Updated: Feb 4
It is no secret that I love to paint ukuleles! The fun shape looks adorable as a wall hanging and it can be used to play to boot! I am going to be honest. I have destroyed a few ukuleles. And so I have decided that my losses should be your gain. Here are my tips and tricks for painting a ukulele start to finish.
The number one question I get from customers is what type of ukulele do I paint? The answer is a little bit gray. I can paint their ukulele, or I can find one for them. For today’s article, let’s say I am looking to purchase one for them.
Where to get a ukulele…
For your first time painting a ukulele I suggest that you find one that is the highest quality for the least expensive price. I try not to spend more than $40-$50. To do this you can turn to your local music store and ask if they have any used uks available. I also look on facebook marketplace. There are a lot of people trying to sell used instruments and often they will settle on a very fair price for you.
Have you searched high and low for something used for a good price that isn't broken? Go ahead over to amazon and get an inexpensive beginner ukulele. When I want to buy a new inexpensive ukulele for wall hanging purposes, I go with this one from Amazon. Honestly, it doesn't stay in tune for long, but it holds up to my preschoolers pounding on it, so it works for me.
I also suggest this ukulele because it holds up to the beating of the painting process. This one is already painted and the surface is relatively smooth. I have acquired some nicer, more expensive ukuleles that were more difficult to paint because they were so smooth that it was nearly impossible to get paint to stick (more on that later.)
How to prep your ukulele.
Remove the strings and don’t lose them! I remove them at the bridge and then zip tie them to the neck of the ukulele
Cover every area of the ukulele that you don't want painted in Frog Tape. I included the link of the exact tape that I like to use. It peels off nicely and doesn't leave any residue on the uk. https://www.amazon.com/FrogTape-Delicate-Surface-Painting-280222/dp/B004QAO9V6/ref=sr_1_10?dchild=1&keywords=frog+tape&qid=1611928106&sr=8-10
Lightly sand the surface of the ukulele with a medium grade sandpaper to remove the shiny finish. Then, finish sanding with a finer sandpaper. You do not want the surface to be too shiny or smooth because if you do, your paint will not stick. I learned this the hard way when
Apply two thin layers of gesso or your primer of choice. I always have gesso handy because I use it on my canvases. However, I have seen other artists use spray primers.
How to make your design.
While your primer is drying you can play with the design. I like to trace the body of the ukulele onto a sturdy paper like a multi purpose or bristol paper. Sketch in the area of the hole, the neck, and the bridge of the ukulele so you know where your design will be obstructed.
I will sketch two or three designs and decide which I like most.
Once your primer is totally dry, it is time to paint! You may wish to use transfer paper to transfer your design to the ukulele, or you can draw lightly with pencil. You can even gently erase mistakes. (add image)
Sometimes I will paint large shapes in acrylic, but for today, let’s stick with posca markers. (Please use my link when shopping for markers, it really helps me out!)
If you can’t find a store near you, you can buy posca markers on Amazon and a handful of art supply websites.
Whenever I paint I work from the larger background shapes to the smaller more detailed shapes. Paint your design, have fun! Once you are done with your posca painting party, let your ukulele dry for at least 24 hours.
Seal the design. There are a few sealants on the market that will make your posca marker designs run. It is the worst when your beautiful design gets destroyed at the end of the project. I use plain and simple glossy modge podge.Yup, the crafty stuff. I know it sounds funny, but it does what it says. It seals the design and I have found that it does not make the posca move. I usually apply 2 or three layers of modge podge with a foam brush. Let the sealer dry for a minimum of 24 hours
Lastly: Remove the tape and restring your ukulele! Once this is done I like to check the edges of the design and make sure that everything looks even and that no bits of primer are showing. Sometimes you might need to do a little touch up on the edges. I usually do a black outline all around the edge, but that will depend on your design.
I hope you found this tutorial helpful. I would love to hear from you!!!! If you have any questions I am happy to help. Also, please share your designs with me! I can’t wait to see what you do. If you like my blog post, please save it on Pinterest. Then you will always know where to find it!
Happy Painting! - Melissa