View Full Version : Opinions Requested…Refinish or Not

03-10-2014, 05:55 PM
I've been debating on asking about this one for a few weeks. It's getting the best of me and I'd like to know what you would do.

I have a solid mahogany Kala soprano that I absolutely love. It plays and sounds great. It's the kind of uke that keeps me satisfied to the point that I don't even look to see what's out there for my next purchase.

I love it as it is, but if I could change one thing, it would be the finish. I prefer nitro. I've refinished 3 solid body guitars in the past that I really liked and only did so because I wanted a nitro finish and they came with poly.

My desire to refinish is only personal and aesthetic. I'm not looking for a different tone as I love it the way it is. I do believe that a thin nitro finish may enhance what I already hear, but that's secondary. I really only want to change it because I love the look, smell, feel, and acoustic qualities of nitro. And I dig the way it ages. I've bought and sold several instruments over the years, but a few have stayed with me. I can tell this is one that will be a part of that club. With that in mind, I'd like to see the nitro finish as it ages on it.

I enjoy tinkering and refinish jobs have been very enjoyable, so the work part of it is not an issue. I bought the uke as a factory second, so I was able to purchase a nice hard case and Oasis humidifying system and keep the total cost at only $17.89 over the cost of a factory fresh SMHS. The refinish would add another $27.45 to my total cost. It's not cheap, but much cheaper than buying a new uke with a nitro finish. And there's no guarantee that it would sound as good as this one.

So my question is…do I leave it alone (by no means do I hate the current finish, it seems quite thin, but poly), or do I refinish to my tastes?

There is a concern, however slight, that it may change the tone and I won't like it as much as I do now. I think that's a pretty slim chance as it should only enhance what I'm hearing now, however slightly, but the concern is still there.

With that in mind, what would you do?

Hippie Dribble
03-10-2014, 06:00 PM
Hey Kevin, I think that if it's been bugging you for ages and you've had prior experience in doing this kind of stuff, then go for it. Sounds like it's one of those itches that aint gonna go away till you scratch it mate.

Doug W
03-10-2014, 06:09 PM
Get started right now, 11:08 PM Minnesota time!

Patrick Madsen
03-10-2014, 06:47 PM
Yep, what Jon and Doug said.

03-10-2014, 07:10 PM
Yes, what Jon, Doug, and Pat said. Post before and after pics.

03-10-2014, 07:20 PM
If it were a vintage Martin or some rare custom I'd say don't refinish it. But sheesh - it's a Kala. It's meant to be played but not to be an heirloom. If refinishing it will make you happy then do it.

03-10-2014, 10:20 PM
What are you going to use to remove the old finish? What are temperature and oxygen requirements required for whatever you are going to use? I have yet to take the finish off of a ukulele and have it sound worse.

03-10-2014, 11:51 PM
Do it :D if you don't like how it turns out, you can always save for another kala!

03-11-2014, 03:40 AM
Personally I would never put that much effort into a Kala (or probably anything else) for purely cosmetic results but if that's your bag, go for it. It's not like you're ruining a priceless vintage instrument and your heirs are someday going to be on Antiques Road Show trying to keep a stiff upper lip while some guy says, "oh...if only it hadn't been refinished..." LOL