We often hear talk of ukulele’s “opening up”. But what the hell does this really mean? And do ukulele’s really “open up”? Or is this just another one of those myths that they would have us believe in. Like Aliens, or Big-Foot, or the female orgasm? I often hear people say things like “I was playing my uke this weekend and it really opened up” or “I’ve owned my new Kala for 3 months and it’s really starting to open up”. Really? Can this be? Hmmm.
I did some research on the web and came up with a few interesting articles like this one which says “The reasons for the improvement have to do with subtle changes in the stiffness and flexibility within the cellular structure of the wood, as well as the hardening of resins within the cells themselves. These changes usually take many years. In the final analysis, it seems that the major change is to the wood itself, with the top leading the way as the major tone-producing element.”
Huh? OH stiffness and flexibility within the cellular structure, and hardening of resins within the cells improves the tone-producing elements…yeah, that's what SHE said.
I actually read the above article all the way through (so you don’t have to) and what they did was they tried to speed up the process of aging a guitar by “shaking” it in order to replicate many years of playing. Here is their verdict; “difference between the before and after tapes is hard to pinpoint and not necessarily consistent from song to song, but we did feel that the guitar was ringing out more in the second session” That’s right we did “feel” that the guitar was ringing out more. Ok, buddy, shake this.
So to sum it all up? Horse-shit. Some people feel that old instruments sound better than new ones. IF this is true you would be looking at upwards of 50 years, not three months and definitely not a weekend. So if you want something to open up, get yourself a bottle of wine and a corkscrew. Otherwise we'll see you in 50 years.