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View Full Version : Keep the mojo vs. Restoration



pebbleInDaPacific
09-29-2009, 07:22 AM
So I accidentally dropped my sheet holder while holding my uke and it caught the edge of my uke on the soundboard, chipping it a little on the corner of the front where the top meets the sides.

I e-mailed Kamaka asking them if they could repair it and they said that what they could do is put lacquer over it. My question now is whether I should get the whole thing refinished when I send it in, or could they repair it and refinish just the area without it deteriorating the sound of the uke or making the finish look uneven.

I just want some opinions and thoughts on how the community feels as far as keeping the mojo or preserving the uke. I don't ever plan on selling it and hopefully will pass it on to my children. I figure that since my uke is going back to it's birthplace they would know best, but what would you do? Thanks for any advice/feedback and thoughts on keeping the mojo vs. preserving it. It already has some love wear on it.

RevWill
09-29-2009, 07:27 AM
Is the wood dented or chipped, or is it just a bit of finish? Lacquer melts lacquer, by which I mean the new lacquer won't just sit on top of the other lacquer or leave a line. The new lacquer will melt the edges of the chipped finish and blend together naturally. In shorthand, the spot repair should look fine.

Ronnie Aloha
09-29-2009, 07:35 AM
Good luck with the repair. Could you take before and after photos?

I have a Kamaka with some knicks along the binding area of the body and would consider having it smoothed out too by the factory.

pebbleInDaPacific
09-29-2009, 07:38 AM
Is the wood dented or chipped, or is it just a bit of finish? Lacquer melts lacquer, by which I mean the new lacquer won't just sit on top of the other lacquer or leave a line. The new lacquer will melt the edges of the chipped finish and blend together naturally. In shorthand, the spot repair should look fine.

Yes, it is definitely a chip. I even kept the little bits that chipped out as much as I could. :( It didn't affect the sound one bit thank goodness. Is that really the case? Lacquer won't show unevenness and will blend in? If that is the case, then that would be great. :o

pebbleInDaPacific
09-29-2009, 07:41 AM
Good luck with the repair. Could you take before and after photos?

I have a Kamaka with some knicks along the binding area of the body and would consider having it smoothed out too by the factory.

I definitely will take pix if I go through with it and post them for you all. I am still debating on keeping the mojo or doing a whole refinish.

Duddles
09-29-2009, 07:46 AM
I say you just keep the ukulele chipped if it does not have any affect on the sound. A little wear and tear just shows some love, and you won't be out of an ukulele! Also, I am cheap.

mailman
09-29-2009, 07:51 AM
While the folks at Kamaka would probably be the most knowledgable about this, I'll offer my two cents.

If it were mine I'd go for the repair rather than a total refinish.

That having been said, what I would really do is let the Kamaka folks decide what's best.... If they suggested rubbing it out with peanut butter and then wiping it clean with ten-dollar bills, then that's what I'd do!

RevWill
09-29-2009, 08:08 AM
That having been said, what I would really do is let the Kamaka folks decide what's best

:agree:
I would even send the chipped-off bits in with the uke. They might be able to superglue 'em into place prior to the repair and make the whole thing nearly invisible.

uke552
09-29-2009, 08:19 AM
I guess it boils down to what you can live with. If the damage does not effect the sound or playability, me personally, I would leave it alone.

I look at it like buying a new pickup truck. The truck was made to haul stuff but I don't want to put that first scratch in the bed. Once that first scratch is there though, I can use the truck for what it was meant for.

My uke is part of my life and like me, will get bumps and scratches along the way. Hope I'm not sounding too deep on this...:rolleyes:...

RevWill
09-29-2009, 08:23 AM
I can see the tension though. He wants to keep it as an heirloom-quality instrument, so I can see the desire for a professional repair. At the same time, each ding tells a story and the best heirlooms have stories to tell.

pebbleInDaPacific
09-29-2009, 08:34 AM
thanks everyone, :D it seems that you all get a sense of what I mean, so I guess you can understand my issue. I've read everywhere, especially with guitars, that every ding, scratch, chip, whatever imperfection, gives the ukulele it's soul and shows that it's actually being loved and played.

I still haven't heard anyone as a proponent of getting the whole thing refinished and looking pristine, of course, as long as it doesn't affect the sound quality. I think It's funny because we love to admire our ukes and show how beautiful they are in the many pictures on the forum and elsewhere, but can anyone preserve that pristine look and still have given it years of love from playing?

Ronnie Aloha
09-29-2009, 08:41 AM
How long did they quote on the repair. Food for thought, their repair time is, at minimum, one year. Yours is a small repair so they might slide it in. I have two sopranos in and one will take a year and the other could take 1.5 years. Of course, those were 40 year old ukes that required reattaching of the backs, one also required reattaching of the top, some nut work, etc.

pebbleInDaPacific
09-29-2009, 08:50 AM
How long did they quote on the repair. Food for thought, their repair time is, at minimum, one year. Yours is a small repair so they might slide it in. I have two sopranos in and one will take a year and the other could take 1.5 years. Of course, those were 40 year old ukes that required reattaching of the backs, one also required reattaching of the top, some nut work, etc.

yeah bro, when I talked to them on the phone, they told me that if it is a minor repair, such as mine, it would take about a couple of weeks. They said that they have a separate room for minor repairs that don't take the average 1 - 1.5 years for others.

Now I don't know to what extent they define "minor". But I was going to bring it in when I go to Hawaii to get married next year, and they suggested I mail it to them a month before so that they can have it ready by the time I get there.

Really helpful and friendly people there, I e-mailed them and got a call in half an hour here in Seattle! :D

Uncle Rod Higuchi
09-29-2009, 09:38 AM
Congrats on your upcoming wedding.

Invite the UU staff and maybe they'll play at the reception! OR you and your bride might get matching UU t-shirts and UU hats. You will be honeymooning on Kaua'i correct?

Seriously, I like what the Rev said about heirlooms having stories. Most of my ukes do NOT have story-telling dings per se. Mostly wear and tear on the top bout from strumming and wear in the first 5 or so frets from fingering. Yours now has a story for you to tell.

Ronnie Aloha
09-29-2009, 09:42 AM
The only "stories" to my dings are that the prior owner put them in! It did actually cross my mind to send in mine for refinishing too. Hmm, maybe I'll try and get a quote.

WhenDogsSing
09-29-2009, 09:42 AM
Keep it all original...Do the spot repair only...:D

Pippin
09-29-2009, 10:21 AM
If it is deep enough that it drives you crazy looking at it, then you can fill the dent with sawdust mixed with white glue and lacquer over that when it is dry. I used to repair gun stocks and musical instruments and that was a nice little trick I once picked up from somewhere.

Rick Turner
09-29-2009, 11:04 AM
Without pictures it's really hard to give advice, but I would not refinish the instrument. I would fairly quickly either get the repair done with whatever kind of fill is reasonable (I wouldn't do glue and sawdust...), and/or get the damage sealed with shellac.

The traditional "filler" for dings is stick shellac, but you have to know what you're doing with that.

My repair advice tends toward the traditional and tried and true methods favored by real restoration experts. Sometimes modern materials are fine, but all too often they make quality future repair and restoration nearly impossible.

wickedwahine11
09-29-2009, 11:11 AM
yeah bro, when I talked to them on the phone, they told me that if it is a minor repair, such as mine, it would take about a couple of weeks. They said that they have a separate room for minor repairs that don't take the average 1 - 1.5 years for others.

Now I don't know to what extent they define "minor". But I was going to bring it in when I go to Hawaii to get married next year, and they suggested I mail it to them a month before so that they can have it ready by the time I get there.

Really helpful and friendly people there, I e-mailed them and got a call in half an hour here in Seattle! :D

I'd opt for the minor repair. And I'd send it in ahead like they suggested, that way you won't have to pay for shipping each way. If you don't mind my asking, how much did they say it would cost to fix? I have two chips on the front of my Kamaka and they aren't super noticeable but they drive me crazy - just knowing they are there is enough to make me want to do the same thing with mine. Though I'm not sure that I could stand to be apart from it for two weeks, let alone a year! I'm not even crazy about leaving it for a few days or a week to get a pickup installed!

jforrest
09-29-2009, 12:03 PM
What's Kamaka's turn around time on repairs just now? At times, it's been as much as 18 months.

Any repair will take a moderate amount of time. Can you stand it?

John

pebbleInDaPacific
09-29-2009, 12:38 PM
thanks for more replies friends, I'll try to answer most of what I read. Well, they didn't quote me a price. But they gave me the impression that any small dings and refinishes are minor repairs and they would not take as long as what their website states with a minimum wait time of 1 year. Of course, my uke is a soprano, which may make a difference in repair time as well. WickedWahine, you are exactly right! that's what I feel, it kinda bugs me seeing the chip, but maybe because it's only been a few days since it happened.

I spoke to my coworker who worked for years at guitar center and he said that people go crazy over the worn in guitar look. He said to give it about three weeks and i'll be over it. I'm not sure about that though, I have this habit of looking at my ukulele and admiring it fully after every session of play. Now I just focus on that one spot, so I don't know if its just the OCD in me or not. I was raised to take care of all my belongings that I have become so critical of the things I own. :(

thejumpingflea
09-29-2009, 01:06 PM
My dad said something the other day to me.

"Every instrument has it's flaws. That is what makes them so cool."

I, for one, think that chip makes that uke priceless. Just think, there is not another uke out there just like that one.

wickedwahine11
09-29-2009, 01:31 PM
My dad said something the other day to me.

"Every instrument has it's flaws. That is what makes them so cool."

I, for one, think that chip makes that uke priceless. Just think, there is not another uke out there just like that one.

When I was down about the chips in my Kamaka and Kanile'a...I was sent a photo of Willie Nelson's beloved guitar. Maybe this will make you feel better too. ;) I'm betting he wouldn't trade it for the world.

http://philspector.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/willie-nelsons-guitar.jpg

And you know, despite their dings and chips, I wouldn't give up my two ukuleles for anything. I love the Kanile'a and the Kamaka is my life. Scratches, dings, chips and all. Besides, every time I show it to someone, they always go, "Is that all? You made it sound WAY worse."

To us, they are glaring blemishes, but nobody else even notices them. Fix it if it will make you feel better, but know that in the end, it only adds character to the ukulele if you leave them in. And as someone else said, you will have stories to tell when you pass the Kamaka to your kids.

Rick Turner
09-29-2009, 04:47 PM
I made the bridge you see there on Willie's guitar...

thejumpingflea
09-29-2009, 04:59 PM
I made the bridge you see there on Willie's guitar...

NOT WORTHY!

:bowdown::bowdown::bowdown:

Ronnie Aloha
09-29-2009, 07:52 PM
I made the bridge you see there on Willie's guitar...

Seriously? Awesome!

Rick Turner
09-29-2009, 08:00 PM
Yep. I've got photos of the work in progress. It was in 1990 or so, and I was running the repair department at Westwood Music in LA. The guitar came in with the original and quite modified bridge blown to smithereens. I had 24 hours to make a new one and put it on. Came out fine.

Pippin
09-29-2009, 08:30 PM
Funny, really, but I have always thought that Willie was about due for a new one. ;)

pebbleInDaPacific
09-30-2009, 06:23 AM
haha, thanks for hijacking the thread rick turner. I thought that was pretty funny.

Anyway, I always see that Willie Nelson picture or Eric Clapton's Blackie, which I think he sold, but although beaten up and still played, I have to keep in mind that those babies brought them all the fame and glory, and it means so much more to them, knowing that they could easily buy any other guitar and yet they continued to use the beat up ones that got them their stardom.

I, on the other hand, am not famous, nor do I have the luxury of buying any uke I want, anytime I want. Which is why I cherish and try to take care of what I own. That is why the decision for me to refinish or leave my uke as is, with chip and all, is something for me that I think is worthwhile to think about.

I do continue to enjoy reading how the community feels about the issue and and I appreciate all the thoughts and feedback you are sharing with me so far. I do love my uke, no doubt about that, and I wouldn't sell it or trade it for anything else as it brought many hours of enjoyment and memories. :)

RevWill
09-30-2009, 06:26 AM
Rick Turner is awesome and his work can be seen everywhere. Ever seen Lindsey Buckingham's guitar? The uke in Ingrid Michaelson's "Be OK" video?

Although there was a slight hijack, I would take his advice very, very seriously!

pebbleInDaPacific
09-30-2009, 07:18 AM
haha, yeah, I was just teasing. I didn't mean anything bad with it and again, I really do appreciate his and everyone's thoughts and feedback. I just found it entertaining when everyone started replying with a lot of curiousity and e-mail drool. Much respect to you Rick and Thank you again. :D