Monthly Archives: November 2012

Travel Ukulele

Difficulty:  Advanced

Cost:  $$

I wanted to make a ukulele with the longest possible scale that would still fit in my travel case.

Before staining the body, I made sure that everything fit properly.

The “Les Paul” style body was made with a single piece of cherry wood. The scale length is 19 inches, and its overall length is 21.5 inches. Even though the scale length is 19 inches, I tune it like a reentrant tenor/concert/soprano. I prefer that tuning and it works better with most of the ukulele sheet music that I have.

The fretboard and bridge are made of rosewood. The volume knob is made of ebony. A piece of plastic pipe directs the strings back towards the tuners.

I used transparent red nitrocellulose lacquer followed by nitrocellulose clear coat to give it a finish similar to Gibson’s “Heritage Cherry” finish.

The under saddle piezo pickup is soldered to a 500K ohm potentiometer to control the volume. The output jack is attached to an upside down stratocaster style jack plate.

See it in action!

Ukulele with Optical Pickup

Difficulty:  Advanced

Cost:  $$

The heart of this instrument is a normal cigar box ukulele.  I opted to go with untraditional tuner placement to go along with the overall funky stylings of this ukulele.

One 9 volt battery supplies the power for the green power indicator LED, as well as the 4 infrared emitter and 4 infrared collector diodes.  The output jack at the back is also a combination strap peg.

The genesis of this idea came from MAKE Magazine.  Their Infrared String Bass is a rudimentary four string bass with optical pickups.  Look at their project for resources and links, if you want to try something like this.

In the end, this is an overly complicated alternative to using a basic piezoelectric element. I think that I will stick with piezos and traditional wound electric pickup for future projects.

See it in action!

Satellite Dish Guitar

Difficulty:  Easy

Cost:  $$


The main parts for this instrument (besides the actual satellite dish) were taken from this electric guitar that was purchased at a garage sale.  The neck and tuners were used, along with one of the pickups and one of the potentiometers.

The paint was painted black before it was mounted to the dish. Some wooden blocks served to set the neck at the correct angle.

This guitar used a top-loading hardtail bridge purchased from eBay. The single-coil pickup is connected to a 500K ohm potentiometer. The wiring is just like this diagram.

Watch this video to see it in action!