Effect of age of solid wood uke on its sound?

Here is a relatively recent thread with opinions all over the place... (this is likely a good example whereby the strength of one's belief or skepticism likely does not make whether wood can "open up" more true or more false)

Thanks for this link!
 
There is some thought that it was the chemicals the wood was treated with to kill woodworm. There was a big issue with woodworm at the time, so they were dousing wood items with anything they imagined could help.


Edit: This is a good one, too https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/secrets-of-the-stradivari/
Neat articles! Had Stradivari ever heard my Jr. High violin playing, he’d still be spinning in his grave 🙃
 
I'm convinced that tone does change with age. Though I also see possible the selection bias where the ukes and guitars that changed for the worse were lost and forgotten, and the ones that changed for the better were kept and cherished.

I think that 21yo Kamaka has had plenty of time to sound "good" to you. Pass on it and keep on looking out for a different one that does.
I’m passing on it, as you suggest
 
You can search for the silly expression "open up"

The bad thing though is, that if you wait 20 years for an instrument to "open up" your own hearing has deterioated in the mean time, so better buy a good sounding instrument today instead of 10 where you hope one of them will "open up" before your hearing gets too bad to hear it. 😁
:ROFLMAO:
 
You can also use a Google (or other search engine) search, adding a site qualifier to limit the search to just the UU forum. With Google, add this in your search string:
site:forum.ukuleleunderground.com
Dang, you taught me a new trick - thank you!
 
actually, more than opening up, I think strings will make a noticeable difference in sound. What strings did you have on before and what are on the 2002 now? Also, if the 2002 strings are old, just putting new strings on even if they are the same may dramatically change it.
Thanks for your comment about strings. I’d thought the same. I don’t know what strings the uke had on it when I got it on trial last week. I put Worth Browns on (because I read of so many other folks praising them) and they were a great improvement. I’m still gonna pass on this instrument, though.
actually, more than opening up, I think strings will make a noticeable difference in sound. What strings did you have on before and what are on the 2002 now? Also, if the 2002 strings are old, just putting new strings on even if they are the same may dramatically change it.
 
My take is that the older, preWWII ukuleles were made for wood sources that no longer exist, such as real Honduras Mahogany. With other woods there wasn't an emphasis on curly, flamed, spalted, and such. The preferred wood was tight strait grained. This had fewer weak points, if dried properly. The last factor is that the instruments that lasted these many years were usually ones that had something the owner(s) liked and were treated accordingly. Opening up is usually associated with better playing. Practice Practice Practice
Practice Practice Practice is to a musician what Location Location Location is to a realtor! :p
 
How the ukulele has been stored for the last 20 years will have a bigger impact on the sound than the wood opening up. (I believe it does open up with age.) Was the uke kept in a humidity-controlled environment? Or in a closet in a tropical climate with high humidity? Are all the seams and edges tight. Any cracks in the wood? Is the neck straight and the frets tight and level? Do the tuners work smoothly? Is the bridge secure? Athe nut and saddle in good shape? Check the label for any signs of water exposure.

If the strings are old, especially if they are original, it's going to be hard to tell if the intonation is good.

A 21 year old Kamaka, if cared for, should be a lovely instrument.

The Kamaka family has a supply of Koa wood that they dry and age for, if I remember correctly, 7 years before they use it.
I know nothing about this uke’s former life, but I’ll check out all those factors you suggest. Thanks!
 
I've had a couple of custom solid wood ukes made by Bruce Wei, his tops tend to be little thicker. They had good tone, but not as much projection as I like. One a year later did seem to open up, more projection and sustain, the other seemed to do the same in about a month. He's making me another now, solid spalted maple, I asked if he could thin the wood a little more than he usually does to see if it helps with the resonance. He's said he normally does 1.9mm, but will do 1.7 for this one.
He does lovely custom work, doesn’t he?
 
I’m in the camp that string tension and environment has more impact on an instrument than playing 100,000 C chords.

I don’t think a 20 year old Kamaka without any string tension will be impacted the same as one being stored for years under tension.

John
Heck, I would never think of a factor like string tension!
 
Top Bottom