Monthly Archives: April 2020

German Retractable Ukulele

This is a video that people need to check out.  Even if you don’t speak German (which I do not), you can understand pretty much everything going on in this video.

He builds a ukulele with a retractable neck that slides into a vintage bed warmer that serves as the body.

This video caught my interest because I have also ventured into making a ukulele with a retractable neck.

This is another video from his channel where he builds an entire ukulele with scraps found on the street in Istanbul, Turkey.  My favorite part is when he scrounges remnants of fishing line from people fishing in the Sea of Marmara.

Check out and subscribe to Peter’s YouTube Channel.  According to Google Translate, his channel tranlated from German to English is called “The Amateurs – definitely botched tutorials”.  So look for some cool projects that don’t take themselves too seriously.

Building a Ukulele with Basic Hand Tools

Over the years I have accumulated a collection of specialized tools for building ukuleles.  But for this project, I wanted to scale back the needed tools and see what I could build with simple tools.  I am a big fan of Leatherman Multi-tools, so I decided to build a travel style ukulele only using the Leatherman Super Tool 300.  This tool is one of their “heavy duty” multi-tools, and it has a great selection of tools.

Even if you don’t have a Super Tool 300 (or its little brother the Leatherman Rebar), you can still build this instrument with the tools most people will already have in their garage.

Tools:

  • Pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Slotted screwdriver
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Knife
  • Saw
  • Awl (for drilling holes)
  • File

Parts and Supplies:

  • 9.75″ by 1.5″ by .5″ wood (for neck)
  • 2″ by 1.5″ by .25″ wood (for where the neck meets the body)
  • 16″ by .75″ by .75″ wood (this will be cut in half for the body)
  • A set ukulele strings
  • 4 – beads for the ukulele strings
  • 4 – ukulele friction tuning machines
  • 1 – 5/32″ by 1.5″ cotter pin (for zero fret nut)
  • 6 – 3/32″ by 1.5″ cotter pins (for 12 frets)
  • 1 – 1/4 by 3.5″ carriage bolt
  • 6 – 1/4-20 jam nuts
  • 10 – 1/4 by 1″ fender washers
  • 4 – 1/4 by .75″ nylon washers
  • 2 – 3/16″ ground wire straps
  • 3″ aluminum or steel tube (for bridge)
  • 2 – 3/8″ screws
  • Wood glue
  • Super Glue (also known as Cyanoacrylate glue, or CA glue)

Other instructions:

  1. Cut 16″ by .75″ by .75″ wood in half to make two 8″ pieces.
  2. Drill holes for the turnaround and two tuning machines on both of these 8″ pieces.  .5″ from the end, 3″ from the end, and 5 ” from the end.
  3. The neck is glued to the two 8″ body pieces with a 2″ overlap.
  4.  The 2″ by 1.5″ by .25″ wood is used to fill in the overlap area to flatten out the back.
  5. The string slots up by the headstock should be 1/4″ to 3/8″ deep.
  6. The jam nuts, fender washers, and nylon washers can moved around to adjust string spacing at the bridge.

 

Printable Fret Template: 

Print this template at 100% size on 8.5″ by 11″ paper (normal printer in the USA) for a 13.5 inch (soprano) scale length.

13.5_in_travel_uke_fretboard

 

Watch this video to see how this ukulele was built.