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View Full Version : Solid wood improves with use??



Beasty_Artemis
03-14-2019, 08:18 AM
So this has probably been asked before, but I wasn't sure how to phrase my question exactly....
So, I've heard that solid wood instruments improve in sound quality the more they are played. Is this true?
Or was it that the wood improves with time like wine?
Now I can't remember.

Swamp Yankee
03-14-2019, 08:25 AM
I think both might contribute to a change in tone over time. Playing brings about vibrations which might have an effect on the wood. Time and fluctuations in temperature and humidity will also "season" the wood.
As to how much of a difference it makes, I dunno.

glennerd
03-14-2019, 08:34 AM
I believe the folklore is that it improves with time.

While it may be true, it's pretty hard to test as you can't play your brand new instrument side by side with the same one that's aged. If you made a high quality recording, you might be able to tell. Now I'm curious as to who here has done this. I'm sure there's someone out there who will put me in my place. :D

Ukecaster
03-14-2019, 08:59 AM
Yes, you've heard of it...THE GRAND OPENING! :D

Lotsa past threads on this in the past here, including this recent one:

https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?137128-The-Hype-quot-Wood-Opening-Up-quot-or-quot-Breaking-In-quot&highlight=TONE+RITE

I think instruments can sound better with lots of play time. Whether that's due to the instrument changing, my ears changing, or my playing adapting to the uke, that's open to debate, and there will be no shortage of opinions on it!

kypfer
03-14-2019, 12:28 PM
... solid wood instruments improve in sound quality the more they are played

Yeah, right ! Marketing gumph to convince you that the instrument you've just spent several weeks/months wages on will finally start to sound better (once the warranty has run out)

If it doesn't sound good when you buy it, why buy it?

If it sounds better after six months it's probably because you've learnt to play it to advantage.

YMMV - :music:

John boy
03-14-2019, 01:50 PM
I think this theory is highly subjective. It's hard to define what "opening up" or "sounding better" really means; it's in the ears of the beholder. I have solid wooden instruments, one of which is a pretty high-end double bass (aka string bass, upright bass) that I used mostly for playing classical music and some jazz. I don't believe its sound has changed in the years I've had it. Same with my guitars. My technique improved greatly over time, though. If you're hoping or counting on an instrument itself to sound better over time, my advice is don't count on it. Then, if tyou feel it has improved over time, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Cliff E
03-14-2019, 05:31 PM
I've noticed an opening of the wood on my violin and cello in the first year of play. This is something we expect of quality stringed instruments and it's simply a fact - a delightful one, for sure.

I'm not sure if it applies to fretted instruments. I guess I'll have to practice more to see.....

kohanmike
03-14-2019, 06:16 PM
Having played guitar for almost fifty years, then playing uke for the last five, and going through about twenty ukes in that time (now with nine), I had a custom made after my first year by Bruce Wei Arts in Vietnam to my specs; solid flame/curly maple top, solid Indian rosewood body, solid neck. When it arrived, I felt that it did not have enough projection and sustain as I like, but I decided to keep it when I read that it would open up after time.

I played it off and on and also kept it in a humidified display case. After about three years, there is no doubt the projection and sustain improved, and being that I was already an accomplished guitar player who didn't take much to transition to ukulele, I can vouch first hand that the uke improved.

This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 9 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 34)

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers: YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers

kypfer
03-14-2019, 11:52 PM
If this concept of "improving with age" has any real science behind it, how come there aren't any manufacturers marketing "5-year aged" or "Stored 10 years in a humidified warehouse" premium-line instruments specifically aimed at the gullible?

There are entrepreneurs out there who are usually willing to jump on any bandwagon where there's a few bucks to be made. How about buying a container-full of solid wood whatever's, stashing them away in a quiet corner for a few years, then slowly filtering these instruments out onto the marketplace at a significant mark-up?

You heard it here first ;)

:music:

Jeffelele
03-15-2019, 12:28 AM
[QUOTE=kypfer;2136230]If this concept of "improving with age" has any real science behind it, how come there aren't any manufacturers marketing "5-year aged" or "Stored 10 years in a humidified warehouse" premium-line instruments specifically aimed at the gullible?

There are entrepreneurs out there who are usually willing to jump on any bandwagon where there's a few bucks to be made. How about buying a container-full of solid wood whatever's, stashing them away in a quiet corner for a few years, then slowly filtering these instruments out onto the marketplace at a significant mark-up?”

That’s what I think. There would be $ to get and people getting them.

Also, why should a change be for the better and not worse?

ukantor
03-15-2019, 12:53 AM
I've said this before, but that's never stopped me repeating myself. A brand new ukulele, just finished and strung for the first time, always sounds disappointing. It isn't just the new strings needing to be tuned frequently while they stretch in, they just don't sound as I know they should. The next day, there will be a very noticeable improvement. Each day thereafter brings more, but reducing, gains. After about a week those improvements will be very slight - barely noticeable, in fact.

If you could represent it on a graph, the line would rise steeply then curve over until, after a month, it was virtually flat. There may be minuscule improvements over the course of many years, but I could not attest to that.

This is just the observation of one man and is highly subjective. There is no harm in believing that your instrument has improved over time, but it would be very difficult to prove, conclusively.

John Colter

Rllink
03-15-2019, 03:20 AM
Also, why should a change be for the better and not worse? That has always been my question. I'm willing to accept that over time things change, but I don't know how it can always be a positive change.

glennerd
03-15-2019, 05:13 AM
I've said this before, but that's never stopped me repeating myself. A brand new ukulele, just finished and strung for the first time, always sounds disappointing. It isn't just the new strings needing to be tuned frequently while they stretch in, they just don't sound as I know they should. The next day, there will be a very noticeable improvement. Each day thereafter brings more, but reducing, gains. After about a week those improvements will be very slight - barely noticeable, in fact.

John Colter

I always took that to not being used to the tone of a new ukulele and growing to appreciate it over time.

EDW
03-15-2019, 05:38 AM
....Or was it that the wood improves with time like wine?
Now I can't remember.

If you drink enough wine the instrument sounds better.

The memory thing can gee a factor as well if you drink enough. :cheers:

Rllink
03-15-2019, 06:05 AM
If you drink enough wine the instrument sounds better.

The memory thing can gee a factor as well if you drink enough. :cheers:

I play my ukulele every afternoon and I have a stiff rum and Coke while I play. It has become ritual. There is no argument that I my ukulele sounds better when I drink rum and Cokes . That is pretty solid scientific evidence that drinking rum and Cokes will make ukuleles open up and have a richer tone.

John boy
03-15-2019, 07:04 AM
<<<That is pretty solid scientific evidence that drinking rum and Cokes will make ukuleles open up and have a richer tone. >>>

Actually I remember seeing a scientific study that confirmed this. I believe it was funded by Bacardi and Coca-Cola, if I recall correctly. ;)

What a nice way to spend a day, playing uke and a rum and Coke.