Monthly Archives: September 2013

Wave Electric Ukulele

Difficulty: Advanced+

Cost: $$$

I’ve built a bunch of electric ukulele, but all of them have been modeled after full size electric guitars.  For this project I set out to design my own electric ukulele.  I think it turned out great.


My other electric ukuleles have been modeled after guitars from Fender and Gibson.  Can you name all of these models??


Here are some sketches that I drew as I designed this instrument.  You can see how how the designed changed and progressed.


I probably shouldn’t admit this, but part of the headstock design was influenced by the fact that I had quite a few left hand tuners in my possession.  I purchased sets of 3-on-a-side tuners to use for my Fender style builds, but only needed the right hand ones.


After all of the parts were fitted, I leveled the body with some putty.  It is important to have the body as smooth as possible before the prime, and color coats.


The body was primed, given a nitrocellulose color coat and then a nitrocellulose clear coat.


I wanted to try having the volume knob on the side of the body instead of the top.  Doing this also allowed for a bigger cavity to house a push/pull switch to split the hot rail humbucker.  To keep the back and top as minimalist as possible, I drilled long holes from the pickup cavity to the combination strap peg/jack.


I’ve named this the “Wave Ukulele” because the body made me think about waves crashing against the shore.  Once I gave this a name, I tied other design element to this theme.  The body is Sea Foam Green, and the fret markers, side markers and even the cap on the volume knob are abalone.


This build was my first foray into the world of fanned frets.  The bottom string has a scale length of 17 inches and the top is 18 inches.   It’s a little different to play, but it’s very easy to get used to.

See it in action!

Lightsaber Ukulele

Difficulty: Intermediate

Cost: $$

“I see you have constructed a new lightsaber. Your skills are complete. Indeed you are powerful…”

A few months ago, I received a YouTube message suggesting that I make a ukulele shaped like a lightsaber.  After thinking about it, I decided to do it.  🙂


The neck/blade and the fretboard is made of poplar.  The handle portion is some PVC pipe that is just big enough to fit a 9V battery.  I wanted to have the neck as long as possible while still staying in the ukulele realm, so I went with a 19 inch scale length.


The whole instrument was primered, then the blade got florescent green and the handle got chrome spray paint.  At this point I had installed the SPST switch to control the LED fret markers, so that had to be masked off.


To add some extra pizazz to this project, I installed 4 LEDs in the fretboard.  To accommodate the wires and resistor, I routed out a channel under fretboard.  I then drilled a long hole from the handle to the channel to connect everything.

Screen Shot 2013-09-06 at 9.58.05 AM

The 4 green LEDs are powered by a 9V battery in the handle.  This tool is handy for figuring out what resistors to use and generating the above image.


The bridge has a under saddle piezo rod connected directly to the combo strap peg/jack.   Because this has no soundboard, it needs some amplification.


It is tuned in standard ukulele tuning (high G, C, E, A).


With and without blade extended.  😀

The Force is strong with this one.

Sopranino Pineapple Ukulele

Difficulty: Advanced

Cost: $$

This tiny ukulele has a scale length of 11 inches.  I did this project as a way to use some wood odds and ends that I had around.  I used 5 different woods for this.  The top is cedar.  The sides and neck are cherry.  The back is walnut.  The fretboard is bubinga and the bridge is rosewood.  It is tuned in standard tuning (high g, c, e, a).


Sopranino uke (bottom)  compared to a normal soprano ukulele (top).


I normally don’t use friction tuners because I like the control of geared ones, but for this small of a headstock, I needed tuners with a smaller footprint.  They are working out very well.


I gave this ukulele a Tru-Oil finish.  I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Tru-Oil brings out the beauty of the wood.  An added bonus is that it is easy to wipe on and requires  no specail equipment.



Look at the gorgeous walnut back!


The cedar top helps to give this uke a warm sound.

See it in action!

Scott’s Travel Ukulele

Scott from New Brunswick, Canada,  built a really cool ukulele by combining elements of my “Acoustic Travel Ukulele” and “Altoids Ukulele” plans.   He told me that he was looking at YouTube videos about how to build ukuleles when came across the Altoids Ukulele video and then the Acoustic Travel Ukulele one.  From that, he came to this site and downloaded the plans.  Scott said that this is his first time building an instrument, but he is already planning on building another Acoustic Travel Ukulele based on my plans.   

Scott made a great instrument and made a series of videos to document what he did.   With Scott’s permission, I have posted his videos along with some pictures he took along the way.

(Be sure to check and subscribe to Scott’s YouTube Channel)






Flying V Ukulele

Difficulty: Advanced

Cost: $$

My brother asked me to build him a ukulele.  He liked the look of the wood on my Northern Ukulele.  As we discussed specifications, his instrument morphed into a full-fledged Flying V style ukulele.  It has a tenor scale length (17 inches).  All of the wood is walnut except for the rosewood fretboard and bridge.



I laid out the parts to make sure that everything would fit together.


The construction of the body was easier than a traditionally shaped uke because the wood didn’t need to be bent on an iron.


The top was glued and clamped on.  I did the top first to allow better access for the electrical components.


It has a piezo pickup with one potentiometer to control the volume.   The endpin jack also serves as the strap peg.


The whole instrument was given a Tru-Oil finish with a gunstock wax polishing.

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It’s done!  The longer neck is really fun to play.   This sounds great both unplugged and amplified.

See it in action!