Monthly Archives: March 2013

Koa Super Soprano Ukulele

Difficulty:  Advanced

Cost:  $$$

If you familiar with this blog, then you know that I’ve built lots of ukulele (plus other instruments).  But, this is the first acoustic ukulele that I’ve built with a traditionally shaped body.  It was really intimidating to me, and I didn’t have all the required tools.

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One of the tools that I needed most was a wood bender.  I built a simple one with a metal pipe mounted to my work bench.  A ball of aluminum foil stuffed into the end, and then the pipe is heated with a heat gun.  Once it was hot, I started to bend the side wood.  It is not an easy process, but with patience and a spray bottle of water, the wood slowly begins to bend.

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This picture shows how applying a Tru-Oil finish brings out the color and beauty of the wood.

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I am very pleased with how this turned out.  It looks very pretty and plays like a dream.  I put Worth Brown strings on it.

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The bridge has a piezo pickup under the bridge.  This pickup is connected directly to the endpin jack.

I learned a lot from building this ukulele.  I’m going to incorporate this new knowledge into my next instruments.

See it in action!

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Tenor Tin Ukulele

Difficulty:  Intermediate

Cost:  $$

This ukulele takes a lot of cues from “cigar box” instrument building methodology.  An “Uncle Ben’s Rice” tin serves as the body.  In order to reinforce the tin, the neck extends far into the box.   This adds strength so the tin does not buckle under the tension of the strings.

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The fretboard is made of oak.  The neck is poplar and maple.  The top is also poplar.

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When I found the tin at a thrift shop, I was drawn to the guitar and ukulele art that was on the outside.  This tin was meant to be part of an instrument!

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This ukulele is equipped with a piezo pickup.  It also has a volume poteniometer.  It is wired like this.  (more info from C.B. Gitty)

See it in action!

Bamboo Floor Ukulele

Difficulty:  Intermediate

Cost:  $$

My brother gave me a couple pieces of leftover bamboo flooring.  I immediately started to think about what instrument I could build with it.  I decided to make a compact ukulele.

The fretboard was made with some walnut that was left over from building my Northern Ukulele replica.  The scale length is 12 inches, so this ukulele can be considered a Sopranino.

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The flooring was about 5/8 inch thick.  To make the body thicker, I glued two pieces together.   On the bridge,  a piezo rod is mounted under the saddle and connected directly to the endpin jack.

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The combination body and neck were cut with a scroll saw. Then the neck and heel were carved and sanded until they were comfortable.

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Because the headstock isn’t angled, some other solution was needed to keep string pressure on the nut.  An electric guitar style string retainer worked perfectly for this problem

See it in action!