View Full Version : preserving the finish on an old uke

06-05-2012, 03:19 AM
I love vintage ukes and have several old Martins and Favillas. I have a Martin 1M that sounds great and it has a nice shiny finish. I live in Georgia (USA) where it is hot and humid in the summer and often play outside, especially at night. I notice that where my arm covers the uke at the bottom bout the finish gets cloudy after I play, clearly from arm heat and possibly some sweat. This started out being transient (i.e., it would clear up after 10 minutes of not playing) but now the finish is starting to look marred. I suppose that I could tuck a little towel there but wondered if there were some other remedies. I'm a player not a collector so it won't bother me horribly if the finish is marred but it would be nice if the finish could be preserved and the uke played. TIA, g2

Patrick Madsen
06-05-2012, 05:03 AM
A wise luthier told me to use Meguiars Professional car polish on my ukes. I don't think there's any silicone or something like that in it. He uses it as a final coat on the French Polish that he takes weeks to complete. Great stuff

mm stan
06-05-2012, 08:39 AM
Yes Gary, I use Nu finish Car polish to protect that finish...it works on my ukes and my martins....

06-05-2012, 09:01 AM
Personally, I dont worry too much about that sort of stuff. It's all part of an instrument being played IMHO. I don't mind wear as long as it isn't abuse. I like to keep my instruments in good repair, and looking the best they can, but I don't let myself worry about the looks of being a played instrument. However, that's me, and many do like to keep their new looking, and there's nothing wrong with that.

That being said, look into a low tack film. You can find films in matt, or gloss finsih, and can be cut to suit just about any flat surface. It is barely noticeable if applied correctly. It can also be removed when ya want to remove it without damaging the finish, or leaving adheasive on the finish. It is basically the same type of films they put on new automobiles for shipment to protect the finish from skuffs and bumps of transporting from the factory (except most of that film is white). But those types of films can be found in clear as well. I know some that have used the low tack window films. It just peels off if ya want it off, or stays put. When ya play it, any wear on the instrument will happen to the film, and when it gets bad enough to bother you, you just peel it off and replace the film with new. I have known guys (and gals) use it on pick guards which is virtually invisable, or even cut small patches and applied to areas where they tend to wear a finsih (typically on the upper edges of the lower bout typically rubbed raw from your fore arm. I even known people to put in on their necks to protect the finish there.

In the meantime, i will see if I can find some, because it is not nessisarliy marketed "for" the purpose of guitar/uke protection, but commonly used in the guitar circles I think. It does protect the re-sell value of your instrument if you plan to re-sell at some point in the future.

06-05-2012, 09:13 AM
As a P.S., I forgot to mention, in case you want to start a search yourself, try in the graphics and/or art supply type of films. I used to own and operate Advanced Images which was a small graphic shop her in lower michigan. We used to do graphic design and lettering on commercial trucks etc, as well as vinyl graphic signage etc. I used to use high tack vinyls for that work, but also know they have low tack. I have used some of the matt finsih low tack clears to cover signs for low glare. But, I also know it came in very many colors and finishes, including high gloss clear. Many of the commercial places I used to order supplies from are bulk commercial orders, but I also know you can buy "hobby" grade in small packages, maybe even at placed like Hobby Lobby, Michaels, or other art/hobby places in the art, or graphic art isles..

Not sure if this would do it, but it might help you get started in a search. http://www.jerrysartarama.com/discount-art-supplies/Shrinkwrap-Films-and-Acetate/Grafix-Low-Tack-Prepared-Frisket-Film.htm

06-06-2012, 03:43 AM
Thanks for all the great advice. No I don't really have any intention of selling this uke unless a better deal comes around <g>. I have some Virtuoso cleaner and polish and I'll try those first. The film idea is an interesting one Tudorp and thanks for the link. I buy some and I hope that your health improves. cheers, g2

06-06-2012, 03:50 AM
If ya go the film route, do be sure it is "Low Tack", because that will come off with ease and no residue or damage from the adheasive. The other high tack films, you can end up with a mess, and damage your finish in the long run..

Patrick Madsen
06-06-2012, 04:59 AM
If you're talking about the Mylar film stuff; I found it really deadened the sound of the uke. It was just a pickguard shaped piece, tired it and pulled it off right away.

06-06-2012, 05:10 AM
Good point. It might just do that on a small uke. Didn't think of that (I dont use it myself). But I just know several that use it on guitars, and the larger soundboard and chamber it doesn't make enough difference to tell, but it might very well on a smaller instrument like a uke. But then again, it's cheap enough, and reversable it's worth a try maybe, but again, great point to think about if going that route.

If you're talking about the Mylar film stuff; I found it really deadened the sound of the uke. It was just a pickguard shaped piece, tired it and pulled it off right away.

06-06-2012, 05:47 AM
And I didn't mention that I play sopranos, but I still think that it's worth a try. cheers, g2

06-06-2012, 06:17 AM
You could try a sleeve on your arm. My husband uses one of these
more film solutions