View Full Version : My new (oooold) uke...

05-18-2011, 08:00 AM
Hey everyone!

I recently bought an old ukulele from some fella on ebay, for just £11. It's old, and tatty, but its sounds pretty good for £11! The problem i have is that it has really really really crappy friction tuners, which stay in tune for.... hmmmm... about one strum!

I know it's nothing special, and it still probably wont be anything special when I finish, but I want to clean it up. Like sand it down, recoat it and stuff.

Here are some pictures of it:


I want to replace the friction tuners with geared, and I just wanted to know how hard it is to re-drill the holes slightly bigger?

As you'll also see from the pictures, the frets are weird... lol
They're like square, because they're so old. Anything I can do? I cant even tell what they're made of.

Any other suggestions will be really helpful :D thanks


05-18-2011, 08:39 AM
It's not that hard, but those are cool old wooden friction tuners. Also, I wonder if the tapered holes are already "just right" for peghead heared tuners. Someone was selling them at Fleamarketmusic at a good price

Still there... http://www.fleamarketmusic.com/marketplace/default.asp (about 2/3 of the way down the page)

05-18-2011, 09:30 AM
Do people ship to the UK on www.fleamarketmusic.com?

I do like the look of the tuners, but they're just plain poop! lol

05-18-2011, 09:48 AM
My advice would that you take it to a violin shop and let them ream the holes and, if necessary, sell you new wooden tuners. Cheap, stylish, light, works perfectly - what's not to like?

05-18-2011, 09:54 AM
Cool uke! Congrats!!

Another vote for pegheads or new friction tuners. The uke'll feel better in your hands (more balanced) and friction tuners will maintain its handsome, aged style. Any luthier should be able to open the holes up a bit if necessary.

05-18-2011, 10:52 AM
Cool :) thanks guys! Glad you put me off geared, I don't want to ruin its charm!

What would you say about sanding it out down and re-finishing it? What sandpaper would you suggest I use? And also what would I coat it with?

Thanks for all your help so far :)

mm stan
05-18-2011, 11:16 AM
Aloha Joe,
That sure looks like a really vintage uke, I wonder if it's better to keep it original and get another uke...think about that one..
These friction takes time to get used to...but once you do, you won't mind them too much...
My opinion is I wouldn't change those tuners on that uke... but if you're determined..you might have to replug the holes and
redrill them out if they are too big.. simpler and cheaper to get another ukulele..Good Luck whatever you do..MM Stan

new wave ukulele
05-18-2011, 11:18 AM
peg dope... it's used to give violin pegs a little extra slip and grip...

05-18-2011, 02:28 PM
Looks like a uke that has been loved and played. That peg dope sounds good ....

05-18-2011, 07:09 PM
Keep it whole I say! I love the wood pegs on my Martins.
The poor man's violin dope is a dark crayon and maybe some chalk dust. I saw this tip on the hangtag of an Oud at a shop: take the pegs out, draw on the friction part with a child's crayon, then maybe rub some chalkdust on there too.
I used the crayon trick on my old Martin, and the pegs don't bind any more. Too much and the peg is too slippery, I guess that's where the chalk dust comes in, I just used a touch of black crayon and it worked wonders.

05-19-2011, 02:57 AM
This is what you need:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Hills-Peg-Compound-Violin-Viola-Cello-/130353218200?pt=String_Instrument_Parts_Accessorie s&hash=item1e59a84298

Any violin shop will sell you some. Those pegs look as though they fit OK.

05-19-2011, 05:49 AM
I love wood pegs and I would also suggest you just get yours working correctly rather than altering that nice old uke! I think they look great and as mentioned, changing them will change the balance of your uke, making the headstock heavier if you go with geared or mechanical friction.

No reason those pegs can't work perfectly. Violins have been using wood pegs for hundreds of years. Here is an article with pictures which should help as well!


05-19-2011, 10:37 AM
Wooden pegs are perfectly fine, and as someone else said yours look as if they fit OK.

Step 1 - clean them up. Alcohol to remove grease and dirt (use a cotton wool bud inside the holes).

Step 2 - try them again. They will be better, but might stick/slip a bit. Peg dope or crayon/chalk as above.

Step 3 - learn how to use them. Always tune up to the note, and a slight press in as you reach the note. It takes a few days to get the hang of this, but once you do wooden pegs hold perfectly well. On top of that you have the fun of handing your uke (untuned) to someone else, laughing at their failed attempt to tune it, and then fixing it in seconds. Revel in your superior abilities!

I wouldn't try to refinish this uke, which looks rather nice. Instead I'd give it a good clean (damp, not wet cloth, using warm water). Then some wax polish to make it glow. The frets look black with dirt and tarnish - 000 wire wool will make them shine again once the dirt has gone, and after that they should be smooth. Some oil on the fretboard (1/4 teaspoon or less will do the entire fretboard, wipe off any excess). Lemon oil seems to be favoured, linseed oil works well (but smells for some weeks), olive oil would be fine.

Then play it lots.

05-19-2011, 11:02 AM
QUOTE: " I know it's nothing special, and it still probably wont be anything special when I finish, but I want to clean it up. Like sand it down, recoat it and stuff."

Hmmm, looks like something special to me!!! A very spiffy vintage uke, lots of charm. May be worth a cleanup and/or a refinish, but only by somene who knows what they are doing. If that be you, have at it, but I'd check with a Luthier before did anything to it, preferably one who understands ukes. Just sayin!

05-19-2011, 11:38 PM
Awesome :) thanks for all the tips and suggestions guys!

I'll try that crayon thing!
Maybe I can get my rents to go halves on a new uke :D wish me luck!!

05-20-2011, 05:26 AM
Didn't realise there was a whole other page of replies haha! Just read them all, and now I'm very excited to get polishing, oiling, buffing etc :D

I think i was a bit disappointed with it when I got it, but you guys have really made me love my uke :) so thank you very much for that! Been learning as many songs as I can, can't wait to play them on the new, revived ukulele!

Thanks again!

05-20-2011, 01:37 PM
That's partly why we are here. Can hardly wait to see it all cleaned up, set up, and hear it's music. Good luck.