View Full Version : Firstry at building a uke

12-22-2014, 06:11 PM
I found some clear birch and made a neck from some plans off the internet . What i am wondering about is the sound board and the back. can i use some quarter sawn white oak for both or do i have to find some cedar or spruce for the top? Its just my first attempt and i am really just trying to use what i have on hand. If i can get the process down maybe i could purchase some better stock. It would be nice if the first attempt would sound ok.

12-22-2014, 08:33 PM
Making your first uke will help you learn how to make a uke so don't be too worried if it is far from perfect: we learn by our mistakes and you'll improve with subsequent builds. You can make it from any wood including oak. Oak isn't the easiest wood to work, so it wouldn't be my first choice but if you have the wood then why not? The top can be either a hardwood or a softwood (spruce/cedar), and for a first attempt you could use pine if using what you have is your objective.

Some years ago Ken Timms (Timbuck) made a uke from pallet wood (including nail holes) just to show a playable uke can be made from pretty much any timber.

In the UK, you can buy something like African mahogany or sapele very cheaply so this is what I would normally be inclined to advise someone to use for a first attempt.

12-23-2014, 02:03 AM
I recently made an all-oak uke which turned out very well. It had been a bar counter in a previous life.

If your oak is light and stiff it should work. Start at 2mm thickness and work down from there until you can flex the top lengthwise a little with gentle thumb pressure. Back and sides should be a similar thickness.

Good luck!

12-25-2014, 11:30 AM
I found some quarter saw fir . Would that work for tops?

12-25-2014, 11:52 AM
Todays progress 74390mep@snig.net74390

12-25-2014, 04:49 PM
Absolutely fir works. I have never used it which is a shame since I live in place where we have 300 foot Douglas fir trees. I imagine it behaves like spruce but I don't know. Perhaps somebody that has experience with fir will chime in. I would be interested to see what they have to say about workability, thicknesses, quirks, etc. because I can get this stuff by the ton. Sometimes fir is used on cheaper Far-Eastern instruments as a substitute for spruce, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is an inferior wood. What kind of fir are you showing in the pictures? There are a lot of different types of 'fir', or as we say here in NorCal: Fur.

12-25-2014, 04:55 PM
The wood in the picture is white oak. I was going to use it for the top and the back. I was just wondering if the fir would be a better choice for the top. Im not sure if it would look better,or if it would sound better.

12-26-2014, 01:27 AM
It would look and sound different. Better depends on what you are looking for.

Oak is likely to sound more like a traditional uke. Fir is likely to have longer sustain, a bit more like q guitar.

But in either case, how you build it is the most important factor in the sound.

12-26-2014, 02:46 AM
Thanks for the insight