View Full Version : Humidity and playing, muted sound?

05-02-2017, 03:29 PM
Technical question for more experienced players, what causes the Ukulele to sound muted / muffled when playing in humid environments?

I like playing in the park and a recent humid night I gave up playing after a few minutes because my ukulele didn't have the bright sound I enjoy hearing when picking.

I've read that the source is the strings, could it be the wood as well? My favorite ukulele is Koa with Living Waters strings.

Would playing another Uke on humid nights with different wood or strings help?

05-02-2017, 08:21 PM
I'm not sure about strings causing it, but some of my ukes tend to get muddy sounding when it's really humid, say 80%. They just sound dull. It took me awhile to figure it out. I always figured being open wood inside that they just suck up the moisture, and that causes the dull thuddy sound.

05-04-2017, 05:35 AM
Just narrowing it down to the humidity that way, I don't know. There could be a lot of other factors, and the acoustics of playing outside can be deceiving. I busk on the street corners occasionally, and I know that different locations sound different to me. But also, I just regularly play outside a lot, and when you get outside you are not hearing what the people in front of you are hearing. The sound doesn't bounce back off the walls like it does when you are playing inside. A little wind from the the wrong direction will make the sound muffled. That is why you will often see bands with one of their amps turned toward them, that is because otherwise they can't hear themselves playing. But there are lots of things it could be, and it might not even be your ukulele. So I just throw those thoughts out before you start down the different strings will fix it rabbit hole.

05-04-2017, 06:54 PM
Did you find any moist precipitation on your uke?

Croaky Keith
05-04-2017, 09:45 PM
..... what causes the Ukulele to sound muted / muffled when playing in humid environments?

I'd say it was the amount of moisture in the air - if you fill up your bathroom with steam, it will also mute your sound.

05-04-2017, 11:07 PM
This looks to be almost a science. About guitars, but the first paragraphs are telling: http://www.acousticfingerstyle.com/CareAndFeeding.htm. Not exactly talking about the instant effects on the sound though.

05-05-2017, 11:24 PM
When there is more moisture in the air, the air is "thicker" (people with breathing problems often find it harder to breathe in humid conditions) and heavier. That means that the sound vibrations get absorbed by the air faster and don't travel as far or as fast as in drier air. It doesn't matter the instrument, they all sound more muffled in humid air. In the older days when strings were not made of nylon but rather of animal products the strings would become very limp from the humidity but with nylon and other synthetic materials being used in the strings these days that's not a problem.

05-07-2017, 09:06 AM
One thing for sure......Rllink touched on this, when outside the sound just disappears. If you are use to playing inside and having the acoustics of the room and the sound bouncing off walls there is a huge difference. I play a steel string tenor guitar and it is very loud indoors, when I step outside into the backyard to play it sounds dramtically quieter, especially if there is any wind.

All the other things said about humidity damping the sound are true as well.

05-12-2017, 01:59 AM
Wow, thanks. All great insights!

I'm trying to build up to busking and I like playing outside in general. Good information to have.