Ukulele finishes? Lets talk about it!

And like that… summer is coming to a close. Wow, that was fast! Schools here in Hawaii are starting back up, and so I felt it was apropos to post something that will hopefully educate us ukulele lovers (I had to look up how to spell apropos, haha!)

As ukulele players, we're seemingly pre-wired to sweat the smallest details. Often details that seem absolutely trivial to everyone else are the subject of much debate for us, but hey, that's part of the fun. From our side of the equation as a local ukulele brand we find ourselves in almost constant conversation about a great number of ukulele related topics. Sound awesome? It absolutely is! No matter the specific topic, we learn a lot about what’s going on in the community and what’s trending. But more importantly, we learn about what matters most to players. Honestly in many cases there's not a definitive right or wrong answer, as each player is so different.

“Different strokes for different folks!” As the old saying goes

Over the years what I’ve found works best is to present as much information as possible on the subject and leave it up to the individual player to decide. Which I know can be daunting since their are already many voices filling up the space… including mine (haha!). I find more times than not that players already know what they want, and are just double checking. We’ve all been there before, impulsed buy an item only to realize later that there was a better option!


So this brings us to our topic on ukulele finishes. Yeah, what’s the deal with finishes anyway? Well as your about the find out… a lot! For starters this is a great example of a "no right/wrong" situation. There are quite a few different options for finishes and each type of finish is going to offer advantages as well as shortcomings. In this post, I thought it would be useful to look at a few of the popular options for ukulele finishes and examine the strengths and weaknesses of each. But before we go there I need to cover the purpose why ukulele need to finished in the first place.

What really is the purpose of a finish?

When you look at the vast array of finishes found on ukulele it is hard not to think that the sole purpose of the finish is to make the instrument beautiful. No matter what some of the more elitist players may say, the aesthetics of an instrument are important to most players. I mean, just look at the bombshell ukulele they are playing. It's impossible to deny that the finish does add to the visual appeal of a ukulele, however its primary purpose is to protect the material underneath. Wood, which still is at the heart of every great instrument, is a great building material. BUT wood has one major downfall. Moisture, or lack thereof, is wood's "Achilles's heel”.