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View Full Version : Do Uke's open up over time like guitars?



AcousticDoc
07-31-2008, 08:07 PM
Curious if anyone's old old Uke's have opened up or not.

Bassukuguy
07-31-2008, 08:25 PM
define open up. if you mean like split at the seams, sometimes if you dont take care of them and let them go to Sh*t. proper humidifying and care can stop the woods from bowing and splitting.

if you mean open up by like enriching tone and such, yes to put it bluntly. But again this is also with the correct care and such.

hope this helps

UkuLeLesReggAe
07-31-2008, 08:37 PM
you could prevent anything from opening up, either way, if you take good care of it.

Living in Australia, its like 40 degrees in summer and pretty hot in winter (although it isnt now) when you buy an ukulele off MGM does it come with humidifier?? because my uke would get pretty warm

Bassukuguy
07-31-2008, 08:56 PM
i dotn believe MGM sends ukes with humdifiers in them, granted he does sell them in his store... i guess you could talk him into filling it and putting it in the case when you order both at the same time... but that might be a bit much.

Edit: i just looked at mgm's store and could not find the humidifier he used to stock... perchance its just out of stock at the moment...

SuperSecretBETA
07-31-2008, 08:57 PM
"Open up" is too ambigious. What exactly do you mean?

UkuLeLesReggAe
07-31-2008, 09:14 PM
i dotn believe MGM sends ukes with humdifiers in them, granted he does sell them in his store... i guess you could talk him into filling it and putting it in the case when you order both at the same time... but that might be a bit much.

Edit: i just looked at mgm's store and could not find the humidifier he used to stock... perchance its just out of stock at the moment...

alright thanks...
are all humidifiers the same or are some heaps better etc?? because humidifiers seem like a pen... its the same thing just more expensive. or whats a good one to buy?

ke leo
07-31-2008, 09:16 PM
I will assume that you mean in tone and quality and answer "yes". I just talked to my local ukulele expert today about this subject. We played a K3 that he told me took a year to "open up". It sounded super warm now. Keep playing and taking good care of your ukulele!

Nuke-ulele
08-01-2008, 03:42 AM
I think the OP is looking for whether or not an ukulele's tone matures over time, like a guitar's tone. Guitars almost always improve and settle in with the passing of time (if they are properly maintained). My one acoustic, a Taylor, sounds better all the time. This only happens to solid wood instruments, really. Maybe not always, but it is teh maturing o fthe solid wood after years of playing that give them their character...teh wood changes a lot over time. Laminates are less prone to changing (which is their strength in my opinion! I like a laminate uke for the humid evenings out on the deck!)

Ukes do open up over time, my Kanile'a is 1 year old and sounds more rich and full than when I got it. That said, the reduced surface area of the soundboard means that there is really less movement in the top of an ukulele than in a guitar, so the effect, in my experience, has been present, but less pronounced.

LoMa
08-01-2008, 07:02 AM
In my experience, yes, ukuleles do open up, similar to guitars. And can do so quite significantly too.

Most of my ukes have been spruce top ones though, so that might expalin it. I have a mahogany Larrivee soprano with a spruce top that started out nice, but now after several years is a totally fantastic uke with incredible resonance and sustain. Lots and lots of overtones for a really fat, rich tone. This thing is alive, mon!

Spruce is a wood that often has to learn how to vibrate, so it really benefits from lots of playing. Spruce also has a bad memory - if you put that uke away for a year or two, it has to learn all over again, although it tends to learn faster. Cedar, on the other hand, doesn't change that much, and it also doesn't seem to have the memory probelm that spruce has.

Mahogany is another wood that can mature, in my experience. I suspect that age with lots of playing is why many vintage Martin ukes sound so fat and rich too. But I've had new all mahogany ukes that seemed to get richer in tone with playing.

I've also had some ukues that sounded great out-of-the-box, so to speak, that really didn't change with time and play. I've also had a couple of ukes that sounded kinda dead when new, and stayed that way.

Note that laminated ukes don't change. If it's got a solid top though, it is possible that its tone will mature with lots of playing...

NotoriousMOK
08-01-2008, 07:15 AM
Hell yes they do! A good friend of mine has an old KaLai pineapple his grandfather bought in 1939, and from what I understand gramps played the snot out of it (took it everywhere etc). My friend brought it to me because it needed new strings and the tuners need to be replaced, but otherwise it is in great shape. We were able to sneak a little more time out of the tuners and put some new strings on it -- WOW :eek: -- what a beautiful sounding uke! The volume and depth from this little guy just plain dropped my jaw. It was not until then that I really got an understanding of why these vintage ukes are so sought after. I play it every chance I get.

KaLai was a 'budget' line of ukes built in the Kamaka factory for another company.

http://www.kamakahawaii.com/img/historic/07a.jpg

NotoriousMOK
08-01-2008, 07:20 AM
I've wondered recently what would happen if you were to try to accelerate this process by attaching it to some external 'vibration' device such as a paint shaker or a finish sander. I suppose I could make up a little rig to try this . . . . . hmm . . . . now the gears are turnin' :rolleyes:

LoMa
08-01-2008, 07:35 AM
Take a look at Kawika's website to see his theories on "breaking in" a uke, i.e., teaching a new instrumemt to vibrate. Shaking won't do it, it's exposing it to strong sound vibrations:

http://www.ukuleles.com/Technology/HulaGirlShaker.html



I've wondered recently what would happen if you were to try to accelerate this process by attaching it to some external 'vibration' device such as a paint shaker or a finish sander. I suppose I could make up a little rig to try this . . . . . hmm . . . . now the gears are turnin' :rolleyes:

Plainsong
08-01-2008, 09:51 AM
Ya know they have these dame debates about audio gear. Some say it's placebo, others, some actual manufacturers say no it's real and they can prove it. I think it's both.

But that's electronic stuff and we're talking about wood here, so heck yeah it can open up, and there's no quick short cut to "burn-in" that I'm aware of.

rt1965
08-01-2008, 10:48 AM
i dotn believe MGM sends ukes with humdifiers in them, granted he does sell them in his store... i guess you could talk him into filling it and putting it in the case when you order both at the same time... but that might be a bit much.

Edit: i just looked at mgm's store and could not find the humidifier he used to stock... perchance its just out of stock at the moment...

Every uke I have bought from MGM has come with a Herco Humidifier inside the case. He does this to satisfy the warranty requirements of builders like KoAloha and Kamaka. These Herco's are great for traveling, or if you don't have a room humidifier.

As far as opening up, yes ukes and guitars open up over time, and yes it's the playing that does it. You can also leave them out of their cases while playing loud music. I have a guitar that is so responsive it will start to sing all by itself when the stereo is turned up.

Futch
08-01-2008, 01:20 PM
I've wondered recently what would happen if you were to try to accelerate this process by attaching it to some external 'vibration' device such as a paint shaker or a finish sander. I suppose I could make up a little rig to try this . . . . . hmm . . . . now the gears are turnin' :rolleyes:

This has actually been done!

There is a company, they offer this service for guitars, don't think they've ever done a uke though. I forget their name but google should bring it up pretty quickly.

The process, i believe, is not much more than what you have suggested: The instrument is shaken on a paint shaker type device for 45 mins i think it was, which is supposed to simulate the aging that the wood would undergo through years of playing.

VengefulTikiGod
08-01-2008, 10:03 PM
My understanding/guessing of the process is that the more the strings are played, the more the top vibrates, and the more the top vibrates, the more sensitive the top becomes to vibrations, as connective tissues in the wood have been loosened by vibrations, leaving the wood more easily susceptible to vibrating again.

Therefore the key is that the top has to vibrate at the frequencies required to make music. Therefore, any "ukulele shaker" must vibrate the uke at a very high frequency (I assume the ones discussed in this thread do). Probably the one with the thing clipped to the saddle makes a lot of sense since the saddle and bridge are the parts that get driven by the strings normally. The other method, however, could probably vibrate it with greater magnitude, which may or may not be more important.