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Thread: Laminated ukes' sound improving over time-your experience?

  1. #1

    Default Laminated ukes' sound improving over time-your experience?

    There has been so much written about how solid wood ukuleles mature and sound better over time, while all-laminate ones don't. I have experience with 2 all-laminate instruments that indicate to me that it might be more complicated than that.

    The first is an Aersi zebra wood all-laminate concert ukulele. I bought it nearly two years ago because I wanted a knockabout instrument. It was dirt cheap and had been given a favorable review on this forum. I wasn't concerned much about the sound. I just wanted a playable ukulele with the robustness of all-laminate construction. When I received it the sound was muffled and boxy and I had to strum hard to get any volume from it. I gave it to my sister who liked it and wanted to learn to play. She took it home with her and I didn't see her or the uke again until about a year later When I played the ukulele the sound had changed for the better. It was responsive even when strummed lightly and had a sweet sound with good volume.

    The second instrument is a Baton Rouge 8 string which I bought 10 months ago based forum posts here and a favorable "gotaukulele" review. When I received it also sounded boxy and muffled and I had to strum hard to get any volume. I was disappointed and thought I must have gotten a dud. I've played it only sporadically since I bought it, Typically I would tune it up, play a song or 2, put it back in the case ad leave it for long periods of time because I was so discouraged.
    I brought it to ukulele club last night, mostly to share it with other members who might want to try an 8 string. I ended up playing it myself for most of the night because it sounded so good. Unlike when it was new it now is responsive, even to light strumming and has a full rich sound with a rich sustain. I will be playing it more in the future. I no longer regret buying it.

    I'm interested to see if anyone else has noticed this with their all-laminate instruments. My experience with these 2 instruments contradicts what is usually said about all-laminate instrument that the sound when new will not improve with age.

    My limited experience indicates that some all-laminate instruments can change for the better over time and that anyone disappointed with their new boxy sounding muffled all-laminate ukulele might want to wait for about a year before replacing it. They could be be pleasantly surprised.

    edit 6:15 pm
    I'm requesting that you add a comment only if you have bought a new all-laminate ukulele and whether you have noticed a change over time. Let's not go down the "opening up" rabbit hole
    Last edited by rrieth; 03-10-2020 at 12:39 PM. Reason: add comment

  2. #2
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    I suspect the changes in the sound of your ukes is more due to the strings settling in than the laminate material changing. The neck may have possibly been affected slightly by humidity and string tension.

    Plus, our memories do play tricks on us. We remember a particular trait and with time our memory exaggerates it. Then we hear it after a period of not playing it and it doesn't sound the way we remembered it.
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  3. #3
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    I'm not convinced that solids "open up", or enough enough to notice anyway, so I'm a bit skeptical about laminates doing it.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

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  4. #4
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    If they sound better to you then they do.
    Currently enjoying these ukuleles : *LdfM tenor, *LfdM 19" super tenor. *LfdM baritone, *I'iwi tenor , *Koolau tenor, *Webber tenor, *Kimo tenor, *Kimo super concert, *Mya Moe baritone, *Kamaka baritone, *Gianinni baritone, *Fred Shields walnut pineapple super soprano, *Kala super soprano, *Loprinzi super soprano, *Black bear ULO concert , *Enya X1 concert, *Enya X1 pineapple soprano, *Enya Nova *Gretsch tenor, *Korala plastic concert

  5. #5

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    I am rather skeptical about any uke, solid or not, 'opening up' with time due to vibrations.

    More likely explanations are your own familiarity to the instrument and subjectivity.

    If "vintage" instruments have "opened up" it is because their nitrocellulose coating has thinned and the glues have broken down a bit.
    Many modern instruments don't use nitrocellulose, but polyurethane - which don't change over time.

  6. #6

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    Please limit comments to your personal experience with new all laminate ukuleles.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rrieth View Post
    Please limit comments to your personal experience with new all laminate ukuleles.
    Dude, this a forum—a place to exchange ideas—and members are allowed to express their opinions on the topic so long as they are civil.

  8. #8
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    Got a new lami uke some time ago. It sounded loud and had a typical lami boxy voice to it. Played 1-2 hours on it everyday for 3-4 months before I sold it as I need an uke with more than 12 frets. In my short experience with this uke, it sounded the same as the first day I got it.
    aNueNue Moon Bird US200 || Kamaka HF-1 || Martin S-1 Uke || Eddy Finn EFTS-20-S || Kala KA-SLNG || Martin C1K Uke || Yamaha GL1
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by gochugogi View Post
    Dude, this a forum—a place to exchange ideas—and members are allowed to express their opinions on the topic so long as they are civil.
    Agreed... this is not a personal message site. Many threads go off on tangents while others shift the direction of a topic. All are free (including you) to ignore posts that are not of interest to you.

    My incomplete understanding of ukes opening up is that the vibrations can change the sound partly due to unevenness of construction. Example might be where a little more glue has been used to limit the vibrations in a localized area and playing loosens up this area. No reason to believe that this can only happen on solid wood construction.

    One other comment that is common to opening up discussions is that during this time frame the owner's skills are improving and it is difficult to separate the two.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by rrieth View Post
    Please limit comments to your personal experience with new all laminate ukuleles.
    I have owned hundreds of ukes, solid, solid-top, laminate and solid body.

    Any perceived change in sound over the years is so subjectively biased that it has no credibility.
    That is my point. It's a very skeptical area.

    That being said, maybe don't be so narrow minded in an open forum about ukuleles?
    What useful data are you going to obtain for your sake (and everybody else's sake) if you're going to be so ignorant towards sound reasoning and opinions of the very people you are asking?

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