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Superior Ukulele Tonewood

What makes a superior Ukulele Tonewood?

We introduce and supply superior ukulele tonewoods, but what qualifies a particular wood as superior? Since there is no single sound that we all agree upon as the perfect sound, the answer seems elusive if not impossible. In fact, one important skill all luthiers must have is the ability to combine various tonewoods and techniques, to create a variety of different sounds or "voices" for different instruments. So, we ask again, what makes a superior ukulele tonewood?

First and foremost are the resonant properties of the wood. Resonance generates sound in an instrument, and all the tonal qualities we seek, including response, projection, sustain, harmonic dynamics and balance throughout the range of pitch. Generally speaking, the better all of these properties are, the better the sound. The species of wood determines many of the resonant qualities of tonewood.

For wood to resonate ideally it must have a cell structure conducive to transferring waveform energy with the least resistance, have a very low moisture content to avoid dampening and be crack free. Linearity in grain structure affects tone, especially sustain. We've noticed less sustain in curly vs. straight grain material from the same tree, and both are noticeably better, in most cases, than burl. Burl lacks any linear structure.

Another consideration in what makes tonewood superior is the age of the wood and more specifically, the state of the resin (pitch) in the wood. The conventional wisdom is that old aged wood will make a better sounding ukulele than fresher wood, and right out of the box, this is true. In aged wood, the resin is crystallizing or crystallized and will present a slightly clearer tone than if the resin is still fluid.

But resin that is not crystallized will flow and readjust its position within the wood as the instrument is played. This results in less resistance to the waveform because the resin is rearranged by the waveform to allow the best resonance and in the end, the best sounding instrument. This is the same condition that can affect a ukelele that's stored in a case for some time without being played (of which I am shamefully guilty). When pulled out and initially played, it just doesn't sound as good as I remembered. But after a bit of playtime, it sounds great again due to the repositioning of the resin within the wood.

Stand your instrument near a speaker and play your favorite music for it...!

There are other attributes we seek in superior tonewoods. Woods that are light in weight, yield superior finishes, and look great are important, but sound is always the principle consideration.

Superior tonewoods can be found growing around the world. The forests of the Pacific NW in America happen to produce some of the best tonewood. We are proud to offer those superior ukulele tonewoods to you.