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Thread: 4 to 8 string conversion?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    FL, USA
    Posts
    471

    Default 4 to 8 string conversion?

    Just tossing this out there, to see if anyone has tried doing this? Yes, I saw the YT videos of the guy doing this to cheap plastic ukes, but I'm talking about a serious instrument. I can see reasons it wouldn't be advisable, namely doubling the string tension, but are there ways to strengthen an instrument to accommodate that? I ask because there are so few 8-string instruments of any quality, reflected in their high-ish prices and difficult availability in the used market, while there are a whole lot of decent 4-stringers out there.

    I once converted a guitar from 6 to 8 strings - of course I did it the easy way, and attached a tailpiece for support. Can't really imagine doing that on a uke, though. But having played mandola, I am jonesing for an 8-string....

    bratsche
    A bunch of stringed instruments tuned in fifths. And a bunch of cats!


    "There are two refuges from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

    GearGems - Gifts & apparel for musicians and more!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Sweet Home Osaka Japan
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    580

    Default

    Hi, bratsche (viola)!

    Late Wataru Takada is legendary folk song singer in Japan. He tried to make a 8 string instrument, because he thought ukulele is too quiet about 50 years a go.

    思ったような大きな音がでないので
    『僕は自分でウクレレのネックの一部を切り落とし、中継ぎをしてビスで止め、
    弦を4本プラスして8本にした。改造は成功したかのように見えた。だが、
    弦を張ったとたん、その張力で弦の元にある枕(ブリッジ)が飛んでしまった。
    大枚をはたいて買ったウクレレは、一瞬にして見るも無惨な姿に変わり果てた。』
    (バーボンストリートブルースより引用)

    It doesn't sound enough
    " I cut off a part of the neck, connect them with a sprint by screws.
    I added 4 strings and made a 8 string instrument. It looked ok, but.
    As soon as I strung, the bridge brake.
    Very expensive ukulele has turned to be rubbish at once.
    (from Bourbon Street Blues by Wataru Takada)



    Lately this Kamaka is repaired by a claft man and now it is playable.
    Last edited by zztush; 11-13-2017 at 04:36 PM. Reason: typo
    Kamaka HF-1 100

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
    Posts
    4,110

    Default

    I don't think I'd try it, even on a laminate, the string tension is very likely to do damage, as a uke is lightly made.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.
    Formerly known as uke1950.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Queanbeyan, NSW Australia.
    Posts
    1,519

    Default

    I have 3 8 stringers and to be honest the tops aren't built stronger than the 4 stringers that I can see. If anything most ukuleles are so overbuilt that it takes 8 strings to drive the tops properly anyway.

    The problems that you will face is, a, somewhere for the extra tuners as 8 string instruments have longer headstocks and ,b, 8 string necks are usually a fraction wider than 4 string necks.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Perth, Western Australia
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    1,140

    Default

    I don’t have a photo of the bracing of a 4 string but here is a build photo of my Barron River 8:

    61670E0A-6DC1-4627-9C6E-B16F6CEC5969.jpg

    4 string Ukes have less bracing. Headstock has to be much longer, even if you use the Gotoh stealth tuners which are quite small.
    "All worthwhile things in life should be easy to learn but hard to master"

    Current Instruments:
    Boat Paddle ML tenor - Red Spruce over Cocobolo
    Barron River 8 string tenor - All Honduran Quilted/Waterfall Figured Mahogany
    Collings UC2 Concert - All Mahogany
    Hoffmann Lutherie - Baritone - Master Grade Ebony and AAA Red Spruce
    Beau Hannam Players Model - Tenor - Vintage Sun Burst all Tasmanian Blackwood

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    FL, USA
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    Default

    Appreciate the input. I'm not at all convinced I will take on this project, due to the time consuming factor and the uncertainty of outcome. At this stage of life, I'll probably just buy an 8-stringer eventually, if I keep on wanting one. But I find it interesting that some people find ukuleles to be lightly built, while others say they're overbuilt. I only have two ukes (both Pono) and they feel light to me, but I have never held another beside them to know how they compare. They are certainly a lot lighter than my steel stringed (mandolin family) instruments! Best to just get something made with 8 tuning machines and a comfortable neck width, I guess. Also, of course, there is the matter of the internal bracing to consider.

    bratsche
    A bunch of stringed instruments tuned in fifths. And a bunch of cats!


    "There are two refuges from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

    GearGems - Gifts & apparel for musicians and more!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Oop North in England
    Posts
    5,070

    Default

    I think the question of lightly built depends on the quality of your instruments. Cheaper instruments are more likely to be overbuilt. I have a 6 and an 8 string both Baton Rouge instruments. I'm very happy with them. They are modestly priced but came with good set up and I like their tone. The have fairly large body which gives them a full and quite rich tone. They are not very expensive and could well be a bit overbuilt. They are all laminate but the top isn't too thick. Baton Rouge is a German company but they have their ukes built in China but ensure the quality control is good and that shows in the quality of finish.

    I'm pleased with them and they sound good to me and others seem to agree.
    Geoff Walker

    I have several ukuleles in various sizes and am not planning on getting any more...

    at least, not yet.

    I also play some blowy things and a squeezy thing

    Internet:
    You Tube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/TootlinGeoff
    Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/tootlingeoff

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