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View Full Version : Good way to slicken the top of a satin uke?



pinkmoon
06-08-2018, 08:13 AM
I record my baritone Kala KA-B uke super quiet and with a lot of tremolo from a pick or by brushing the strings with my index finger. It sounds great but often I rest some of my right hand strumming fingers on the the top of the body and it creates a scratching / rubbing sound. I noticed this doesn't happen at all on ukes with a gloss finish. I love the sound of the instrument so I want to avoid this without changing the tone of the instrument.

Most obvious idea is don't rest my fingers there in the first place! But is there a way to polish / change the wood to make it super smooth without changing the tone? I don't care how it looks, just how it sounds. Resting my fingers a bit on the instrument helps with the technique...

Thanks so much!!

Patrick Madsen
06-08-2018, 08:33 AM
When was the last time you waxed/polished it? That may help. Not sure about how it would affect the finish but could always try a silicone spray in that area.

DownUpDave
06-08-2018, 09:38 AM
I know this uke, it does have a mat or satin finish that is a bit rough. Use 0000 steel wool, this is extra fine but fine works fine, sorry couldn't help myself. I have done this a number of times to different instruments and you just rub in the direction of the wood grain. Another thing you can use is a self stick (no adhesive) clear mylar pick guard. I have a custom I'iwi tenor ukulele with a redwood top and the builder puts one on before it leaves his shop

109588

pinkmoon
06-08-2018, 11:19 AM
Will the steel wool totally wreck the finish? I don't really care but now I'm curious. It has never been waxed / polished.

Does the self stick mylar change the sound much??

Thanks!!!!!

DownUpDave
06-08-2018, 11:27 AM
Will the steel wool totally wreck the finish? I don't really care but now I'm curious. It has never been waxed / polished.

Does the self stick mylar change the sound much??

Thanks!!!!!

Steel wool will not wreck the finish. Because it is so fine it just buffs it. If you go really crazy and are super agressive and rub forever you might be go through the finish to the wood but that would require a lot of effort.

The mylar does not effect the sound. It seems like it would but it doesn't. Charlie Fukuba who builds I'iwi is one of the most respected luthiers in the world he would never do anything to negatively effect the sound of one of his instruments. This tenor is loud with a ton of resonance and sustain.

70sSanO
06-08-2018, 04:58 PM
I've used a few different polishes on different instruments to bring out the gloss on a satin finish. It will never have the depth of a true gloss, but it does bring out the grain. You need to needs fans that this is a DIY project and I can't predict the outcome.

About 10 years ago I used a product called Bluemagic Metal Polish. And as crazy as this next statement sounds, I even masked off the bridge and fretboard and carefully used a buffer. Now older and hopefully wiser, I don't think I'd do that again.

What I use now is a product called Brilliant Metal Polish. It is supposedly non-abrasive but I almost has to have some to polish out the finish. It can be used on fiberglass so it can't be too abrasive. FWIW, I've used both products to polish out repaired fiberglass dings.

The downside of any liquid polish is having a residue let in the pores. Depending on the surface finish it can be a pain to get it out.

John

Jerryc41
06-09-2018, 12:30 AM
How about a polishing pad on a drill? Maybe some car wax. or polishing (not rubbing) compound. You can experiment on a small area of the back.

As for the steel wool, that's standard procedure for finish wood projects. It will dull any glossy areas, but it will make the surface very smooth.

70sSanO
06-09-2018, 05:19 PM
How about a polishing pad on a drill? Maybe some car wax. or polishing (not rubbing) compound. You can experiment on a small area of the back.

As for the steel wool, that's standard procedure for finish wood projects. It will dull any glossy areas, but it will make the surface very smooth.

On using a drill with a buffing pad. I actually used a auto buffer for the first one about 10 years ago. I consider myself lucky that the pad didn't catch on the bridge or the fretboard. Even though I masked everything off I have never attempted that maneuver since. If it catches on anything it will destroy it. I've done it by hand since.

John

Booli
06-09-2018, 06:52 PM
@pinkmoon

Does your uke have a pickup? If so is that how you are recording?

it is is a surface transducer instead of an under-saddle pickup, the surface transducer will pickup literally every sound of whatever touches the body, and they are sensitive enough to 'hear' even if you just 'breathe' on it, and in that case, removing the sound of touching the top of the uke is really not possible, because you are fighting against the strengths of that kind of pickup.

You may want to alter your playing technique if using a surface transducer.

Otherwise, in your recording software you can use what is called a NOTCH FILTER (which is like a single-band parametric EQ) and literally zero-out the sound you do not want, while leaving everything else intact.

Typically the 'Q" functions sets the bandwidth of the filter to be wide or narrow. You can also stack several NOTCH FILTERS, with each one set to a different frequency if you need more control.

There are NOTCH FILTERS built in to the effects of GarageBand, Audacity, Cubase and many other popular recording programs. Look in the EFFECTS menu in the EQ section.

Hope this helps! :)

warndt
06-09-2018, 10:45 PM
I had once used Virtuoso cleaner and polish on a custom ukulele that had a satin finish. It came out looking like a beautiful gloss finish with the Virtuoso products and a little elbow grease. I was very happy with the outcome...more POP!

70sSanO
06-10-2018, 07:06 AM
I had once used Virtuoso cleaner and polish on a custom ukulele that had a satin finish. It came out looking like a beautiful gloss finish with the Virtuoso products and a little elbow grease. I was very happy with the outcome...more POP!

Thanks for the tip!

John

Jerryc41
06-10-2018, 07:18 AM
I had once used Virtuoso cleaner and polish on a custom ukulele that had a satin finish. It came out looking like a beautiful gloss finish with the Virtuoso products and a little elbow grease. I was very happy with the outcome...more POP!

Thanks for the tip. It's $25 from Amazon, or $20 from eBay.

https://www.ebay.com/i/192487863979?chn=ps

warndt
06-10-2018, 08:46 PM
The cleaner and polish come in two separate bottles.

Look for the combo per your ebay link...one is $19.99

pinkmoon
06-11-2018, 06:03 PM
Just to reiterate I'm not interested in the look at all - just getting rid of the sound. This is all being recorded acoustically with no pickups.

I tried steel wool and extremely fine sand paper and it did make the surface smooth but still makes a ton of noise. I'm going to have to get plastic to cover it or find some kind of wax / polish that will basically make it as smooth as plastic.

Thanks for any other advice. I'll check out the above mentioned Virtuoso cleaner and polish.

70sSanO
06-11-2018, 06:17 PM
Just to reiterate I'm not interested in the look at all - just getting rid of the sound. This is all being recorded acoustically with no pickups.

I tried steel wool and extremely fine sand paper and it did make the surface smooth but still makes a ton of noise. I'm going to have to get plastic to cover it or find some kind of wax / polish that will basically make it as smooth as plastic.

Thanks for any other advice. I'll check out the above mentioned Virtuoso cleaner and polish.

I would try some thin plastic. Maybe clear flexible vinyl and use static to temporarily hold in place, or maybe some scotch tape around the edges. If that works, you can look for a clear stick-on pick guard. The issue is that once the pick guard goes on, it stays on. There may be ones that can be removed, but you'll have to check into that.

FWIW, I have one ukulele with a clear stick-on pick guard and the sound of my nails on it is pretty quiet, less than the top, but it is a high gloss finish. Whether it is enough, only you will know.

Other than plastic, I'm not sure what will work. If you have used steel wool, polishing probably won't work any better.

John

pinkmoon
06-11-2018, 07:01 PM
I would try some thin plastic. Maybe clear flexible vinyl and use static to temporarily hold in place, or maybe some scotch tape around the edges. If that works, you can look for a clear stick-on pick guard. The issue is that once the pick guard goes on, it stays on. There may be ones that can be removed, but you'll have to check into that.

FWIW, I have one ukulele with a clear stick-on pick guard and the sound of my nails on it is pretty quiet, less than the top, but it is a high gloss finish. Whether it is enough, only you will know.

Other than plastic, I'm not sure what will work. If you have used steel wool, polishing probably won't work any better.

John

Does the plastic change the sound in your experience?

70sSanO
06-11-2018, 08:41 PM
Does the plastic change the sound in your experience?

See response in post #3, DownUpDave, that in his experience there is no impact. I would agree even though there is no way for me to compare with and without. But, as noted, high end luthiers wouldn't use them if they adversely affected the sound.

John

strumsilly
06-12-2018, 03:41 AM
regarding polishing a satin finish, I have had good luck using automotive scratch removing polish [Miguires ?sp]
I have used tablet [or phone] screen protectors cut to fit for pick guards.

pinkmoon
06-12-2018, 04:50 PM
I ended up using packing tape. It's ridiculously thin and crappy but that's kind of the point. Didn't want to spend $20 on mylar sheets but may do that eventually. It works for now :)

70sSanO
06-12-2018, 05:14 PM
Congrats! This was a worthwhile thread. It may have meandered a bit but it ended up well. I like the suggestion about the phone screen saver. Very clever.

John

pinkmoon
06-12-2018, 08:23 PM
Good! I don't think I was really clear with my OP actually. What I meant to say is that when I brush the strings or play tremolo with a pick I rapidly move the fingers not used on my right hand over the body of the guitar which creates a lot of brushing noise. The plastic packing tape over those areas just avoids that very light brushing which can be surprisingly loud in a recording - especially when playing softer but rapidly.

DownUpDave
06-13-2018, 02:11 AM
Congrats! This was a worthwhile thread. It may have meandered a bit but it ended up well. I like the suggestion about the phone screen saver. Very clever.

John

Well said John. The nice thing about threads like these is we all learn something.

Pinkmoon I am glad you found your solution and thanks for sharing your problem with us.

spookelele
06-13-2018, 04:57 AM
What I've used to protect from strum scratches that has been cheap and durable is the plastic screen protectors for tablet devices,
Lay it on top and take a sharpie, to outline the contour of the body, and then cut along the sharpie line.
If you don't like the black edge of the sharpie, you can wipe it off completely with rubbing alcohol after you stick it.
The screen protectors are cheap if you don't care about the model, since you're going to cut it anyway.