View Full Version : DIY Uke kit?

11-07-2015, 11:55 AM
Hey friends,

I am not, I repeat, not a luthier. I would like a simple but decent DIY kit to put together a uke or two with my kids. Any suggestions. I don't have a lot of extra cash right now, so think "best value".

Thanks in advance. I found several on ebay, but don't know which ones might be ok and which ones are terrible.


11-07-2015, 12:08 PM
Check out Wolfele. They make kits for school projects.

11-07-2015, 02:41 PM
Thank you Bob. I am checking them out now. Anyone else have any suggestions or experience?



11-07-2015, 04:08 PM
If cheap is your goal, you can't beat Grizzly: https://www.grizzly.com/products/Ukulele-Kit/H3125

11-07-2015, 04:09 PM
In the kit world, if you want glue and go you are looking at StewMac http://www.stewmac.com/Materials_and_Supplies/Kits/Ukulele/Tenor_Ukulele_Kit_with_DVD.html or grizzly http://www.grizzly.com/products/Soprano-Ukulele-Kit-Koa/T10458 both are in the $180 range. If you want more of a building experience then check out Hana Lima http://hanalimastore.com/collections/types?q=Ukulele%20Kits where you get to bend the sides. There are lesser work kits on eBay (glue on the neck type) out there

I did the Hana Lima and gained a lot of respect for true luthiers!

Have fun and keep us posted

PS: don't let the bending scare you. A heat gun and some pipe is all you need. Lots of YouTube out there to help you through the hole building process.

11-07-2015, 07:05 PM
Thanks a ton for all of the advise. I will check all of these out. When we decide and do one I'll post up some pics. Thanks again.


Phluffy the Destroyer
11-07-2015, 09:36 PM
Before I took up the ukulele I had a long, failed love affair with the guitar. I tried to learn how to play for years, but as it turns out playing guitar actually takes talent... However, as part of that ill-fated adventure I built several homemade instruments. If you want to have a little fun, you should consider making cigar box ukuleles. Cigar box guitars became popular during the Depression, and they're still used a lot for folk music and blues. Some of the earliest instructions for making a cigar box ukulele were printed in Popular Mechanics (https://books.google.com/books?id=9NwDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA946&lpg=PA946&dq=s.+h.+samuels+%22cigar+box+ukulele%22&source=bl&ots=B9mEsB_6wc&sig=9Q64hLJAyhw4cuL9EMR0KPL8arI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=YAriVK7NJcTBggSo9oC4DQ&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false) in 1917.

Cigar box guitar is a bit of a misnomer. They're actually built out of anything from cigar boxes to cookie tins. I've even seen pictures of one made out of a bedpan. They can be incredibly cheap to build, because virtually any part on a CBG can be made with found items. Someone with imagination can probably find all the parts to build one walking down the street in a commercial or industrial zone. There are some home made instruments out there that aren't much more than a stick and a length of wire. When you start getting into more evolved instruments it's amazing what some people come up with!

If you're considering a project with children, you can really unleash their creativity because they can make a nice sounding instrument out of anything they want to. Check out the photos at Cigar Box Nation (http://www.cigarboxnation.com/photo). There are over 5000 pages of pictures. They have a ukulele builders group there and a ukulele players group. If you have questions on how to build one, the forums are filled with very knowledgeable, experienced crafters that can answer just about all your questions and offer suggestions. You can also connect to companies like CB Gitty that provide parts, kits, and free instructions. For instance, if you want your home made ukulele to have more of a professional sound to it, you can just order the finger board and do the rest of the build yourself.

11-08-2015, 02:46 AM
I like Phluffs idea of a cigar box. You can get the fretboard and neck from Mike at Mainland Ukes quite reasonably http://shop.mainlandukuleles.com/category.sc;jsessionid=629FB273C4E26BBF02122DBE491 2D715.m1plqscsfapp01?categoryId=8

11-08-2015, 03:56 AM

11-08-2015, 11:31 AM
Ok thanks a ton. I am leaning towards the cigar box for money and coolness reasons. Thank you all for the info.

11-09-2015, 12:05 PM
The cigar box approach is a great idea, particularly with kids. There is a very active forum for cigar box guitars at http://www.cigarboxnation.com/forum that includes build instructions, etc. Remember that the only difference between a CB uke and a guitar will be the scale/neck length. Most CB guitars are 4 strings (although 3 if fairly common too). There is also a link on that page for C.B. Gitty, and they sell a uke kit that includes a pre-carved neck, pre-fretted fingerboard, tuners, etc. and (as I recall) a decent price. Cigar boxes of all types and sizes can be found on the web, particularly Ebay. If you want higher quality, the Mainland stuff is great.

Remember that the most challenging part is likely to be cutting the fret slots and setting the frets, then getting them all level and nicely rounded on the ends. A pre-fretted fingerboard is going to save you lots of time and potential frustration. You may still have to dress and level the frets, but at least they will hopefully be in the right place.

Have fun!!!!!