I have noticed this too and string tension. Basically to have an instrument sound the best, right weather and right strings makes all the differenceI don't know about the whole opening up thing (I'm skeptical) but I know that humidity will affect the sound. I once owned a uke that didn't seem to like humid environments. When it was stored in a hard case where the relative humidity was 50-60% it tended to sound a little dull and muddy. When the relative humidity in the case was about 40-47% it tended to sound more bright and crisp. I discovered it kind of unintentionally. There were times when I would play it and the sound wasn't cutting it for me so my thoughts moved to selling it rather than keeping it. Then there were times that it sounded great and I asked myself why I even entertained the thought of selling it. After a particularly dry and cold winter my concern for my solid wood ukes led me to buying small hygrometers to put in the cases and that is how I discovered this particular uke was sensitive to humidity.
That's where you and I differ.You will never get an acceptable double blind study that will convince you. This is not something that will be funded nor would it have a conclusive result. No proof does not mean it does not happen.
But I can accept anecdotal evidence from those that I respect. A luthier or artist who has mastered his craft can compare ones made at different times and believe if they have changed or not. A performer can get a new ukulele and believe they have changed or not after a few months. So if Chuck Moore and John Kinnard say they should open up, I trust them.
And I have an ukulele that I believe has opened up. So I am convinced that some can open up. I don’t need a scientific study to convince me further.
It would be difficult to put in all the controls.It should be easy to record volume and frequency spectrum and then vibrate the instrument with one of those vibrators for some months and measure those specs again.
There is nothing magical about it. It's just amplitude and frequency and it can be measured.
We do differ.That's where you and I differ.
I think accepting anecdotal evidence, or "old wives tales" so to speak is regressive, misleading and in some contexts harmful.
We didn't come from being a society where people anecdotally believed mental illness was the doing of evil spirits to one of science and technological advancement from just accepting anecdotes.
The few tests that have been done on the instruments opening up have all been inconclusive.
Sure, no proof does not mean it does not happen but in order to say that it needs to be at least backed up by some solid theoretical reasoning.
How does a solid lifeless piece of wood know to become "better" at being a musical instrument from being used as one?
If the vibrations caused by playing are powerful enough to physically re-align the wood to make it a better instrument; wouldn't it be much more likely that you'll destroy the instrument or make it sound worse over time?
Is it playing itself that makes the change, or age?
5. You subconsciously become a better player over time.
However, beyond these things I really cannot think of any theoretical plausible explanations for instrument tonality change over time.
It seems like an old wives tale to me, like how some people still think you catch a cold due to exposure to temperature (heavily backed up by anecdotal evidence).
Creeping incremental-ism at its finest! Bravo, VG! Leave the light on for us. And, back to the OP, Yowling Tom isn't opening up but my fingers and brain certainly are, which has the same end result, thus aren't we just debating semantics? [Not sayin' there's anything wrong with that]Yes, in my experience a new Uke usually does "open up" after some time and some playing. I'm not a physicist, but I did stay at a Motel 6 once or twice. I know that wood is comprised of molecules and is fibrous. My best guess is that after experiencing the subtle vibration of resonance, the molecules start to align along the longitudinal axis of the fibers. This would allow the atomic subs to sortie in the direction of the propagating waves. That, in turn, would facilitate fractal interference, reducing enharmonic distortions, and promote sympathetic confluence in the body. I believe that explains it.
We do differ.
Assume it occurs: There is still no scientific study that can be designed to prove this currently.
There are explanations for opening up, but not if one starts from the question, "How does a solid lifeless piece of wood know to become "better" at...". Your question precludes any scientific examination of the question.
I did not subconsciously become a better player when I noticed that the sound of my custom ukulele changed since it was very specific to a few frets on the A string.
Wives tales are not to be pushed aside only because you do not believe in them without scientific proof. I believe that environmental temperature can effect whether you catch a cold. Getting chilled lowers one's immunity, making it more difficult for the body to fight off the virus. The number of respiratory illnesses increases with excessive exposure to low temperatures. This increase occurs both anecdotally and scientifically, and whether it is backed by solid theoretical reasoning (it occurred even before van Leeuwenhoek).
Music is romance. We try to convince ourselves it that is "science" but those long before us created instruments that were pleasing and soothing to hear. That was their goal. I thank them.
I live in the sub $300 world and I'm happy. I don't even consider "opening up" but I do believe it takes months (sometimes years) for a uke, with the strings on it being tuned to pitch, to settle in. The neck flatness changes, the soundboard may cup a bit, the bridge/saddle may tip, and the tuner gears wear in. I'm sure there are more I'm not aware of.
Any changes in setup (typically nut slot depth, saddle height) may affect some of the above in a perceptible way
When a ukulele is in tune with itself and harmonizing (strings exciting other strings) it is a thrill.
I pulled it out from the case one day and was impressed with the low end which seemed a lot better than what I remember and soon I noticed a crack below the bridge to the edge. Got it repaired the sound changed back a bit. I think it sounded amazing with the crack. On a similar note, I own a vintage Martin 1k that sounded amazing and had cracks, I wanted it to be restored. The sound is still amazing but it a bit tighter than before.Sorry, I gotta ask. Is the crack closed or did it open up?
Yuck. Some of the comments to others are about as discounting and nasty as I have seen on this site.
Sometimes, it is better to be nice than have to be right.