View Full Version : To paint, or not to paint, a dolphin?*

02-12-2012, 01:36 PM
OK, so heres the thing, ive recently picked up a makala dolphin, switched the strings to Aquilas, and I'm enjoying it so far. These things are some of the best value for money available in terms of the cost to pleasure extracted ratio. In short for what I could buy a dolphin for, I couldn't even get half a night out, but it'll last so much longer.

But owing to one thing and another, ive been thinking. In view of it being such a cheap fun thing. I have been getting the thought of buying a second dolphin specifically to customise straight out of the box. Basically I'd strip off the strings as soon as it gets home, and go to town producing a unique painted uke all of my own. Now I know painting it will destroy the warranty, and any chance of a resale value. I know it may affect the tone and volume, but i figure its not an expensive uke, and it'll be just a one off for me, so resale, tone volume and suchlike dont matter too much.

Does anyone else paint there uke?
Any tips on types of paint to use etc? was thinking of using water based acrylics as they are a bit more stretchy and plasticy than normal paints, but not too sure at the moment.
Or just general tips?

*no actual dolphins will be harmed in this process

02-12-2012, 01:38 PM
Paint it and have a blast doing it. Plus you will have something unique.

Doug W
02-12-2012, 01:49 PM

02-12-2012, 02:37 PM
If ever there was an 'ukulele that was perfect for painting ...

02-12-2012, 02:55 PM
Ooh paint it and post pics!! I love custom (not as in expensive ones) ukes, and it adds such a nice "You factor" to it. As for painting it, I don't know about the paint affecting the resonance, so long as you make the pain thin enough. Acrylics should be great; they dry fast, are easy to use, and aren't costly. Maybe add a clearcoat spray-on when you're done with it, so the paint won't chip off.

What do you plan on painting?

02-12-2012, 03:03 PM
paint it. You won't regret it

02-12-2012, 03:09 PM
How about pyrography? You can do whatever shapes you like then and absolutely no risk of the edges "bleeding" out.

mm stan
02-12-2012, 06:09 PM
You did see fitncrafty's wonder woman uke her hubby painted.. http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/album.php?albumid=1181

02-12-2012, 06:43 PM
There is no resale value to a Dolphin -- unless the repaint increases the value; you have nothing to lose.

02-12-2012, 07:21 PM
By all means... Paint! Paint! Paint!

02-13-2012, 02:37 AM
Guess what next months payday projects going to be...

Just need to mull over some ideas and come up with a good idea (this may well be the hard part, maybe for example camouflage paint could work on a green one, as i'm in the army, and i'd have a combat uke for taking away with me).

I'm guessing 25 for the uke and about the same in materials to do it properly.

Anyone ever removed the bridge from a dolphin? I can see one screw in the groove where the strings go into the bit where you tie them off, presume the others under the eye? Is it glued in place as well?

02-13-2012, 03:14 AM
I can see one screw in the groove where the strings go into the bit where you tie them off, presume the others under the eye? Is it glued in place as well?

Yes, the other screw is under the eye. Unscrew it and then use dental floss between the body and bridge or a long carpet knife (The "break off blade" kind). It is not glued on very well.

02-13-2012, 03:16 AM
Dolphins are perfect ukes for modification. They're easy to work on and very easily replaceable if you screw anything up royally. Don't worry about the warranty. The only real issue I noticed with my Dolphin was that the paint developed some cracks around the neck joint and started to break off in big chunks around the edges of the fretboard (although I did play the hell out of it!). I would definitely recommend stripping all the original paint off first. Not only will this make it a little more resonant, but your custom paint job won't get damaged from cracks developing in the paint underneath. Be sure to post the results when you're done!

I imagine there's a screw under the eye, but gouging it out will make the bridge look pretty bad. You might be better off just doing a really good job of masking it off while removing the original paint and adding your own.

02-13-2012, 12:06 PM
@haole, I'm fairly confident with a little light dremmel work, i can dis-eye the bridge fairly easy.

For refit, something like an epoxy resin should hold it fast afterwards.

Suppose if I really screw it up, then its not a lot of cash down the pan, and a good learning lesson for the mark 2! I'm starting to really veer towards a camouflage / military style combat uke now...

02-13-2012, 01:22 PM
I just searched the wiki for "evil twin". If you have two dolphins, you have twins already. A suggestion is to make one the evil twin, possibly a nasty looking shark like dolphin, or something that a twilight character would take to a party to play etc. My opinion is that this would be a lot more fun than making the uke look like a piece of military equipment.
This is the link for inspiration:

It's been done. :)


Here's a picture of my Dolphin turned into "shark-u-lele". I'm a huge San Jose Sharks fan...


02-13-2012, 03:31 PM
Check my photos on my profile page for the dolphin that my husband painted for me. It's awesome! Good luck and share your creations...