Guide for New Owners of Kawika Ukuleles


Dear Customer,

Thank you for your purchase of one of our ukuleles. I wanted to take a few minutes to give you some suggestions on the care of your instrument.

As you may be aware, I have chosen to finish this instrument using the French polishing technique. There are many reasons for the change from nitrocellulose lacquer to shellac, but the two primary ones are personal health and betterment of instrument tone.

The process of French polishing is hundreds of years old and involves applying many dozens of thin layers of shellac onto the wood surface. It is used in many of the finest guitars because of its sound enhancing properties. Shellac is durable, but the finish is very thin. As a result, additional care must be taken to prevent scratching the surface of the instrument.

Shellac is water resistant under normal circumstances, but alcohol will surely damage the shellac finish. After playing the instrument, please use the enclosed soft flannel cloth to wipe away perspiration and such. Once a month, the instrument should be wiped with a damp cloth that has a little vegetable soap, such as Murphy’s oil soap, in it. Please don’t use detergents. The instrument also has a thin coating of wax. No further waxing is necessary or advisable.

When changing the strings on the ukulele, please place a protective sheet of thin cardboard below the bridge so that the tips of the strings won’t mar the instrument surface. Since the string posts on the tuners are not particularly high, please make sure that the strings are pulled firmly through the string post hole after they have been fixed to the bridge, and before the locking loop has been tied.

When tightening the strings, it is possible that the saddle will tilt slightly forward. Just push it to the vertical position as you go through the tuning process so that the flat underside of the saddle rests completely against the flat bottom of the saddle slot. This flat-to-flat position will maximize the transfer of vibrating string energy to the top.

I build our ukuleles so that the back of the ukulele has a clear and positive interaction with the top. Being careful of buttons and such, play a chord with the ukulele back slightly away from your body and then the same chord with the back pressed firmly against your body. There is a considerable difference! I recommend playing with the back slightly away from your body if your playing style allows.

Our ukuleles have a thin, clear plastic fingernail guard which protects the upper portion of the top from fingernail scratches. N.B.: This material won’t stand up to severe picking.

I have included a humidifier in the string case along with two extra sets of strings. We build in a 45-50% relative humidity environment. If the humidity in the immediate area of the instrument falls below 25-30%, please use the humidifier and follow the instructions on the label.

If you have any questions regarding any problem with the instrument, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I will do my best to make things right for you.

Thanks again for your order.