misterg’s spice rack uke build : Part 1 – Making the neck blank

You remember when Homer Simpson decided to build a spice rack?

Well, I decided to build an electric uke for my son. I thought that some people here might be interested to see how it went (if you want me to stop, you just need to say the “safe word”, remember? ;))

I wanted to use what I had in my shed as far as possible, as I wasn’t confident that it would ever get finished.

I decided on a ‘Concert’ sized instrument – 15″ scale (for comparison, a Fender Strat is 25.5″). To keep the string spacing the same as his acoustic uke, the neck needs to be just over 40mm wide at the nut (string spacing is 10mm at the nut and 12mm at the bridge).

For the neck, I cut a ~ 50mm wide strip off some old laboratory work bench tops that are made of some type of teak:

I cleaned this up with a plane, and also cut another, wider piece for the headstock and planed it down to about 1/2 thickness. I wanted a scarf-jointeded neck with a separate fingerboard, so the next job was to cut a 15° taper on the neck and headstock, clamp them together and plane the taper flat and true. I can’t cut straight to save my life, and was pleasantly surprised that this seemed to go OK:

(I had spent 1/2 a day truing my little block plane up and sharpening the blade, and I think it made a huge difference.)

Next, you just flip the thin piece over and glue it to the tapered end of the neck (I think for guitars, people tend to glue the headstock to the underside of the neck, but for ukes the headstock goes on the end as far as I can tell). Trouble is, the glue is slippery, and you’re trying to clamp two tapered pieces together. The answer is to clamp the neck to a board first to keep everything true, and to drill holes for small pins in a waste area to stop the headstock sliding away as it’s clamped:

You need a lot of clamps…

One neck blank:

Solid Body Travel Ukulele

I wanted to make a ukulele with the longest possible scale that would still fit in my travel case.

Before staining the body, I made sure that everything fit properly.

The “Les Paul” style body was made with a single piece of cherry wood. The scale length is 19 inches, and its overall length is 21.5 inches. Even though the scale length is 19 inches, I tune it like a reentrant tenor/concert/soprano. I prefer that tuning and it works better with most of the ukulele sheet music that I have.

The fretboard and bridge are made of rosewood. The volume knob is made of ebony. A piece of plastic pipe directs the strings back towards the tuners.

I used transparent red nitrocellulose lacquer followed by nitrocellulose clear coat to give it a finish similar to Gibson’s “Heritage Cherry” finish.

The under saddle piezo pickup is soldered to a 500K ohm potentiometer to control the volume. The output jack is attached to an upside down stratocaster style jack plate.



See it in action!


Ukulele In The Name Of – Craig Against The Machine

Every now and again, we come across something we like that just has not been seen by enough people. This guy, Lunarbeef, doing a cover version of ‘Killing in the name of’ by Rage against the machine, has got balls bigger than king kong. We totally approve. Craig, if you read this, we love your work!

Utah’s Uke Fest

I attended Utah’s Uke Fest on July 27-28, 2012.  This festival had classes and workshops during the day with amazing concerts at night.  I learned new things and was inspired to take my playing to the next level.   My favorite part of the festival was getting to meet other ukulele enthusiasts from the surrounding area.

Sarah Maisel and Paul Tillery and  “The Quiet American” performed on Friday night.  The groups did separate sets, but they performed a song together at the end.

On Saturday at noon, there was an open mic contest.  The performances were great,  with lots of brave people displaying their talents.

I was lucky enough to take 2nd place at the open mic contest!  My prize was a beautiful Eddy Finn Bamboo ukulele  and a hard case for it.

Paul “Tommy” O’Connor played a few Celtic tunes on the ukulele at the Saturday evening concert.

Bolo Rodrigues also played on Saturday evening.  He attaches a ukulele to the bottom of his guitar and switches back and forth between the two instruments.

Brittni Paiva was the headliner of the festival.  Her spectacular performance was a great capstone to a very fun couple of days.


DIY Travel Ukulele [Free Instructions]


In 2011, I started emailing the instructions for the “DIY Travel Ukulele”.  Hundreds of people from all over the world have received these instructions.  Now, they are available to download directly from Electric Ukulele Land!

[Click on the link, or right click and “Save as”]

DIY Travel Ukulele Instructions

Email CircuitsAndStrings@gmail.com if you have any questions or comments.

(NOTE:  The original design used a small metal key as the nut.  The instructions now call for a zero fret, but the pictures still reflect the metal key design.)


Kingcaster uke build : part 13 – How to finish an electric ukulele build

Hell Yeah!!!

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m building an electric ukulele… It’s taken a long, long time. All along the way I’ve posted progress updates and shared with you the highs and the lows. Well, I’m coming to the end of my wonderful journey. This won’t be my last post on the subject, but it will probably be the last on the actual build itself. My last series of updates revolved around some frustrations I was having with the paint job and of course I’d forgotten to fit the fret markers! I bet you’re wondering how it all turned out. Read on…

Continue reading

I kept seeing ukes all over the place….

Out and about in Forest Hill on Friday during the day and around The Tower of London in the evening, and I couldn’t stop spotting ukuleles and related instruments.

The instruments you can see in cabinets are at the Horniman Museam in Forest Hill, South-East London. More information about them and the hundresds of other instruments in their gallery can be found in their catalogued web page.


£15 Ukuleles for sale in Sue Ryder, Forest Hill, South East London, Uk


Toy Gitar

Toy Gitar,
c. 1977


Charengo, lute

Charengo, lute
Made by Mario Torres
c. 1987



Machete, small guitar
Made by Jacinto R.
Madeira, Portugal,
c. 1843

Cuetro, small guitar
Made by Cruz A Quinal
San Lorenzo de Carenaquey
Espada Sucre
c. 1986



19th Century



Well dressed ukulele playing busker playing at Tower Hill Tube station, London, Uk

Awol : Got idea for direction

You never know where inspiration may come from. I posted this asking what should my first build be. I already had a few ideas of what I’l like but no idea how to make any of it happen. Then Electric Ukulele land’s own Daniel Hulbert showed me this:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Jc7eWmm3Jc]

My eyes lit up! Yes this is what I’m looking for, though I’m not crazy about the body style at all. So I plan to buy the components and see what I can load them into. Perhaps the flying v or something else a bit more rocking. Also have no desire to unscrew the back to change batteries so want to use  Daniel Hulbert’s battery idea from his uku bass build.

I’m in need of the list of parts that make up this build. Who can help me there?