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View Full Version : Schoenhut 'fake' Flea questions - need take-apart help



Booli
11-01-2015, 03:44 PM
Hi Folks,

To be clear, I am talking about the cheapo Flea copy that caused such a stir here on UU, that was in fact sold by Schoenhut (the musical toy piano company), Not the real Magic Fluke Flea. I have several of those and love them too much to hack them apart.

Yes, I was one of the folks who bought one (of the Schoenhut copies), and later regretted it.

I donít want to discuss that though here though, if you have thoughts about that, please PM me. I'm not trying to create controversy with potentially malignant topics.

My reason for this thread is because I saw that some folks had taken them apart, and shown some photos of the end result. However, I cannot tell from the photos that were shared, how that end result was achieved.

I'm not sure that this topic and question is worthy of the 'Luthier's Lounge' section so that is why I am putting it here in the 'Uke Talk' section. (Moderators - feel free to relocate it where more appropriate if necessary)

I want to take mine apart but do not want to totally destroy it, as I want to try and rebuild it into something else.

I need help to understand the best way to remove the plastic fingerboard, and then the top soundboard, but without destroying the soundboard or the neck as I'd like to reuse them later. The fingerboard has no more frets left due to play wear, so I'm not concerned about saving that at all.

My first thought was to take a wide-blade metal spackle-spreader and just work it down the length of the neck, and gently separate the fingerboard from the neck. Do you think this will work? Please advise.

My bigger issue is how to remove the top. A long while back, I had previously cut a hole in the uke's plastic back with a 2.5" hole saw (in order to install a pickup more easily, just opposite the bridge, to gain better access to the bridge-plate), and I can see that the top is glued on with a yellowish glue that looks a lot like construction adhesive, and the top rests on a sort of shelf that is about 3/16" below the outer edge of the sides. How do I get this off without the top breaking? Please advise.

I am assuming that the neck is screwed in to the back, and once I remove the fingerboard, I'll be able to access the screws. Please advise.

Any and all help, suggestions, or ideas, especially from those fine folks here on UU who have gone down this path before, would be most appreciated. Bonus points if your reply includes helpful photos.

I promise to share the details of whatever I do and rebuild it into, once I can get it apart. I just cant bear to trash the thing, and I'm always tinkering with my instruments so it's not a big deal overall, I'd just like to damage the original parts as little as possible.

I'm hoping that those who have done this previously would be kind enough to share their experience.


Thanks in advance. :)

Freeda
11-01-2015, 04:05 PM
I had one that simply came apart in transit, that I'm guessing was due to the glue melting? I sent it to mailman to play around with.

Dougf
11-01-2015, 04:19 PM
I had one that simply came apart in transit, that I'm guessing was due to the glue melting? I sent it to mailman to play around with.

I won one of Freeda's in her "Knock-off" contest (thanks, Freeda). Its fingerboard also came off in transit, so I replaced it with one that I made from manzanita. I think it turned out pretty nice, and I offered it as a prize for my season 57, "songs about songs". With the new fingerboard, I think it was actually a pretty decent uke. It went to UU user julienstaudt.

ScooterD35
11-01-2015, 04:20 PM
When Luthiers take stuff apart, heat is key. It softens glue, making it relatively easy to separate joints. The question is... How to apply heat without doing damage?


Scooter

ScooterD35
11-01-2015, 04:27 PM
Check out some of the in-depth photojournals by master Luthier Frank Ford.


http://frets.com/FretsPages/pagelist.html


I've spent many, many hours on his site over the years.


Scooter

bnolsen
11-01-2015, 04:34 PM
i just popped off my fretboard with a putty knife and also pulled off the top. the glue is fairly brittle and didn't cause any trouble. I think the worst spot was where the fretboard overlaps the soundboard.

If possible don't remove the top. replacing the fretboard should be more than sufficient to make this nice and playable again.

Captain Simian
11-01-2015, 05:22 PM
When Luthiers take stuff apart, heat is key. It softens glue, making it relatively easy to separate joints. The question is... How to apply heat without doing damage?


Scooter

I was wondering the same thing recently. I think what I would try to remove the top would be to place a towel over it then heat the edges with an iron.

Xtradust
11-01-2015, 06:16 PM
I read that Schoenhut obtained a license from Magic Fluke, so feeling everything was cool and they were $25, I bought two for my kids to...do with what they like.

Both came with a bulge in the fretboard, right were the neck meets the body. They were unplayable. So I called the seller and long story short, they sent two more. Guess what, two more bulged fretboards. Cheap knock-offs sure ain't what they used to be!

So, I decided to pry off a fretboard and replace it with one I bought on ebay for $8. The new fretboard is great, but I'm now going to have to add a nut and replace the bridge.

From what I saw, I felt they were using hot glue. I believe the excessive heat of the hot glue created the bulge in the fretboard. It's pretty tough stuff, but it eventually gives in to prying. Here's a picture of the neck after I removed the fretboard. I set the fretboard back on top in the pic.

I think the soundboard would pop right off. But I don't think I would use much heat. The plastic doesn't seem to react well to heat. If you're not saving the soundboard, you might sacrifice it in favor of an unaffected body.

Good luck with your project!
84905

Xtradust
11-02-2015, 06:52 AM
I had some time today...but this took about 3 mins. The top popped off without any resistance. It was really surprising. If I hadn't already glued down the fretboard, I would have considered replacing the soundboard with...sumthin.
84922849238492484925

bnolsen
11-02-2015, 10:37 AM
nice. what fretboard is that you tossed on there?

Captain Simian
11-02-2015, 02:54 PM
I had some time today...but this took about 3 mins. The top popped off without any resistance. It was really surprising. If I hadn't already glued down the fretboard, I would have considered replacing the soundboard with...sumthin.
84922849238492484925

That is the cheapest looking laminate I've ever seen. Wow!

UkuleleHill
11-02-2015, 02:57 PM
Someday I am going to pry mine apart and replace it with Carbon Fiber... I just haven't yet...

Xtradust
11-02-2015, 04:28 PM
nice. what fretboard is that you tossed on there?

I bought the fretboard on ebay. I think they were 2 for $15ish, from China. They're really very good quality.

I glued the soundboard back down and screwed on a new wooden bridge with a removable saddle and it looks like I'll be able to set it up once the glue dries.

Xtradust
11-02-2015, 04:34 PM
That is the cheapest looking laminate I've ever seen. Wow!

It was about the thinnest plywood I've ever seen, with a paper sticker as the top layer. But, I bent it up against the fretboard when I was trying to get at the screws under the bridge and it didn't crack or even creek. Popped right back into place when I glued it back too.

We shall see how this thing turns out.

Booli
11-03-2015, 07:37 PM
Hi folks,

Sorry for the late acknowledgment of your replies.

Thank you for your contributions, photos and suggestions.

I truly appreciate the effort to help me. :)

I restrung my Schoenhut yesterday (Fremont Blacklines re-entrant) and after playing it a while, I have decided, for the moment, that I cannot bring myself to tear it apart, even if I would rebuild it into something else later.

I might change my mind again, down the road, and I'm so sorry if I got everyone excited for no reason now.

It seems UAS with no budget to feed the disease is making me a bit crazy. I also realized that I might have all the parts to build a cigar box uke, and that would not involve destroying any other instrument.

If time and energy allows, I may pursue that as a new project. I know about CB Gitty and the forums on cigarboxnation.com, so have good access to other resources if necessary.

Blessings,

Booli :)