By the way, I did not take your comment as condescending, so no worries there.

Thanks Eddie, I do value your thoughts and discussion.

natchez
02-11-2016, 04:20 AM
Some people believe it resolutely. Others believe it to be myth; that it is actually people just getting to know their instruments better.

Here is a link to download a PDF of an article describing research done by Stanford students (it appears) where they compared three sets of paired instruments (each pair being identical) where one was vibrated and other was not. Blind subjective tests with experienced players comparing the pairs failed to reliably distinguish the treated instrument vs. the control. I'm not suggesting this ends the debate. I'm just sharing as interesting research project.

savartjournal.org/index.php/sj/article/download/22/pdf

As interesting as I find this experiment, plenty of experienced luthiers and players swear there is a difference.






Thanks for the reference, this was a very interesting article to read. Essentially, the authors concluded that the "commercial" vibration product did nothing to enhance the guitars. However, the authors did note a subtle, but real, change in frequency response over the testing period. They state this change may be due to the actual playing of the guitars, rather than the vibration device, the passage of time (3 months), weather changes in Palo Alto, or less likely measurement differences. They end up stating: "Hence it is likely that the changes in frequency response function represent a real change."

So, from this study I would conclude not to buy the vibration device, but otherwise that the scientific verdict on break-in seems to still be out.

Snargle
02-11-2016, 05:41 AM
I've read through this entire thread (quite interesting and thought-provoking!) and have come to the following conclusions:

1) Buy a ukulele that sounds good to start with.
2) Play the hell out of it.
3) Over time (some undetermined period), the sound of the instrument will change; hopefully, for the better.
4) If it doesn't change, you've still got a good-sounding ukulele.

Did I miss anything? ;)

Camsuke
02-11-2016, 10:38 AM
I've read through this entire thread (quite interesting and thought-provoking!) and have come to the following conclusions:

1) Buy a ukulele that sounds good to start with.
2) Play the hell out of it.
3) Over time (some undetermined period), the sound of the instrument will change; hopefully, for the better.
4) If it doesn't change, you've still got a good-sounding ukulele.

Did I miss anything? ;)

You've nailed it Larry!

Luke El U
02-11-2016, 01:40 PM
Maybe every uke should aspire to "open up" like Willie Nelson's guitar.

88301

Nickie
02-11-2016, 05:26 PM
What a great thread. I learn something every time I tune in.

Ukulele Eddie
02-11-2016, 06:55 PM
I've read through this entire thread (quite interesting and thought-provoking!) and have come to the following conclusions:

1) Buy a ukulele that sounds good to start with.
2) Play the hell out of it.
3) Over time (some undetermined period), the sound of the instrument will change; hopefully, for the better.
4) If it doesn't change, you've still got a good-sounding ukulele.

Did I miss anything? ;)

Love it. I would change only one word: change "will" on line 3) to "may". ;-)

Henning
02-15-2016, 02:27 AM
Really practical with a bottom that you can "open up" and close down in accordance with your preferations at that very moment. ;)
I bet this affects the tone however. Naturally too all in accordance with ones personal valuations.

But for an instrument to open up, do you think it is really important to keep it tuned while playing?
An musical instruments salesman once told me it is really important to keep it tuned, just as important as it is to play the instrument.
Maybe he was just pedagogic in the sense that he knew that an instrument will produce its most when tuned.
Probably the choice of glue, as well as the age and quality of the lacquer will have an impact too, don´t you think?

I´ve read some time that Stradivarius violins took ~80 years to regain their full maturity, I´ve heard a guitar can improve for some 20 years. But why should it be like that?
Why would a guitar not be able to develop for as long time as a violin, if played?

Luke El U
02-15-2016, 02:56 PM
I´ve read some time that Stradivarius violins took ~80 years to regain their full maturity, I´ve heard a guitar can improve for some 20 years. But why should it be like that?
Why would a guitar not be able to develop for as long time as a violin, if played?

Well, you see, it has to do with the quality of the notes being played on the instrument. Anyone lucky enough to play on a Stradivarius was probably a very remarkable musician playing notes masterfully composed by the the likes Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart etc. Whereas the kind of notes being hacked on guitars these days come from Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, and Taylor Swift. Clearly, an instrument's lifestyle of getting regular classical exercise and a diet rich in quality notes will better enable full maturity, so to speak. ;)

Henning
03-03-2016, 11:07 PM
Well, you see, it has to do with the quality of the notes being played on the instrument. Anyone lucky enough to play on a Stradivarius was probably a very remarkable musician playing notes masterfully composed by the the likes Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart etc. Whereas the kind of notes being hacked on guitars these days come from Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, and Taylor Swift. Clearly, an instrument's lifestyle of getting regular classical exercise and a diet rich in quality notes will better enable full maturity, so to speak. ;)

Yepp!
Seems logically and reasonably completely all true to me.
Luckily, for us, Jimi Hendrix didn´t play the ukulele and neither did Pete Townsend in the Who. :music:

Croaky Keith
03-03-2016, 11:58 PM
My meager experience is that the tone does change slightly from when new.

Even my cheap laminates have opened up to a nicer tone in the couple of months that I have owned them, but I would just call it settling in. :)

wickedwahine11
03-04-2016, 12:51 AM
Yepp!
Seems logically and reasonably completely all true to me.
Luckily, for us, Jimi Hendrix didn´t play the ukulele and neither did Pete Townsend in the Who. :music:

Ah, but both did. ;)

Jimi Hendrix' first instrument was an ukulele. https://www.jimihendrix.com/jimi/
And Pete Townshend even played one on a song, "Blue, Red and Grey." http://www.gotaukulele.com/2010/04/pete-townshend-rocks-his-uke.html

wayfarer75
03-04-2016, 02:44 AM
I was at a string instrument festival on the weekend, makers and players. The makers all believe in opening up. One interesting thing is that they choose wood and processes which will result in the opening up (if it happens) in the lifetime of the buyer. A lesson learned form the Stradivarius story is that 80 years is too long, the original owner will never see the opening up or experience the instrument at its best.
Another interesting point is that they believed some of the fancy wood used in stringed instruments at present is not going to open up for 20 -30 years. If you let them choose the wood, they wouldn't be using it because they like their customers to hear the instrument at its best, not "tight".

It makes sense that "opening up" would be a long process. No doubt instruments change over time, but in a subtle way. The only problem I have with the idea of this is that a buyer might get an instrument that sounds "meh" and expect that it will sound better later.

Nickie
03-04-2016, 02:59 AM
My meager experience is that the tone does change slightly from when new.

Even my cheap laminates have opened up to a nicer tone in the couple of months that I have owned them, but I would just call it settling in. :)

That's what I call it too, Keith. I'm sure my ukes sound different than when I first got them. My solid top Ohana is louder but less brash, to me.
I feel like the wood molecules absorb the energy from the vibrations of the notes we play time after time, but maybe that's too "woo-woo" for some folks.

TjW
03-04-2016, 03:47 AM
That's what I call it too, Keith. I'm sure my ukes sound different than when I first got them. My solid top Ohana is louder but less brash, to me.
I feel like the wood molecules absorb the energy from the vibrations of the notes we play time after time, but maybe that's too "woo-woo" for some folks.
Not woo-woo, just basic physics, as long as you realize that having absorbed the energy, it gets dissipated as heat.
OTOH anything regarding non-quantifiable "energy" -- yep, that's woo.

UkeInTW
03-04-2016, 04:14 AM
Maybe I dont have the ear for it, or I have not owned my ukes for long enough, some too new, but 1 - 1.5 years for some, 2 or so for the longest, and maybe I own too many, so switching back and forth, it is harder to remember the sound or a specific one, or it is such a gradual change, I dont really notice it. Whatever the reason, I have not noticed a change in sound over time. Probably a combination of all the above for me.

Nickie
03-04-2016, 05:24 AM
Not woo-woo, just basic physics, as long as you realize that having absorbed the energy, it gets dissipated as heat.
OTOH anything regarding non-quantifiable "energy" -- yep, that's woo.
Heat, yes, that's what I was trying to say, but I got lost in words. I believe in the words of Einstein, and science, and what little sense I have of physics. But not too much in woo-woo. I wouldn't make a very good atheist if I did!
I wish I would have continued my studies in Plant Physiology and Microbiology when I was young, I might have bettered myself a lot.
Sorry, off topic.....can you say "highjacked"?

Luke El U
03-04-2016, 02:38 PM
Ah, but both did. ;)

Jimi Hendrix' first instrument was an ukulele. https://www.jimihendrix.com/jimi/
And Pete Townshend even played one on a song, "Blue, Red and Grey." http://www.gotaukulele.com/2010/04/pete-townshend-rocks-his-uke.html

Yes, that's right. The OP and I knew that. We were being facetious. As per Townshend and the topic of this thread, one can keep in mind his lyrics from another song: "It's an eminence front, it's a put on..."

Briangriffinukuleles
03-04-2016, 05:39 PM
There is no doubt in my mind that ukuleles "open up" as they are played. They develop a depth and warmth of tone as they are played. The growth begins in the first days of playing and continues for weeks, perhaps months and years. This might not be true of laminate ukes but it surely is the case with solid wood ukes. Experiencing the maturation of a good instrument is one of the true joys of ukulele ownership.

good_uke_boy
03-05-2016, 03:07 PM
I believe.

bearbike137
03-05-2016, 05:12 PM
It's not a matter of faith. Acoustic wooden instruments "open up" with age and use. There are plenty of examples out there of artists recording with same instrument for years. Listen to early vs later recordings. I have many of my own '97 Collings guitar. Same studio, same mics. Recent takes versus earlier are noticeably different (rounder, fuller, more open sounding, more bass, more volume, yet drier).

Mivo
03-05-2016, 05:47 PM
It's not a matter of faith. Acoustic wooden instruments "open up" with age and use. There are plenty of examples out there of artists recording with same instrument for years. Listen to early vs later recordings.

It may be the artist who "opened up". :)

Rodney.
03-06-2016, 04:52 AM
Nah, it still is a matter of faith.
Like stated earlier in this thread by a couple of people: it could also be the player getting more out of an instrument after playing it for a long time.
My first bicycle was really bad, it had no speed, the handling was poor, breaks were difficult to control. Around my sixth birthday it started to open up.

bearbike137
03-06-2016, 09:41 AM
Physics doesn't require faith....

Inksplosive AL
03-06-2016, 10:17 AM
Bought a Vietnam tenor I call my wei wei it sounded dull and cracked a week after the heat went on. I humidified it and fixed the small crack with a bit of tightbond and left it in the jungle box. I felt it was very quiet and overbuilt.

Flash forward a year or more when I received my well loved, well played koahola concert built in 2002 IIRC. Comparing it to everything else my wei wei surprised me at how much better it sounded since I last held it.

It is now comparable to the well played Koahola concert in richness and fullness of sound. $18.50 plus shipping which I think was $60 or $70 for a tenor back then. My little KA-GAS sounds better now a month or two since Ive restrung it with Aquila reds but I'm beginning to believe these strings have a break in period as well. Heck even my KA-SEM with old reds on it has gotten louder over the years.

~believe what you will~

barefootgypsy
03-06-2016, 11:56 AM
I...... am very skeptical. I think ukes can sound different according to how much humidity there is in the air - it varies quite a bit here.... but I am still to be convinced about "opening up through time and playing".... just my opinion -like everyone else's...

Big Bird
03-06-2016, 12:51 PM
For what it's worth... http://www.premierguitar.com/articles/19720-acoustic-soundboard-the-sonic-effect-of-time-and-vibration

DelSc
03-06-2016, 01:03 PM
In my experience, the "break in" effect is very real in some guitars. I studied acoustic guitar building for about 5 years with a luthier in NH named Alan Carruth. Alan is fastidious about measuring acoustic properties of guitar components during construction and then measuring the response after assembly. You can look at his web site and see some of the stuff he does. Alan said that on many of his guitars, he measured about 1/2 semitone drop in pitch of the main top resonant mode after a month or so of playing. I can remember him discussing building with this in mind, expecting some drop in frequency to result, and to have the guitar settle into where he wanted it to be in the final condition.

I'm sure this effect varies from builder to builder, and from guitar to guitar. Just my opinion here, but I would also not be surprised if the effect is different on ukuleles or violins since the overall stress levels in the plates of these instruments is likely different than in a guitar. The one ukulele I have played seems to sound the same today as the day I bought it.

DelSc
03-06-2016, 01:08 PM
Hi Randy, Pure coincidence that I replied to the thread with some comments about Alan about 10 min after you posted the article that contained some of his comments.

good_uke_boy
03-06-2016, 04:24 PM
I believe.

Maybe I should elaborate. I believe based on personal experience. An instrument I'm lucky to own has opened up, like the luthier said it would.

Rllink
03-07-2016, 03:14 AM
I really don't know if they open up or not. As I said before, science and math has failed me so many times, that I just don't trust that either is absolute. Personal experiences, seem so often to be based on what someone wants to happen, than what really happens. But I'm not going to say that they don't open up or that they do. I have to agree with Mivo, if they can sound better over time, why don't we ever hear of them sounding worse over time? And how was it determined that a violin has been opening up for eighty years? Who kept track of that phenomenon? I do have some observations to throw out there though.

First of all, the "it will open up, give it a little time," is a pretty good marketing pitch for someone who sells ukuleles. I mean, how can you argue with the argument that it will sound better in the future, that all you have to do is wait long enough? Love that one. I appreciated Mim's post on that. I thought that she was being quite honest about her observations.

The second observation has to do with my solid wood Mainland and my laminate Makala. When I first got the Mainland, I thought that it sounded a lot better than my $65 Makala. And over the course of time I was surprised that I ever thought that the Makala sounded good in the first place. But then I would come down to San Juan, where all I had was the Makala, and the first time I would pick it up and play it after three or four months of not playing it, and I would think, "wow, this old thing sounds a lot better than I remember." I am not suggesting that the Mainland does not sound any better than the Makala, the point that I'm trying to make, is that the longer I only play the Mainland, the wider that gap gets in my mind. Then when I play the Makala, it narrows back down a bit, and I know that is in my head.

So, I one time attended a series of seminars about community perceptions and quality of life. The whole seminar talked about positive perceptions. It seems that some people who live in communities that have little or no crime, but still live in constant fear of being victimized, have a lower quality of life, than people who live in crime ridden communities, but who do not fear being victimized. That is because a good part of our quality of life is based on our perceptions, and not on realities. So, using that line of thinking, if someone thinks that their ukulele has opened up and that the sound has improved greatly over a period of time, then that is a positive perception. It doesn't matter whether it happened or not, the belief that it did is enough to make the experience more meaningful to the person, and after all, that perception is the reality.

bearbike137
03-07-2016, 03:59 AM
I remember reading an interview with the builder of Santa Cruz guitars where he said they build their guitars a bit tighter out of the box to counteract the "opening up" dynamic. Otherwise, the guitars would be too "boomy/bassy" sounding when mature.

Django
03-07-2016, 04:14 AM
I believe that solid wood instruments open up. A Koa guitar is probably the most noticeable. I don't know how or why they open up, but I suspect that it is the relaxation of the stress caused by the building process. I had a Martin Koa OM-42 guitar that sounded sweet, but a little thin when new. After a few years of "settling in" it had a brilliant sparkle, (I'm more of a Mahogany person when it comes to guitars). Unfortunately, I liked it best when it was about half way there, so I let it go to a player who preferred the sparkle.

This goes well with the post above, where "the builder of Santa Cruz guitars where he said they build their guitars a bit tighter out of the box to counteract the "opening up" dynamic. Otherwise, the guitars would be too "boomy/bassy" sounding when mature". I agree with that, and I have played a few older ukuleles that were a little too open for my taste.

UkieOkie
03-07-2016, 05:16 AM
I didn't read the whole thread, but I think I notice changes as an instrument ages(sometimes). However, here is my question, would I or anyone else notice an instrument "opening up" if we didn't know "opening up" was supposed to be a thing?

Like I said, I think I notice changes in my solid wood instruments escpecially, but maybe that's because I think I'm supposed to. Also, when we notice these things are we truly accounting for everything including string type, string quality, and string age?

This may have all already been hashed, but I don't have time to read all eight pages at the moment.

Django
03-07-2016, 06:05 AM
I had a friend who was fond of saying "perception is reality", but in this case, I have observed the change and sometimes it is fairly sudden. A new bark, growl or shimmer that was not there before. It is not always for the better.

good_uke_boy
03-07-2016, 03:14 PM
I really don't know if they open up or not. As I said before, science and math has failed me so many times, that I just don't trust that either is absolute. Personal experiences, seem so often to be based on what someone wants to happen, than what really happens. But I'm not going to say that they don't open up or that they do. I have to agree with Mivo, if they can sound better over time, why don't we ever hear of them sounding worse over time? And how was it determined that a violin has been opening up for eighty years? Who kept track of that phenomenon? I do have some observations to throw out there though.

First of all, the "it will open up, give it a little time," is a pretty good marketing pitch for someone who sells ukuleles. I mean, how can you argue with the argument that it will sound better in the future, that all you have to do is wait long enough? Love that one. I appreciated Mim's post on that. I thought that she was being quite honest about her observations.

The second observation has to do with my solid wood Mainland and my laminate Makala. When I first got the Mainland, I thought that it sounded a lot better than my $65 Makala. And over the course of time I was surprised that I ever thought that the Makala sounded good in the first place. But then I would come down to San Juan, where all I had was the Makala, and the first time I would pick it up and play it after three or four months of not playing it, and I would think, "wow, this old thing sounds a lot better than I remember." I am not suggesting that the Mainland does not sound any better than the Makala, the point that I'm trying to make, is that the longer I only play the Mainland, the wider that gap gets in my mind. Then when I play the Makala, it narrows back down a bit, and I know that is in my head.

So, I one time attended a series of seminars about community perceptions and quality of life. The whole seminar talked about positive perceptions. It seems that some people who live in communities that have little or no crime, but still live in constant fear of being victimized, have a lower quality of life, than people who live in crime ridden communities, but who do not fear being victimized. That is because a good part of our quality of life is based on our perceptions, and not on realities. So, using that line of thinking, if someone thinks that their ukulele has opened up and that the sound has improved greatly over a period of time, then that is a positive perception. It doesn't matter whether it happened or not, the belief that it did is enough to make the experience more meaningful to the person, and after all, that perception is the reality.

All excellent points, but (in my case) I can definitely rule out the First one. On the others, I perceive my uke has opened up, and I'm happy about that.

BB11
03-07-2016, 04:51 PM
From a guitar perspective. My mahogany b&s Martin with adirondack top 00 has opened up over the 12 years i have owned it, it is the top in the guitar workd we feel opens up due to vibration from playing. B&S's will dry out and tone changes. My 00 is a very warm dounding guitar, steel strings will probably vibrateca top more, some people put vibration devices in the soundhole or put the instrument nears stereo speakers and blast the music for hours and days on end, i have never done this. My Larrivee Parlor all mahogany with shorter scale and less tension over 5pls years, maybe 7, i have not noticed a change in tone. Could be the heavier build, varnish, less vibration or a more rigid mahogany top. String age also changes tone.

BB11
03-07-2016, 04:54 PM
I remember reading an interview with the builder of Santa Cruz guitars where he said they build their guitars a bit tighter out of the box to counteract the "opening up" dynamic. Otherwise, the guitars would be too "boomy/bassy" sounding when mature.

Richard Hoover has beeb building guitars for yeats to sound like vintage pre war Martins, he does a good job. His instruments are lighter and not overbuilt like a Collings, both great builders.

bearbike137
03-08-2016, 03:54 AM
Richard Hoover has been building guitars for years to sound like vintage pre war Martins, he does a good job. His instruments are lighter and not overbuilt like a Collings, both great builders.

Yep - that was whom it was: Richard Hoover. He said that he tunes his guitars to sound a bit tight when leaving the factory, so that when they "open up" - they will hit the sweet spot.

I honestly think it is silly that people are even debating this. Acoustic wood instruments open up with age and use (if they are built right).

natchez
03-08-2016, 05:13 AM
So, I one time attended a series of seminars about community perceptions and quality of life. The whole seminar talked about positive perceptions. It seems that some people who live in communities that have little or no crime, but still live in constant fear of being victimized, have a lower quality of life, than people who live in crime ridden communities, but who do not fear being victimized. That is because a good part of our quality of life is based on our perceptions, and not on realities. So, using that line of thinking, if someone thinks that their ukulele has opened up and that the sound has improved greatly over a period of time, then that is a positive perception. It doesn't matter whether it happened or not, the belief that it did is enough to make the experience more meaningful to the person, and after all, that perception is the reality.

IMO- I agree. I have been on this earth for a while now and one lesson I have learned over time, and I teach it to my students, is that perceptions govern reality. I also frequently add that truth is often what is generally believed, irrespective of the facts.

Now as to instruments opening up- the premium prices on vintage instruments in the marketplace, for example older Martin ukuleles and guitars, some very highly priced Gibson mandolins, and, of course, much older violins, indicate that enough folks believe that the sound of older instruments is more desirable. From that, I can conclude that there is a belief that indeed they open up, or somehow otherwise improve with age. Of course, an alternative explanation might be that the woods used to build them were of a higher tonal quality or the builds themselves were inherently better.

With my own instruments, I cannot prove if it has been time, or my perception, that has me believing there has been a positive change in the tone. But, as my instruments have aged I do enjoy them more and believe at least some of the change is because of the wood settling in and "opening up".

Mivo
03-08-2016, 05:41 AM
I really only struggle with the claim that ukuleles will always "open up" as they age. Wood is an organic material, so as time passes it will go through different stages of changing. It makes sense to me that these changes (such as drying out) will affect the tone. What doesn't make sense to me is that these changes should always be beneficial. If an instrument may sound better as it ages because the wood changes, isn't there also the risk that it may sound worse for the same reason?

As for vintage instruments often sounding good, it's worth considering that the duds probably already got removed from the pool. Either because they cracked (poorly built, low wood quality, etc.) or because they were thrown away. People take care of, and pass on, the nice ukes. 50, 70, 90+ years down the road, the quality instruments are probably more likely to have survived the different types of selection processes.

I agree on what's been said about the power of perception. We do create our own reality, in probably more than one way.

natchez
03-08-2016, 05:54 AM
Mivo- you make a very good point, thanks for posting it. I have one vintage instrument on which the neck has twisted a bit over the years and it has become harder to play. So, yes, there is more than likely a survivorship bias in the premium vintage instruments. Even with some cracks some vintage stuff still commands high pricing, albeit less than an intact version would. But, that could be due to rarity also.

Luke El U
03-08-2016, 02:28 PM
I honestly think it is silly that people are even debating this. Acoustic wood instruments open up with age and use (if they are built right).

I strongly disagree with these statements for the following reasons:

A) People should debate questionable claims, especially in the context of this "Emperor's new clothes" mentality of the OP whereas this thread was apparently meant to be "only for you who believe in it."
B)No one has come forward with a quantifiable definition of exactly what this "opening up" phenomena is.
C)To say they will open up only if "they are built right" gives an all too easy cover for the lack of evidence, as if to say "You can't see the Emperor's new clothes because you were not properly educated in the field of imaginary fabrics."

Let this debate rage on! If someone makes a claim, let them show the empirical evidence supporting that claim, not just anecdotes.
Otherwise, buyers beware.

bearbike137
03-08-2016, 03:51 PM
I strongly disagree with these statements for the following reasons:

A) People should debate questionable claims, especially in the context of this "Emperor's new clothes" mentality of the OP whereas this thread was apparently meant to be "only for you who believe in it."
B)No one has come forward with a quantifiable definition of exactly what this "opening up" phenomena is.
C)To say they will open up only if "they are built right" gives an all too easy cover for the lack of evidence, as if to say "You can't see the Emperor's new clothes because you were not properly educated in the field of imaginary fabrics."

Let this debate rage on! If someone makes a claim, let them show the empirical evidence supporting that claim, not just anecdotes.
Otherwise, buyers beware.

"Luthier Alan Carruth has probably done more in-depth investigation into the science of acoustic guitar design than anyone else. One bit of science he has brought to the attention of the lutherie community is that wood consists mainly of cellulose, lignin, and hemicellulose, and that all wood gradually loses hemicellulose—a soluble polysaccharide—to evaporation over a long period of time. The significance is that wood loses some weight along with some strength as it ages, but it does not lose stiffness as fast as it loses the tensile strength. As long as the tensile strength remains sufficient to withstand string tension, there is a net gain in one of the most important features of tonewood: the stiffness-to-weight ratio, which is known as Young’s modulus."

Mivo
03-08-2016, 06:01 PM
Few people will dispute that the tone changes over time as the wood changes. It still, even after source-less citations allegedly made by people (who benefit from this belief: sort of like studies made by the tobacco industry on the health dangers of smoking), does not make sense to me that these changes should always result in an improved tone. The quotation is very general, contains Weasel Words and unspecified common place phrases such as "probably" (so we're guessing?), "some" (how much exactly is "some"?), "more in-depth" (than who or what, what were the methods and approaches used?), "than anyone else" (what's that claim based on?), "long period of time" (is that 10 years or 1000?), and lacks any results from scientific testing.

The actual or claimed changes are also not quantified in any way. How much "better" will the tone be? What even is "better"? How significant is the expected impact of these wood changes in comparison to the impact of other aspects, such as different strings, different tuners, different humidity? How long does it take for these changes to occur in relation to the level of impact? What role plays the type of finish? Does the danger of cracks and deformation also increase? Are the changes audible to the average human ear? How can these alleged improvements be measured in an objective way?

And those are just examples of obvious, basic questions that need answers if you want to lift this debate to a place where it's more than an exchange of hearsay, speculation, and, ultimately, opinion.

The reason scientific tests help in these situations is because human perception, especially subtle perception, is really not reliable. And that's only the psychological aspect, there's also the physiological stuff such as the relative inaccuracy of our senses, particularly when it comes to fine details. We aren't particularly keen animals (look at some optical illusions for example where you see things that you even know aren't accurate, but you see them nonetheless).

I guess if this was a religious debate, I would be the agnostic who just doesn't know, but is generally open to "proof". Throwing scripture at me, though, and citations from the Pope on the subject, won't make me a beliefer. (In a religious debate, which I wouldn't engage in, I'd not need convincing.)

Nickie
03-08-2016, 06:57 PM
Yes, by all means, keep the discussion up, folks!
I've learned so much, even if some of it is theory.
It's a fascinating thread. We're dealing with wood science, which every luthier worth his/her salt knows at least some of.
We're dealing with workworkingart, which is different with every artist.
We're dealing with the player's hands, ears, and heart. Each one of us is unique in how we approach the ukulele, how often we play, how long we play. I'm trying to "break in" my newest uke, so that it sings more beautifully to me every week.
Reading and taking part in these discourses is 2nd in fun to me, only to actually playing my ukes.
Keep it coming!

Django
03-09-2016, 02:29 AM
"Luthier Alan Carruth has probably done more in-depth investigation into the science of acoustic guitar design than anyone else. One bit of science he has brought to the attention of the lutherie community is that wood consists mainly of cellulose, lignin, and hemicellulose, and that all wood gradually loses hemicellulose—a soluble polysaccharide—to evaporation over a long period of time. The significance is that wood loses some weight along with some strength as it ages, but it does not lose stiffness as fast as it loses the tensile strength. As long as the tensile strength remains sufficient to withstand string tension, there is a net gain in one of the most important features of tonewood: the stiffness-to-weight ratio, which is known as Young’s modulus."

This makes good sense. I have never looked into this that deeply. I work all week as an Engineer, so when it comes to instruments, I just enjoy playing. I would not buy an instrument that did not sound good when I bought it. It is just an added bonus when it at least seems to sound better with time.

wayfarer75
03-09-2016, 02:42 AM
Well, I think it can be safely said that one instrument sounding "better" than another is ultimately left to a person's opinion. Even an attribute like sustain, which could be quantified, may not be so desirable when a player wants the more percussive, staccato sound of a soprano.