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View Full Version : Some days my uke sounds great, other days I swear it sounds like crap...am I losing ?



sbpark
09-12-2011, 02:24 PM
I have a Koaloha Concert, which is an awesome instrument, have had it set up professionally, nut and saddle adjusted/action lowered, etc. The thing is flawless and beautiful. It's stamped 2009 on the inside. The previous owner said he bought it from the factory when he was in Hawaii in 2009 and didn't play it much because he has a Kamaka tenor which is his go to instrument and sold it to me because he needed to pay some bills. My repair guy/set up guy who is also a ukulele enthusiast is in love with my Koaloha, and so am I, but I swear some days it sounds amazing, and other days it just doesn't seem to have it. Am I going nuts or is this something that people go through with a new instrument? I know it hasn't been played much even though it's a 2009, and is this just the process of it 'opening up' as people describe? Believe me, I am not complaining, just curious as this ukulele is beautiful and amazing! I also feel like I have the same experience with my Ohana concert which I purchased brand new earlier this year as well on occasion. I have only ever owned 2 brand new acoustic guitar in my entire life, one I have owned for 14 years now and purchased new back in 1997, and a Recording King that is only a few months old (and for the record it is a ridiculously amazing sounding guitar and CANNOT believe that it sells for under $300 new. it's ridiculous!), and can't admit that I have ever experienced that magical moment where an instrument all of a sudden 'opens up'.

Feel free to comment...

OldePhart
09-12-2011, 02:29 PM
The first thing I'd ask is what strings are on it. Some strings (notably Aquillas) are notorious for hating humidity. I discoverd this for myself when I had Aquillas on my Kiwaya longneck soprano. I took it to Louisiana when we went down there for my father-in-law's funeral. It sounded absolutely horrible down there and for a couple of days after we returned. it was like playing a wet dog.

Fluorocarbon strings seem much less finicky about humidity and temperature.

John

sbpark
09-12-2011, 02:33 PM
i've already got the strings dialed on it. It has Worth Clear Mediums on it. I went through a phase where i tried several different types of strings on it, (Martin, Aquilla, Worth Brown, & Ko'olau) and it just seemed like the Worth Clears were made for this uke (which makes sense since it's the string the manufacturer recommends for it). My Ohana seems to sound the best with the Worth Browns (it's mahogany, and the Browns are quieter and mellower than other strings I tried on it, but just seem to mesh the best with that particular instrument and these two ukes give me two completely different options tonally which is very nice).

Big Bob
09-12-2011, 02:57 PM
Over the years I have experienced the same,good and bad days.The humidity changes also affect the wood especially if it's solid wood.I have only used aquilla strings.There is not to much we can do about the humidity fluctuation especially here in Canada.But I do use humidifiers in my ukulele cases.

itsme
09-12-2011, 03:46 PM
While things like temperature and humidity can affect wooden instruments and strings, I wonder if it doesn't have to do with your day-to-day perspective when you're playing. Sometimes you have "good" days, other times you have "off" days.

janeray1940
09-12-2011, 04:09 PM
I've had the same complaint with my figure-8 Kamaka soprano - some days it just sounds off to me. I blame it on humidity changes - consistently on rainy or very foggy days, that uke just doesn't sound right to me. I thought it might be a matter of perspective - I hate the rain! - but my other ukes always sound fine. And I second the opinion that fluorocarbons help.

bynapkinart
09-12-2011, 04:27 PM
I have the same "issue" with my concert. Some days I pick it up and hate it, other days its all I can play. I think honestly it comes down to the way I feel on that day. Everyone I know loves the sound all the time, but some days (especially days like today, when I spend a lot of time on my guitar or soprano) it sounds way too mellow and plinky for me. I play it for twenty minutes and love the sound again.

I don't know, it is just like guitar. For the first time in probably five years, I changed the type of strings on my acoustic (Cort NTL20, btw, and changed from D'Addario PB to Martin Silk and Steel) and I couldn't believe how great it sounded. Picked up my Johnny Marvin that I played all day yesterday, and thought the thing sounded awful, no sustain or punch. Luckily I came to my senses about five or so minutes into it.

Teek
09-12-2011, 04:41 PM
I seemed to finally correlate it with humidity fluctuations. Most of mine are solid wood and have had days where they sound like crap, even accounting for my playing. I didn't know the strings would react to humidity as well though.

joejeweler
09-12-2011, 06:58 PM
Geeze,....and here i thought someone would ask the really critical question,......


.....does the uke sound better after a few quick wipes,.......




.....with a Q-tip? :D

hungry4adobo
09-12-2011, 07:42 PM
I feel that some days that my uke sounds better and some days it sounds dull. Is it us the player or is it the instrument?? D:?

ricdoug
09-12-2011, 08:13 PM
It's you. Ukes are pretty reliable. Practice more to relieve your impressions. Ric

fordie55
09-12-2011, 08:23 PM
I have found when I am sloppy in holding the instrument the sound is sometimes off.

Holding it properly with good posture improves the sound

patico
09-13-2011, 12:57 PM
While things like temperature and humidity can affect wooden instruments and strings, I wonder if it doesn't have to do with your day-to-day perspective when you're playing. Sometimes you have "good" days, other times you have "off" days.

how i love that "good days".
this weekend, friday n saturday night, i felt very comfortable playing. my fingers were like fast n relaxed, i could play almost everything that was going thru my mind..... what a nice feeling.

back to central studios !!

Papa Tom
09-13-2011, 02:57 PM
One more person with the same problem. Some days my instruments sound dull and hopelessly un-tunable. Other days, they are magical. I think it's a combination of climate's effect on the instrument and my attitude when I sit down to play on different days. Also...

>>>Holding it properly with good posture improves the sound<<<<

I'll second that. When I am stiff, I tend to squash the instrument into my chest, which kills all the resonance. If I catch myself and loosen up, there is instantly a marked difference in the tonal quality.

Keef
09-13-2011, 04:10 PM
Has anyone given any thought to the possibility that it has a lot to do with the condition of your hands? It is just not in my culture to grow my finger nails long so the back of my nail only touches the string on the down stroke and never picking so the moisture and or oils in my skin have a large effect on the ukes sound. I find that i percieve the sound to be the best when my hands are clean and bone dry ..... I also experenced a fluctuating good and bad day sound variance with my koaloha sceptre it very well could be a humidity issue because i used to take it to the beach but not anymore

sbpark
09-13-2011, 05:17 PM
definitely noticed this as well.

mascompro
09-14-2011, 03:05 AM
Glad its not just me. although in my case it probably is me.

philpot
09-14-2011, 04:05 AM
I had a really bad day a few days ago, mad at the world and depressed all over kinda day. Couldn't make my Kamaka sound good. I think sometimes it has to do with your mood. I have to really feel my music for it to sound good, have a connection to the song. I couldn't get it.

jackwhale
09-14-2011, 07:57 AM
This probably happens to everyone--even the best musicians.

When sitting down to play, it always takes a very long time for me to get in that 'groove' when the sound of the ukulele just takes off. My impression is the improved sound occurs after my hand/wrist/arm warm up and, without me thinking about it, strike the strings properly.

Kauai808
09-14-2011, 08:57 AM
I had a really bad day a few days ago, mad at the world and depressed all over kinda day. Couldn't make my Kamaka sound good. I think sometimes it has to do with your mood. I have to really feel my music for it to sound good, have a connection to the song. I couldn't get it.

I think mood and mental state has something to do with it. I would also chime in ear fatigue. I always find my ukes and guitars, even music from a stereo sounds better to me in the morning after a night of silent sleep. Perhaps your ears are subject to a lot of noise during the day that causes your ears to be over stimulated for the gentle tone of a ukulele. Next time you get up in the morning, take your uke to the toilet with you while you handle business and see if your uke sounds any sweeter. Aloha.

oldtimestrings
09-14-2011, 04:15 PM
Humidity can certainly be a consideration, as others have noted, but even more important are your ears and the grey matter between them. I've studied psychoacoustics and musical perception a bit, and let me tell you that human beings are not consistent and reliable creatures as far as this goes. We hear and process and respond to stimuli in vastly different ways at different times. There are physiological and purely psychological factors at work (in addition to environmental and other external factors), making the whole issue enormously complex and entirely unpredictable. This is probably even trickier for musicians, because we're so tuned in to the sounds and responses we expect to hear, and because we've come to know our instruments and our musical abilities better than any listener ever will.

As the great guitarist Joe Pass once said, sometimes you pick up the guitar and it just says, "Not today."

jackwhale
09-15-2011, 05:32 AM
That's a great Joe Pass quote. Thanks