Uke sounds very different in different environments?

mikelz777

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Yesterday I was quite surprised how different my uke sounded when I took it outdoors to play with some other uke players. It's a solid spruce top with laminate sides and back. Indoors and playing alone it's bright and chimes and you can really hear the sustain. It's not a boomer but the volume is average, what you'd expect. Outdoors it was so quiet!! I felt I had to adjust my strumming and really bear down on the strings just to try and approach the same volume I would get strumming casually indoors. (Which caused errors/clams I wouldn't usually make.) It just sounded so washed out and lost amongst the other players. I could barely hear it and I was playing it! Maybe it's because I'm not used to playing with others so the environment was throwing me off. Maybe it's a uke meant to be played in a quieter more intimate setting. All I know for sure is that there was a significant difference in sound and I won't be bringing that uke to play outdoors with a group again. Has anyone else out there had a similar experience?
 

MutinousDoug

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I've noticed that too. My ukes are not expensive; just a Makala Dolphin and a Fluke but neither of these sound as full or loud when played outdoors. I guess there's nothing to resonate off of?
 

Ms Bean

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Yes, that's my experience as well. I only take cheap laminates to play 'out' with a few friends. The volume stays relatively low. And when I play my uke in the car whilst waiting for people, it sounds almost thunderous in comparison to playing outside.
 

merlin666

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This is called acoustics. The sound you make is reverberated back to your ears from walls and furniture. This does not happen outdoors. Try playing in different spaces, like empty large or small rooms, or a tiny space like a shower, or one that has heavy rugs and wall hangings that absorb sound and don't reflect. People who design recording studios or concert halls take great effort to calculate the impact of that space on sound.
 

mikelz777

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I've noticed that too. My ukes are not expensive; just a Makala Dolphin and a Fluke but neither of these sound as full or loud when played outdoors. I guess there's nothing to resonate off

This is called acoustics. The sound you make is reverberated back to your ears from walls and furniture. This does not happen outdoors. Try playing in different spaces, like empty large or small rooms, or a tiny space like a shower, or one that has heavy rugs and wall hangings that absorb sound and don't reflect. People who design recording studios or concert halls take great effort to calculate the impact of that space on sound.
So maybe that's why it doesn't seem to be happening to the other players as well. Their sound holes are pointed toward me so I can hear them better than I can myself with my sound hole pointing away from me.
 
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So maybe that's why it doesn't seem to be happening to the other players as well. Their sound holes are pointed toward me so I can hear them better than I can myself with my sound hole pointing away from me.

samething happens to me when I talk with people.
 

mikelz777

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It's weird. My wife was playing beside me thus pointing in the same direction but her uke sounded louder to me than mine and hers was a soprano vs my concert. (Solid mahogany vs my solid spruce top laminate.)
 

Kenn2018

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It's weird. My wife was playing beside me thus pointing in the same direction but her uke sounded louder to me than mine and hers was a soprano vs my concert. (Solid mahogany vs my solid spruce top laminate.)
Her sound board was radiating sound outward and you were in the path of the waves. You uke's soundboard radiates the sound directly away from you as you play it. Some of the sound leaks back to you, but the majority moves away. (Ripples in a pond, but from the sound board instead of a single point.)

This is why many players like side sound ports. It helps to direct some of the sound back to the player. It's also why permanent outdoors venues have a curved or shell-like wall behind the stage to reflect the sound out towards the audience.

The sound you hear from your acoustic ukulele is different from what the people in front of you hear. Indoors or outdoors.

Play what you know as you normally do, and don't worry about it. I'm sure the others in the group could hear you fine. And you contributed to the group's overall sound.

If you're still unsure, before you start, have someone sit across from you and play a little bit. They'll tell if they can hear it or not. Or ask some else to play your uke and move around to hear what others do.
 

John Colter

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I hate Banjo ukes, their sound is raucous and shouty to my delicate ears, but outdoors they sound less offensive.

John Colter
 

M3Ukulele

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I’ve definitely Noticed that my ukusele ‘s sound different depending upon humidity but also space I’m playing in. As mentioned a small bathroom is my favourite as acoustics bouncy sound back. A Fan or TV playing in a room can take away from the experience when playing. Low humidity, dry environments don’t sound as good as a Uke and environment that has 50% humidity (give or take of course). I’m talking about all solid wood instruments. My Fluke always sounds the same but definitely sounded better a few years in when laminate top dried out. That seems counter intuitive but that is what I found. At the same time when we hit 90% humidity on the coast………same thing!
 

mikelz777

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I'm going to have to try an experiment by playing and comparing all my ukes outdoors and see if there are any that sound better or louder than the others. If I find one that's great but maybe they will all sound quieter and more washed out than I am used to hearing indoors and that will tell me I'm just not used to the different acoustic dynamics of outdoors vs indoors.
 

Larry Usselman

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My other musical pursuit is West African hand drumming. We usually rehearse and practice indoors, but we frequently play and perform for outdoor events. Indoors, the sounds are crisp, clear, and LOUD. Outdoors, we have to play twice as hard just to get a clean sound and make the individual parts separate and audible to the audience. I'm sure that this applies to ukuleles even more so, since their normal volume is way below our drums!
 

badhabits

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so this must be why I can sing great in the shower, but sound like cr@p everywhere else…😄
 

barnstorm

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The room where I play the most has a sloping ceiling at one end, and it has enough of an effect on (my perception of) the sound of my ukes that I moved all the furniture around so that my chair was at the opposite end. The difference between one space and another can be really wild.