View Full Version : Changing Finishes on the Ukulele.

08-01-2010, 10:39 AM

Pictured it my Lanikai LU21TE Ukulele, and as you can see, it has some nice wear and tear from strumming...


What i want to do, is change from the satin finish, to a glossy one, but im not sure what to do with the scratches... should i be covering them up somehow first? or not at all? if so how?

Thanks, Ben :)

Chris Tarman
08-01-2010, 11:33 AM
Wow, that is AWESOME looking just the way it is! I would not change a thing! Oh, wait... I just read the post closer. Ok, you want to KEEP the scratches and just change the rest of it? Good! Although I have no idea how to go about that. I have the wood-working skills of a drunk monkey. Man, I can't wait to have that kind of wear on one of my ukes.

08-01-2010, 11:41 AM
Dude...that's a lot of wear! I don't know how to help, but the uke looks cool.

08-01-2010, 12:26 PM
Are those from finger strumming, or do you use a pick?

08-01-2010, 03:19 PM
They are from hard strumming, when i was learning how to strum pressing my pointer finger and my thumb together... yeah- ouch.

i just want a gloss finish to be honest... any means necessary...

08-01-2010, 06:02 PM
i just want a gloss finish to be honest... any means necessary...[/QUOTE]

I'm kind of digging the Willie Nelson's Trigger guitar aspect this uke is developing.

Chris Tarman
08-01-2010, 07:19 PM
I'm kind of digging the Willie Nelson's Trigger guitar aspect this uke is developing.

Me too! I would love to have an instrument with that much wear that was all from ME.

08-02-2010, 05:57 AM
Shall i just gloss around them then :D?

Chris Tarman
08-02-2010, 06:04 AM
Of course, if you play it enough and keep at it, it will all be glossy and smooth. There will be no finish, but it will be glossy and smooth! Have you thought about just sort of buffing/polishing the matte finish that's already there? Someone did that with a Kala Acacia tenor and posted pics here and it looked great. I don't believe they used a gloss coat on it, but rather just buffed the hell out of it. I can't remember who did it, but it seems like maybe a couple of them. Oh! I am pretty sure that KevinV was one of them. His looked really spiffy, if I remember correctly. You might search his posts.

08-02-2010, 06:30 AM
Dude! Don't change it! Just rub it with a sealer or some oil. That looks way to cool the way it is.

Seriously, Fender even came out with new model that look used with rubbed down lacquer.


08-02-2010, 06:54 AM
What about just a thin coat of super gloss spray paint? You'd have to be careful but that would seal the wear as well.

Chris D
08-02-2010, 08:14 AM
Just polish it with some T-Cut.
I did this with my cheap Blue Moon concert uke that had a "satin"/matt finish & it worked a treat.

08-02-2010, 08:24 AM
what would i use to buff the matt with? and whats T Cut?

Chris D
08-02-2010, 08:54 AM
T-Cut is a liquid polish you can get from Halfords or similar car-bits shop.
Get a couple of soft dusters, use one to apply a small amount & polish, the other to buff to a nice shine.
Work on small areas (a couple of square inches) at a time & overlap the areas until you've done the whole thing.
It will take a little while to polish the whole thing, but not as long as it took me to do the same on a cheap weissenborn copy...
Matt finish to "vintage gloss" in about an hour!

08-02-2010, 09:37 AM
Thats sweet, thats what ill do... Halfords is only a short walk up the road! :D

08-02-2010, 09:49 AM
I would seal the "scratches" first. Seriously, those look more like gouges. If you start using a polishing compound on that an the compound gets to the naked wood it is going to change to some pretty funky colors. You can get a good quality small brush and some sander sealer or shellac. Cut in some light coats just over the area where the finish is gone, stay away from the areas where the finish is ok.. Use 2 very light coats to protect that area and let it try. You need about an hour between coats and then wait overnight before using the polishing compound.

Easy does it with the compound as well. The satin finish instruments have very thin coats. To get it glossy they normally shoot a lot more coats or a lot thicker coats. So it is a lot easier to "rub through" on a satin finish instrument usually.

A satin finished rubbed out will still not be as glossy as a true close finish because of the solids that are added to the satin finish laquer to begin with. But you can get close. Just take it easy and watch out for the damaged areas.

As far as a fix, there isn't much touch up wise you can do to fix this. Anything you do is going to show. If it is a solid top instrument it could be refinished to look better. Probably not worth the money. Sealing the damage will make that a possiblity in the future.

08-02-2010, 11:09 AM
I'd say the bigger one is a "gouge"... so i need to seal them 1st, with some sander sealer or shellac, then put the T-Cut on???

08-02-2010, 05:15 PM
I'd say the bigger one is a "gouge"... so i need to seal them 1st, with some sander sealer or shellac, then put the T-Cut on???

The idea is to keep whatever polishing compound you are using (T-Cut in this case which i have never used) out of the raw wood. So anywhere you have raw wood showing you should try and seal it before trying to polish it. The polish won't affect the sealer, maybe just shine it up a bit. If the polish gets into the raw wood it may turn it black or grey and it will look much worse.

Also I would practice your polishing on the back first to be sure you like what you see. If you do, then go for the front.

08-02-2010, 05:59 PM
I've found the folks in the "Ukulele Building / Luthier's Lounge" section to be very helpful in the past. You might ask them.

08-08-2010, 03:19 PM
I just changed my KALA solid acacia tenor ukulele from a satin finish to a gloss finish by using a car rubbing compound, Meguiars Ulimate Compound. Clear Coat safe.
I just bought my uke in the last couple weeks and REALLY didn't like to satin finish. I googled the topic about polishing a satin finish and found a guy that used something similar to gloss up his satin guitar. I am actually a guitar player and took notice of the article. It looked fabulous so I decided to give it a try. Took a little elbow grease and now I am in LOVE with my uke. It looks so fine!!! I didn't use exactly what he did because I couldn't find it on the shelf. But what I used worked and I am VERY happy with the result!!!!