Building a Travel Ukulele

Difficulty: Advanced

Cost: $$

A lot of people seem to like my travel ukulele.  I’ve been asked a lot of questions about how to build one over the years.  I’m not going to write step by step plans on how to build it, but I will give give some hints and helps.  This project doesn’t lend itself to straightforward plans.  If this is your first time building an instrument, go over to the FREE PLANS tab and try a few of those projects.

Print out the body template below.  Make sure to print out the pages on 8.5″ X 11″ paper and print at 100% size.  Check to make sure that scaling isn’t wrong by matching up a ruler to the one on the page.  (NOTE:  The ruler is on the pages for size checking only, not for lining up the pages.  Line up the pages by matching the two template pieces.)

Concert Travel Ukulele Template

UPDATE:  Christopher Allan emailed me a cleaned up template that also has the backpacker travel ukulele.  Get it here —–>  Concert Travel Ukulele Template  

(And make sure to check out his cartoons and illustrations at his website cjksallan.com)

Print out the fret template below.  Make sure to print out the pages on 8.5″ X 11″ paper and print at 100% size.  The distance from the “zero fret” to the 12th fret should be just under 7.5″.

Travel Uke (15 in) Fretboard

Check out the video of my travel ukulele being assembled.

 

Here’s how another one like it sounds:

 

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81 thoughts on “Building a Travel Ukulele

  1. Dave Green

    Hi, I’m really impressed by the electric travel ukulele – what is the thickness of the body, & what did you use for the zero fret, please?

    Reply
  2. Vincent

    Can you list down the parts? I could not catch them clearly from the assembly video and probably spell it all wrong it my search.

    Reply
      1. Vincent

        Thanks for the reply. Waiting on reply for the list of parts. I might do 3/4 for body as that is the only thickness I found so far. Then add fretboard like sharkfin ukulele, another DIY.

      2. danielhulbert Post author

        What questions do you have about the parts? You need friction tuners, piezo rod, endpin jack, angled aluminum and styrene tube for the bridge, fretwire, Chicago bolts, turnaround made from a tattoo grip from eBay, and a strap button.

  3. Nathan

    What size holes did you make for the tuners and holes for the bridge and what metal is used for the fretboard. And did you just tie the strings to the back ?

    Reply
    1. danielhulbert Post author

      Nathan,
      Thanks for checking out the project. The size of the holes will vary depending on what tuners and screws you get. The frets are made with medium/medium fretwire. The strings are simply fed through the tuners.

      Reply
      1. Nathan

        Thank you !! And two more question, what type of wood is used for your project and what wood would be best for one?

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  5. Tyler Morse

    Thank you so much for everything you post on your blog – I’m so inspired! I’m working on an Altoid Ukulele first, but already planning for the next build. I’m planning on doing the backpacker version. I’ve ordered the tattoo grip for the turnaround – your link was super helpful. I’m wondering where you found your Chicago bolts that were the right width? So far, I’ve found just one place online that stocks them longer than 2″ (http://rivetsonline.com/) but they seem pretty narrow in diameter. Thanks for any pointers!

    Reply
      1. Michael

        >>Thanks Michael. Good info.<<

        My pleasure Daniel. I'm starting on a build of my own soon and am gathering parts. Your shared knowledge and experience is certainly making it much easier.

  6. Brillant fabien

    Hi from France, really good stuff, I plan to build my own “travel uke” could please tell me where I could find the “tattoo hand grip ” you use.
    thank you very much

    Reply
  7. alec sieto

    came across this when looking for a good backpacking instrument and i fell in love with this, I’m currently in the process of building my own, but i have a question; what is the width of the neck at the zero fret and the 12th fret?

    Reply
  8. piccoloboy14

    Question: what endpin jack and what rod piezo do you use? They seem to work well in your videos, and as this is the first instrument build I’m doing with electronics, I don’t know what is good and what is crap on the market. Thanks!

    Reply
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  11. VIPUL PATIL

    Im starting to build it from a mango wood as im living in india where cherry wood and walnut wood is not available i have one question that tattoo turnaround is of 6linings here in india not of 4linings can u help me about that turnaround

    Reply
  12. David Drake

    I built my own version a couple of weeks ago. It isn’t beautiful because I had to use mostly hand tools (hand saws, rasps, files, etc.), but it plays really well and is as tough as a tank. I used an Amazon-sourced prebuilt rosewood fretboard ($6) and a piece of scrap oak from around the basement. I added the X-vive acoustic amp. Now I can play as loudly as I want without disturbing the family. It was great fun! Thanks so much for the idea springboard.

    Reply
      1. ductileironbagpiper

        I do have pics, but I don’t know how to make them available on this particular blog. I’ll try to get some video as well and maybe post to YouTube.

  13. Bob Maze

    Hi Daniel, I’m a big fan of your catalog of work! I’m gathering the supplies to build a tenor sized travel uke. I’ve sourced a really sweet piece of tiger maple for this build — I’ll share pictures when done. Questions: Do you have a fret board layout for the tenor size? Also, for the Tenor size, can you advise on width of neck at “0” fret and last fret, and the distance between the Nut and the Aluminum Saddle? Overall length of tenor instrument from tip to tail?

    Reply
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  15. Don M.

    My son found this project and asked if we could do it. Ive almost completed mine, but i seem to have a pretty loud buzz when i plug it into our guitar amp. With the output jack slid out and if i wrap my hand around it, the buzz completely disappears and it sounds great. Once i let go………buzzzzzzz. Any ideas? I soldered the connections, and heat shrinked them individually so i have no clue. Appreciate any thoughts………….thx

    Reply
      1. Don M.

        We actually got it. It was simply crossed wires. We had tested by holding the wires before hand, but must have somehow switched them. Its working great now. My son is excited to finish his. Thanks for a great project!
        Don M.

  16. Jeff Fryett

    Thanks for all the free plans and great inspiration. Just finished one of these it turned out real good

    Reply
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  18. Michael Fowler

    I built a tenor version and having some difficultly find the right size strings to get a good low G sound with the right tension and the increase in string length due to the turn back – Any suggestions?

    Reply
  19. Michael Fowler

    I built a tenor version and having some difficultly find the right size strings to get a good low G sound with the right tension and the increase in string length due to the turn back – Any suggestions?

    Reply

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