View Full Version : Davo's solid body electric tenor uke build!

04-25-2017, 03:21 AM
Hey guys,

Since this is my first post I'll do a quick intro, My names Davo, I turned 30 yesterday, I'm pretty handy with tools, I live in Perth Australia and I really want a tenor uke!

I have a nice left over plank of an aussie hardwood called Marri, So I figured I'd try my hand at building a uke. I already have a couple of acoustic ukes so I thought an electric would be a nice change and a lot easier to make.

I'm doing this on the cheap, so a lot of the hardware is coming from the wonderful people on ebay, all the way from China :) so I have a bit of a wait for it to arrive.

So here's a breakdown of what it'll be:

Solid Marri body
Marri neck and head
Rosewood fretboard (probably stained black as I dont think the two tone wood colour will appeal to me)
Rosewood bridge with an under saddle piezo pickup
black tuning pegs
Aquila tenor strings

I've already cut out the body and sanded it to shape, I'll router the edges when I've cut out and attached the neck, but I can't do that until the fretboard arrives so I have the right dimentions.

So...here's where I am at the moment


It'll be a passive pickup, connecting directly to the end jack, my next uke will be a completely different travel uke with an active pickup if this build goes ok.

This is the style I like, although mine won't have a volume control and will be slimmer


Anyway thanks for reading and let me know what you think, I know theres not much to look at but there will be :)


04-25-2017, 03:54 AM
Welcome to UU. I have a similar project on my to-do list…just haven't quite gotten to it yet. Looking forward to seeing your progress, please post pics along the journey. Good luck!

04-26-2017, 10:30 AM
That is a good start. I actually just finished making my own electric ukulele and I'm in the middle of building another one. I'll follow this thread closely..99665

04-26-2017, 10:50 AM
Wait just a minute there jhoneil….
That uke of yours needs it's own thread so we can properly praise it :)
And more pics would be nice too...

04-27-2017, 03:37 AM
Wow! That is a thing of beauty!! Impressive work. What sort of finish does that have?

04-28-2017, 06:51 AM
I just used Tru oil for the finish.

04-29-2017, 06:23 AM
A passive pickup direct to the end jack will work. Just remember that it will sound pretty quiet and ordinary without a preamp. An outboard preamp will work well but there is a good reason for most piezo pickup instruments having onboard preamps.


04-29-2017, 07:02 PM
Slow progress... I have the neck cut out, I can't sand back to the final shape until the fretboard arrives, so I've got a couple of mm either side.
The diagonal line on the side is where I'll cut the neck, flip the head 180 degrees and glue it back on to give me the same angle as my other ukes,
I'll attach the neck to the body with a lap joint and use some stubby flat head screws that will be covered with the fret board so they won't be visible.
I'm thinking of using an oil/wax combo as a finish so I'm glad you said yours was an oil finish jhoneil :)
Thanks for the advise Anthony, I'm really hesitant to cut away a big hole on the back to accommodate all the tech, so I'm thinking of getting an outboard preamp as you said, maybe on the next build I'll have the guts to try and build an active one!

04-29-2017, 10:15 PM
Thanks for the advise Anthony, I'm really hesitant to cut away a big hole on the back to accommodate all the tech, so I'm thinking of getting an outboard preamp as you said, maybe on the next build I'll have the guts to try and build an active one!

Nothing wrong with using an outboard preamp. If I was to have something like this built I would probably specify that I was using an outboard preamp. I was just giving you a heads up.


04-29-2017, 11:39 PM
I appreciate any help/info/advise I can get, this is my first build after all :) and I've only been researching the electric side of things for about a month so I am very new to all this! On this build I would like a clean bare look to it, but if this works I'd like to add all the bells and whistles to my next, even a headphone output as its going to be a travel uke.
I do have a question regarding my mini amp, that has a volume and a tone control, is that different to the controls on the side of a uke when are just volume and tone? or do they only differ when the uke has trebble, bass and volume? thanks in advance

04-30-2017, 03:54 PM
Amplification, pre-amplification and tone circuits are another kettle of fish that I don't feel expert on enough to comment in detail. The basic concepts to understand are that the raw signal from the piezo pickup element is VERY weak and on its own the signal makings its way down the cable will have a lot of background noise in relation to the signal you want to hear. Giving the signal its first stage of amplification (pre-amplification) very close to the element helps improve the signal to noise ratio.

There is also the important issue of impedance. I'm not qualified to go into detail on impedance but the important concept is that if you don't convert the impedance from the pickup element to the impedance that the amplifier expects then you will get a thin, quacky sound.


05-02-2017, 02:04 AM
Thank you very much for taking the time to write such a detailed reply Anthony! It sounds like I have a lot more researching to do!
But in the meantime I received a birthday parcel from my family back in the UK, it got caught in customs because my dad sent over a cigar box ukulele he made for me!!! :D
I'm so stoked, this is my first concert uke and my first cigar box one!
Solid mahogany neck and head, solid brass friction tuners my dad made from scratch.
And my girlfriend told me I've got an electro acoustic tenor uke coming late for my birthday too! Haha

06-10-2017, 10:06 PM
Finally got a chance to get on with the build,
This was the dry fit before I glued it all up, it's in the clamps at the moment, I didn't want a metal plate on the back so I went for a mortise and tenon joint for strength, the fret board has been glued on and the neck shaped and sanded, holes drilled for the pickup and endpin jack. I'll give the whole thing a final sand then glue on the bridge, after that it should be ready for an oil!

06-12-2017, 03:22 AM
She lives!! I may still give her another coat of tung oil but I'm so happy that A: the scale length was accurate, and B: the bridge didn't rip off when I tuned her :D my main worries with my first ever build. And as an added bonus she sounds great too! I've only ever had cheaper ukes so I'm not sure my opinion is worth much but I'm happy!
I'll try and get some better shots in the morning, what do you guys think?

06-12-2017, 04:29 AM
Looking great! I'd say your first ever build is a great success. Of course we'll want to see more pics so we can ogle… and some video, and perhaps a world tour so we can touch it and see it in person… :)

06-14-2017, 12:58 PM
I've taken some more photos but I've run out of upload space, how do I delete previous photos I've uploaded? I've checked the box but can't find a delete button anywhere! Anyway here's a couple new shots, being in the light has highlighted some flaws in the finish, a couple of areas I didn't sand to a smooth enough finish so it looks like I'll take the strings off and give it another sand in a better lit area, and I think I'll wait and give it a couple of coats of oil, I was just eager to play it! Haha