Have You Used a ToneRite?

Ed1

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Other than Uncle Rod four years ago and experimentjon seven years ago, there hasn't been much talk of ToneRite. It seems to have opinions both for and "meh" on the issue, so I'm wondering if there are any new thoughts from those who have tried it. Experimentjon sold his seven years ago and said it works, especially the first use on a uke and that if you have a half dozen of all-solid good ukes it's a good idea. So, that makes me curious.

Any new thoughts in this decade on the use of ToneRite - by those who have tried it?
 

Ed1

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The web site at https://www.tonerite.com/ claims:

Vintage Tone, Now!
It is no secret that vintage instruments sound better. Tens of thousands of hours of play time alter the molecular structure of the wood fibers, aging the instrument and creating a richer, sweeter, and louder tone.
The ToneRite accelerates this same play-in process by using a set of sub-sonic frequencies to simulate long term play.
Simply attach the ToneRite whenever you are not playing, and expect to hear a dramatic increase in resonance, balance, and range after only a week of use.


It is supposed to help "open up" a solid wood instrument the same as if you had played it a lot. I wondered if someone like you with an above average collection might have tried it.
 
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merlin666

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I think this mainly for guitars that have torrified tops where the fibres are all baked together and the additional extreme vibration are supposed to loosen them up. Good thing this fad is not common for ukes.
 

Cornfield

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I have one that I use on guitars to try to "open them up". I'm really not sure if it helps much but it's easier than practicing........
 

clear

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Sounds like this is the same idea as placing guitars in front of speakers to vibrate them to accelerate the aging. I kind of remember reading that it either doesn't work or accelerates the aging so slowly that it isn't measurable.

But, Yamaha seems to think heating the instrument can accelerate the aging process. I don't think the home oven is big enough for guitars, but a soprano shold fit...
 

kissing

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From a logical and scientific perspective, I think it's a load of baloney.

Dead wood fibers that stringed instruments are made of are very hard and stiff.
No amount of vibrations or soundwaves coming from a device like this is going to make any change to the physical structure.
If the vibrations and soundwaves ARE powerful enough to make a physical change, it'll be a destructive force that will damage the instrument.

The notion that instruments improve physically from the vibrations of playing is a myth. I know there will be those who disagree with me, but from my research and understanding in the topic, it's based on flawed logic and has no scientific credibility.


1. Instruments do not sound better with playing. Tonewood in an instrument does not have the sentience to improve itself at being a tonewood. If simply playing could change the physical structure of an instrument's wood, going by the laws of entropy it's far more likely that the sound would change in an undesirable way.

2. Instruments are known to change with time, not necessarily due to being 'played'. Especially on older instruments where the wood has had more time to dry since manufacture making it lighter in mass. Some believe that the nitrocellulose finish on vintage instruments tend to thin with age, also improving the resonance a bit as it wears down. Glues used in the instrument also change with time, possibly affecting the resonant dynamics. These ageing processes should occur regardless of whether it is played a lot or not.

3. Vintage instruments were made differently to how they are today. Different batches of woods were available and different manufacturing processes compared to modern instruments. The vintage instruments that survive today do so because they were nice enough to keep well maintained.

To use an analogy, think of historical swords. No swordsmith can get a sword made using today's materials and techniques exactly like they did in medieval times. Modern replicas can look like vintage swords, but will behave rather differently to actual historical examples. However, in some parts of the world (eg: Seki, Japan), swordsmiths will recreate swords in the most authentic way possible with crude materials and minimal reliance on modern technology. Those swords may behave more like vintage swords.

Likewise, with instruments - modern ones made strictly using traditional methods and materials could potentially sound similar to vintage ones.
However, a vast majority are mass produced in a different manufacturing process which will make them sound and feel different from vintage instruments. The old ways can't always be replicated today (i.e. the original manufacturing process was lost, forgotten or superseded).


4. Do instruments that get played a lot sound better than those that sit dormant?
I am highly skeptical of this urban myth. I think there are multiple explanations that are far more plausible:
-An instrument that already sounds nice gets played a lot
-An instrument that is played a lot is also kept well maintained, strings replaced, etc. A neglected instrument is not usually well maintained.
-An instrument that is played frequently by you may appear to 'improve' with time because you subconsciously adapt your playing to its characteristics and nuances.
 
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Ed1

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From a logical and scientific perspective, I think it's a load of baloney. [SNIP]

Yes, but what do you really think? ;)

Well, anything that is baloney or an urban myth should make us all highly skeptical, and I like the logic of the points you make. However, I would like a little proof, if possible, and not just logical guesses, which is why I asked the question.

Since I couldn't find anything on the Internet that studied this, I was hoping there would be a lot of users here to discuss it. If they all liked it, they could just be resolving their cognitive dissonance of spending money on it, or perhaps it does help in some way that might be interesting to learn about. That might not be proof, but it would be better than guessing.

Until then, I'll withhold my judgement ..... and not buy one.
 

Cluze

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The only scientific study of this phenomena of which I am aware is this: https://www.savartjournal.org/index.php/sj/article/viewFile/22/pdf

It isn't terribly long, but might be a bit dry if you are not used to reading scientific papers.

To quote the conclusions of the authors:

We therefore conclude that any changes associated with the vibration treatment we performed are negligible. We
do not make conclusions on the origin of the widespread anecdotal reports of improvements in sound associated
with this vibration treatment, but note that the well-established effects of the power of suggestion and marketing,
as well as the lack of double-blind, control testing might be a factor in these anecdotal reports. We also do not
make conclusions about possible effects of more vigorous vibration treatment, including that of playing the guitar for
decades, or of the effects of simple aging on guitar tone. We do however suggest that the methods utilized in this
study can be used to investigate the effects of these treatments and others on wooden string instruments of various
types.
 

Ed1

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The only scientific study of this phenomena of which I am aware is this: https://www.savartjournal.org/index....iewFile/22/pdf

This is great Cluze! I like the math, but it is not necessary to understand the paper. It is just what I hoped someone would find or know about. It does not cover every possibility of how a ToneRite works or does not work, but unless I find one to borrow someday, I doubt I will think about it much anymore.

And the web site from the paper also was interesting with articles like "The Effect of Finishes on the Vibration Properties of Spruce Guitar Soundboard Wood"

Thanks for posting it.

P.S. It appears Kissing and this study came to the same conclusion!
 

kissing

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I had read that paper as part of my informal 'research' at some point in the past.

Also it's not something that can easily be tested given that no 2 instruments are exactly the same due to variations within even pieces of wood from the same log.

Testing and experimentation is one aspect of science. There are some things in everyday life that don't necessarily need to be tested to be plausible, because you can deduce the outcome with existing knowledge of physics. For example, do red guitars play faster than sunburst guitars? You don't necessarily need an experiment to test it to know the answer.

My previous post, while in layman terms, is based on a rudimentary understanding of the physics of waves and materials.
 
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kissing

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Anecdotal evidence is one of the least reliable. That's the reason why so many certain false beliefs survived for so long (eg: homeopathy). Given that perception of tone is highly subjective, the placebo effect would play a large role. If human trials are conducted in some bizarre scientific experiment, it would have to be double blinded, randomly controlled and demonstrate beyond placebo effect with a high level of confidence.

In the absence of such papers (let alone repeat studies to validate the results), I rely on the theoretical physics.

Physically speaking, there is no plausible mechanism by which sound waves permanently and significantly modify the structure of wood, let alone achieve an outcome that is universally accepted as an improvement. That's not how solid hard wood and sonic waves work. If the soundwaves were powerful enough to distort wood, it would be a destructive force, not one that neatly arranges the atoms to sound better as a tonewood.

Just because some well established companies use it, or certain industry professionals endorse it does not make it true. Even the mainstream instrument industry and many professionals swear by anecdotes that have no basis in reality.

For example, my friend's highly experienced cello teacher told him not to buy an expensive cello (~$25,000) because the way player plays changes how an instrument opens up, much in line with the theory that sound vibrations affect guitar tonewoods. By his logic, because my friend is a beginner, he would feed the wrong vibrations into the expensive instrument.

Between me and the cello teacher, only the cello teacher is the trained professional musician who is also older and wiser. But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that his belief is wrong from physical reality. He probably believes it to be true because it's what he was told in his training, or some other anecdotal experience. It probably would not stand up to controlled, rigorous testing.


Science is NOT just whether something has been formally tested in experimentation. It INCLUDES general logic and common sense derived from the understanding of theory.

In my view, scientific theory and facts do not support the mechanism of Toneright and other similar assumptions to do with waves/vibrations magically improving tonewood. The psychological and placebo component is huge. The instrument industry also has a lot to gain in romanticising such beliefs from a marketing persepctive.
 
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VegasGeorge

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I do know that my new instruments have all sounded better after some time. But, I have always accredited that improvement to the strings settling in, and being slowly stretched to full extension. Of course, that's only my guess about what's happening.
 

Kenn2018

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I know from experience that some tenor ukuleles can open up and improve from playing.

I bought a spruce/mahogany tenor uke that was somewhat quiet. Lovely, very sweet sound from it. I played it a lot. Lots of strumming. Lots of picking. After several months, I realized that the sound was louder and more resonant. And the sustain had improved.

Other people who hadn't heard it for a while commented that it seemed to have a nicer sound than the last time they had heard it. I was asked if I had changed the strings?

I read some articles about instruments opening up over time. The most common theory was that the vibrations from playing loosens up the glues and the finish, ever so slightly, to increase the flexibility of the woods. As does the further drying of the woods and the off-gassing and of some of the volatile resins contained in the fibers of the wood.

Sorry, I can't give you source references. It was an informal Google search. And most of the articles were written about guitars.

I don't know why my tenor improved after being played for several months. I only know that it did. Was it added hydration? Personal bias and expectation? I didn't measure the output volume, so maybe the perceived increase is only the product of my imagination.
 

kissing

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Bill1 said:
Playing music is about culture and enjoyment, not science.

I agree that the art of playing music is about culture and enjoyment. However, many things about it can be analysed and explained by science. In fact, why do some notes soind good together, whole others don't in music? There's a whole science behind that too.


When I play my ukulele, I am not doing science. I am doing an art (or at least an attempt to do so).
But my awareness of reality does not suddenly disappear. I know that sound is generated by the vibration of the strings at certain frequencies that resonate within the body of the instrument and project out. I know that luthiers have mastered their art through centuries of trial&error to develop tested methods of making good instruments. The fact that the luthiers are sticking to certain methods and order, rather than random chaos when making a good instrument shows that scientific concepts are at play.

The study of making music and making instruments is both art and science.


The example of a Cello being played in incorrectly by a beginner is an interesting thing to discuss. If you have no idea what is happening inside the cello, how can you have a logical or common sense approach to discussing what is happening inside the cello? How would you know what is logical or not? The science of the cello has not been fully explored yet, even though it has been around for so long, there is no equation to model its behaviour. Cello makers seem to use 100s of years of experience instead of a scientific design model to design, build and test Cellos. Sure the larger dimensions of size are determined relatively easily by the range of frequencies generated, but the fine tuning of the sound is still learned from experience, not science. There are only theories and you may have a belief, but at one stage people believed the earth was flat as well. Maybe you can get the front panel and excite it when its not fitted to the cello and test it a to single frequency, but logically when the cello is belting out Bach's Cello Suite you have around 70 shaped pieces of wood glued together, it is generating multiple frequencies and harmonics and logically the tension of the strings is changing with every beat, so logically its very hard to model. So logically most theories are not at a stage where they can be turned into engineered designs yet. Which is why a person who is a professional musician, trained to play and teach Cello, would base advice to students on things learned from experience, rather than a mathematical equation or unproven theory or belief system. In the example given, the professional cello player is probably giving excellent advice by advising a beginner not to buy a $25,000 instrument. If the beginner is stupid enough to ignore or question such good advice, they deserve to be ripped off.

The process of cello makers discovering what works and what doesn't work in instrument making is, while not a pure science, uses a scientific method.
Luthiers are seen as craftsmen, artists - but a lot of scientific theory also goes into the craft of instrument making. When an instrument sounds good, there is a reason why does that can be looked at scientifically to an extent. The cluster of knowledge luthiers gain with collective experience marry science and artform of making good instruments. It is possible to make a scientific analysis between a well made instrument and a badly made one.

Furthermore, one does not need to be a master luthier or cellist to understand that it's made of solid pieces of aged wood and that sound is produced when strings are vibrated across it.
It's basic science to understand that physical vibrations caused by playing does not align wood molecules into a better sounding instrument.

That's like saying only certified electrical engineers understand why a lightbulb switches on when you flip the switch.
Someone with basic understanding of electricity and physics can explain basic circuits and the conversion of electron movement into other forms of energy.
At the very least, I wouldn't be the one saying that it lights up due to "magic".
Likewise, while I'm not a luthier, I understand the physics behind the forces and materials at play. There's no scientific mechanism by which playing an instrument inherently improves the sound.


If you own a Cello you can work it out for yourself, you do not need to get involve in social media arguments about what "science" is. You can just borrow or buy a bluetooth speaker, find some CDs of fine player like Yo Yo Ma, and put your device on loop, turn it up loud and put the speaker on the Cello and leave it for a while and see what happens. The question to answer is whether your musical experience is improved, the scientific explanation is as important as learning the equations for equal temperament. If you have loved your music for 20 years without ever learning how to spell temperament, or the Equal Temperament equations, the science of how the vibrations change or don't change the sound sound of your cello is even less important compared to how much it improves your musical experience. Maybe if you do have a choice of cellos, don't do the experiment on the one thats worth $25K if you are not sure of the outcome yet.

So again I suggest, try it out for yourself. Find out if it works for you. Own your own musical experience and avoid allowing social media to tell you what to think all the time. Explore your musical world yourself.

Again, as per my previous post there are multiple plausible explanations why some people may perceive that their instrument has improved after playing/vibrating it with soundwaves.
-Placebo/psychological expectations
-Player familiarity with instrument
-Changes to the instrument over time (oxidation, wearing down of finish, changes in glue, wood drying, environmental conditions, state of the strings)
 
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kissing

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I know from experience that some tenor ukuleles can open up and improve from playing.

I bought a spruce/mahogany tenor uke that was somewhat quiet. Lovely, very sweet sound from it. I played it a lot. Lots of strumming. Lots of picking. After several months, I realized that the sound was louder and more resonant. And the sustain had improved.

Other people who hadn't heard it for a while commented that it seemed to have a nicer sound than the last time they had heard it. I was asked if I had changed the strings?

I read some articles about instruments opening up over time. The most common theory was that the vibrations from playing loosens up the glues and the finish, ever so slightly, to increase the flexibility of the woods. As does the further drying of the woods and the off-gassing and of some of the volatile resins contained in the fibers of the wood.

Sorry, I can't give you source references. It was an informal Google search. And most of the articles were written about guitars.

I don't know why my tenor improved after being played for several months. I only know that it did. Was it added hydration? Personal bias and expectation? I didn't measure the output volume, so maybe the perceived increase is only the product of my imagination.

I do believe it is plausible for new instruments to open up a bit in the early stages of ownership. However, I highly doubt the mechanism by which this may occur is due to "vibrations" from playing.

I recently acquired an inexpensive solid Koa top baritone as a factory second from eBay. It was about half price, and considered a second because there was a split grain on the top.
However, the instrument was repaired professionally.

When it arrived to me, it was out of tune and strung with very old strings. After installing some new strings, it didn't sound very good. A bit dead.
But after a few weeks I felt that the sound opened up.

I think a few plausible explanations for this is that the instrument adjusted to the humidity and temperature of my room. New strings settled in. The neck and top took some time to adjust to the new constant tension of being in tune. I probably also adapted to the nuances of the instrument.

These things are hard to measure, but the physical theories behind them seem plausible to me.

However, vibrations from simply being played does not come across to me as a plausible explanation of causing any change to an instrument.
 

deznuchs

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Thought I would resurrect this thread. Recently got a tonerite and I am 48 hours into the treatment on my Koa L.Luthier and I am noticing an increase in volume and resonance. So far I'm impressed with how it is turning out. The manual says that I would be seeing changes between 72 - 144 hours but I'm already hearing differences. This is all anecdotal but I feel the whole body of the uke vibrating all the way up the neck when I play it. Never really noticed the neck vibrating on any of my ukes before.

I am in the camp of ukes opening up (breaking in). I have had a dozen ukes (including all the k brands) over the past few years and have always thought ukes sound tight when brand new, some worse than others. I just got back from Oahu and visited multiple uke shops and it was the first time that I could see and try a bunch of higher-end ukes (Kanile'a, Kamaka, Koaloha, Romero Creations, Rebel) at one time. I was surprised how tight and tingy many of the ukes sounded new. The exception was the Kanile'a 2020 and 2021 platinum. Those were amazing but so is the price tag. The Romero Creations sounded good off the shelf too.

So far I am a fan of the tonerite. I happened to see Kalei Gamiao during the trip and asked if he had heard of Tonerite and he said he uses it on his personal ukes! I was like if Kalei uses it, then it would be worth trying. The hard part is that these treatments take days/weeks and it will be some time before I finish my first experiment and before I get to try it on my other ukes. This could take a month.

Thought I would share.
 
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Wiggy

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I may be all wet, but I believe that any "sounds better after a period of time" experiences I've had were primarily due to a combination of strings settling in, taking at the very least 1-2 weeks, and the wood structure reacting to the tension change as applied by those strings. I have no idea how long that could or would take. Changing string tension changes the reaction.

One way I try to accelerate string settling is to (after a day or 2 of being at tension) press down where the string bends over the saddle forcing the curve to set sooner.
 
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Ed1

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So far I am a fan of the tonerite. I happened to see Kalei Gamiao during the trip and asked if he had heard of Tonerite and he said he uses it on his personal ukes! I was like if Kalei uses it, then it would be worth trying. The hard part is that these treatments take days/weeks and it will be some time before I finish my first experiment and before I get to try it on my other ukes. This could take a month.

Thought I would share.

Thanks for your thoughts. This thread has had lots of strong opinions on this. I believe those who have noticed the difference on some of their ukes. I'm still not sure that the reasons for the differences are correct in every case.

I can easily wait a month for your results.