I made a tennis racquet ukulele before, but this time I wanted to do a few thing differently. I wanted to have a wooden top and back, and I wanted to widen the neck enough to use a normal sized fretboard.
Here is the racquet before the strings were removed.
I planed down the body and the handle.
To make the neck wide enough for the fretboard, I glued cherry wood pieces to the side.
Gluing on the basswood top and fretboard. It has a tenor (17″) scale length.
After gluing on the bridge, I applied a few coats of Tru-Oil.
Check out the beautiful lamination of this racquet.
With the tuners installed, this uke is ready for strings.
I used a string retainer since this ukulele doesn’t have an angled headstock.
Here is the ukulele compared with Tennis Racquet Banjo ukulele that I made a few years ago.
Check out the demo video of the tennis racquet ukulele.
If you follow this website, you know that my Travel Ukulele plans are popular. This ukulele is a variation of that design.
I took my travel ukulele design and cut off the back portion. I also omitted the pickup and jack. Requiring an amp definitely make a ukulele less portable. Not having the pickup also meant that I could start out with a piece of wood only .75″ instead of the normal 1″. This uke has a concert scale length (15″) but the overall length is just 17.5″.
Because I took out the pickup, I decided to add a thin piece of wood to the back to help out with the resonance.
I stamped my last name into the back.
The main wood is maple and the back piece is basswood.
Even after applying a few coats of Tru-Oil and adding strings, this ukulele weighs just 11 ounces.
This uke even has a working compass inlayed into the neck.
This ukulele would be great to throw in a backpack, keep in a car, or stow in some luggage.
If you want to use a strap, there are strap pegs at the back and where the headstock would normally be.
This ukulele is heading on an epic trek. Check out Her Odyssey to follow along with the journey.
Video demo time!
Sometimes it is really fun to gather up some wood and miscellaneous parts and throw a silly instrument together. That’s what I did with this build. I found a thrift store crutch and slapped a fretboard, bridge, a pickup on it.
Here’s the completed guitar.
I used a Stratocopy bridge, pickup, and volume knob.
The headstock was made some classical guitar tuners, some 1/2″ oak and some nylon spacers.
I didn’t even bother to cover up the underside. I grounded the bridge by running a wire from a bridge screw to the back of the potentiometer.
See this beast in action! And see me [fake] breaking my leg.
I decided to make a ukulele modeled after the Cigar Box ukuleles made by Kamaka. I like the way the headstock is made. It’s an interesting way to make strings angle down without having an angled headstock.
The neck is made with 3 pieces of 1/2″ mahogany and 2 pieces of 1/4″ poplar. Not only does the wood contrast nicely, I like the idea of the foreign and domestic lumber working together. (If I don’t watch out, I might get philosophical)
I used a bunch of clamps and glue to laminate the neck together.
After the glued dried, the tapered and carved the neck. I also drilled the holes for the tuners.
I added a little cleat to the heel to help with the tension put on the neck. The cleat went into the box and was glued to the bottom of the box.
The wood always come to life with a little Tru-Oil.
I glued the neck and glued the Ashton box closed. Sometimes I make it so the box can still be opened, but for this I want to not have a “through neck” and the side of this style of Ashton box bulges out. The bulge would be hard to fit a neck to.
Ready for strings! The fretboard is walnut and the bridge is rosewood.
Now, sit back and enjoy the glamour shots of this ukulele.
I built this ukulele for my friend Andrew James. He’s a fingerstyle guitar player and enthusiast. He’s also a ukulele builder. I met him through YouTube and Facebook.
Check out the links below to find out more about Andrew James:
On July 18th, 2015 I was able to attend the 4th Annual Utah Uke Fest in American Fork Utah. Well, we will get to that a little later. Two days before that I was on live morning TV to promote the Uke Fest.
Here is the video of the segment I was on:
Ok, back the real Fest. It was a full day of fun. The morning had a workshops taught by M. Ryan Taylor (the founder of the Fest) and the headliner of this year’s festival Danielle Ate the Sandwich.
After the lunchtime open mic contest (I was a judge again this year), it was time for my 2 hour workshop. During this time, we assembled my travel uke kits. The workshop was limited to 5 people, and it sold out quickly weeks before the festival.
Completed travel ukulele ready for strings.
A whole of completed travel ukuleles (including my demo model).
A happy bunch of fellows.
A highlight video of the workshop.
That night I played one song at the main concert. I used my electric harp ukulele and played a cover of “The Blur, The Line and the Thickest of Onions” by Little Comets.
Video of my performance:
It was another great Utah Uke Fest. I’m looking forward to next year!
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:
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.
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: