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View Full Version : Automatic Ukulele Break-in Device



KamakOzzie
05-12-2010, 04:19 PM
I thought this should be a new thread instead of hi-jacking a previous one.

From Experimentjohn in another thread;

"But, mine has been sitting in its case for the past few weeks though...not quite as long as my Kanilea Baritone, but I've just still been trying to break in my Pineapple Sunday whenever I actually do have time to play. (Someone really needs to invent a machine to do that automatically.)"

Check out this web site.
http://tonerite.com/ukulele/vmchk

I borrowed the mandolin model several months ago from a friend to use on my Kamaka tenor. I left it on for a week, and real of imagined, I swear it opened it up some. A little louder and more sustain. I also tried it on my Kiwaya pineapple and didn't see any improvement. The Kiwaya is a laminate, the Kamaka is solid.

I'm just throwing it up for discussion. It's a lot of money. You could buy another uke for the price.

Chris Tarman
05-12-2010, 05:11 PM
I don't know if this sort of thing works or not, but I read an article in Bass Player magazine about 12 years ago about some luthiers experimenting with clamping instruments to big vibrating tables to try to accomplish the same sort of "playing-in". Kind of an interesting idea, I suppose.

jer989
05-12-2010, 05:18 PM
ok, I normally charge money to do it, but for any UU'ers that need your solid ukes broken in, just send it to me for a week, I'll do it free of charge... ;-)

Seriously though, seems like a neat idea. Do they have an A-B audio sample before and after comparison? That would be neat to hear.

cletus
05-12-2010, 05:25 PM
It's a lot of money. You could buy another uke for the price.

End of discussion.

Craig
05-12-2010, 05:35 PM
This is my favorite gadget:

http://ukulelecraig.com/talentboost2a.jpg

Chris Tarman
05-12-2010, 05:42 PM
This is my favorite gadget:

http://ukulelecraig.com/talentboost2a.jpg

Reminds me of the old Far Side comic strip titled "-----'s last day as the band's sound-man", showing a guy about to push a button on the mixing board labeled "SUCK".

experimentjon
05-12-2010, 05:51 PM
I saw the title of this thread and got excited already. XD

And the Kanilea Baritone has not been touched since I wrote that post. T_T I swear, this semester has been ridiculous. But just two more days of finals and I can fondle my ukes again.

However, $150 is way overpriced for that device, esp since I'm not convinced that it works. If it did work though, I'd probably be willing to pay $50 or so.

Teek
05-12-2010, 07:13 PM
I dunno, I took a look at the website and it seems like a really slick con. Especially with the T-Shirt being extra, lol. And where deeper in the site they admit to how ineffective the Signature model was compared to the new Luthier model which is significantly quieter....

AC Baltimore
05-12-2010, 07:32 PM
What the heck ever happened to playing your instruments to break them in?

clayton56
05-12-2010, 08:17 PM
any sound will make your uke vibrate. Speak into the tonehole and see.

How about playing the radio into it?

GVlog
05-12-2010, 08:35 PM
What the heck ever happened to playing your instruments to break them in?

Maybe some people have too many instruments and not enough time.

Parlor Picker
05-12-2010, 10:46 PM
I seem to remember the Tone-Rite subject coming up a while ago on the Larrivée Guitar forum. As I mentioned there, a luthier friend of mine has always advocated standing your instrument in front of your stereo speakers, so it picks up the vibrations. He is convinced a session in front of a particular John Martyn album (can't remember which one) worked wonders for a new guitar!

I keep an open mind and agree with the comment that there's no substitute for playing the instrument, be it a guitar, mandolin, ukulele or whatever. However subjecting it to supplementary vibrations can surely only aid the process(?).

micromue
05-13-2010, 12:03 AM
Wow, according to their website it is a high-tech device straight from the military/industry complex! And it is made by musicians just like ourselves! I want to buy two of them...


http://howtoworkforanidiot.org/images/HowToSellCover.jpg

Chris Tarman
05-13-2010, 02:02 AM
I seem to remember the Tone-Rite subject coming up a while ago on the Larrivée Guitar forum. As I mentioned there, a luthier friend of mine has always advocated standing your instrument in front of your stereo speakers, so it picks up the vibrations. He is convinced a session in front of a particular John Martyn album (can't remember which one) worked wonders for a new guitar!

I keep an open mind and agree with the comment that there's no substitute for playing the instrument, be it a guitar, mandolin, ukulele or whatever. However subjecting it to supplementary vibrations can surely only aid the process(?).

I didn't do this to "break in" my uke, but more than once I have taken a nice one to band practice to show one of our guitarists (the one who likes cool instruments), and ended up setting my uke near my bass amp for the duration of practice. I'm pretty sure it picked up some vibrations from my Ampeg!

dparrothead1
05-13-2010, 02:20 AM
I wonder, if you put it up against a wall; will it kill mice and roaches????

dnewton2
05-13-2010, 02:36 AM
I have heard of people setting thier instruments close to a subwoofer and letting the bass do the same thing. Probably not a good idea if you live in an apartment though.

I agree that the instrument should be played to break it in.

Skitzic
05-13-2010, 02:51 AM
I don't know man...that t-shirt is certainly tempting...

harpdog
05-13-2010, 03:21 AM
Just lean it on a loud speaker box. I should do so when I play electric guitar through an amp....

haole
05-13-2010, 04:10 AM
It's a lot of money. You could buy another uke for the price.

End of discussion.

Gotta go with this one.

lindydanny
05-13-2010, 05:34 AM
You have to be kidding, right? This is as funny as the sliver labels that audiophiles buy to put on the back side of CDs to "enhance" the laser's ability to read them. Pure crap.

~DB

Paul December
05-13-2010, 06:51 AM
I think people underestimate the player's ability to unconsciously compensate for irregularities in an instrument over time.
My wife is a concert pianist and after a short while can make even a poorly regulated piano sound good. She doesn't need to think about pressing certain keys harder, longer, etc...
...she picks up very quickly the "feel" of the instrument and does it unconsciously. Nobody talks in terms of a piano "opening up".
I'm not convinced that a lot of what people consider "opening up" isn't just them just getting better acquainted with their ukes.

dnewton2
05-13-2010, 06:57 AM
This is my favorite gadget:

http://ukulelecraig.com/talentboost2a.jpg

To bad all my ukes are acoustic. Guess I need to get a pick up installed. :)

crowbardog
05-13-2010, 07:27 AM
My pops got me my first ukulele for Christmas a little over a year ago. I took it home and had in broken-in within three days. How did I accomplish this amazing feat?!?

Was it an expensive tool? Nope. Didn't know they existed. Did I hook it up to a mechanical bull and have the operator make it bounce up and down like it was a well-endowed cowgirl? A solid idea, but I'm the jealous type so no. Did I have Barry Manilow serenade it for 72 hours straight with a beautiful rendition of 'Mandy'? Can't. That would make the glue soften, then melt like butter.

Ya see, I could hear my rib-eye started burning so I threw my new Cordoba Concert on the couch. I ran outside and saved dinner. Turned out the steak looked perfect. I flipped it and had a little extra pep in my step at the thought of the deliciousness awaited me in t-minus four minutes. Plenty of time to play another song or two.

My hyper butt runs in the house and jumps over the back of the couch as I so often do, into a perfect butt plant right on top of the Cordoba. That is the moment I realized how much more durable the human buttock is than a well-built ukulele. It just collapsed; didn't even put up a struggle to save itself.

Upon inspection, It cracked the top along the whatchamacallit (the thing you tie the strings to...bridge?...yeah...I know) and pushed that down into the body. I got on the Internet (because we all become super capable in front of a computer) and learned how to revive it. 1) Bend a flat bar. 2) Insert into sound hold. 3) Pop up and super glue. Seriously.

I swear, it sounds so much better know! ;0) But for real, it is now my favorite instrument (after stripping, cleaning, filling and refinishing). Makes me think of the beater that Willy Nelson used to carry around. It will never be as beautiful as it used to be, but I have accepted my ugly child.

clayton56
05-13-2010, 11:03 AM
an upright bassist I knew told me that old basses sounded better BECAUSE of all the cracks and repairs. Having the wood broken into smaller pieces and re-glued made for better vibrations somehow.

Someone at work had a small stereo ball that attaches to her Ipod. If you lowered that into your uke, and play the radio into it while you're at work, the vibrations should help it.

I don't think this is a scam because it's well known historically that playing vibrations improve the tone of instruments, especially violins. So any source of mild vibrations should help.

CulpRJ
05-13-2010, 11:44 AM
My wife has one of these. Hers is battery powered though. It's longer and thinner too so it fits right in the soundhole. Works every time.

cornfedgroove
05-13-2010, 11:55 AM
or stick it in front of your subwoofer when you watch movies and music

Chris Tarman
05-13-2010, 12:15 PM
an upright bassist I knew told me that old basses sounded better BECAUSE of all the cracks and repairs. Having the wood broken into smaller pieces and re-glued made for better vibrations somehow.

Someone at work had a small stereo ball that attaches to her Ipod. If you lowered that into your uke, and play the radio into it while you're at work, the vibrations should help it.

I don't think this is a scam because it's well known historically that playing vibrations improve the tone of instruments, especially violins. So any source of mild vibrations should help.

The concept of vibrations "opening up" an instrument certainly isn't a scam. I don't agree that it is just learning the unique strengths and weaknesses of a particular instrument and then somehow compensating for them as Paul December says. I think it is well known among people familiar with really vintage instruments (old violins for example) that years of vibrations caused by playing changes (hopefully IMPROVES) their sound.
The question is: "Can this be quantified scientifically and then artificially duplicated by some device?", and I would say no. It's one of those mystery things that probably varies from one uke (or guitar or violin or etc) to the next.

GrumpyCoyote
05-13-2010, 12:25 PM
Snake-oil.

No offence to those who believe otherwise, but unless I see credible evidence to the contrary (science, not anecdotes) – I’m calling shenanigans.

There is no confirmable evidence that wooden instruments "break-in" at all past the normal drying of the components and breakdown of wood over LONG periods of time (decades). And even less evidence to support vibrations doing anything substantive at all. It’s total pseudo science at best. At worst, an intentional rip off.

Humidity variations, string temperature, and player perception/psychology are all just as credible explanations for the “opening up” phenomenon - and we know these things DO affect sound. There is absolutely no evidence that significant structural or cellular changes happen due to vibrations. This doodad is nothing more than a placebo. $150 sugar pill.

Chris Tarman
05-13-2010, 12:44 PM
Snake-oil.

No offence to those who believe otherwise, but unless I see credible evidence to the contrary (science, not anecdotes) – I’m calling shenanigans.

There is no confirmable evidence that wooden instruments "break-in" at all past the normal drying of the components and breakdown of wood over LONG periods of time (decades). And even less evidence to support vibrations doing anything substantive at all. It’s total pseudo science at best. At worst, an intentional rip off.

Humidity variations, string temperature, and player perception/psychology are all just as credible explanations for the “opening up” phenomenon - and we know these things DO affect sound. There is absolutely no evidence that significant structural or cellular changes happen due to vibrations. This doodad is nothing more than a placebo. $150 sugar pill.

Whether or not instruments "open-up" from playing over time, I absolutely agree that this thing is a placebo.

experimentjon
05-13-2010, 05:04 PM
Well, I thought my ukes were a little more magical after Jake and Aldrine touched them. And yes, they did sound better. I should let Aldrine touch all my ukes. :P

If I was at home a few weeks ago, I'd have let him borrow one of my ukes for a show. (He was on the island and needed a K-brand uke with pickup for an impromptu show, while his Kanilea was in the shop.) I bet it would have "opened up" quite well if he had played a whole show with it.

Maybe part placebo, maybe part science, but I do think the tonal qualities change over time.

experimentjon
04-03-2013, 06:38 PM
However, $150 is way overpriced for that device, esp since I'm not convinced that it works. If it did work though, I'd probably be willing to pay $50 or so.

Ah, look at this hypocrite.

I forgot even writing that post, but just put down the full $150 for the guitar version of this black vibrating box earlier this week. If it can do 3-years worth of break-in play for me in 3 days, it'll be worth every penny. We shall see.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
04-04-2013, 05:57 AM
I got one via eBay over a year ago (2years?).

Anyway, I've been using it constantly, even taking it with me to HNL to 'condition' my ukes there!

I think some of my ukes have responded positively to the experience and others not so much.

Those who ['who'? here I go treating my ukes as though they were alive] - read 'which' have clocked more time on it seem mellower (which I like and the response I was going for), even the laminates. I have still to experiment with different strings... so if any of you have strings you want to give away, please PM me. I've never met a set of ukulele strings (FREE) that I haven't accepted, openly, at face-value :)

Anyway, I think there's something to vibrational conditioning/opening up/breaking in, etc. Placebo? Hey we are all entitled to our opinions. Just ask Opinionator... oops OlePhart!

keep uke'in' - that's the main thing.

And we need to remember to keep the main thing... the main thing!

garyg
04-06-2013, 05:32 AM
One thing that I've noticed especially with my early vintage Martins which are kept in stands on my dresser is that they vibrate at certain speaking tones - pretty cool and perhaps evidence that some sort of vibration making device can affect resonance, although I'm not sure how?

bborzell
04-06-2013, 06:36 AM
I have a Dalelectro 62 guitar that has opened up very nicely over the years. I think the turning point came when I was breaking up an old concrete deck with a jack hammer. I set the Dano on a stand just out of range of flying chips and by the time the deck was rubble, the Dano was ready to sing.

Perhaps it took the staccato effect from the jack hammer to open up the fibers of the masonite.

bnolsen
04-06-2013, 07:04 AM
its only 300usd now, well 240 if you use a 20% coupon. These must be selling like hotcakes to double in price so quickly!

Also known as a "shake and bake" athough thats' usually for vibration testing. I would suggest strapping your ukulele onto the lawn mower next time you do the grass rather than buying one of these.

haole
04-06-2013, 07:10 AM
I like how the ukulele one costs twice as much as the guitar one, and they show it on a cheap laminate uke.

Seems like the reviews of these things have been mostly favorable over the years, but people are claiming similar results with a $20 aquarium pump. I'm curious to see this studied further!

Gadzukes!
04-06-2013, 07:26 AM
I saw a review of this where someone insisted it was nothing more than in aquarium pump inside a new shell. Who knows?

My feeling is, if you can afford it and you think it makes your instrument sound better, it's worth it to you. Studies have shown that people enjoy wines more if they cost more. Does the extra price justify the increase in pleasure? Is a $2500 Kanilea really $2200 better than a $300 Kala? Ask someone who can afford one and they'll likely say yes. Now try and quantify it scientifically. :)

I understand the urge to poo poo this kind of thing. My dad was an audiophile (an understatement) and this kind of stuff drove him nuts. But once you get into subjective qualities, the science is clear: it matters if you think it matters.

jeremycole
04-06-2013, 08:15 AM
I have seen this device be used on guitars before, and it definitely works. That being said, it is way overpriced, and is not my favorite device.

Presenting the primeVibe!! 51457

Basically, you plug music into it (ipod, cd player, etc). One advantage of this over the tone rite is that it plays real music into the uke, seasoning it with music instead of just vibrations :) kinda fun. The two purple podlike shapes sit right on the soundboard, opening that up directly, instead of going through the strings.

It works with a wide range of instruments: all guitars, ukulele, violin, viola, celllo, double bass, even drums (bongos etc.). It only works on solid tops by the way... laminates will not see any difference in sound.

Also, it's way cheaper!! yay!! I think it's definitely worth the price to season some new solid-top instruments. It worked for mine. People definitely have noticed a difference.

Pundabaya
04-06-2013, 12:45 PM
My wife has one of these. Hers is battery powered though. It's longer and thinner too so it fits right in the soundhole. Works every time.

My girlfriend has one of these too. Although it must be for a classical guitar, it's way too long to fit into my ukulele. Has a useful prong on the side to hook onto the soundhole though.

Its funny, she doesn't even play guitar.

experimentjon
04-06-2013, 03:39 PM
its only 300usd now, well 240 if you use a 20% coupon. These must be selling like hotcakes to double in price so quickly!

Also known as a "shake and bake" athough thats' usually for vibration testing. I would suggest strapping your ukulele onto the lawn mower next time you do the grass rather than buying one of these.

I have to say that the company that manufactures these is genius. They took a niche problem and found a solution. They created a simple product that probably has an out-the-door cost to manufacture of $15 and sell it for $150 street and probably $75 wholesale. That's very healthy margins. Then they get even greedier and make an even more niche ukulele model (probably with the exact same internals) and charge 60% more for it.

I didn't fall for the marketing on the ukulele one, and I wasn't willing to pay a 60% premium for a less-versatile box (I wanted to use mine on both guitars and ukes), so I just bought the guitar model. It has been on my Kanilea for about 48 hours now and works just fine. I put it on max, propped the uke up so that there was minimal contact with anything else, and that thing is VIBRATING! Top, back, sides, all getting very noticeable vibrations. I couldn't help but play it at about the 24 hour mark to see if there was any difference, and lo-and-behold, I think it worked. I got more volume and responsiveness and noticeably more "sparkle" from the strings. Kind of weird...and honestly, I'm not sure I like that much "sparkle." But this uke was barely played before, so that's probably why it had optimal effect. I can't wait to hear it after 144 hours and a new set of strings.