View Full Version : Scratching Spruce

10-27-2008, 07:48 AM
Hi UU folks! I was wondering how easy it is to scratch a spruce topped uke that has an oil finish. I need to know because I am getting a spruce top uke soon (another MP haha!). Mike told me that spruce was a rather hard wood but can get scratched nonetheless. Now let's assume I would want to use finger rolls, muted strums and drunken playing skills where you sometimes can't (or don't want to in case of the drunken playing :D) prevent the fingernails from hitting the soundboard. Do you think I should get a pickguard installed?
Thank you!

10-27-2008, 08:14 AM
If it's a concern, I would ask Mike to install a mylar pickguard (http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Pickguards/Pickguard_materials/Clear_Pickguard_Materials.html) as suggested by Dom in this thread (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=6167&highlight=mylar).

10-27-2008, 08:18 AM
Thank you Kanaka. I talked to Mike about that and read the thread you linked to before I posted mine, but wanted to get some more opinions on the matter.

10-27-2008, 11:13 AM
The best answer to this is to tell you that upwards of 80% of acoustic guitars have spruce tops, and whilst you can injure them, most people don't.

10-27-2008, 12:18 PM
I have very hard sharp nails and I have not really scratched the top of a oil based uke. I destroy french polished ones though. Personally I use a classical guitar top protector on my spruce instruments to keep the possibility of damage to a minimum.

10-27-2008, 01:38 PM
Great to hear you're getting another MP, Sayyadina! :D What kind of wood are you going for for the back and sides? I think spruce is more scratch resistant than redwood or cedar, for what it's worth. An early congrats on your upcoming uke. :)

10-27-2008, 02:25 PM
I sooo want a cedar topped tenor. I really need to win the Bushman contest! ;)

10-27-2008, 08:12 PM
Thank you for your help! To me that sounds like I am pretty save without a pickguard. I still might consider getting one to be really really save :). Good luck with the Bushman contest SamWise. If you come up with something as cool as your "Up yours" version you might win.

To drubin: Thank you man! I am so happy with the redwood/koa tenor from Mike that I decided I need another one from him. So I went and sold my Risa koa concert and started thinking about what woods I wanted this time. I wanted the uke to sound very different from the first one so I chose spruce for the top and walnut for the back. That should look and sound awesome!
Mike told me he will start this week, so it won't be long before I get the first progress pictures to drool over! :D

10-27-2008, 09:04 PM
Mine no scratch, but dents do stand out big time..

10-29-2008, 02:18 AM
Try a clear cling-on pickguard. You can buy vinyl or mylar sheets and cut them in the shape of a pickguard. Do a Google search for clear pickguards or removable pickgaurds. You'll find Guitar Armor and others. Check the thickness though. Some are too thin to give adequate protection. They cling to the instrument without any adhesive. You just stick it on to play and pull it off when you're finished.

10-29-2008, 11:49 AM
Cedar and especially redwood are soft woods that can show playing wear more easily. Spruce tends to show less playing wear. That's my understanding anyway from the old lmii info sheets and The Woods of the World reference book.

I have spruce top ukes and guitars with satin finishes that have been heavily played and don't show any wear. I don't think they're oiled tops though, but I don't know for sure. My satin instruments are Larrivees and LoPrinzis. I've owned the Larrivee spruce top since 1999 and it still shows no playing wear or scratches on the top even though it is by far the most heavily played uke I own. It doesn't even show any golpe wear which is kind of surprising to me (I play flamenco, or try to anyway...).

I also recently had a spruce top uke made for me by Joel Eckhaus who suggested that a satin lacquer finish is tougher than a tru-oil finish. So I had the body finished with tru-oil and the top with satin lacquer (tru-oil is cheaper than lacquer and less toxic for the finisher to use too). I can't tell the difference between the finishes, so there's no visual problem in using the 2 finishes on the same uke.

The grain lines in spruce are hard, and the wood between the grain is softer. I suspect a spruce top with tight grain will show less wear than wide grained spruce. All of my instruments have tight granied tops so I can't compare. It's just a supposition on my part.

I also don't know if cross-silking has any effect on the toughness of spruce. My instruments also have a lot of cross-silking.

I am more careful with my cedar top uke than with my spruce tops.