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View Full Version : Taking care of a solid wood uke?



Russian_Dingo
01-30-2009, 05:28 PM
The title explains itself. What should i do to take care of a solid wood uke? Because I'm getting a new mainland red cedar concert, and i don't want to f*ck this uke up like how i did with my earlier ukes.

I know one thing that matters is the humidity and temperature of where you live, but I don't know what is a good range for a uke. The humidity for where I live is 71%, and the temperature is 70° F. And is there anything else I should look at for when taking care of a solid wood uke?


EDIT: What should I use to keep the uke clean? Should I use this wax (http://www.jimdunlop.com/index.php?page=products/pip&id=220&pmh=products/maintenance). If not what would you suggest cleaning with? But if so do I use the same wax on the neck or do I clean the neck with something else?

haolejohn
01-31-2009, 04:26 PM
I live in Georgia and I do not own a humidifier. I own three solid wood ukes and two solid wood guitars. Never had a problem with mine. It gets cold (30's in winter here and humidity is always higher than 50 %. My solid wood ukes are spruce, koa, and mahaghany. If you wanted to I would still get a humidifier.

liquid_wind
01-31-2009, 04:44 PM
is oil necessary at all?

JKoval
01-31-2009, 06:37 PM
Vegetable oil and a lighter... seems foolproof.

-Jeff

Bao
05-11-2011, 12:24 AM
Bumping this thread just because i want to know how to take care of a solid wood ukulele too

hobblecreek
05-11-2011, 08:13 AM
Seems like most musical instrument manufacturers recommend keeping solid wood instruments at around a 45% to 55% humidity level and mid-70's temps. Obviously, these figures can differ based on where each manufacturer is located and the normal temperatures and humidity where they dry and age their wood.

I live in Colorado which has a VERY dry climate, and is further exacerbated with forced-air heating during the cold months, so I just use a simple room humidifier in the winter months and keep a couple of well-watered plants in the room during the summer. And, I always, always use a HERCO or Oasis case humidifier (after the recent experience described below), and these uncomplicated devices only need attention (refilling or soaking) once or twice each month. It all depends on the relative humidity and temperature averages during the different times of the year where you live. The effort to keep them properly “watered” is clearly worth the heartache associated with the damage that can occur.

In early December I pulled out my Santa Cruz mahogany concert and found a small crack on the lower back center. I was really upset (this uke is soooo amazing), so I sent it back to Santa Cruz and they did an expert repair job that can hardly be seen. If I had waited (or not noticed the damage) it could have been much, much worse than it was. To compound the issue, my whole family was coming for the Christmas holidays and the repair was not expected to be completed until early February, so I was facing the dilemma of being without a great uke to play along with everyone. Financially, it cost a lot – not the repair – but because I had to buy another great uke to have in the interim.

Most manufacturers of good quality ukes have some info on their websites about proper humidification, so these can be a good source of what to do. As for cleaning, I'd follow recommendations from the manufacturers also -- the finish on many instruments can be ruined by using a wax that contains silicone (and/or other added non-wax ingredients).

Gmoney
05-11-2011, 08:25 AM
Bumping this thread just because i want to know how to take care of a solid wood ukulele too

Just a note - Haolejohn lost a good uke to serious cracking since he replied to this thread, but probably not from lack of humidity alone. He left one of his ukes in the schoolroom where he teaches over a cold winter snow shut down in Atlanta, GA. The power at the school was off as a result as well for some time & when he was able to get back, found his uke severely damaged. Admitedly, a humidifier filled w/water would have likely frozen as well, and it was probably the temperature swings in addition to the relative dryness of the wood that cracked it.

Most of us keep our solid wood ukes in their cases w/some sort of humidifier. But... OVER-humidifying them can cause problems as well like softening glues or causing potential "bridge bowing".

I use a combination of Herco's, Oasis in-the-soundhole units, & home-made out of film canisters + an analog hygrometer to check for an appropriate levels.

hobblecreek
05-11-2011, 08:46 AM
Gmoney's thread reminded me that I forgot to mention that you could get a good hygrometer to measure humidity, all in an effort to maintain the right humidity range. And he's also dead right about how too much humidity can cause the wood to swell; if an instrument absorbs too much moisture it could try to pull itself apart. And, finally temperature is also key -- keep your instruments out of the trunk (doesn't matter whether its a cold or hot day, the trunk amplifies what's going on outside).

70sSanO
05-11-2011, 08:49 AM
Taking care of a ukulele is just like a guitar. Get some sort of humidity gauge that will let you know where the humidity level. When it gets colder there is usually less humidity in the air and things can dry out. In SoCal we get Santa Ana winds and humidity can drop to the teens. I keep humidifiers in all my ukulele and acoustic guitar cases year round, but I don't have to maintain them during the summer months.

I use Martin guitar polish on the uke finish, and lemon oil on the fret board. this seems to protect them pretty well. Some people wipe down their ukes with a soft cloth after each time they play. I am less inclined to do that everytime, but when it is hot and humid it is important to wipe off the excess sweat from the surface.

It is similar to taking care of a piece of furniture that makes music...

...hopefully there aren't any water marks on your ukulele.

John

Kanaka916
05-11-2011, 08:53 AM
Instrument Care
From the GString website - Care and Maintenance (http://www.gstringukuleles.com/care.asp)
From the mya-moe website - FAQ (http://www.myamoeukuleles.com/FAQ.html)
From the Kanile'a website - Important Care Instructions (http://kanileaukulele.com/faq18.php?osCsid=f78f6fb524f7508124bb2aa78096bb1a)
Excerpt from the Kamaka FAQ section:


How should I clean and care for my ukulele?

Kamaka ukuleles have a lacquer finish and can be cleaned with a damp cloth, not wet. We recommend buffing your Kamaka with a dry, soft, clean cloth such as 100% cloth baby diapers. You can also use a commercial instrument cleaner like Martin Guitar Polish or GHS Guitar Gloss. We do not recommend that you use a cleaning product that has wax in it. Oil should only be used on the fingerboard and not on the lacquer finish of your ukulele.

Kamaka ukuleles are built with solid wood, which is directly affected by temperature and humidity. Gradual changes in temperature and humidity will generally not be harmful to our instruments. However, rapid changes in temperature should be guarded against. Keep your ukulele in a good case when not in use. Avoid storing it near heaters.

mds725
05-11-2011, 09:01 AM
Taking care of a ukulele is just like a guitar. Get some sort of humidity gauge that will let you know where the humidity level. When it gets colder there is usually less humidity in the air and things can dry out. In SoCal we get Santa Ana winds and humidity can drop to the teens. I keep humidifiers in all my ukulele and acoustic guitar cases year round, but I don't have to maintain them during the summer months.

I live in San Francisco, where people tend to think it's sufficiently humid for ukuleles because we get so much fog. The impiortant measurement is not outdoor humididty (unless you keep your ukulele outside) but the humidity in the room in which the ukulele is being kept. For example, the hygrometer in my apartment is almost always between 20-30 percent humidity, which is low for a wood instrument, even when the humidity is much higher outdoors. So I bought for my ukulele cases a separate hygrometer to monitor the humidity in the case, and I bought an Oasis in-case humidifier to prevent ukuleles in their cases from getting too dry.

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=12148&d=1272060609 http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=15515&d=1282539113

luvdat
05-11-2011, 12:17 PM
Short term, the most impact: drastic temp changes. Even IDEAL in-case humidity will NOT protect a uke or guitar from drastic temp changes. I'm not making an argument here for being sloppy about humidity.

Refer to Kanaka's resources.

Bao
05-12-2011, 02:40 AM
I live in australia and currently, the weather is around 15 - 20 degress celcius at nights and mornings (this is for outside). Is that temperature range alright for a solid wood ukulele?

I haven't recieved my solid wood ukulele yet but it shall be coming in a week or two, i just want to be prepared to take good care of it because it's going to be the most expensive instrument i own.