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Thread: cleaning tips, esp fret and finish?

  1. #1

    Default cleaning tips, esp fret and finish?

    Mahalo UU community,

    Been noodling for a while but finally trying to get serious with the Uke. Have a small but growing family since I'm also a habitual collector.

    I have a Haiku baritone uke that I bought used recently. Sounds great. Been using Martin guitar polish and cleaner on it for several cleanings now but still getting some dirt. Is there a recommended cleaner for Ukes?

    Also, the frets are pretty oxidized so was wondering how to clean frets - some kind of tool out there to help polish? any recommended polishes?

    Finally, the finish has a crackle. I'm guessing there isn't anything that can be done since I've seen this on ads for older Martin - I believe this sort of cracking in the finish is due to high humidity? You can only see it under the right reflection/angle, but it is all over once you see it. IS the only way to "fix" this to get a complete refinish done? (something I wouldn't consider anyhow).

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Whidbey Island, WA
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    204

    Default

    There are several older threads here about cleaning your instrument. Here's a link to one:
    http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/...ighlight=clean

    What you should use to clean it may be depend in part on what kind of finish the uke has.

    I clean my fretboards with a bit of lemon oil (I use Dunlop 65) and a soft cotton cloth. I rub the frets with the cloth and that is sufficient to remove grime and discoloration from the metal.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    USA
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    379

    Default

    For frets, maybe try the cloth mentioned above first...but if you need to go farther:

    Some people use steel wool for polishing frets. I'm not sure which one.
    I have some sanding/polishing pads I picked up years ago from Stewmac.com. I don't think they even have these anymore, and you could probably find something else that would work cheaper elsewhere. The finest one is 12,000 grit and there's 8,000 grit just before that (that one does a fine job, I just like to go the extra mile sometimes).. I just work them up and down the fretboard by hand until the frets are polished almost to a mirror finish. Maybe there's something similar at a hardware store or automotive store. The main thing is make sure you don't use something too coarse or you'll actually start taking material off of the tops of the frets and make them unlevel. I've had success just using a small bit of water on the pads as I work. I'm sure there's something better, but that works for me. Then I finish up by using a coffee filter up and down the frets/fretboard for a final cleaning.

    I'm not sure how to repair the crackle you mention; I have zero experience doing that. That said, it sounds like you're describing "cold checking". It usually happens if an instrument is brought from a warmer environment to a colder environment and popped right out of the case without allowing it to adjust to the new temperature first....just some sort of temperature fluctuation.
    Last edited by jer; 10-04-2017 at 08:04 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Stratford, Connecticut
    Posts
    1,536

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    Bought a bass with rusty frets a long time ago and was taught by an old guitar tech to simply use an ink eraser on them. Worked like a charm.

    31ACkRqmcTL.jpg

    Use the grey or ink side

    Sounds like the lacquer finish has become crazed. As explained this can happen due to temperature changes as well as the lacquer being applied too thick. I dont know much about this but there are pros in the Uke Tech Support forums most are always willing to share knowledge.
    Last edited by Inksplosive AL; 10-04-2017 at 04:02 PM.
    This space reserved for a smart or witty comment or a famous quote. It may also be used to promote my accomplishments should I ever accomplish anything worth sharing.

  5. #5

    Default

    Thanks all for the great suggestions and responses. Will try the eraser @ next string replacement. Then maybe move on to very fine sandpaper as a last resort.
    Ukes: Kamaka, Kanilea, Martin, Haiku, Luna, Ko'Aloha

    To My Heroes of WW2: All gave some; some gave all; Nisei solders gave more.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Posts
    6,732

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    I've used 0000 steel wool for cleaning really dirty frets. That way I don't damage the wood of the fretboard.
    I NEVER use anything but LoPrinzi's Fretboard Butter on my fretboard. A very good luthier told me NEVER to use an oil there.
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Ontario.Canada.
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    The motto "Go for Broke" really was the secret of the Nisei 442nd. A record number of Purple Hearts awarded.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1931jim View Post
    The motto "Go for Broke" really was the secret of the Nisei 442nd. A record number of Purple Hearts awarded.
    can't forget about the MIS'ers either- Nisei serving in the pacific theater.
    Ukes: Kamaka, Kanilea, Martin, Haiku, Luna, Ko'Aloha

    To My Heroes of WW2: All gave some; some gave all; Nisei solders gave more.

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