Sunday, November 21, 2010


Accidents happen, and that's no different when it comes to ukuleles. Having owned quite a number of ukuleles so far, I have actually been able to avoid serious damage to my ukes so far (knock on wood). However, it seems that lately I've been causing some damage to my ukes at a much higher rate than before. I'm not sure what's causing the sudden bout of clumsiness, but it is a little annoying. My personal feeling toward scratches and dents to my ukuleles is that these instruments are meant to be played and normal wear and tear comes with the territory and usually doesn't bother me much. However, when I cause damage to a uke, it still hurts for a day or two. I actually am more bothered when something happens to a production uke than a custom built uke because I know the customs will always stay with me but damages, even minor ones, to a production uke shaves off a lot of dollars when it comes time to move them.

Anyway, here's a quick account of my recent mis-adventures with my ukes:

Several months ago, I knocked the back of my Collings UC-1's back against the corner of an open drawer. The result is the dent you see below. It was a really dumb move on my part as I was carelessly holding the uke while opening that drawer. This ukulele is a bit of a collector's item since it's one of the prototypes built by Collings when they started making ukuleles. It has a "haircut" headstock that's only on UC-2 or above after these initial prototypes. I guess this dent will take a chunk out of its value, but I don't really foresee selling this uke anytime soon, so I wasn't too bummed about it.

A couple of weeks ago I had the Kanile'a super-soprano in its case without the latch closed while it was on the passenger seat of my car. When I arrived home and went to grab the case, I had completely forgotten that the case was not latched and as I picked up the case, out tumbled the ukulele. I managed to catch it before it fell out of the car and hit the ground, but it had hit parts of the car and the damage had been done. A nice big dent on the lower bout edge was the result of this genius move by me. Because Kanile'a uses a UV cured polyester finish, it essentially has a plastic coat around the ukulele. Having this dent means the plastic is dented too, and you can see some plastic that turned white around the wound (the upper bout edge also has a little bit if whitening of the plastic). I knew there is no repairing this type of finish before, and looking at this dent confirms it. While there is no crack or other structural damage to this ukulele, I was quite bummed when this happened because I had been planning to sell this ukulele. Now, I pretty much had been planning to sell this uke for the past year or so, but I was really getting ready to put it up for sale because the recent arrival of my Glyph had made this ukulele pretty redundant. Even so, I dragged my feet on selling it because it's got some pretty nice and unique looking curly koa and it is a very nice sounding ukulele. So when this accident happened I knew the dent probably cost me close to half of the value this ukulele had. Oh well, it still makes a great "beater" and I guess I probably secretly wanted to keep it anyway.

Yes, I actually caused some damage to my Glyph! Just last week while grabbing it from the side of my couch, I somehow whiffed and scraped the back of the neck with my thumbnail on my left hand. The result was a visible wide scratch on the back of the neck. Because this ukulele is French Polished, this type of damage is possible from one's fingernail. No, my thumbnail was not especially long or sharp, so I guess it means I need to be a bit more careful with this ukulele. While it sucked looking at this scratch at first, I got over it pretty quickly because as I mentioned earlier, this is a uke I'll always keep (it's not like I can sell it with my initials on the fretboard) so scratch and dents will just be treated as "character marks".

Well, I sure hope I stop causing damage to my ukes in the future. Scratch and dents to ukes isn't the end of the world, but they are sure annoying.


plainsong said...

I think I'd take the Kanile'a in to the Luthier's ER. Sure it's fine now but these things can spread and become nasty over time.

I guess it just depends on finding a luthier with uke experience. Not that the principles aren't the same, I just prefer someone who has built and has enough experience to form worthwhile opinions on ukulele.

Ronnie Aloha said...

Sorry to hear about your "ouchies." I had a new six string Kamaka that I bought a couple of months ago. It was on a uke stand behind the couch where no one goes. However, after the cleaning crew came through on Tuesday there was a ding on the edge of the lower bout the next day. Now all my ukes go back into their cases before the cleaning crew comes through.

Rar Jungle said...


Wondering if you are still interested in selling the Kanilea? I've been looking at getting that exact model, but can't afford the the new ones. Also, I enjoyed your video reviewing this one you have, but how is the volume compared to other sopranos?




Which uke should I bring on my next trip to Oahu???

What's the maximum you'd spend on a ukulele case for your best uke?

If you could steal one of my ukes, which one would it be???

How curly do you like your koa? (preferably on a uke)

What's the maximum number of ukes a perfectly sane person should have???

Poll: How often do you play the ukulele???

Poll: Which guitar company's approach to ukes do you prefer???

Poll: What's your favorite type of headstock???

Poll: The new basic Collings concert uke (UC-1) sells for about $1k, your reaction is: