Applying paint to a ukulele can have a significant impact on the way it sounds. The use of thick and heavy paints such as acrylics can lead to a ukulele sounding somewhat flat, without the high and low pitches that make it sound distinct.
However, if acrylic paints are applied in thin layers, the sound distortion would be reduced significantly, allowing your ukulele to sound close to its original.
So, will painting a ukulele affect the sound? If you use a light layer of paint, probably not. The sound of a ukulele largely depends on the material that it is made of, along with the size of the instrument itself.
The Sound of the Ukulele
Before we can go any further, it is important that we explore what a ukulele sounds like, and the many things that can affect the way it is heard. Ukuleles are amongst the louder musical instruments that are particularly known for their almost dainty sound.
If you want to paint your ukulele, I highly recommend using acrylic paints. This Arteza set is my top pick, since the colors are vibrant and they last a long time! Keep reading below to find our why acrylic paint is the best option for your ukulele.
There are four main kinds of ukulele that differ in their sizes and subsequently, the kind of sound that they produce. Popular ukulele instrument types include the Soprano, Tenor, Concert, and the Baritone—which is the loudest.
It helps to bear in mind that the kind of body that a particular ukulele has dictates the kind of sound it produces. The larger the ukulele, the louder and deeper is the sound.
Can You Paint Your Ukulele?
Many music lovers try to find the best way to customize their instruments in a way that reflects not just their personality, but also represents their love for music. People carry out customization of their instruments through a variety of different ways, ranging from carving, adding stickers, and more frequently, applying paint on its surface.
For those who wonder whether it is possible to paint on a ukulele, the answer is a conditional ‘yes.’ Though you can easily apply paint on this particular musical instrument, it is essential that you stay mindful of the idea that such applications may have an impact on the future musicality of the instrument.
I always suggest starting with a white colored ukulele to paint on. It makes it a little easier to cover up, since it already has a white background. This Kala Ukulele is great for beginners, and also comes in white so it’s perfect for painting.
What Paint Can You Use On a Ukulele?
Acrylic paints are what pair best when it comes to painting a ukulele instrument. Here is a quick rundown of the reasons why acrylic paints are a good choice to make when it comes to painting this particular musical instrument.
Acrylic paints are water soluble and thus are quite convenient to handle even for new painters, especially when compared to oil paints. They are especially more convenient to in smaller spaces due to their lack of toxicity. Acrylic paints also have a less concentrated smell, unlike oil paints which are usually associated with the strong smell of turpentine.
Effective for Plastic Ukulele
Acrylic paints are versatile when it comes to plastic surfaces, as they are able to ‘stick on’ different plastics quite effectively, and are thus a great fit for a plastic ukulele. Unlike other paints, acrylics do not peel off or get wiped off plastic surfaces, especially when dried well.
Here’s a great article that talk about using acrylic paint on plastic. It’s definitely worth a read, especially if your ukulele is made of plastic.
Good Drying Time
It is no secret that oil paints take a long time to dry, often taking weeks and months to dry out completely, which may stretch your painting process longer than necessary. Acrylics, on the other hand, dry quite quickly, which produces results almost instantly.
This quick drying is extremely convenient as it helps you get more painting done in a lesser time frame, and allows you to even do multiple layers for added color depth.
Long Lasting Colors
Acrylic paints, unlike paints such as watercolors, last longer when dried out completely. Though it can’t be ignored that acrylics slightly change color when drying, this can be ignored while considering how much longer acrylic colors last on ukulele. Moreover, paints like oil-based paints tend to fade as time passes.
Acrylic paints are thus an effective tool to use in order to help you decorate your favorite ukulele instrument.
How Do You Paint a Plastic Ukulele?
Preparing the surface of your plastic ukelele is as important as actually painting it, if not more so. This is because paint tends to chip off, peel away, and loose its staying power if the surface is not properly primed.
Here is a step by step guide to help you through the task of painting your own ukulele instrument.
Clean it Well
The first step to achieving the perfect surface for your ukelele is to clean it properly with a damp cloth, removing all traces of dirt or dust. This will ensure that the paint does not fall away with any muck that may be covering the surface.
Let it Dry
Once the instrument has been thoroughly wiped, wait for it to dry completely.
Evaluate the Surface
Since plastic is smooth, it provides little friction to keep the paint in place, thus it helps to roughen up the surface of a plastic ukulele before you begin painting it. To make the plastic rough, cut out a square of sandpaper and rub it against the surface.
At this point, you must be careful not to be too vigorous with your sandpapering as excessive force can damage your ukulele. Once the surface is sufficiently rough, dust away the tiny particles that have accumulated due to the sandpaper rubbing.
Protect your Instrument
Block any openings or areas you don’t wish to paint with masking tape and newspaper. Doing so will help you have greater control while applying the paint, helping you ensure it doesn’t go anywhere it is not supposed to.
I would highly recommend that you prime the area you will be painting on. This makes it easier for the acrylic paint to stick to. This Sargent Art primer is my top pick.
You simple apply it to the area you will be painting and let it dry. This truly does protect your instrument and the paint in so many ways.
Clear the Surface
Before going any further, it is vital that you wipe the surface with a damp cloth again and then wait for it to dry. This will ensure a clean surface for you to effectively paint upon.
Apply Even Coats
Before painting the ukulele, remember to apply a base coat evenly over the surface. The base coat will provide suitable support to your final paint layer and make the colors appear more vibrant.
After the base coat dries, you are free to paint according to your desires and preferences. Remember to let the coats of paint dry thoroughly before moving on to the next step.
This acrylic paint is made specially for plastic, so your ukulele will look great!
Apply the Varnish
Wait for the paint to dry before applying a varnish. Using a varnish on a ukulele is a good idea as it would give the painted instrument a nice, glossy finish. This Krylon varnish spray is great for protecting your acrylic paint. It helps protect against chips, flakes and even UV rays!
As you can see, applying paint on a ukulele isn’t very hard, and can even be done at home if you have all the painting supplies that you need.
Ukuleles are highly sensitive musical instruments, whose sound can easily be affected by a variety of different reasons, painting being one of them. The use of heavy acrylic paints is an effective long-term way of personalizing your instrument. It can also be responsible for making your ukulele sound ‘boxy’ and flat.
Painting your ukulele instrument can be a creative way of letting the world know that you own this particular instrument. You can paint any design you like, provided that you follow the correct painting procedure to ensure that the coat of paint is as even as it is vibrant. Just make sure to follow all my recommend steps to ensure your ukulele looks great, but is also protected!
I hope this helps you understand the ukulele instrument and how to protect the way it sounds.