Introduction: The Pineapple Ukulele!
So, I had an small, child-size guitar sitting around that I had been using as a baritone ukulele. I decided it would be an interesting project to turn it into a pineapple themed ukulele...
When I first start a project like this I try to avoid the temptation to scour the internet to see what others have done with a similar concept. I'm not very good at resisting temptation, and after a brief search I found several different takes on ukuleles looking like pineapples--there is even a type of ukulele called a "pineapple ukulele," based on its shape, not necessarily its exterior paint job.
(NOTE: use caution scouring the internet using the abbreviated "uke" as a search term...)
What follows is my take on the pineapple ukulele. In the end, this was a bigger undertaking than I originally thought, and it involved a lot of trial and error as far as getting the pineapple design down. But oh well, enjoy!
Step 1: Headstock Becomes the Crown
A little produce factoid for ya: the bunch of leaves at the top of the pineapple is called the "crown."
Anyways, since the headstock would only need four tuning pegs, I wanted to use that extra space to make a design that would resemble the crown of a pineapple. I traced the rough design onto the headstock, and on the back I marked the tuning peg strip as well.
Using a dremel, I cut the metal tuning peg strip so that there were four, separate tuning pegs. Then, I used a small handsaw to cut the curves of the leaves into the headstock. After all the cutting, I sanded the entire headstock smooth, using a wood rasp and a series of different grade sandpapers.
Step 2: Sanding It Smooth, Initial Stain, and Honeycombs
I used a rough grit sandpaper and a wood rasp to remove all of the old, tacky red finish. I then used a finer grit to smooth the entire instrument.
After putting on an initial coat of light-colored stain, I cut a piece of cardboard in a rough honeycomb shape to resemble the bracts of the pineapple rind. I then lightly traced the outline, working from the bottom of the guitar in a rough grid-like pattern. As I was going for more of a natural look, I wasn't exact with the pattern.
Step 3: The Neck, Fretboard, and Headstock
I wanted the entire neck and headstock to resemble the crown of the pineapple, so with the wood rasp I sanded off the black finish on the fretboard.
After the neck, fretboard, and headstock were sanded smooth, I covered them all with a deep coat of green stain. I didn't up end sticking this dark green...later on I lightened the tone with a little rubbing alcohol and fine grit sandpaper.
Step 4: And Yet Another Coat...
I traced over the honeycomb outlines with a black paint pen. Again, to keep it looking natural I was purposely uneven with my tracing lines.
Next, I took a dark stain and outlined each honeycomb, leaving a section in the middle of each one with the previous light stain. After this stain dried, I once again sanded it down.
Step 5: The Inlays, Tuning Pegs
Using the same concept as the honeycombs, I cut a three-pronged leaf design out of a piece of cardboard. I traced this outline on the fretboard at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 12th frets. As the space between frets diminished, I simply cut the leaf outline a little smaller so it would fit.
With a light green paint pen, I filled in the leaf inlays, and painted over the nut and tuning pegs. After removing the First Act sticker inside the guitar beneath the soundhole, I applied a bright yellow stain to all visible parts of the interior.
Step 6: Some Paint, Some Sanding, and Finished!
The pictures attached make it seem like the final steps were quick and easy, but they were far from it. I knew I wanted to add more yellow and green to the pineapple "rind." After several attempts (painting, sanding it off, repeat) I settled on using a combination of yellow and several shades of green. With all the layering of stain and paint, and sanding in between, it gave the body a very natural look.
After the paint dried, I sanded it down one last time to finish the design. After several coats of polyethylene, I reattached the tuning pegs, and strung up the ukulele.
The end result was darker, and more green-tinted than I was originally going for... I guess it more closely resembles an unripe pineapple! Regardless, it sounds good and its a lot of fun to play.
Thanks for reading!