So..You Got a New Ukulele!7
April 28, 2010 by Tim
Here is a video that I had to make for a class. I liked it so much that I figured I would share it with all of my uke family.
Dont worry, I dont plan on making videos like this. Expect this to be an article someday.
Pre-strumming Link – A forum post on the idea
Humidifier – The one I like to keep in my cases
Restringing video – From UkuleleUnderground
Good job, make more videos 🙂 I want to see you actually drive a car over that “bulletproof” case!
Tim, this is a great informational video. I’ve already pointed people toward it.
There is one area of conditioning an instrument that few ever discuss, mainly because it involves some specialized knowledge. This pertains almost exclusively to matte-finished instruments like the ukulele. I am going to pass along some advice that comes from nearly 30 years worth of woodworking. Some might be shocked, but the history of instrument making bears out the advice.
After getting my initial uke (Lanikai LU-21C, and it is a wonderful instrument for the price), I became a little worried about two issues: 1) the surface wood (this is a nato wood laminate instrument) and 2) the finish. Nato wood has a density near that of mahogany. However, it does not finish as smooth as mahogany and can have some deep pores between the wood fibers… even pits. In locations that have high humidity for a good portion of the year, like I have in northern Virginia, the surface and finish become highly susceptible to cracking, as well as staining from the the oils on hands and basically being in contact with a human. Also, a matte finish does not offer any sort of protection for the wood. This can lead to variations in the tone of the instrument. I have a solution that, while not 100%, goes a very long way in helping my uke with these issues.
After letting the instrument acclimate for 6 months, I proceeded to give it a tung oil finish on all outer surfaces, including the rosewood fret board. When applied correctly, and it is not a difficult job, tung oil actually adds an incredibly tough protective layer to the wood without negatively altering the tone of the instrument. In fact, I think my instrument sounds better because the surface tensions of the wood, and hence the substrates of the laminate, are less prone to shrinkage/swelling due to humidity levels. Moreover, tung oil will penetrate deeply into even a tough wood like nato; thus preserving it. Secondly, there is a subtle, almost hardly perceptible, deepening of the wood hue where in the wood striations become a tad more pronounced. Lastly, as far as the finish is concerned, tung oils a very mild luster. I’ve held mine up to factory finished Lanikais and find I get compliments on the finish.
I want to repeat some items. The tone or sound quality did not suffer in any manner from this finishing process. I repeat: I think the tone actually improved. Secondly, the outer wood is now protected (from stains, oils, water, etc.) and from scratches. Yes, a tung oil finish makes the wood scratch resistant because of the way it penetrates and binds to the surface (and sub-surface). This layer also helps reduce shrinkage/swelling of the wood, and that reduces the potential for cracking.
I hope this proves of some use for people.
Wow, thanks for the info.
Wow, great info. I noticed from your post that you are from northern Virginia. I’m also from the area, and I’ve been looking into purchasing an electric ukulele but I can’t find a place to try one out. Do you know any good spots that sell them nearby?
Sorry man, Ilive in IL, but I would go to ukuleleunderground.com and look at the forums for info on places in West VA to buy a uke.
I haven’t found a place the carries electric ukes, but I have looked. The strange part is NOVA is dotted with a lot of small music shops, and a lot of them do not have a presence on the web. Secondly, most of the music shops only carry acoustic models.
Wish I knew more than that.
On a different thread, do you know of any local uke groups? I know of one, but they meet in Maryland every other meeting, and my personnel schedule makes that difficult (I am an early riser). I really need to sit down and practice with others. If you know of any small groups willing to take on a relative beginner, could you throw me a shout? dagoroona(at)gmail(dot)com.
Peculiar article, just what I wanted to find.