Monthly Archives: October 2012

Paddle Ukulele

Difficulty:  Intermediate

Cost:  $-$$ (Depending on the cost of the paddle)   

This project didn’t take a long time, but it turned out to be a really fun instrument.  A friend gave me a child sized paddle that was 30 inches long.  I decided to give it a 21 inch scale with 15 frets.  If you have never made a custom scale fretboard, this fret calculator tutorial  will help you get started. I used a zero fret  as the nut.

I glued a wooden bowl on the back of the paddle to act as a resonator.  I got the wooden bowl from a second hand store.  With a forstner bit and a drill press, I made a flat area for the bowl on the back of the paddle.  The soundhole was made with a 1.75 inch forstner bit.

String holes were drilled at 45 degrees through the headstock behind the zero fret.  Having the four string holes at the desired string spacing, along with the zero fret eliminated the need for a traditional nut.

For my paddle I needed to flatten out the handle headstock before I installed the outside down tuners.  On the bottom end of the paddle I drilled four holes for the strings. When I strung up this ukulele I tied knots in the strings and feed them through these holes.  Some scrap wood served as the floating bridge.

Leave a comment if you have any questions.

Vintage Kay Archtop Repair

This guitar belonged to my wife’s late grandfather.  Over the years it had fallen into disrepair. When we received it was missing the strings and bridge, and had a severely damaged nut.  The neck was also extremely loose; so much so that I was able to detach it from the body with minimal effort.

The guitar had no labels indicating the brand inside the body or on the headstock.  After the dust was cleaned off, I noticed some faint glue residue on the headstock in the shape of a stylized “K” as in Kay Guitars.  From my research the guitar is either from the late 1940s or possibly the early 1950s.

The first step was to clean up the guitar.  The outside and inside were dusted and vacuumed.  Some oil and an old toothbrush cleaned up the fretboard.

The beautiful rosewood shined after the residue from years of use was removed. The broken plastic nut was replaced with a bone nut.

The dovetail joint between the neck and the body came apart with minimal effort.  The joint was cleaned and then reglued.

The homemade endpin was replaced with a new snakewood endpin.  We’ll hang onto the old endpin because of the family connection.

A new Tune-o-matic bridge was placed on the soundboard.  Although it isn’t period correct, I wanted the extra adjustments it offered.  Because it isn’t glued on, it would be an easy thing to swap out in future, if desired.

It was equipped with its original Kluson brand tuners.  They were removed, cleaned up, and reinstalled.

This guitar is now playable!  It is very loud and has a great sound.

The bumps and bruises on the finish remain as a testament to the years it has seen. This guitar was well used and well loved.  It can now be enjoyed by current and future generations.