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Thread: Ukuleles sound horrible outside?

  1. #1

    Default Ukuleles sound horrible outside?

    Both of my ukuleles, one solid, one laminate, sound atrocious outside. I imagine it is because of the wood expanding and contracting. Is there anything I can do? I want to play outside :'(

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
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    New York's beautiful Hudson Valley
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    Ukuleles sound horrible outside because there is nothing to throw the sound back to us. In an enclosed space, the sound vibrations bounce around us, off the walls, glass, and other hard surfaces in the room. We have a patio with a mahogany floor and cedar ceiling, and the acoustics are fantastic in spite of the fact that much of the space is open to the outside. But it's the sound vibration between the mahogany and cedar that's making it sound so great, not the open portions!

  3. #3

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    ahh thanks. I feel like that could be part of it, but there might be other issues as well. This really only happens in the cold as far as I know. In the summer I played it at the beach, and people enjoyed it. It was a little quieter if i remember right, which would make sense according to what you said. But if I would play this now, when it's so cold, I feel like people would run and cover their children's ears.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    It's not a bad idea to always let your instrument acclimatise to its surroundings.....this can even be just moving from one room in the house to another....
    and going outside in the cold will be a severe shock to the little feller...and the uke...the wood will contract ..the strings will not contract so much and the result is it will go out of tune ...(similar but opposite on a warm day...the wood will expand and stretch the strings ...so maybe they will still sound in tuneful).

    Simples answer ...let the uke stabilise to the temp ..re-tune and off you go...

    CJ

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Queanbeyan, NSW Australia.
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    The tuning of the instrument will change with the changing temperature. You have to continually retune the instrument. Its really NOT good enough to tune the instrument indoors and think that the tuning will stay stable outdoors.

    Anthony

  6. #6

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    Alright that makes a lot of sense. I was thinking of the wood instead of the strings. Its nylgut, so i'm sure its more sensitive to temperature compared to steel strings or the likes. I'll just have to tune more often then, thanks!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Quake Country
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    I think most of it is that as JamieWG noted, the sound just keeps on going, nothing to bounce off of. I have great sounding ukes that outside sound weak and quiet. They have to compete with ambient outside noises too. Try playing in the biggest, most open room or your house, then go play in the bathroom with the door closed, LOL.

    It's a little like how different the sound is when you play your uke, then give it to someone who is directly facing you to play it, you get the full effect when in you are in front.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Lake Villa, IL
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    Yes, playing outside will make the sound seem so "small" at times. Even when I play inside in my living room, very open and with high vaulted ceilings, the sound is different. As opposed to the den, a smaller room with surrounding walls where the sound can bounce and come back to me. If you ever want to hear what your uke sounds like while you play, just sit next to and facing a wall.
    Tenor Ukes
    KoAloha KTM-00
    Pono MTD-(All Mahogany)
    Big Island BI-MO-TR-(All Spalted Mango)
    Compass Rose Style B Tenor-(All Claro Walnut)
    Boat Paddle ML style Tenor-(Red Spruce/Cocobolo)

    Baritone Uke
    Pono MHBSSC-(Spruce/Mahogany)


    Tenor Guitar
    Ibanez AVT1-N-(Spruce/Mahogany)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    [QUOTE=hammer40;1482922]Yes, playing outside will make the sound seem so "small" at times. Even when I play inside in my living room, very open and with high vaulted ceilings, the sound is different. As opposed to the den, a smaller room with surrounding walls where the sound can bounce and come back to me. If you ever want to hear what your uke sounds like while you play, just sit next to and facing a wall.[/QUOTE]

    The issue of the sound is that it was "horrible" and this we think is because of wood expasion and contraction outdoors .....so if it contracts in the cold the strings may go slack and out of tune.....however you make an excellent points in all your post ,but especially the last line .....Robert Johnson used to do his National Archive recordings in that manner.....

    Cheers

    CJ
    Last edited by CeeJay; 02-24-2014 at 02:19 AM.

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