Wave Electric Ukulele

I’ve built a bunch of electric ukulele, but all of them have been modeled after full size electric guitars.  For this project I set out to design my own electric ukulele.  I think it turned out great.

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My other electric ukuleles have been modeled after guitars from Fender and Gibson.  Can you name all of these models??

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Here are some sketches that I drew as I designed this instrument.  You can see how how the designed changed and progressed.

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I probably shouldn’t admit this, but part of the headstock design was influenced by the fact that I had quite a few left hand tuners in my possession.  I purchased sets of 3-on-a-side tuners to use for my Fender style builds, but only needed the right hand ones.

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After all of the parts were fitted, I leveled the body with some putty.  It is important to have the body as smooth as possible before the prime, and color coats.

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The body was primed, given a nitrocellulose color coat and then a nitrocellulose clear coat.

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I wanted to try having the volume knob on the side of the body instead of the top.  Doing this also allowed for a bigger cavity to house a push/pull switch to split the hot rail humbucker.  To keep the back and top as minimalist as possible, I drilled long holes from the pickup cavity to the combination strap peg/jack.

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I’ve named this the “Wave Ukulele” because the body made me think about waves crashing against the shore.  Once I gave this a name, I tied other design element to this theme.  The body is Sea Foam Green, and the fret markers, side markers and even the cap on the volume knob are abalone.

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This build was my first foray into the world of fanned frets.  The bottom string has a scale length of 17 inches and the top is 18 inches.   It’s a little different to play, but it’s very easy to get used to.  Make your own fanned fretboard with this tutorial. 

See it in action!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ak2wapy1hdc&w=480&h=360]

Double Neck Mandolin/Ukulele

I’ve been planning on building a double neck mando/uke for a couple of years.  I like the aesthetic of the Gibson Double Neck EDS-1275, especially the top neck having double the strings of the bottom one.  Different things delayed me starting this project, and I’m glad they did because I was able to refine my techniques and gain the proper tools to do the job right. This was my most involved and labor intensive project yet.

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tune-o-matic

I wanted to have Tune-o-matic style bridges for this instrument, but I couldn’t find any ones with four strings.  After seeing a thread on the Mandolin Cafe Forums,   I contacted Pete Mallinson of Almuse Mandolins to ask him some questions about some custom bridges he had made.   He gave me the confidence to mill my own with a drill press and some needle files.  The above picture was a test run that I did.   I refined the process for the two bridges I used for the Mandolin/Ukulele.  I purchased some blank saddles for the 8 string mandolin side and cut string slots with some speciality files.

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I did my normal layout and size check before I started to cut things.  Both of the necks have 17 inch scale lengths.  I tuned the mandolin neck an octave lower than a regular mando, so it can be considered an “octave mandolin”.

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I cut the body out of solid mahogany and beveled some of the edges.

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The fretboards are made of bubinga and were bound with plastic binding.  Even though the mandolin has more strings, the fretboard is narrower to keep the feel of a mandolin.

necks

i’ve made a bunch of electric ukuleles, but I have never put a truss rod in them.  With a short scale and quality wood,  I didn’t see the need.  I did put a non-adjustable truss rod in the mandolin neck to combat the added tension of the 8 strings.  I put a matching one in the ukulele neck for balance. I routed out the pockets and epoxied the rods.

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After the body was routed, a made some wooden pickguards and dry fitted everything.  I then carefully disassembled everything and put the hardware aside.

double laquer

The body and necks were  tinted with a transparent red nitrocellulose stain and then clear coated with glossy nitrocellulose.  The headstock faces were sprayed with opaque black.

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“After the paintin’ comes the waitin’.”   I stowed the body and necks in a closet for a 2 weeks to let the lacquer cure.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtKtCby4P5w&w=560&h=315]

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This thing is a real beauty.  I really like the look and texture of the black, wooden pickguards. The pickups look like humbuckers, but are really single coil.  The three-way switch by the tailpieces is able to select either or both necks.

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Under the cavity cover,  a couple of 500K potentiometers and a .022uF Orange Drop capacitor to provide a master volume and tone control.  I used 4 neck mounting ferrules to attach the necks.  They might become my new standard for mounting necks.  They look and work very nice.

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Talking about the double neck.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxUO-2cNEmk&w=560&h=315]

Demo time!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gvcM4c91oc&w=560&h=315]

The Ukulele Festival of Great Britain 2013

It’s official! I don’t get out much!

I’m back from my visit down to the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain in Cheltenham and I have a heap of photos and recollections to share with you below. Forgive me if I jump about a bit, but this weekend has been a bit of a blur. View this as an alternative review of the festival… You read this blog for a reason right? Welcome to my world…

“Who’s Kev?”I can’t say that I was very impressed with the hotel we stayed in at Cheltenham. What a dump! There was a sign on the wall in reception that read along the lines of: “Please don’t abuse the staff… They’re here to help you.” The hotel was one and three-quarters of a mile from the centre of Cheltenham. It was a walk I was to do many times.

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Review :- RISA Uke Electric Tenor Sunburst Kidney Bean

We first met Strange Ukulele recently on google+. We quickly found his amazing musical work on Soundcloud page and spawned some conversation with him. It turned out that he had one of the Risa Electric Uke’s we have been lusting after for a very long time. We asked him to tell us some more about it, and he did :-

I bought my kidney bean in London about 4 years ago. I was mooching around Petticoat and Brick Lane retracing my steps when I used to work there many years ago and I came across this lovely ukulele shop The Duke of Uke

I had never picked up a ukulele let alone played one but when I saw the Risa I had to give it a go. Underneath it’s good looks is a mighty fine instrument with a unique tone which is enhanced by the sound chamber, and those lipstick pick-ups gives it a lovely chime. I think these ukes are made in the Czech Republic but don’t let that put you off because these kidney beans are well made from quality woods and components and finished beautifully.The kidney bean’s shape is a clever design and sits on the lap very comfortably.

I have played this uke with some seasoned bad boy rockers, I was expecting sniggers and little willy jokes but they were all over it like a rash, when I plugged it in and cranked up the gain their jaws hit the floor, Played along with guitars and synths the kidney bean finds it’s own space in the mix with it’s own unique tone and bite.

Where to buy :-
The Duke of Uke – Risa Steel Strung Electric Tenor Ukulele Sunburst/a>
www.ukulele.de – RISA Uke-Electric-Tenor Sunburst/a>

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Sharkfin Uke Build – On Fire!

WARNING! I THINK I MIGHT BE LOSING MY MIND!

I got left on my own this weekend; The wife and kids went away and left me all alone! As much as I love them dearly, I’ll admit that I’ve really enjoyed a little bit of me-time! Ha ha. I haven’t left the house once! No, I tell a lie, I went to the shop on Saturday… when I ran out of beer! 😀

Actually, I think I might be suffering from a little bit of Cabin Fever… I can’t seem to keep my mind on anything at the moment…

Let’s hope that this little guy made it back to his family…

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Skateboard Ukulele

I’ve made instruments out of all sorts of stuff.  When I saw an old skateboard deck at a garage sale, I had to have it.  I thought it would make the perfect body for an electric ukulele.

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Because both ends curve back, I didn’t have to do anything to angle the headstock.  Using a scroll saw, I cut out the space for the neck, headstock, pickup, and Stratocaster-style jack plate. I kept the wood above and below the neck to give the instrument more stability and to the keep overall shape of the skateboard.  A fretboard with a 17 inch scale was epoxied to the neck.

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Most of the grip tape was left on the board.  I stripped the grip tape from the bak of the neck.  I was going to add about 1/4 inch of wood to the back of the neck, but that would have made it too thick.  Instead, I just carved the neck a little bit and stained it black.  A board with rounded over edges was attached to the back to cover the wiring and components.

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I made a pickup ring for the single coil pickup with some black pickguard material.  The pickup is connected to a volume potentiometer.

Out of all the electric ukuleles that I’ve made,  this was the fastest to make.  Not having to rout out the body, carve and shape the neck, and apply a glossy finish really cut down on the build time.

See it in action!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7tysKFG3d0?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Cthukulele – Fretless, electric bass ukulele

We have been talking to David Iriguchi at iriguchiukuleles.com and he has kindly allowed us to tell you some more about this amazing bass ukulele, the Cthukulele… The words and pictures that follow are his, but we are sure you will agree, this is an amazing looking instrument. The Chtukulele will make her public debut at the 2013 Reno Ukulele Festival in Sparks Nevada, April 11-14, 2013.

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When we decided to make a bass ukulele we decided to go all in and make a true freak.  We wanted a creature not of this world. This is that creature. The Chtukulele…

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Hewn from a single split piece of spalted maple the Chtukulele’s body is an ergonomic masterpiece (how’s that for some nice hyperbole!). The semi-hollow body is extremely rigid and gives the Padauk soundboard a solid foundation to vibrate off of.
 
The Cthukulele gets her name from H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulu, another creature not of this Earth.
 
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From the top you can see that the body is just two inches deep and it is nothing but smooth curves. The top edge where your right arm rests is part of the body and not part of the soundboard so your arm does not rest on the soundboard.

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Whether you are sitting or standing the Chtukulele is very comfortable to hold. It sits very close to your body and all the contact points are smooth and rounded.

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This end view shows the Cthukulele’s unusual profile. The angled side (to the right in this image) rests flat on your thigh when sitting and playing. Extraordinary comfort.

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The spalted Maple has a wonderful ‘dirty’ patina. The small port in the lower bout is to insert the strings. The strings pass through the soundboard and easily fit through this port.
 
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The Chtukulele uses dual “Jet Intake” soundholes. These ports are carved into the upper bout. With this design we don’t have to cut a hole in the soundboard. Because of this, the soundboard is suported all the way around which allows us to lighten up the bracing. Plus it looks wicked cool, right? It is this view that gives the Chtukulele it’s name.

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The ports are quite deep and there is also a channel below the end of the fretboard. We are currently designing an acoustic semi-hollow ukulele with these Jet Ports.
 
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There is a cutout in the body to give access to the highest frets. The Maple neck is inset into the body about 9mm.

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The adjustable bridge is our own design. It allows 12mm of compensation adjustment, from -3mm to +9mm. The compensation is very easily adjusted using a 2.5mm allen wrench.

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As with our other ukuleles we used a zero fret on the Chtukulele. This allows us to make a much lower profile nut.
 
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The Chtukulele is fretless and has white styrene fret markers. There are also side markers at 3, 5, 7, 9, and 12.

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The Maple neck uses our ‘comfort’ profile. It is bladed so that it is slightly thicker at the G-string edge and tapers smoothly to the E-string edge.

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The bridge has a very flat appearance and there is a K&K Sound Big Twin pickup installed.

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In this view you can see that the arm rest is part of the body and not the soundboard. The bridge adjusters attach to the edge of the bridge and can slide horizontally.
 
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We use standard Hipshot Ultralight tuners instead of the spooled style. A ziptie is used to secure the string in the tuner because those polyurethane strings are slippery little buggers. The zipties work just great though and we like the standard tuners a lot better than the spool style.

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So there she is, the evil-looking Cthukulele! A strange creature not of this world.

Specifications:
Type: Semi-hollow, electric bass

Size: Tenor

Body: Hand-carved, Spalted Maple

Soundboard: Padauk

Neck: Maple – medium “comfort” profile

Scale length: 20″

Total # fret markers: 16

Fret markers to the body: 12

Special Features:
Semi-hollow back and sides are hand-carved from a single block of Spalted Maple

Includes K&K Sound Big Twin internal pickup

Dual “Jet Intake” soundholes

Custom adjustable bridge

Hipshot Ultralight tuners

Pahoehoe polyurethane strings
 
Smile when you play that!™

Sharkfin Uke Build – Beach Closed

I’d been hoping that I could get my Sharkfin Ukulele finished before Christmas, but it ain’t gonna happen! Construction has officially stopped. I’ve tidied up my tools and packed them away. I’ve also tried to vac up all the sawdust… hope Mrs Uke doesn’t look too closely at the carpet… :-s

Everybody out of the water!!!

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misterg’s spice rack uke build : Part 10 – Photo gallery

I have to say that the way this came out is beyond my wildest hopes. I’m REALLY pleased with it.

It is surprisingly resonant, and seems to play nicely in tune. I haven’t found any dead or ‘off’ notes yet. It sounds just like an acoustic ukulele when it’s plugged into a clean amp, but of course you can crank the gain up and play the top 3 strings like a guitar – that high pitched 4th string catches me out though.

I will see if I can record some sound clips :)

Thanks and congratulations to anyone who has made it this far through my ramblings.

Andy

Photofest:

(Note to self: Must clean the paint off the end of that binding…)

Even my glue and sawdust filler came out OK. I think I got off lightly for my inattention!

FIN