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View Full Version : Machine That Breaks In New Ukes



jimdville
05-02-2011, 08:08 AM
Master luthier Ron Saul discusses tonal vibration and demonstrates his "little plucker", designed to play a new ukulele in. Check it out.
http://playukulelebyear.blogspot.com

mr moonlight
05-02-2011, 08:42 AM
Interesting, but why not have two sets of picks going both directions and run it at twice the speed. One of the benefits of actually plucking the strings would be that it actually puts a little stress on the instrument, but having it go in only one direction seems like it wouldn't stress both sides equally.

I've seen quite a few machines made to break in instruments, but my personal favorite is to just play it and listen to it open up over the first few weeks.

eddyfinnguy
05-02-2011, 08:46 AM
Interesting, but why not have two sets of picks going both directions and run it at twice the speed. One of the benefits of actually plucking the strings would be that it actually puts a little stress on the instrument, but having it go in only one direction seems like it wouldn't stress both sides equally.

I've seen quite a few machines made to break in instruments, but my personal favorite is to just play it and listen to it open up over the first few weeks.


Why not just put it on a rotary instead of the occilation and play loud rock music to have the most vibration.

Seriously, I have heard of people just hanging instruments in front of speakers with loud music playing for a week, and it is supposed to really make a difference. (I have never tried this myself, so at this point in time it may just be the stuff of urban legend :) )

mm stan
05-02-2011, 08:58 AM
Aloha Jim,
Thank you for sharing you knowlege and contributing to the ukulele movement throughout the years...I really enjoy your stuff...I learned to tune by ear by myself on a baritone because it had more
volume to notice the differences... this topic on breaking in new ukuleles have come up several times through the years... do they really get warmer and open up with more use or am I imagining it.. I've heard some say to put in front a speaker to vibrate the soundboard too.. I have notice subtle changes in ukes throughout the years in playing them too...I also noticed ukes I haven't played
or imagined it sounding better or I have improved..don't know...could it be the strings breaking down, also and their tension getting less from much use and causing the strings to vibrate and
resonate more...I notice when I drop tune and find their sweet spot and retain the my dog has fleas tuning...it gets warmer and it increases resonation and substain due to the lower tension...
even on new ukuleles...could that be a key too....or are you saying the bonding agent(glue) between the sides and soundboard is acting like a speaker cone and floating the soundboard for that
effect... or is it the wood itself changing it's structure from the vibrations.. and behaving differently...do you know anyone who has done sound tests on this area to determine scientifically in
a controlled area and may have results of his/her findings published... I am very intrested in this area....I may delve further and see if I can find more on the area.... thank you for always sharing
you findings and your view on things...I appriciate it very much...If you find anything more, can you share it with me...BTW just love your books, videos and blog....Happy Strummings, Stan

70sSanO
05-02-2011, 09:55 AM
Interesting... the topic of breaking-in/opening-up has been long debated on guitar forums. There is a story of nearly identical 1983 Martin D-28 guitars, one played and one not.

I am more in the camp that natural materials, such as wood, will age and react to an environment and playing will influence some of that. So a good sounding ukulele may have some subtle improvements with age, as will the player who has improved technique to bring out the best in the ukulele. I stop short of artifically vibrating an instrument in a box in order to improve its sound.

I also know that my ukuleles and guitars seem to vary slightly from day-to-day and sometimes even at different times during the day. IMO temperature and/or humidity play a big part in how an instrument sounds. It's probably just my perception, but I'd swear that I'll pick up one of my ukuleles and I'm just not feeling it, but another one will have that magic, and if I go back later and pick up the first one it'll sound better than before.

John

OldePhart
05-02-2011, 12:55 PM
:_pulling_up_a_chair_and_eating_popcorn: - dang! we really need the popcorn emoticon for times like this!

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
05-02-2011, 01:28 PM
Why is every one in such a hurry these days? What's wrong with actually playing the danged thing and getting to know the instrument as it opens up?
If you insist on rushing past the good things in life there are better ways to vibrate the wood into a stage of frenzied silliness and some luthiers use them. The better kind mounts on the saddle itself and emits a vibration to the sound board. David Hurd did the same thing with his "Hula Shaker" many years ago. Some people just stand the instrument in front of a stereo speaker and walk away.
I still think the best tip for getting your ukulele to sound better is to practice!

mr moonlight
05-02-2011, 01:29 PM
Aloha Jim,
Thank you for sharing you knowlege and contributing to the ukulele movement throughout the years...I really enjoy your stuff...I learned to tune by ear by myself on a baritone because it had more
volume to notice the differences... this topic on breaking in new ukuleles have come up several times through the years... do they really get warmer and open up with more use or am I imagining it.. I've heard some say to put in front a speaker to vibrate the soundboard too.. I have notice subtle changes in ukes throughout the years in playing them too...I also noticed ukes I haven't played
or imagined it sounding better or I have improved..don't know...could it be the strings breaking down, also and their tension getting less from much use and causing the strings to vibrate and
resonate more...I notice when I drop tune and find their sweet spot and retain the my dog has fleas tuning...it gets warmer and it increases resonation and substain due to the lower tension...
even on new ukuleles...could that be a key too....or are you saying the bonding agent(glue) between the sides and soundboard is acting like a speaker cone and floating the soundboard for that
effect... or is it the wood itself changing it's structure from the vibrations.. and behaving differently...do you know anyone who has done sound tests on this area to determine scientifically in
a controlled area and may have results of his/her findings published... I am very intrested in this area....I may delve further and see if I can find more on the area.... thank you for always sharing
you findings and your view on things...I appriciate it very much...If you find anything more, can you share it with me...BTW just love your books, videos and blog....Happy Strummings, StanDr. Kasha did a number of experiments where he accuratley measured how sound travels on guitars. It's probably the closest thing I've seen.

OldePhart
05-02-2011, 02:16 PM
I still think the best tip for getting your ukulele to sound better is to practice!

BWAAA-HAAA - so true, and so overlooked!

John

DeVineGuitars
05-02-2011, 03:02 PM
I'm not sure why my post was removed, maybe it came off as an advertisement?
My point was that Tonerite (who I do not work for) makes a great product that works well. I agree that nothing beats practice... but don't we want all of our instruments to sound as good as they can... all the time?
I don't think it's about being in a hurry, it's about our ukes living up to their full potential and sounding the best they can, in turn making it more fun to play.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
05-02-2011, 03:16 PM
I don't think it's about being in a hurry, it's about our ukes living up to their full potential and sounding the best they can, in turn making it more fun to play.

Well now, that's exactly my point. The instrument will live up to it's full potential on it's own. We just need to do our part and play them.
It's why babies are born so little and don't come into the world as fully grown adults. Part of the fun of the experience is watching them grow and mature. Well most of the time at least. (That and the fact that most women would have an awkward time giving birth to 150 pound child.)
Now.....if you are in the business of building and selling instruments (especially to retail stores), as we both are, there is a definite advantage to having the uke sound it's best.

austin1
05-02-2011, 03:29 PM
no thanks! I'd rather just play my uke until it breaks in, and spend that time getting better!

DeVineGuitars
05-02-2011, 03:32 PM
Well now, that's exactly my point. The instrument will live up to it's full potential on it's own. We just need to do our part and play them.
It's why babies are born so little and don't come into the world as fully grown adults. Part of the fun of the experience is watching them grow and mature. Well most of the time at least. (That and the fact that most women would have an awkward time giving birth to 150 pound child.)
Now.....if you are in the business of building and selling instruments (especially to retail stores), as we both are, there is a definite advantage to having the uke sound it's best.

Not to start a battle Chuck, because I think everyone is entitled to their opinions, but I have watched many instruments, ukuleles and guitars, new and old, by many different builders go from average sounding to mind blowing. A treatment like this can take an instrument to a place that it most likely will never get to, no matter how long it is played.
I am just trying to share my experience so everyone, whether they are a builder or play, can benefit.
And thanks to that 150lb birth comment, I may not get a whole lot of sleep tonight.:(

geetee
05-02-2011, 03:33 PM
I'm not sure why my post was removed, maybe it came off as an advertisement?
My point was that Tonerite (who I do not work for) makes a great product that works well. I agree that nothing beats practice... but don't we want all of our instruments to sound as good as they can... all the time?


This thread is in both uke talk and luthier's lounge.

DeVineGuitars
05-02-2011, 03:35 PM
This thread is in both uke talk and luthier's lounge.
Ha, Just figured that out. Sorry 'bout that.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
05-02-2011, 03:48 PM
This thread is in both uke talk and luthier's lounge.

Oh, shoot, I didn't know that. I'm not allowed to leave the Lounge without permission.
OK Eric, you've convinced me. Expect a PM shortly. I just hope it doesn't suck my solar power dry. I got no juice for frivolity!
I'm also going to buy a bunch of Makalas and save myself a lot of work. Buy some pre-washed jeans while I'm at it.

DeVineGuitars
05-02-2011, 03:57 PM
Hey Chuck, If you want, I can send you mine to try out When I get back in town. Let me know.

Ukuleleblues
05-05-2011, 12:11 PM
Why not just put it on a rotary instead of the occilation and play loud rock music to have the most vibration.

Seriously, I have heard of people just hanging instruments in front of speakers with loud music playing for a week, and it is supposed to really make a difference. (I have never tried this myself, so at this point in time it may just be the stuff of urban legend :) )

I did this by accident, I put a PU on my Uke and connected an amp, goofed up and got major feedback, the uke was literally dancing on the table. before I could get to it the volume. (I had taken a laminate kit and put a solid spruce top on it.) I swear I could tell a differenct in the way it sounded after that it kind of "opened" it up.