View Full Version : Tahitian ukulele, new built in Canada

12-18-2015, 05:33 AM
I went to French Polynesia this summer, very impressed with the place and the people/culture.
Bought 2 Tahitian ukulele, turns out to be very challenging to play Polynesian style and I am a seasoned guitar player.
I wished I bought more uku's there, they are so beautiful. But wife said not allowed.
So I have decided to make my own, and save the real thing from wearing out
Here is the first of 4 I am going to build. Wood is African sapele. supposed to be excellent tonal qualities, very similar wood to Brazilian mahogany

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-18-2015, 11:31 AM
Nice. I own a few Tahitian ukes and you're right, getting that strum down takes a great deal of skill. The body wood won't contribute too much to the sound. Just make sure you have a nice piece for the soundboard (the disk in the center). Cedar is a good choice. Looks good so far.

12-18-2015, 11:56 AM
I have a Tahitian pro uke player friend, and was intrigued by his Tahitian Uke for the combination of solid body & acoustic features.
Since you're a guitar player making your own, you might try making a second one with steel strings and a mag pickup in the wood above the hole. I think the "frame" is plenty strong but if cross grain is a problem it would just take a little reinforcement. You can get nice adjustable bridges in a few sizes with a search on moongazer music (no affiliation). And a custom pickup can be made from telecaster style single coil kits from StewMac (use two for humbucking).
The placement near the middle of the scale will make a very mellow sound to start with, and you can take it from there with effects (if you're not averse to going electric - sorry if this was offensive)

-Vinnie in Juneau

12-19-2015, 11:33 AM
Great looking job.
The tahitian ukes i have seen have had conical, or at least bowl shaped resonating chambers. This may just be a function of ease of manufacture or something. Not sure if it would affect the sound much. The ones i saw in Vanuatu were really rough and ready.

12-20-2015, 03:43 PM
8665786656866558665886659Thank you all for your replies and suggestions
Attached are pictures of my progress so far, and also picture of some beautiful ukuleles with one that I am copying

- sound hole: the two ukuleles that I bought from FP have straight walls; so I simply copy that idea.

Now a new challenge is coming up for me, how to do the decorative carvings on the face of the body easily? I have done minimal carving in the past.

Inksplosive AL
12-20-2015, 03:58 PM
I had this video in my favorites for awhile now just to watch the carving come to life. Doesn't look like anything easy about it just go slow and enjoy the process.


12-23-2015, 04:28 AM

Progress so far, fillet edges, routed lip for tone wood
Home made adjustable round Dremel routing jig

01-03-2016, 12:23 PM

Second Tahitian ukulele is now roughed out, made of Canadian maple.
Not usually used by the Tahitians, probably due to high costs.

Built slightly different than the first one, with sound holes at front and back. Which ever one sounds better, the other one will get plugged.
Top piece of maple is hollowed out inside, with a 160mm dia front piece that is about 2.5mm thick.

01-03-2016, 04:10 PM
Really interesting looking instruments. A sort of wooden resonator ukulele...