Category Archives: Folk Instruments

Fretboard necklaces and keychains 

I’m selling handmade fretboards necklaces and keychains.  They are made by me in my garage. They come in various sizes (ranging from 1″ to 3″) and the majority of them are dark brown (although I did make a few maple ones).  Send an email to me to order and let me know if you want small, medium, large, or random size.  PayPal is the preferred method of payment.

Eastman Mandocello Repair

A friend brought this mandocello in rough shape. He had purchased it at an estate sale in its damaged condition.

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It had a significant crack on the side.

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Before I started the glue job, I loosened the strings a lot so they would not add extra stress to the joint.

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I got a few syringes on eBay and filled them with glue.

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I carefully injected glue into the cracks.

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I used some DIY spool clamps that I made last year to keep the joint together.

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After the glue dried, I sprayed two coat of nitrocellulose lacquer over the joint to seal everything up.

Even though this mandocello got a battle scar, it is still a gorgeous instrument.
  

 

This was my first chance to play a mandocello.  They are really cool sounding instrument that would be a great addition to any folk ensemble.

 

Goodtime Banjo Ukulele Review 

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Deering gave me a chance to check out their brand new Goodtime Banjo Ukulele.  They say they have had a lot customer requests to make a banjo ukuleles.  Of course they aren’t the first company to release a banjo uke, but I do think that they got it right.

It looks and sounds great. I’ve always liked the looks of Deering’s Goodtime banjo series.  The light colored maple looks great.  One of it’s most distinguishing features is the large (11 inch) rim.   According to their website, this was done to make the sound “wonderfully warm yet noticeably louder and fuller”.  It does sound great and it can be really loud.  In fact, if you are in a ukulele jam group, be a little gentle with the strums.  This uke’s volume could overpower a smaller group, if you aren’t careful.  🙂   If you are a live performer, using a microphone to capture the sound will not be a problem.

This is a fine instrument. If you want to get a banjo ukulele, or expand your collection, you really can’t go wrong with this “Made in America” gem.

Here are the specifications of the uke:

  • Concert Scale
  • 3-ply Violin Maple 11” Rim
  • 11” Renaissance Head
  • Extended Fingerboard
  • Patented Deering Bridge Plate
  • Aquila Super Nylgut Strings
  • Maple Neck
  • 17 Frets
  • 16 Hooks & Nuts
  • Overall Size: 23.5”
  • Left Handed Available
  • MADE IN USA

Get more info here on Deering’s website.

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BanjoUkeGigBagFront_WebReady There is even a custom gig bag available for it.

 

Here’s a video Deering made to show the build process of their banjo ukulele:

 

Check out my video thoughts on this instrument and a demo:

One String Zigzag Bass

Difficulty: Advanced

Cost: $$

I’ve done regular fretboards, fanned fretboards, and regular fretboards.  But I’ve never done a zigzag fretboard.  This type of fretboard only works with one string, and I thought that one string is best suited for a bass instrument.

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What’s up with this crazy fretboard?

Here’s a progress shot of the bass.  The body is two small cigar boxes joined together.  The scale length is 24 and 7/8 inches long.  I did that for a very specific reason…because that the longest scale length I could do with the neck wood I had laying around.

The bridge is a single individual bass bridge.  The pickup is a single coil tele-style neck pickup.

Eventhough the frets look random, the frets intersect the middle of the fretboard right where the frets normally would.

The pickup is connected to the jack after going through a volume control.

It’s a weird looking instrument, but it might but so ugly that it looks kind of interesting.    A bit like a Picasso painting,  something is wrong with its appearance, but you can’t look away.

See it in action:

Electric Harp Ukulele

Difficulty: Advanced+

Cost: $$$

Here’e something a little different.  It’s a ukulele with three extra harp strings.  I want to eventually build an acoustic harp ukulele too someday, but I thought I’d tackle this first.

Here’s a early plan of what I thought the electric harp ukulele would look like.  I originally wanted to have individual pickups for each set of strings, two volume controls, and a selector switch.  I also planned on using a curved control plate.  After laying out the parts, I realized that the body would be too crowded if I didn’t modify the design a bit.

The body is a solid slab of alder.  I carved out an arm bevel on the upper left corner of the body.

I also put a “tummy cut” on the back.

After the body and neck were roughed out, I couldn’t help but put some yarn on the uke to mock up where the strings would go.

Here’s what the body looked like after the first coat of green wood stain.

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Here’s the body after a few more coats of wood stain, and some Tru-Oil.

The neck is maple and the fretboard is rosewood.  Instead of a chrome control plate, I made a custom maple one.

I bought the 7 string pickup and bridge from eBay because they are fairly uncommon items.  The control plate has a master volume and the output jack.

Many people have asked about how the harp strings are tuned.  They are tuned to whichever notes are needed for the song you are playing.  I mainly tuned them to the root notes of the chords I am playing in the song.

I really pleased with the body color and and finish. I used Briwax Wood Dye and Tru-Oil.

This project turned out great.  I’m pumped to make an acoustic harp ukulele now.

 

See it in action:

Homemade Guitalele

Difficulty: Intermediate

Cost: $$

This was a project that didn’t take a whole lot of time.  Having the neck and body already done really made this project go fast.

 

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The neck was from a cheap kid’s guitar, and the body was from a grizzly kit.

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I attached the neck with glue and a dowel.

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I got an undrilled ukulele bridge from StewMac.  The fretboard is made of purpleheart.

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I strung it up with a light set of classical guitar strings.

See it in action: