View Full Version : Ammoon uke kits

12-10-2017, 12:56 AM
A few weeks ago, I posted a thread about using a cheap donor instrument to experiment with soundboard bracing. I then spotted Ammoon DIY kits on Amazon and bought a tenor (26) version for the same purpose.



This post is to point out that using this kit can be a cheap and easy introduction to instrument making ( though the quality will not be as good as a solid wood kit ).

The laminate soundboard has no bridge patch or fan bracing and is unlikely to produce a decent sounding instrument. This can be improved by replacing the laminate soundboard with a solid one.

My soundbox was perfectly symmetrical: the back was a little deformed due to the clamping. The roughed out neck was fine: the fretboard was a couple of mm too long from the end to the first fret. I also discarded the bridge and strings provided. The kit comes with no instructions so the builder needs to know where to attach the bridge for correct intonation.

As before I protected the back whilst removing the existing top. I reinforced the kerfing as I believe stiff linings make a better sounding uke. My new Engelmann spruce top has a similar bracing pattern to that used by Tom Rodrigues. I added walnut binding to the top which has a simple rosette (made from strips of veneer).

I joined the neck to the box with threaded insert and bolt. The instrument is finished in true oil over shellac and has low G Living Waters strings.

For about 15 hrs effort, a total outlay of less than 50, I now have a loud, punchy, decent sounding/looking instrument. For me, another successful experiment in bracing and maybe encouragement for others to try this kit as their first attempt at making a uke. For those of you wondering, the upper bout has a detachable vinyl protective sheet attached.


12-10-2017, 06:04 PM
Looks pretty good. Yes, kits are a good way to go if you have never built an acoustic instrument. A good way to get your feet wet and then once you learn the basics you can build an instrument to your own specs. I've built a number of different type instruments and I started with kits on every one. However be aware that some kits just give you the raw unmilled wood and expect you do figure it out (hello LMI) and some do it all for you. If you have no experience, I recommend the the pre-milled kit. I'll also say your first pre-milled kit is gonna sound like chit. But the point isn't the sound at this point but learning how the parts get glued together. Then you can build a really good sounding instrument. Good luck!

12-11-2017, 06:08 PM
Nice job. What do you do to remove the top? I’m not a builder but would like to try a kit. I’d probably be better with a solid kit with instructions.

12-11-2017, 09:30 PM
M3Ukulele: The unwanted top can be hacked off using whatever means is possible. I use a dremel to cut about an inch inside the top allowing more at the heel and neck block. A saw may be required at the end of the cross braces above and below the soundhole. I then make lots of saw cuts, say an inch apart around the edge and gentle heat and a little force will detach the remaining pieces. A little clean up may then be required. Its important to get a clean flat surface without removing material from the sides. One way of doing this would be to rub the box across a flat board with sandpaper attached.

The start of this video shows the process of removing the final pieces of the top (done on a guitar top).


12-03-2018, 11:41 PM
Hi greenscoe,
thanks for sharing your experience!
Was the glue easily removable with your gentle heat? When I had a look at a cheap chinese uke I thought to modify, it looked like glue from a heat gun, and I think that would require quite a high temperature to remove.
I was intrigued for some time by the idea to change top bracing (and add steel strings) or to swap the soundboard but didn't dare it yet.

12-04-2018, 03:57 AM
Reply to Moddy:

I have used 2 different Ammoon kits to experiment with spruce soundboards and bracing patterns. The laminate mahogany kit is easier to deal with since theres no binding. The zebrawood laminate kits had plastic binding which I found impossible to remove intact. When removing the top using heat from a gun the result is a hot sticky mess which can easily burn your hands. Without the binding there's no problem removing the top.

You need to be patient. The veneer on the sides is only 0.6 mm thick so you have to take care so as not to damage it!

You need to be aware of neck alignment-its easy to end up with a high action or a fretboard that's not centrally aligned. If you use a donor instrument and cut the fretboard at the neck/box interface, you also need to avoid a hump or step in the fretboard when you glue the fretboard extension back on the new soundboard.

Either using a donor instrument or an Ammoon kit are quick ways of testing new bracing designs without having to build an instrument from scratch and without spending much!

Here's a photo of the Zebrawood kit with my spruce top/bracing. I put maple binding on this on both the back and top.


Pete Howlett
12-04-2018, 07:35 AM
Great stuff. I like this idea...