Kingcaster uke build : part 04 – How to make the body – part 2

Time for an update on the Electric Ukulele Build. In my last post I talked about how I started to make the neck. You will remember that I left you on tenterhooks as I revealed that I’d controversially glued the fretboard to the neck prior to fitting the frets. I still haven’t mustered the courage to fit the frets but this doesn’t mean that I haven’t been busy… a lot’s happened since then. In this post I return to the body to apply some much needed finishing touches.

I decided very early on in this project that I wasn’t going to go with the

usual Strat-style jack socket. There just isn’t going to be enough room.

Instead I’m going to use an end pin socket which will feed in to the pickup

under the bridge. This is either a brilliant idea, or a very stupid one.

Time will tell. Here you can see the end pin in place. I drilled a hole as far

as the bit would reach and had to work it deeper with a long screwdriver.

Pretend you can’t see the cavity for the electrics in the picture above. I
didn’t do that next. What I did next was to attach the neck to the body.
I wanted a square plate, but couldn’t find any made specifically for the
purpose that would fit. Instead I repurposed a flat Les Paul jack plate.
See the hole in the centre for the jack. I milled the screw holes wider and
fitted it with the shortest guitar Strat screws I could find. FYI, other
homeuke-builders like Daniel Hulbert are using oval guitar jack sockets to
fit smaller scale electric uke necks.


Here you can see me measuring twice. I’ve created an MDF template
for the pick guard which is coming in really handy for making sure
everything is where it should be. Having laid out all the parts above and
feeling good that things were going the way I wanted them, I then went
on to cut the hold in the template for the pickup and drill the pot holes
and guides for the pick guard screws. My current intention is to use the
template to route the pick guard. We’ll see if I chicken out and end up
doing it by hand…
Here are the parts that were on my mind at this part of the build. I’m
going to use this hot rail guitar pickup I had shipped over from America.
This is a thinned down humbucker made specifically to fit a standard
Strat pickup size hole. The pots and knobs are standard guitar parts. I
waited an age for the pots to arrive from Hong Kong and this held me up
cutting the body cavity for the electrics. If I’d been cleverer about this I
would have bought smaller pots. I’ve obviously cut the cavity to fit these
but there really isn’t that much room inside. If I start to have space
problems, I’ll revert. That’s a problem for another day.


From day one I had always intended to use a forstner drill bit to help with
cutting the cavity for the electrics. My pal Eric Vossbrink at New Wave Ukulele
warned me against cutting corners. I explained that the cavity was going to be
under the pick guard. Who was going to know? Eric’s wise words were: “That
which is hidden will always be made known.” And he’s right, but I still went
ahead and did it. Sorry Eric. I have tried to get the cleanest finish I can, but
you can see here the tell-tale centre-holes left by the bit. I’ve since filled these.
The forstner was used to cut holes at key points and I used a chisel to do
the rest. If you look really closely you can see the hole that leads to the
end pin. Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together!
Here are some tools that I just couldn’t have done without at this stage
of the build. I have wanted a drill stand for soooo long and now I have one.
This is a vintage stand to fit my vintage Black and Decker drill. The drill is
some 25 years old and still doing the business! And there’s a set of
forstner drill bits.


You will remember that I was lucky enough to be given a Strat-style
bridge custom made for a ukulele by Julian Davies. In hindsight, this was
probably the best thing that could have happened to me in terms of
getting this build right. I’ve been using it to help me to get my
measurements correct. It’s been a good baseline. One thing that
puzzled me for a long time was how I was meant to fit the strings.
Thankfully Daniel Hulbert came to the rescue! He revealed to me the
existence of ‘ferrules’. Twelve are pictured in the picture – but I’ll only be
using four. They will fit into the back of the body and this is where
the strings will be threaded through from the back up out of the holes
in the bridge and up to the neck. I found getting these holes right
really difficult. I marked the holes on the front and drilled through to the
back. Even though I used my drill stand, they didn’t go through
straight. It’s hard to tell in the photo, but I widened the holes at the back
to allow the ferrules to fit and this allowed me a chance to correct some
of the alignment problems, but you can see that I didn’t get it 100% right.
The holes in the middle of the picture are of the front and the top
right shows the back.


And here’s where I’m up to at the moment. The neck is screwed in place, along with
the bridge. You see that the pick guard still fits! Yep, that’s me measuring twice again!

I’m almost there now with the body. Next I’ll be painting it, but not before I’ve got the neck sorted. I’ve been busy here also, but I’ll save this for my next post. I still haven’t plucked up the courage to fit the frets… I’m getting closer by the day…

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