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Thread: Things That Could Improve Sound of Any Ukulele

  1. #1
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    Default Things That Could Improve Sound of Any Ukulele

    Just curious what players have tried in their endless pursuit of optimal sound.

    I've experimented with all brands/types of strings, raising/lowering action, etc., but these are all ordinary things. I'm wondering if there are any counter intuitive methods for enhancement. For example, I'm considering sanding the top down just a tiny bit to make my uke thinner and thus, produce greater vibrations. I probably won't do it, but I just say it as an example of something that COULD be done. I just want to optimize everything about my uke's sound...even if it's risky or makes it unsightly. Just want the best sound possible.

    BTW, I love the sound my KTM-00 produces, so I'm not looking for "maybe you should try a different uke." My question applies to all ukes: what could be done to improve the sound, even if by only .01%, of any uke?

  2. #2
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    Well, when Kimo Hussey played my ukulele, it sounded so much better!

  3. #3
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    There's probably not much you can do to improve the sound of a high quality uke like yours, short of string experiment, but some things I've heard of folks trying are:
    1) shaving/scalloping down internal braces to change the sound
    2) adding a side sound port
    3) adding a small armrest, to keep your arm off the top while playing, thereby allowing maximum vibration of the top

    I wouldn't mess with bracing, but would consider a sound port or armrest, but would try on a cheap uke first.
    Last edited by Ukecaster; 01-21-2021 at 05:02 AM.
    John

  4. #4
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    I don't think you can improve a KTM-00's sound by sanding its top. These top-shelf, Hawaiian-made ukuleles are already very optimal. If there's anything easily done to absolutely improve the sound, I think it would have already been done. Your uke is not some no-name Aliexpress uke that can immediately benefit by having even tuners that hold a tune; your uke is already very, very good.

    If you hold your uke off your body, it'll have more sustain. However, this isn't something that's noticeable when actually playing a song (because more of the time, I'd strum another chord before the first chord's sustain is anywhere near decay).

    As @rainbow21 said, a good player (when paired with a good uke, which is needed to give consistency) can bring out a lot of subtleness and good tone. For example, (I'm not a good player) it is hard for me to have a consistent accent on the down beats, so sometimes my rhythm won't be "moving" your (or anybody) much.

  5. #5
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    To make any uke sound better, take some lessons from someone qualified to teach. That'll get you more bang for your buck than any gimmick or short-cut.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ripock View Post
    To make any uke sound better, take some lessons from someone qualified to teach. That'll get you more bang for your buck than any gimmick or short-cut.
    This. Once you get your hands on a top-tier quality uke, the best way to a better sound is to improve the player.

    Heck, it could probably be written: "Once you get your hands on a halfway decent uke, the best way to a better sound is to improve the player" and it would *still* be true. Just listen to the guys from the Ukulele site play some of the lower end ukes in sound samples. Corey or Kalei could make my worst uke sound better than I could make my best uke sound.
    Mainly a concert player.

    Beansprout alto (myrtle) | Martin Konter | Kala Elite Soprano | Rebel Double Cream mango concert
    KoAloha Silver concert | Blackbird Clara | Kamaka HF-2 (special) | Kanile'a K-1 C
    Anuenue UC200 Moonbird Concert | UkeSA Pineapple Sunday concert (acacia) | Pop's Pineapple Sunday (koa)

  7. #7

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    Practice, practice, and practice.

  8. #8
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    Pay attention to where you are strumming for optimal tone and volume. In general, if you are strumming over the sound hole, your uke won't sound too good. Find a good place to strum and adjust as necessary. Don't hold the Uke too tight or you will kill the tone. Don't fret too hard or you will pull the strings out of tune and it will be slower to move to the next note/chord. Eat all your vegetables.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by kregger View Post
    Just curious what players have tried in their endless pursuit of optimal sound.

    I've experimented with all brands/types of strings, raising/lowering action, etc., but these are all ordinary things. I'm wondering if there are any counter intuitive methods for enhancement. For example, I'm considering sanding the top down just a tiny bit to make my uke thinner and thus, produce greater vibrations. I probably won't do it, but I just say it as an example of something that COULD be done. I just want to optimize everything about my uke's sound...even if it's risky or makes it unsightly. Just want the best sound possible.

    .... so I'm not looking for "maybe you should try a different uke." My question applies to all ukes: what could be done to improve the sound, even if by only .01%, of any uke?
    Every Uke that I’ve bought needed a little corrective attention to simple build defects (eg. A saddle that doesn’t have a flat base). So set the Uke up well and ensure that, as far as you can, it’s put together well. Supplied strings are sometimes not so good but sometimes they are fine; and I prefer bone nuts and bone saddles but occasionally what’s already fitted is already good enough. There is no simple and universal ‘do this’ answer, however a skilled player will almost certainly be able to extract better music from any instrument that he or she plays - application and technique are very important and very difficult to master.

  10. #10
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    "Play better" responses miss the point of the question. There's nothing wrong with the KTM-00 (IMO it sounds superior to 99% of ukes). No physical object is in a perfected state, so there must be things that can be done to move the needle a fraction closer to perfection.

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