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1 May 2013

Pimp My Skylark - Godzilla!

I've been doing a bit of a Hulbert and working on Pimping my Skylark ukulele pretty much every day this week. It's only Wednesday and I can already see the end in sight! Here's a run-down of what I've been up to...

Here's the Skylark as we'd left it in my last update. I'd painted on my
custom Yusaku Hanakuma design. But hold on a second... that Kaiju
wasn't there the last time I looked! That's right... +Ukulele Russ suggested
that I needed a Godzilla-type creature to finish the look. Using a little
bit of photoshop magic I added a  Japanese monster just to see what it
might look like. It's been very well received as a concept, and I do like
it myself, but I'm not adding it to my design on this particular ukulele.
Sorry Russ~san... maybe next time!

A number of weeks ago I'd dug out my box of tuners to see if I had anything
that might suit this project. Nothing clicked, so I hopped onto google+ and
asked for some suggestions. +Kelvin Lee came to my rescue, suggesting
that I look at Gotoh tuners. I liked what I saw! Gotoh do a set of
planetary tuners. I've talked about these before, but never actually ever
bought any. I decided that this was going to be exactly the sort of
extravagance needed to top off my Pimping...

Sometimes I do wonder how I miss things. I bought some Gotoh tuners
and eagerly waited for them to be delivered from Australia. It took an
age, and then when I got them unpacked... they're not planetary at all!
And they were clearly advertised as "friction" tuners... I don't know
what can have gone wrong! I was kicking myself. These bloody pegs
cost me more than the Skylark and they're not even real silver!
Never mind... I thought I'd try them out anyway.

The following instructions were stuck to the back of the packet...

"[Caution] For installing this product, there may be unable to do it
without additional process on instrument on the market and it may
be possible to break the instrument if it is installed in force. It is
suggested to consult with repair shop or the shop where this
merchandise is sold before making decision of purchase.
Be careful as GOTOH will not be responsible for any damage
or trouble caused by your own installation."

I really don't stand a chance do I?

Actually, the pegs fit like a dream! And I love the fact that they are
Japanese like me and Yusaku Hanakuma! I'm going to use them!

Here's a bit of fun I had a while back that I forgot to share on my last
update. When I stripped the ukulele I'd discovered that the back was
coming away slightly at the bottom. I decided to glue it and devised
this complicated clamping system to hold it while it dried. It looks
decidedly unsavoury and altogether slightly erotic, so I shared it on
google+. Ha ha. It was an instant hit! Eric at +New Wave Ukulele was
kind enough to offer me suggestions for easier ways to have done this,
but like I said to Eric... we wouldn't have had half the fun if I'd done it
any other way. Ha ha! As it was - it worked.

I had big plans to colour my design in, but having sought advice and thought it over, I
eventually convinced myself that I much preferred the black and white look. You'll also
remember that I had every intention of restaining the wood. Again, on reflection, I
realised that I like the rustic feel of the unfinished wood. At the risk of sounding
lazy, this meant that I didn't have to do anything more to my uke. I started thinking
about lacquering. I'd bought some acrylic lacquer to use, hoping that it wouldn't react
with the acrylic paint I'd used to paint on the design. This picture shows a test my
son J-Uke did for me to make sure that my theory was good.... My theory was good!

I masked the sound hole by sticking in a ball of kitchen tissue, hung it up and sprayed
on 4 coats of lacquer. See here that I haven't yet fitted the frets. I'm going to do this
last. +Daniel Hulbert told me a good story this week about frets and lacquering.
Apparently the early Fender maple necks were lacquered after fitting the frets and
the lacquer was then scraped off using a nail with a groove cut into the head. I'm hoping that
I can avoid all that extra work by doing it the other way around. Time will tell whether
I'm being too clever for my own good.

So, I'm nearly there! I'll let it cure for 5 minutes and then I'll attempt to fit the frets. Wish me luck!

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