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Pueo
09-01-2011, 09:16 PM
Hello everyone!
I recently purchased a Mainland Gecko so that I could have a durable, inexpensive ukulele. After having it a few weeks, I grew unhappy with the finish, indeed it was even beginning to wear off in some spots, so I decided to re-finish it. I thought I would blog about the process and share the experience of a completely unskilled craftsman modifying an ukulele, and perhaps we can all learn some things together.
Here is how it started:
27648
I removed the hardware and covered up the fretboard and bridge
27649
Then I grabbed a sanding block and some 180 Grit sandpaper and started sanding, taking care to go in many different directions and try to take down the finish evenly from all areas. The headstock seemed to lose its paint first so I sanded that area down to the bare wood, primarily to get some satisfaction that all my effort was indeed accomplishing something.
27650
I did the underside and edges as well. The finish on the top (soundboard) seems to be the thickest, undoubtedly due to the graphics. I'll continue with that area next.

This is going to be fun! I have a few ideas of what I would like to do with this little ukulele. I will continue to post progress updates as I go.

fitncrafty
09-02-2011, 01:35 AM
Good luck! It is going to be fun to watch the transformation too!

Gmoney
09-02-2011, 02:38 AM
I can hear Captain_Lovehandles crying from here... (he designed the artwork for Mainland). :(

Pueo
09-02-2011, 04:01 AM
I can hear Captain_Lovehandles crying from here... (he designed the artwork for Mainland). :(
I did not know that! I actually wanted to keep the purple gecko, but my sanding skills would not allow me to retain that and strip the rest. It has more to do with the color than the artwork!

Mim
09-02-2011, 04:15 AM
So what color you thinking of painting it?

haolejohn
09-02-2011, 04:25 AM
Hello everyone!
I recently purchased a Mainland Gecko so that I could have a durable, inexpensive ukulele. After having it a few weeks, I grew unhappy with the finish, indeed it was even beginning to wear off in some spots, so I decided to re-finish it. I thought I would blog about the process and share the experience of a completely unskilled craftsman modifying an ukulele, and perhaps we can all learn some things together.
Here is how it started:
27648
I removed the hardware and covered up the fretboard and bridge
27649
Then I grabbed a sanding block and some 180 Grit sandpaper and started sanding, taking care to go in many different directions and try to take down the finish evenly from all areas. The headstock seemed to lose its paint first so I sanded that area down to the bare wood, primarily to get some satisfaction that all my effort was indeed accomplishing something.
27650
I did the underside and edges as well. The finish on the top (soundboard) seems to be the thickest, undoubtedly due to the graphics. I'll continue with that area next.

This is going to be fun! I have a few ideas of what I would like to do with this little ukulele. I will continue to post progress updates as I go.


I was a dolphin fan for first ukulele for kids until I encountered the geckos. I personally know Captain Lovehandles and that made me want one even more than normal. I am having no issues with mine at all. Are you just planning on refinishing it? Are you going to do anything else to it? Is it worth it? I mean, won't this take longer than what the ukulele is really worth?

Pueo
09-02-2011, 04:27 AM
So what color you thinking of painting it?
I have SO many ideas, I know purple will be the main color, but I have to decide on what accents will go best with it. The little tuner knobs and the tuning peg bushings are white. I'm not sure if purple and white is what I want. Maybe I could get some new tuner buttons? Or paint those too? I had not thought about that. What about black Peghead tuners? That might be cool.

hoosierhiver
09-02-2011, 04:37 AM
I am having no issues with mine at all. Are you just planning on refinishing it? Are you going to do anything else to it? Is it worth it? I mean, won't this take longer than what the ukulele is really worth?

He bought a discounted 2nd with the intention of re-doing it.

Pueo
09-02-2011, 04:38 AM
I was a dolphin fan for first ukulele for kids until I encountered the geckos. I personally know Captain Lovehandles and that made me want one even more than normal. I am having no issues with mine at all. Are you just planning on refinishing it? Are you going to do anything else to it? Is it worth it? I mean, won't this take longer than what the ukulele is really worth?
Those are good questions! I am glad to hear you are having no issues with your Gecko, that gives me more confidence that I will still have a viable ukulele when I am finished with it.
My main intention was to just re-paint it, but now I am thinking I might want to do more to personalize it.
I chose the Gecko specifically for the plastic body and wood top, kind of like a Fluke/Flea, but much less expensive, so that I would have a durable ukulele to play out by the pool that I would not have to worry about. Now that I think about it though, this could become my traveling ukulele. Perhaps with some enhanced setup and TLC it could become quite a player.

Mandarb
09-02-2011, 04:39 AM
I read somewhere that 2mm is the optimal soundboard thickness for a plastic ukulele. Have you measured yours? Do you know what the thickness will be when you re-paint? You might need to do some additional sanding - make sure to wear the proper PPE (personal protection equipment). Good luck.

Pueo
09-02-2011, 04:50 AM
I read somewhere that 2mm is the optimal soundboard thickness for a plastic ukulele. Have you measured yours? Do you know what the thickness will be when you re-paint? You might need to do some additional sanding - make sure to wear the proper PPE (personal protection equipment). Good luck.
Yes I already learned about personal protection the hard way. I thought that a little soprano would not be too much fuss but all the clearcoat and paint dust was getting everywhere. I became concerned I might be ingesting some of it. I happened to have an extra surgical mask from when we went to go visit a friend in the hospital recently, and once I put that on it was much better.

Thanks for the information about the soundboard thickness, I had not thought of that. I'm not sure how to measure the thickness with the tools I have. I might have to go buy a micrometer. I have not removed too much paint off the top yet, so after work today I'll do my best to get an accurate measurement.

Mandarb
09-02-2011, 04:50 AM
Those are good questions! I am glad to hear you are having no issues with your Gecko, that gives me more confidence that I will still have a viable ukulele when I am finished with it.
My main intention was to just re-paint it, but now I am thinking I might want to do more to personalize it.
I chose the Gecko specifically for the plastic body and wood top, kind of like a Fluke/Flea, but much less expensive, so that I would have a durable ukulele to play out by the pool that I would not have to worry about. Now that I think about it though, this could become my traveling ukulele. Perhaps with some enhanced setup and TLC it could become quite a player.

I did not realize it had a wood top - that should probably be even easier to paint than the plastic.

Mandarb
09-02-2011, 04:53 AM
Yes I already learned about personal protection the hard way. I thought that a little soprano would not be too much fuss but all the clearcoat and paint dust was getting everywhere. I became concerned I might be ingesting some of it. I happened to have an extra surgical mask from when we went to go visit a friend in the hospital recently, and once I put that on it was much better.

Thanks for the information about the soundboard thickness, I had not thought of that. I'm not sure how to measure the thickness with the tools I have. I might have to go buy a micrometer. I have not removed too much paint off the top yet, so after work today I'll do my best to get an accurate measurement.

Be careful with all that dust - especially the plastic. It is a petroleum based product and the fine particles can be flammable.

Pueo
09-02-2011, 04:58 AM
He bought a discounted 2nd with the intention of re-doing it.
Mainland Mike is correct! I saw his Dragster Ukulele thread and I had mentioned to him that I had some ideas I wanted to try and Mike sold me a factory second with some mis-applied finish in spots. I really like purple things and it had a purple gecko on it and I was afraid I was going to have t keep it intact for that reason alone, but I eventually realized that I was going to need to re-paint it. The finish on my Gecko was not like the excellent finish on the Geckos I saw at Mainland Ukes in Indiana this summer.

bbycrts
09-02-2011, 04:58 AM
I guess I'm wondering why not use a power sander and save some elbow grease?

I wonder what the wood top will look like once totally stripped. Are you keeping the original top or are you thinking of swapping it out for solid?

Pueo
09-02-2011, 05:00 AM
Bear careful with all that dust - especially the plastic. It is a petroleum based product and the fine particles can be flammable.
It's a good think I quit smoking a few years ago then!

Pueo
09-02-2011, 05:06 AM
I guess I'm wondering why not use a power sander and save some elbow grease?

I wonder what the wood top will look like once totally stripped. Are you keeping the original top or are you thinking of swapping it out for solid?
I wish I did have a power sander, I probably would be done already!

I am very curious to see what it looks like. I don't think my skill set is advanced enough to make a new top. Maybe add a colored stain? So far, it is still mostly white paint. I have only been through the clearcoat and some of the blue.

Scarecrow
09-02-2011, 05:54 AM
It going to spend a lot of time by the pool??? Have you thought about finishing it with something pool friendly. Like Thompson's water seal.

chindog
09-02-2011, 07:00 AM
After you get it sanded down, maybe you could mix some food coloring in a glass of water, and brush it on. That would give a nice hue, but you would still be able to see the beauty of the wood grain. It might be hard to get the right shade of purple, though. You could experiment with different ratios of red and blue to see what you like, and practice on the back side where it won't be seen when you are playing.

Tack
09-02-2011, 01:12 PM
I wish I did have a power sander, I probably would be done already!

I am very curious to see what it looks like. I don't think my skill set is advanced enough to make a new top. Maybe add a colored stain? So far, it is still mostly white paint. I have only been through the clearcoat and some of the blue.

Hmm fascinating Project... THANKS for letting us see it develop.

Before you get TOO carried away with 'painting' this beauty - this might be an opportune time to review the effect that colour may have on the tone of your instrument....(It always surprises me that I don't see this discussed more often ...)

Wave propagation theory and harmonic resonance can be your friend :D I have a mate in the physics department at the Australian National University that has done some research on this - I am PMing you his email....

Really interested to see what you come up with!

chindog
09-02-2011, 01:39 PM
Hmm fascinating Project... THANKS for letting us see it develop.

Before you get TOO carried away with 'painting' this beauty - this might be an opportune time to review the effect that colour may have on the tone of your instrument....(It always surprises me that I don't see this discussed more often ...)

Wave propagation theory and harmonic resonance can be your friend :D I have a mate in the physics department at the Australian National University that has done some research on this - I am PMing you his email....

Really interested to see what you come up with!

Purple is sort of in the red phase of the color spectrum, so I would guess it might make the tone a little brighter than something more bluish. But I'm no engineer, so I can't say for sure. It can't have more than a minimal effect, I wouldn't think. I wonder what the impact would be by putting a coat of shellac over the top?

mailman
09-02-2011, 02:57 PM
I love DIY projects! This one is sure to be interesting. What other modifications have you been considering? The possibilities are endless....

JT_Ukes
09-02-2011, 03:14 PM
If you do decide to replace the laminate top, perhaps you could go with an arch top or even a resonator! i bet a plastic backed resonator would really sing!

Susie A
09-02-2011, 03:15 PM
Hmm fascinating Project... THANKS for letting us see it develop.
... snip Wave propagation theory and harmonic resonance can be your friend ...

Oh! Now you are talking. Spectrophotometry! The effect of color on transmittance and absorbances is interesting.

What color are you thinking? Purple? I have a yellow gecko ... Eller .. what color do you have. We may have to do some experimenting.

MoreUke
09-02-2011, 04:56 PM
Instead of trying to choose one color how about using Chameleon paint that changes colors based on the angle that it is viewed from: http://www.kustomrides.com/chameleon.html

Instead of just applying shellac to the soundboard, how about doing 'french polish'? Definitely more work but a beautiful finish.

JT_Ukes
09-02-2011, 04:57 PM
Oh! Now you are talking. Spectrophotometry! The effect of color on transmittance and absorbances is interesting.

What color are you thinking? Purple? I have a yellow gecko ... Eller .. what color do you have. We may have to do some experimenting.

Does Spectrophotometry explain the Beatles White album? and why red cars sound faster?

haolejohn
09-02-2011, 06:44 PM
He bought a discounted 2nd with the intention of re-doing it.

Ohhhh. I was just wondering. I love my gecko but it is a first quality one.

haolejohn
09-02-2011, 06:46 PM
Those are good questions! I am glad to hear you are having no issues with your Gecko, that gives me more confidence that I will still have a viable ukulele when I am finished with it.
My main intention was to just re-paint it, but now I am thinking I might want to do more to personalize it.
I chose the Gecko specifically for the plastic body and wood top, kind of like a Fluke/Flea, but much less expensive, so that I would have a durable ukulele to play out by the pool that I would not have to worry about. Now that I think about it though, this could become my traveling ukulele. Perhaps with some enhanced setup and TLC it could become quite a player.

are you going to install a pick up? So it isn't a matter of the value of the uke vs. your time?

haolejohn
09-02-2011, 06:47 PM
I read somewhere that 2mm is the optimal soundboard thickness for a plastic ukulele. Have you measured yours? Do you know what the thickness will be when you re-paint? You might need to do some additional sanding - make sure to wear the proper PPE (personal protection equipment). Good luck.

Excellent point. I believe that Tudorp can tell you about the need for proper PPE.

chindog
09-03-2011, 05:55 AM
Does Spectrophotometry explain the Beatles White album? and why red cars sound faster?

And the Blues! Don't forget the Blues!

Susie A
09-03-2011, 07:46 AM
Please be careful when sanding .... bad things can happen!
27717

MoreUke
09-03-2011, 08:40 AM
Within the last couple of days I was reading something about saddle material. Apparently the denser the better. Bone is good but can also have some areas where it is quite as dense so sound can be off. Ivory of course but hard to obtain. Naturally plastics and Nubone were mentioned. Also made mention of Corian as a possibility.

But what really struck me was the author hypothesized that tempered glass might be the best. I'm not sure how you would go about adjusting for intonation but how about a possibility of a real different sound. I wonder how one goes about polishing glass edges so they round and not cut the strings?

You need a tempered glass saddle!

MoreUke
09-03-2011, 08:51 AM
Forget the tempered glass saddle idea.

Apparently any rounding or modification of the glass has to be done before the tempering.

How about something really unique. Like getting a piece of Corian and carving the ends into like a scroll pattern. OR - OR maybe having long ends that curl so like it would be this huge handle bar mustache.

chindog
09-03-2011, 01:53 PM
Forget the tempered glass saddle idea.

Apparently any rounding or modification of the glass has to be done before the tempering.

How about something really unique. Like getting a piece of Corian and carving the ends into like a scroll pattern. OR - OR maybe having long ends that curl so like it would be this huge handle bar mustache.

I think you were on to something with your original idea of a glass saddle. Glass rods would work great for that. They are already rounded:
http://gb.dollarnights.com/i662056-wholesale-fireworks-glass-rod-set-opalino-filigrana-colors-1.html

bbycrts
09-03-2011, 06:22 PM
Forget the tempered glass saddle idea.

Apparently any rounding or modification of the glass has to be done before the tempering.

How about something really unique. Like getting a piece of Corian and carving the ends into like a scroll pattern. OR - OR maybe having long ends that curl so like it would be this huge handle bar mustache.

I wonder if there are glass artists out there who would take on the challenge of creating the saddle and then tempering it - I guess I don't know much about tempered glass - I'm picturing it being a process like with metal, but maybe it's totally different. I wonder if an artist could make a tempered glass NUT too!

bbycrts
09-03-2011, 06:24 PM
I think you were on to something with your original idea of a glass saddle. Glass rods would work great for that. They are already rounded:
http://gb.dollarnights.com/i662056-wholesale-fireworks-glass-rod-set-opalino-filigrana-colors-1.html

I like it! No purple core rods, though :mad:. I wonder if they could custom make one...

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
09-03-2011, 06:25 PM
Please be careful when sanding .... bad things can happen!
27717That's quite a sound port!

MoreUke
09-04-2011, 09:50 AM
I think you were on to something with your original idea of a glass saddle. Glass rods would work great for that. They are already rounded:
http://gb.dollarnights.com/i662056-wholesale-fireworks-glass-rod-set-opalino-filigrana-colors-1.html

Glass rods would sure be convenient. All you would need to do is cut to length. But there are recommendations of how much of the saddle needs to be below the bridge and consequently how much needs to be above the bridge as well.

Of course you may be able to locate a glass rod that is the proper thickness and then carefully router a channel for holding the rod. Or make a whole new saddle.

Did some searching and found this link for glass rods: http://www.waleapparatus.com/index.asp?category=18573

chindog
09-04-2011, 02:52 PM
Glass rods would sure be convenient. All you would need to do is cut to length. But there are recommendations of how much of the saddle needs to be below the bridge and consequently how much needs to be above the bridge as well.

Of course you may be able to locate a glass rod that is the proper thickness and then carefully router a channel for holding the rod. Or make a whole new saddle.

Did some searching and found this link for glass rods: http://www.waleapparatus.com/index.asp?category=18573

I wonder if you could notch those to use them as a nut?

MoreUke
09-04-2011, 04:25 PM
Well the glass saddle idea was just kind of haunting me so I did some more research and came up with this link:

YES someone has tried a glass saddle on an Ukulele and written about it. (http://www.ianchadwick.com/forum/index.php?/blog/1/entry-874-glass-saddles-and-ukuleles-a-test/)

Mandarb
09-05-2011, 03:29 AM
Any pics or updates of the project? My wife and I saw some glassblowing over the weekend. I think the idea of a glass saddle would be pretty cool.

Lori
09-05-2011, 06:13 AM
Instead of trying to choose one color how about using Chameleon paint that changes colors based on the angle that it is viewed from: http://www.kustomrides.com/chameleon.html


I have seen cars on the freeway painted like that. It is really amazing. It is so fascinating it is a bit of a road hazard for drivers. I suppose when we get used to it, it will be OK. I would love to do a uke in the violet dreams over a black base.

–Lori

chindog
09-05-2011, 01:38 PM
Well the glass saddle idea was just kind of haunting me so I did some more research and came up with this link:

YES someone has tried a glass saddle on an Ukulele and written about it. (http://www.ianchadwick.com/forum/index.php?/blog/1/entry-874-glass-saddles-and-ukuleles-a-test/)


And to cut to the chase....

I have proven to myself that glass can be a good saddle material,

So, glass saddles are viable and cool!

Rick Turner
09-05-2011, 04:28 PM
If density is the measure of a good saddle, then why not choose lead?

Because density in and of itself means little, that's why. Density is but one physical property of any material. There are many more...stiffness, toughness, tensile strength, workability, resonant Q, isotropic vs. anisotropic qualities, etc. You have to learn that any material has a whole recipe...a formula of properties that in the right proportion might make them appropriate for this or that or nuts or saddles or sides or backs or tops or necks or fingerboards or frets or strings, etc....

Don't focus on but one aspect and imagine magic. It ain't there...

Pueo
09-06-2011, 09:52 AM
Hello all, I was busy with home cleaning projects and guests over the long weekend and have not had much time to work on my ukulele. I still have more sanding to do but the body is 50% stripped now. I will upload a progress photo tonight.

I have two ukuleles with corian nut and saddle, and they both sound really good. I am thinking that may be one of the first modifications I perform, once I get the paint done. I have some new ideas about how I want to paint it also...

I watched the video for the "Violet Dreams" paint - that paint is 1996 Ford Mustang Cobra Mystic paint. I almost bought one of those cars. I did not because when I did the math, it was $8000 more expensive for really cool paint and to get from zero to sixty one second quicker. I went with the Mustang GT in Deep Violet Clearcoat Metallic instead. That happens to be the color I am painting my gecko!

I am thinking for the pickup I might want to see if I can get the same type of electronics that Boulder Creek uses on the Riptides. A built-in tuner sounds like a great idea!

bbycrts
09-06-2011, 05:41 PM
Hey Damon - Rick Turner was suggesting using lead! I can't think of a better voice of experience than his - what do you think? Can you get your hands on some?

cashew
09-06-2011, 05:56 PM
Hey Damon - Rick Turner was suggesting using lead! I can't think of a better voice of experience than his - what do you think? Can you get your hands on some?

You know.. I think I have an old one ounce fishing sinker you could probably melt and mold... I hear bondo makes an excellent heat resistant mold good for shaping lead forms!

I'd take a true to size bone nut (maybe a hair bigger, to account for shrinkage) , and make a bondo cast so you can drip some of that lead in there... Pop it out when its cool, and whammo.
But I'd lacquer the snot outta it first excepting the grooves that get the string... safety first!

bbycrts
09-06-2011, 07:26 PM
You know.. I think I have an old one ounce fishing sinker you could probably melt and mold... I hear bondo makes an excellent heat resistant mold good for shaping lead forms!

I'd take a true to size bone nut (maybe a hair bigger, to account for shrinkage) , and make a bondo cast so you can drip some of that lead in there... Pop it out when its cool, and whammo.
But I'd lacquer the snot outta it first excepting the grooves that get the string... safety first!

I was thinking saddle...but you're right about the nut, Nut. Especially with the ability to mold in the string grooves!

Sven
09-06-2011, 08:27 PM
Sometimes I don't get irony, so I must ask... Did you read Rick's suggestion as a serious one? If so, re-read the post before messing up a perfectly good sinker.

cashew
09-06-2011, 08:28 PM
I was thinking saddle...but you're right about the nut, Nut. Especially with the ability to mold in the string grooves!

Maybe for the saddle, anodized aluminium? Bright reflective purple? It'd keep the weight down on the top of the uke, and increase vibrations

MoreUke
09-06-2011, 10:50 PM
I'm deeply concerned about the proposed use of Deep Violet Clearcoat Metallic paint with possibly installing an active pickup. After all a complete circuit may be formed between the pickup and the Metallic paint. Therefore providing a possible electrocution to the OP. Now if a lead saddle is used that really doesn't supply proper insulation. Perhaps a glass tube with a lead insert would be safe enough. But I suspect it is highly questionable since the glass tube is subject to breakage.

After due consideration and I believe hearing that the OP periodically plays the Ukulele near or next to bodies of water. It might be wiser for the Op to instead paint his Ukulele with something along these lines: Something to help avoid electrical shocks (http://www.plastidip.com/home_solutions/Plasti_Dip)

On top of it appears that they have kits for mixing your own colors so perhaps the OP could get a much safer type coating with a purple coloring fairly close to his beloved purple metallic.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgwJriR8R4g

Wondering if Corian conducts electricity.

Captain_Lovehandles
09-06-2011, 11:17 PM
Man, you folks look at things from every angle. I am doing artwork on a couple of Dolphins right now for someone. I'm more along the lines of slap some Testers on that baby and let it roll. But I'm not much of a handyman. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

Tack
09-07-2011, 01:36 AM
I'm deeply concerned about the proposed use of Deep Violet Clearcoat Metallic paint with possibly installing an active pickup. After all a complete circuit may be formed between the pickup and the Metallic paint. Therefore providing a possible electrocution to the OP. Now if a lead saddle is used that really doesn't supply proper insulation. Perhaps a glass tube with a lead insert would be safe enough. But I suspect it is highly questionable since the glass tube is subject to breakage.

After due consideration and I believe hearing that the OP periodically plays the Ukulele near or next to bodies of water. It might be wiser for the Op to instead paint his Ukulele with something along these lines: Something to help avoid electrical shocks (http://www.plastidip.com/home_solutions/Plasti_Dip)

On top of it appears that they have kits for mixing your own colors so perhaps the OP could get a much safer type coating with a purple coloring fairly close to his beloved purple metallic.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgwJriR8R4g

Wondering if Corian conducts electricity.

Interesting concerns, but if you think laterally... As the op has a tendency to play near the water....
Consider totally waterproofing the Uke so you can play it IN the pool! How cool would that be! A lead bridge would help with buoyancy issues... Of course being in the water would dampen the resonance of the strings so you would need high tension strings and therefore I guess a steel truss rod for the neck. The added weight from that would not go astray either.... How you could waterproof the pick up is another matter....*ponders* but it would be awesome if you could actually Play it in the pool!!:)

MoreUke
09-07-2011, 07:03 AM
Interesting concerns, but if you think laterally... As the op has a tendency to play near the water....
Consider totally waterproofing the Uke so you can play it IN the pool! How cool would that be! A lead bridge would help with buoyancy issues... Of course being in the water would dampen the resonance of the strings so you would need high tension strings and therefore I guess a steel truss rod for the neck. The added weight from that would not go astray either.... How you could waterproof the pick up is another matter....*ponders* but it would be awesome if you could actually Play it in the pool!!:)

Tack you are absolutely correct in your foresighted analysis. It truly would be better to just totally waterproof the Ukulele. I also concur with your assessment that water tension would interfere with the resonance of the strings. Higher tension strings might just do the job. BUT I have serious reservations about the use of a steel truss rod. Steel does rust! When steel rust it naturally expands and the consequences of the expansion internal to a wooden neck could be problematic. It might split the neck -or- gasp possibly dome the fingerboard. Now an archtop Ukulele might be interesting. But an archtop fingerboard is a beast of a completely different complexity.

So the question should focus on the materials chosen and which track to follow. Could possibly substitute the steel truss rod for say an aluminum one (maybe implementing an I beam construction for additional strength) . Perhaps a better solution would be to coat the steel truss rod with something that would abate the rust. Might be better to make a completely new fretboard available to this project. Something stronger then ebony so it won't dome. .

What's that material they use in ammunition now that can pierce the armor on army tanks because it is so hard. Something like it has a component of used nuclear fuel. If it's hard enough to make ammunition capable of piercing a tank. It would probably be hard enough that it used as a fretboard it could resist the pressure of the expanding neck circumference.

sukie
09-07-2011, 07:17 AM
I'd like to see more photos of the process as it is so far.

cashew
09-07-2011, 09:56 AM
Tack you are absolutely correct in your foresighted analysis. It truly would be better to just totally waterproof the Ukulele. I also concur with your assessment that water tension would interfere with the resonance of the strings. Higher tension strings might just do the job. BUT I have serious reservations about the use of a steel truss rod. Steel does rust! When steel rust it naturally expands and the consequences of the expansion internal to a wooden neck could be problematic. It might split the neck -or- gasp possibly dome the fingerboard. Now an archtop Ukulele might be interesting. But an archtop fingerboard is a beast of a completely different complexity.

So the question should focus on the materials chosen and which track to follow. Could possibly substitute the steel truss rod for say an aluminum one (maybe implementing an I beam construction for additional strength) . Perhaps a better solution would be to coat the steel truss rod with something that would abate the rust. Might be better to make a completely new fretboard available to this project. Something stronger then ebony so it won't dome. .

What's that material they use in ammunition now that can pierce the armor on army tanks because it is so hard. Something like it has a component of used nuclear fuel. If it's hard enough to make ammunition capable of piercing a tank. It would probably be hard enough that it used as a fretboard it could resist the pressure of the expanding neck circumference.

How about... Titanium truss rod- Remember Damon goes to the ocean regularly (CA and HI!), and untreated aluminum + seawater do not mix... and Carbon fiber for the neck??

chindog
09-07-2011, 01:47 PM
How about... Titanium truss rod- Remember Damon goes to the ocean regularly (CA and HI!), and untreated aluminum + seawater do not mix... and Carbon fiber for the neck??

Titanium might be a little too expensive for this project uke. What about a plastic truss rod? And then there is also the problem of rust on the tuning machines.

bbycrts
09-07-2011, 03:33 PM
Interesting concerns, but if you think laterally... As the op has a tendency to play near the water....
Consider totally waterproofing the Uke so you can play it IN the pool! How cool would that be! A lead bridge would help with buoyancy issues... Of course being in the water would dampen the resonance of the strings so you would need high tension strings and therefore I guess a steel truss rod for the neck. The added weight from that would not go astray either.... How you could waterproof the pick up is another matter....*ponders* but it would be awesome if you could actually Play it in the pool!!:)

Are you seriously suggesting retrofitting a steel truss rod into the neck of a Gecko? Sounds like more trouble than it's worth. On the other hand, since Mainland sells necks, wouldn't it be a pretty straightforward matter to replace the neck with one you have set up with a truss rod in advance? That way you avoid the trouble of trying to do the install while the neck is still on the uke.

bbycrts
09-07-2011, 03:35 PM
I had a brainstorm about the issue of the conductivity of a metal saddle/nut - how about installing a thin rubber shim under them to act as an insulator?

Pueo
09-07-2011, 04:41 PM
I had a brainstorm about the issue of the conductivity of a metal saddle/nut - how about installing a thin rubber shim under them to act as an insulator?
Non-conductive strings, no worries!

Pueo
09-07-2011, 04:43 PM
Are you seriously suggesting retrofitting a steel truss rod into the neck of a Gecko? Sounds like more trouble than it's worth. On the other hand, since Mainland sells necks, wouldn't it be a pretty straightforward matter to replace the neck with one you have set up with a truss rod in advance? That way you avoid the trouble of trying to do the install while the neck is still on the uke.
OK guys, I don't want to be a naysayer or anything, but I do not imagine a sporano needing a reinforced neck. Ever. But thanks for the consideration!

Pueo
09-07-2011, 04:47 PM
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I'd like to see more photos of the process as it is so far.
I was much busier over the holiday weekend than I had originally planned to be. Sanding is slow, tedious work. This is what I have completed so far. It is going faster as more finish comes off though, I hope to be ready for the next phase by this weekend.

bbycrts
09-07-2011, 05:44 PM
OK guys, I don't want to be a naysayer or anything, but I do not imagine a sporano needing a reinforced neck. Ever. But thanks for the consideration!

Voice of reason!

MoreUke
09-07-2011, 07:32 PM
OK guys, I don't want to be a naysayer or anything, but I do not imagine a sporano needing a reinforced neck. Ever. But thanks for the consideration!

Ok you decide to pass on the reinforced neck. But it really is not big deal. I think all you would need to do is get a hold of a router and and the proper sized bit(s) and go with it. Might need to make a jig to guide things along. Then when you get to the heel of the neck you just go after it with some chisels and perhaps a dremel. Maybe set the truss rod in with some epoxy. Easy peasy. That way if you ever decide you want to put on steel strings. Well you would probably be all set.

But hey it's your Uke. If you want to pass on making it perfect. Well ................ who am I to complain.

I'm just offering my input so you can have a better Ukulele.

Captain_Lovehandles
09-08-2011, 01:53 AM
Just slap some paint on it and go to town. Wanna see!

Mandarb
09-08-2011, 03:16 AM
How about... Titanium truss rod- Remember Damon goes to the ocean regularly (CA and HI!), and untreated aluminum + seawater do not mix... and Carbon fiber for the neck??

I had the same thoughts - titanium and carbon fiber.


OK guys, I don't want to be a naysayer or anything, but I do not imagine a sporano needing a reinforced neck. Ever. But thanks for the consideration!

I thought you wanted to play this in the surf and that is why you were looking to reinforce the uke and were putting a water-proof finish on the top.


2780627807
I was much busier over the holiday weekend than I had originally planned to be. Sanding is slow, tedious work. This is what I have completed so far. It is going faster as more finish comes off though, I hope to be ready for the next phase by this weekend.

Looks good so far. That is very pretty grain. A light water-proof purple finish where you could still see some of the wood grain underneath would be perfect. Hope to see some more pics soon. Keep up the good work.

Susie A
09-08-2011, 03:56 AM
2780627807
I was much busier over the holiday weekend than I had originally planned to be. Sanding is slow, tedious work. This is what I have completed so far. It is going faster as more finish comes off though, I hope to be ready for the next phase by this weekend.

I am glad you are leaving the geckos for last. They are so cute. Maybe you sould leave it as is?

sukie
09-08-2011, 07:13 AM
When I was re-painting my garage doors I borrowed a heat-gun. Got the paint off really quickly. just sayin'...........:-)

Pueo
09-08-2011, 08:22 AM
When I was re-painting my garage doors I borrowed a heat-gun. Got the paint off really quickly. just sayin'...........:-)
You are the first person to suggest that! I might have to look into that. I am worried it might also melt the glue holding down the bridge, top, neck, and fretboard though!

sukie
09-08-2011, 08:49 AM
You are the first person to suggest that! I might have to look into that. I am worried it might also melt the glue holding down the bridge, top, neck, and fretboard though!

It's all in the way you use the gun. Not too close or you'll burn the wood. And that might melt the glue. But if you are careful you'll save a lot of time. And, knowing you, you'd be careful. :-)

My garage doors didn't fall apart -- FYI

dhoenisch
09-09-2011, 05:24 AM
I actually like the look of the half sanded top. I'd leave it completely as is and just add some clear finish over the top of it, and maybe just paint the rest of it.

Dan

Pueo
09-12-2011, 06:30 AM
Almost done with the sanding! It was getting dark last night and even with the full moon I had to stop here. I am confident I will be painting next Sunday, the 18th. I have to go to a wedding on the 17th, so hopefully I won't be too hung over.
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Sven
09-12-2011, 08:46 AM
The fumes on your breath may be detrimental to the paint. I think you might have a real problem there...

But, the uke looks awesome. Make sure you show it to Mainland after you get a patent for your methods, they will pay you huge money to use your system.

MoreUke
09-12-2011, 09:46 AM
Almost done with the sanding! It was getting dark last night and even with the full moon I had to stop here. I am confident I will be painting next Sunday, the 18th. I have to go to a wedding on the 17th, so hopefully I won't be too hung over.
2792127922

So what is the final grit of sandpaper you will be using before you start painting?

You mentioned you were thinking about installing a pickup in this Uke. Have you thought about drilling the hole for the pickup before painting it?

Are you going to spray or brush on the paint?

How many coats of paint are you going to apply? What kind of paint are you using? Latex, Acrylic, Acylic Latex, enamel, automotive enamel? Are you going to sand between coats? How fine of sandpaper are you going to use between coats? Are you going to put a clear coat as the final finish?

Pueo
09-12-2011, 10:17 AM
So what is the final grit of sandpaper you will be using before you start painting?

You mentioned you were thinking about installing a pickup in this Uke. Have you thought about drilling the hole for the pickup before painting it?

Are you going to spray or brush on the paint?

How many coats of paint are you going to apply? What kind of paint are you using? Latex, Acrylic, Acylic Latex, enamel, automotive enamel? Are you going to sand between coats? How fine of sandpaper are you going to use between coats? Are you going to put a clear coat as the final finish?
That's a lot of questions!

I am using 180 Grit now. I probably could have gone lower to start, but that is what I had in the garage. I had several new sheets (now down to 1) so that is what dictated the grit I used. I may get a finer grit to sand all over once the original paint is all removed.

Sanding between coats? Nope.

There will be at least four coats of paint. White base coat, and probably three colors. I am using acrylic paint (I think). I think it just might be Testors! They are left over from my radio controlled vehicle hobby days. I have an airbrush and I have some spray cans, I will probably use both to complete the design I have in mind. Oh, and more blue tape will be needed as well!

There will be a clear coat over the paint.

I think I am going to install a pickup, but I doubt I will drill before I paint, I am anxious to see how the ukulele looks with the new paint and may play with it a while before I go to the next phase of the mods. I also have not decided on type of pickup yet. Do I go simple transducer, undersaddle, or try to get the Boulder Creek electrics with the tuner (I really like that idea BTW) so the location of the hole(s) to drill are not yet determined.

Pueo
09-12-2011, 10:28 AM
The fumes on your breath may be detrimental to the paint. I think you might have a real problem there...

But, the uke looks awesome. Make sure you show it to Mainland after you get a patent for your methods, they will pay you huge money to use your system.
Nothing a little glögg won't fix, eh? I was looking at your building blog. You have some cool stuff in there!
I once thought it would be fun to build an ukulele. Now I realize the sheer amount of really hard work that goes into them. I think this will likely be as close as I get to building my own instrument.

chindog
09-12-2011, 12:50 PM
You should really consider using Frog brand tape instead of the blue tape. It's more expensive, but has paintblock technology that keeps the paint lines nice and sharp with no bleed.

mailman
09-12-2011, 02:51 PM
While you are considering future modifications, and since you are wanting a pickup, I thought you might consider this....

I'm thinking tremelo bar bridge. Would that not be cool? Haven't seen it done on a uke, but hey, there's always a first time. The world's only Gecko uke with a whammy bar....

chindog
09-12-2011, 03:00 PM
While you are considering future modifications, and since you are wanting a pickup, I thought you might consider this....

I'm thinking tremelo bar bridge. Would that not be cool? Haven't seen it done on a uke, but hey, there's always a first time. The world's only Gecko uke with a whammy bar....

I wonder if Bigsby makes a smaller version of their tremelo bridge. They could make a uke version and call it a Littlesby.

chindog
09-13-2011, 02:01 PM
Mr. Pueo, have you made any more progress on your project?

Pueo
09-15-2011, 09:14 AM
Mr. Pueo, have you made any more progress on your project?
Yes! Top and back completely sanded, just some lingering paint on the "waist" between the upper and lower bout on the sides and a little on the heel and neck. I am working on the mask I am making for the paint. I do hope to paint this Sunday. I will be working from home tomorrow, so I will update with more photos tomorrow.

Thanks for the tip about Frog tape. I am trying to do this project primarily with what materials I already have at the house, and I have two rolls of blue tape, so I will probably end up sticking with that.

Pueo
09-16-2011, 10:37 AM
Sanding is really really really really really really really really boring. There is still just a bit of paint left around the heel. Really tedious. I think I am developing carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand. I want to just paint over it and paint it RIGHT NOW! But I feel that since I have come this far, as I might as well complete the job correctly.
2811428115

Mandarb
09-19-2011, 03:29 AM
Looks good. Did you do any painting this weekend?

MoreUke
09-20-2011, 08:19 AM
Just wondering if you were able to accomplish anything more on this Ukulele?

Tack
09-20-2011, 12:20 PM
Great so far Damon.... Were you considering a pickup in this at all..... Could be very interesting...

Pueo
09-23-2011, 09:36 AM
Sanding is 100% complete!
I had to use an x-acto chisel to get some of the stubborn paint off around the bridge and neck areas, as I wanted to keep the clearcoat on the sides of the fingerboard intact. I mostly succeeded. I know how I want to paint the headstock, and will be doing the masking tonight. I still have three ideas for the body and top, but I will force myself to make a decision before I go to sleep tonight because I want to paint this weekend. I also have some feelers out for what type of pickup I am going to install.

Pueo
09-26-2011, 10:42 AM
I finally got all the paint off and re-masked the ukulele to prepare for the new paint. I decided to let a little of the natual wood show on the headstock.
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I had hoped to paint on Saturday, but it was too cool and too humid to do so. I woke up to rain! I was dejected but hopeful for the next day.
I got to paint on Sunday! I am not done though. I had a disaster happen. The first coat was supposed to be flat white just to make the top color coat pop better. When I started to spray, the paint came out all clumpy and it looked like Jacskon Pollack had painted it! Oh no! So I had to wait for that to dry, and then sand that off. I really had hoped I was done with sanding, but no such luck!
I bought a new can of white, and that went on nice and smooth. Then after that dried I shot a top coat of color.
The color coat looks amazing, but there is some orange peel in a few spots. I have some ultra fine sanding film (I REALLY hoped I was done, but alas...) and I am going to try and get the orange peel out, then another very thin coat of color, then clear on top of that.
28374

bbycrts
09-26-2011, 11:29 AM
I finally got all the paint off and re-masked the ukulele to prepare for the new paint. I decided to let a little of the natual wood show on the headstock.
2837228373
I had hoped to paint on Saturday, but it was too cool and too humid to do so. I woke up to rain! I was dejected but hopeful for the next day.
I got to paint on Sunday! I am not done though. I had a disaster happen. The first coat was supposed to be flat white just to make the top color coat pop better. When I started to spray, the paint came out all clumpy and it looked like Jacskon Pollack had painted it! Oh no! So I had to wait for that to dry, and then sand that off. I really had hoped I was done with sanding, but no such luck!
I bought a new can of white, and that went on nice and smooth. Then after that dried I shot a top coat of color.
The color coat looks amazing, but there is some orange peel in a few spots. I have some ultra fine sanding film (I REALLY hoped I was done, but alas...) and I am going to try and get the orange peel out, then another very thin coat of color, then clear on top of that.
28374


Hey! I have that design on my headstock too! All I can say is...

:bowdown:

vanflynn
09-26-2011, 01:10 PM
As a newbie following this, can you go into a little detail on the paint process please? What type of paint and how do you apply. I'm really enjoying follow your progress.

chindog
09-26-2011, 04:11 PM
I hope you're not infringing on any patents with that headstock design.

Pueo
09-27-2011, 08:36 AM
As a newbie following this, can you go into a little detail on the paint process please? What type of paint and how do you apply. I'm really enjoying follow your progress.
OK. Just to let you know, I am pretty much a newbie myself when it comes to this kind of thing. I used to be really into radio controlled cars, airplanes, helicopters... So I do have some experience painting car bodies and model airplane fuselages. Since the Gecko body is ABS plastic, I figured that lacquer paint from the hobby store would work well. It is inexpensive and comes in many colors. The only thing I really know about sanding is that you need to use a sanding block to keep the pressure even and to try and work as evenly as possible. The complex curvy areas you just have to get in there and do the best you can. I wrapped a strip of sandpaper around a wine cork to do the back of the neck and the heel area. Mainland Mike said he just sprayed white over what was already there, then painted over that - I just wanted to start with the bare surface.

The white undercoat I painted just using a can of spray paint - Pactra Sprint White lacquer paint.

The purple top coat is also lacquer paint, thinned 50/50 with thinner and sprayed on with my airbrush - but I am sure just a can of spraypaint would work just as well. I think I may not have thinned the paint enough (or it was old) and that is why I got the orange peel in a few spots. I am going to sand those down using 400 grit sanding film, and then shoot another thin coat to even out the color before I spray over the whole thing with clear lacquer. I will leave the tape over the bridge and fingerboard, but will lift the mask on the headstock before the clearcoat so that the wood will show through. I'm getting excited about the result.

Pueo
09-30-2011, 07:46 AM
I did some more sanding yesterday. I used 400 Grit and then 600 grit to take down the orange peel. I will try to spray the final top color coat and clear coat this weekend.

I may have decided on a pickup as well - super excited about that, it will be overkill gadget-wise in a good way!

Dan Uke
09-30-2011, 12:33 PM
So how many hours have you put into this project now?

Pueo
09-30-2011, 12:42 PM
So how many hours have you put into this project now?
Too many! :)
I don't work on it every day, but I would probably say 10-15, really not too bad.

Pueo
12-29-2011, 01:20 PM
Aloha everyone!
I have some sad news to report. My recent relocation has wreaked havoc on the finish of my Gecko. The increased ambient temperature has made the paint (and clearcoat) tacky and it stuck to the inside of the gig bag. I went to play it today and after unzipping the gig bag, I had to PEEL it off the back of the ukulele, and a good portion of the paint and clearcoat stuck to the bag!

Can anyone recommend a better finish that will stand up to ambient temperatures of around eighty degrees Farenheit?

What is the clearcoat made of for my Pono, and/or my Epiphone Les Paul, Nitro-cellulose Lacquer? Where do I get that? Is there an inexpensive plastic/acrylic alternative? How do they get it on that thick? I must have sprayed four or five coats of clear lacquer but it does not have any depth like on those other ukuleles.

Any suggestions?

bbycrts
12-29-2011, 09:27 PM
Aloha everyone!
I have some sad news to report. My recent relocation has wreaked havoc on the finish of my Gecko. The increased ambient temperature has made the paint (and clearcoat) tacky and it stuck to the inside of the gig bag. I went to play it today and after unzipping the gig bag, I had to PEEL it off the back of the ukulele, and a good portion of the paint and clearcoat stuck to the bag!

Can anyone recommend a better finish that will stand up to ambient temperatures of around eighty degrees Farenheit?

What is the clearcoat made of for my Pono, and/or my Epiphone Les Paul, Nitro-cellulose Lacquer? Where do I get that? Is there an inexpensive plastic/acrylic alternative? How do they get it on that thick? I must have sprayed four or five coats of clear lacquer but it does not have any depth like on those other ukuleles.

Any suggestions?

Take it over to Kanile'a in Kaneohe and see if they can shoot it with their urethane gloss.

Pueo
12-29-2011, 09:34 PM
Take it over to Kanile'a in Kaneohe and see if they can shoot it with their urethane gloss.
I met Joe Souza at NAMM last year. I wonder if he would do it?