View Full Version : 5 string Fluke

08-28-2015, 07:03 PM
I have a Tiki Fluke that I am converting to a 5 string because I want a 5 string Fluke and well, they don't make one. I'll post pics of the work. At this point the tuning pegs are on their way. There is plenty of room on the nut and bridge (this one has a wooden bridge.) Should be a fun little project.

Captain Simian
08-29-2015, 04:05 AM
I'm subscribing to this thread. I'm very curious to see how this turns out. Please take lots of pictures.

08-29-2015, 05:04 AM
Will do on the pictures Captain. In short the plan is to remove the tuners from the left side, fill the holes using hardwood dowel and epoxy, and re-drill on my press to fit three evenly spaced Grovers on that side. The Fluke/Flea uses a zero fret, so all I plan to do at this point is widen the G nut slot for the high/low strings and separate the strings with a proper diameter metal dowel pin just beyond the nut on the head. The bridge will be handled the same way, with both strings occupying the same slot in the bridge and spreading out prior to the saddle, Martin style, but with a dowel pin Between the saddle and slot for separation. Here is where I think the wooden bridge will be helpful.

The fretboard on this one is plastic, so I plan to try using one of the flat wound coated strings from Southcoast for the low G. If that starts cutting into the frets I may switch to non-wound.

I'm just a hobby builder, but I've got about 15 instruments under my belt, and i understand this design very well so I'm not concerned about botching the job. My last pseudo-dabble that was loosely related to Flea Market designs was a solid body electric based on the flea outline that I built from scratch. I still play that one daily. Here's a pic.

Captain Simian
08-29-2015, 06:11 AM
I saw electric Flea on the Fluke & Flea museum page. Good job on that. A buddy of mine put a Fremont low G on a tenor Fluke I gave him about a year ago and it tore up the fretboard within 6 months or so. He's getting it back from MFC this week with a wooden fretboard so he can keep it with a low G. If you're going to stick with the poly fretboard I'd use a plain string.

Will you be modding the Cape Cod Flea? You now have put the idea in my head of buying a used Flea and trying this, maybe even trying to convert one to a 6 string uke.

08-29-2015, 08:10 AM
You might want to wait and see how mine turns out first. Alas, I gave that flea to a lovely young lady that suffers from dwarfism. She was distraught that she could not find a serious guitar that would fit her hands. She is delighted with it. Because the doubled courses are staggered I do think there is room for 6 on the fretboard... Just watch not to get the a string too close to the edge of the fretboard. Thanks for the tip in the wound string.

09-02-2015, 03:33 PM
The Grover tuners from Flea Market came in today and thankfully are an exact match. I removed the tuners from the Fluke and found the holes to be 5/16 all the way through. I had some 5/16 fluted dowel pins already, so I epoxied them in the G and C holes to fill them so that side can be re-drilled on the press to accommodate three tuners on that side. It's a tight fit but the three knobs will clear each other without having to change the head of the uke. I plan to use a small cutoff wheel in my Dremel to carefully modify the plastic nut without touching the zero fret. The center of the doubled course will be where the high g sat. This still leaves enough room to the edge and between the g course and the c.

I'm hoping to have this finished within the next week so I can take it with me on our trip down the coast of Maine. Photos to follow when I have something interesting to show.

Captain Simian
09-02-2015, 03:52 PM
If this is a success I may look for a used Flea and send out to you to modify.

Is this a tenor scale Fluke you're modifying?

09-02-2015, 04:01 PM
Yep, it's a Tiki tenor that I actually bought at the D&D uke shack in Maui. I bought it to have something safe to play in that heat and humidity while hiking, and I find I play it as much as my others these days. Sorry, I don't hold out build/repair services anymore. I've shown off a few instruments I built at work and soon had more repair work coming in from coworkers than I could handle. Heck, I hardly have time for this simple job. I will post pics though.

09-07-2015, 06:52 AM
Progress with pics. The tuners are fitted. It was a tight fit and I did have to use my precision gouges to flatten the surface for the inside seats of the outermost tuners, but it went together well. I may finish this today.

09-07-2015, 09:41 AM
I just finished stringing it up. Although the strings are just settling in I can tell already that this Uke was crying to be a 5 string its whole life. It plays beautifully.

Captain Simian
09-07-2015, 10:21 AM
Wow! That looks great! Any chance of a sound sample? I need to keep an eye out for a tenor Flea to convert it. I'm sort of think doing a 6 string instead of a 5.

09-07-2015, 10:28 AM
That really is very cool. Nice work!

I'll second the Captain's request for a sound sample. This is the kind of thing where you might want to share the results with the folks at Magic Fluke. I'm sure they would be very intrigued.


09-07-2015, 01:06 PM
Looks like a great project.

However, I should mention on The Magic Fluke Company web site, they specifically say NOT to use a wound string on the polycarbonate fretboard.

There are several fluorocarbon low-G strings that are ~0.0358", as well as the Aquila REDS that come sold as single strings, that you can use to add a low-G.

Many folks on this forum ignored this advice and tried anyway, only to have the fretboard replaced due to premature wear, some at their own expense.

Metal vs. plastic = Metal ALWAYS wins.

In any case, thanks for sharing! :)

09-07-2015, 01:55 PM
Thanks for the complements everyone! I think MFC could easily sell a version of this without much retooling. If they used the wood fretboard they wouldn't need a new die for the plastic fretboard (expensive stuff those dies) and I think just a new jig to drill the head and the wooden bridge and bingo, easy new offering with minimal overhead. MFC, almost a freebie for you there... Bet there is a market for that! Heck, I'll be the first to order.

I know about the metal string issue but used what I had on hand for right now because I just had to prove the concept. Can someone suggest the thinnest non-wound low G for me that is not the Aquila red? I don't want to leave the metal string on there long, but I hate fat G strings. I may just send it to MFC for a wood fretboard, but I'd like to try a plain string first.

As soon as the strings settle in I will provide a sound sample both picked and strummed.

09-07-2015, 02:43 PM
Can someone suggest the thinnest non-wound low G for me that is not the Aquila red? I don't want to leave the metal string on there long, but I hate fat G strings.

All of the single unwound fluorocarbon low-G strings that I've personally had hands-on experience with on my own ukes, are no thinner than ~0.0358".

Such as:

Worth Brown & Clear (0.0358)
PhD PVDF(sold in UU Merch store (http://ukeunderground.bigcartel.com/product/phd-sop-con-single-low-g))(0.0358)
Fremont Blacklines (0.036")
DaKine Line (0.0358)

Anything thinner will Likely NOT have enough tension for a G3 note.

Anything made of NYLON will have to be at least 0.050" to get close to G3 in pitch with enough tension on a 17" scale for a tenor, but this is a really FAT string for uke, equal to 150lbs test fishing line.

Strings By Mail has D'Addario and LaBella nylon single strings, as well as most of the others listed above, and you can also check Elderly, Uke Republic, Just Strings, etc if not, but likely Amazon has only full string SETS and NOT 'single strings' such as you are looking for, so you might want to save time and not even bother with Amazon here (if you were considering them).

I have found that the Fremont Blacklines fluorocarbon single unwound low-G to actually have a bit more tension and to be less floppy than in comparison to the others that I listed above. (to be clear this string I am referring to, is NOT their gold-colored smoothwound polished low-G called the 'Soloist').

09-07-2015, 03:34 PM
Thanks Booli! I currently have a D'Addario Pro Arté silver plated .029 on there and I love the sound. I'll try a Worth clear and see how that does before I give up and go for the wood fretboard. I am loving this thing... Can't put it down!

Captain Simian
09-07-2015, 04:00 PM
If you don't have a string let me know. I'm pretty sure I have a Worth clear high G hiding somewhere. I'll donate it for the sake of science.

09-07-2015, 04:15 PM
Thanks Captain, but it is the low G I need, not the high. I'll probably just order a full set of
Worth's; there's enough there for two stringings anyway, and I'm not totally sure I like the Aquilas that are on there now. They are not the same as the old set I had on there.

Captain Simian
09-08-2015, 06:16 AM
Low G is what I meant. I think I was distracted by my excitement of hearing how the Fluke sounds. Offer stands if I have it. Only thing I ask in return is that if a movie is made about your grand achievement I want Bradley Cooper to play me.