View Full Version : Can u get sharpie off of your uke?

09-22-2010, 04:51 PM
My friend got a sharpie line on his uke and long story short it dried and he wants to be cautious with the wood and is just wondering how to get it off. it is a concert 2010 kamaka.

09-22-2010, 05:06 PM
I used goof-off to get marks off of a guitar and it didn't affect the finish.

09-22-2010, 05:14 PM
and it doesnt stain the wood?

mm stan
09-22-2010, 05:20 PM
Aloha Uketoaster,
On his Kamaka......depends if he has a satin or gloss finish..I guess..
What was he thinking...MM Stan...

09-22-2010, 05:22 PM
On his Kamaka......
What was he thinking...

Yeah, what's the "rest of the story"?

09-22-2010, 05:27 PM
As per request:

the rest of this tragedy:
He's an artist, and if you know artists, they are quite messy! he has pictures and ink pens everywhere and art supplies all over his table. So his uke gets into the equation in his "art studio" and from there he doesn't know how the line (about 3/4 of an inch long) got on his uke..although he says he was using a sharpie for work that day...poor guy.

09-22-2010, 05:28 PM
the finish is gloss.

mm stan
09-22-2010, 05:39 PM
I cannot stress enough, Although it is not recommended...I'd try to test some cleaning agents first...maybe on an unnoticable place to see if it reacts with the finish....just a small spot...
if no reaction...you know what to do....Ie fantastic, 409... just lucky it was not bare wood....Good Luck!!

09-22-2010, 06:13 PM
Denatured Alcohol (get it at Lowe's). Mark a tile or countertop or something and try it and watch it work. Like mentioned above if you try it on the uke try it on a unnoticable spot. I use dnatured alchol on wood working projects all the time, all different types of finishes with now problems.

09-22-2010, 06:16 PM
does the type of wood differentiate the effect the alcohol would have on it?

09-22-2010, 06:20 PM
He's an artist, and if you know artists, they are quite messy! So his uke gets into the equation in his "art studio" and from there he doesn't know

So, not so tragic after all. It was inevitable, and I'm looking forward to more stories about the "art stuff" that ends up on his uke that is lying around, that happens to be a Kamaka.

09-22-2010, 06:26 PM
Your safest bet would be to use some fine rubbing compound to remove the mark. They will not attack the finish, in fact the last operation for a gloss finish is to rub it out. I use Mequires #2 fine rubbing compound as a last step in the finishing process. If he gets some, he can use it later to remove fine scratches and other marks,


09-22-2010, 06:36 PM
does the type of wood differentiate the effect the alcohol would have on it?

No, not the type of wood. The type of finish is what you have to worry about. If it is a non-porous surfaces (aka: Glossy finish) then the denatured alcohol will take it off. I make ink pens as a hobby: http://www.smithspenco.com and use denatured alcohol all the time when I apply my finishes to the pens. Lacquer, friction polishes, acrylics. I use denatured alcohol to clean before, during, and after sanding and polishing, no problems.

With that being said if all you have is a small line of sharpie on the uke I'd give it a shot. If the artistic friend tried to put a bunch of sharpie on it trying to create a masterpiece than you probably gonna end up with a mess from the sharpie smearing no matter what you do. Regardless I'd give the denatured alcohol a shot specially since you have a gloss finish on the uke. Test an area on the back for safety and if the finish holds up, give it a go.

Do a web search on using denatured alcohol to clean permanent marker. There's a ton of info.

mm stan
09-22-2010, 07:35 PM
does the type of wood differentiate the effect the alcohol would have on it?

You're applying it to the finish rather than the wood, so it doesn't matter.
whatever you use, be sure to do a test spot at an unnoticeable area first.
Good Luck....

09-22-2010, 09:42 PM
I've used 3M rubbing compound to get sharpie off a uke before. I bought a used one for cheap, and it had the person's name written at the base of the neck. Scrubbed it for a few minutes, and it was gone. Magic! It had the side effect of turning the satin finish to a gloss finish though. And not quite a pleasant smooth gloss, but somewhat of a sticky gloss that I don't like on the neck. Could always buff that back to a silk finish with some extra fine automotive sandpaper though...I was just too lazy.

09-22-2010, 09:58 PM
He should leave the mark on the ukulele, and leave the ukulele in the studio. In a few years, it will look like a Jackson Pollock.

09-23-2010, 12:23 AM
Believe it or not I've taken permanent marker off of a child's guitar with toothpaste! It was abrasive enough to remove the ink and didn't damage the gloss finish at all. Have used #3 fine polishing compound from stew mac to remove slight scratches from guitars, mandolins. That might work too.

mm stan
09-23-2010, 01:43 AM
Whether you use a chemial cleaner or abrasive, do a test spot first and be careful ...take your time.....Good Luck!!!

09-23-2010, 05:56 AM
After you get the mark off, tell him to put that bad boy in a case or this will be a constant process.

09-23-2010, 07:54 AM
I had a similar misfortune. I loaned my first uke, my beater, to my girlfriends brother for a while. It was great when I got it back, just havinga uke I could keep at hand again, not worring if it got knocked or banged. Anyway, I decided one day to write how much I loved my girlfriend on it in biro, thinking what a nice thing it was to do. Anyway, I thought it would rub off but it didn't. It's not such a problem as I was gonna paint it anyway, but I thought it was such a nice thing to do I didn't mind it being there. So much so it'd actually be a shame to paint it now. Then again, it's a huge contrast between a cheapie beater and a new Kamaka. Just thought I'd share!...

If all else fails, with him being an artist maybe he could put some design on it!? Atleast he'll have a unique uke and you never know, it may just look awesome!?...

09-23-2010, 08:08 AM
I use isopropyl alcohol I use it for removing sharpie marks all the time first check it's effect on the finish

09-23-2010, 09:17 AM
hairspray will get it off.

09-23-2010, 12:29 PM
For my entertainment And your education I conducted an experiment using the back of a Kalos ukulele I cut up I put three heavy sharpie marks on it's gloss finish the first mark I tried polishing compound to remove the mark and it removed the mark without much effort but once I wiped it all off I noticed that the surface finish was disturbed the dulling was almost undetectable unless you were looking for it in bright light but still it's worth mentioning . The second mark I tryed to remove using wd40 this attempt was a failure as half of it remained . The third mark I tried to remove using a sharpie I went over the mark with more sharpie and wiped it quickly before it dryed this was a pain because a sharpie drys so fast so I will call this a failure so then I went out in the garage and found some Acetone and put a little on a rag and simply wiped off the remaining sharpie marks with no I'll effects :)

09-23-2010, 01:10 PM
wow keef thank you so much for doing that! i guess the conclusion is use acetone.

09-23-2010, 02:30 PM
Well I'm sure alcohol will work too
the variable is what kind of finish do you have and will it react with the solvent of your choice I suggest work quickly and only use as much as you need then wipe it dry .
The truth is permenet markers really are not that permenet on non pourus surfaces

09-23-2010, 02:54 PM
yea the finish is lacquered over

09-23-2010, 04:42 PM
He should leave the mark on the ukulele, and leave the ukulele in the studio. In a few years, it will look like a Jackson Pollock.
Totally what I was thinking when I started reading this thread.

09-23-2010, 06:53 PM
If you use acetone be quick about it. Acetone will soften the finish and give you problems, I guarantee it. We use acetone to melt plexiglass into a liquid solution that we use to finish certain woodworking projects.

Let us know what you end up doing and how it worked out.

09-24-2010, 01:49 AM
my personal choice would be alcohol I use isopropyl alcohol to remove sharpie all the time at work but I havent tested it on a uke and truely the polishing compound was great just dont scrub it hard
once you decide and you actualy do it you will see that its not that big of a deal

Pukulele Pete
09-24-2010, 02:26 AM
Have you tried cigarette lighter fuel = naptha ?

09-24-2010, 06:32 AM

A guy in the UK recently bought a nastily vandalised uke off ebay and wrote (briefly) about it here.

I would go for the Isopropyl Alcohol. I've used it for years at work and also use it on many household things. It evaporates rapidly and in my experience never damages a finish (although I'm sure it can if handled carelessly). In the UK you can buy something called Sticky Stuff remover and it is amazing stuff, I clean all sorts of stuff with it. I even cleaned a really gunky Rosewood fingerboard on a vintage Tokai bass with it, has a citrus smell to it so it could be based on lemon oil or something. I was intending to oil the fingerboard by the way and knew the risks, but I'd used it before and also did a small test area first.


09-25-2010, 06:34 AM
I can confirm that toothpaste gets ink off of your uke! I just tried it on the afforementioned "love" graffiti on my beater and it worked a treat! Hey, she smells fresh and minty too, and is now fully protected against plaque and gingervitis! :P...

Ronnie Aloha
09-25-2010, 07:01 AM
And her breath smells better too!