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nravic
05-29-2018, 11:43 AM
Hey UU,

Looking to build a concert uke over the summer. Not a fully developed woodworker, and since I'm hesitant on bending I've opted to build a uke with a body resembling a lute or fluke, pictured here:
109348

The only thing I know about concerts is that they're generally > 20 inches long, so I'm not sure where I should start with regards to dimensions. I'd also like it to not be a laminate, so I plan on shaping a block of wood (of a thickness I'm also currently unsure of) and hollowing it out to form the body then placing the soundboard on top.

I'd appreciate links to beginner information regarding common concert ukulele body dimensions (I'm mostly concerned with the thickness) and any tips or tricks that would be helpful to someone starting out.

Thanks !

Tudorp
05-29-2018, 11:55 AM
The measurement you are needing to start with is the "scale". Once you have the scale you are wanting, that will determine how long the fret board will be, then figure out the body, and whatever the total length is, it is what it is. But the critical dimension is the scale.

nravic
05-29-2018, 12:03 PM
How would the scale affect the thickness of the body?

mmn
05-29-2018, 03:05 PM
As a luthier with about 20 years experience I would recommend you start with a kit such as StewMac's. Good instructions and you will learn the basic elements, tools, and techniques of building an instrument. Then you can proceed to select, thickness, shape, and bend your own woods with confidence that the techniques you learned building a kit with pre-shaped parts will transfer and help you produce a fine instrument.

Tudorp
05-30-2018, 12:28 AM
I am not a "Luth", but have built several years ago and did some reading. So, take what I say with a grain of salt. The 12th fret is the midway measurement for the scale. If you took a uke you have already and measure from the nut to the 12th fret, then from the 12th fret to the saddle, you will notice that those measurements are the same. That is what you are building on. Once you choose a scale length, there are charts that will tell you the fret placements based on that scale. The body, can be whatever your imagination wants, but keep in mind that the size, especially the lower bout, will effect your sound because as you know, that is your sound chamber to size of that, and the thickness of the wood, especially the top makes a different in the sound. So, it's all up to you and what you want it to sound like. There is more science to it than that, but that is pretty basic. As you know the top, where the saddle is mounted, is the sound board, so that part of the uke makes differences on tones etc. (larger, lower tones, smaller higher tones, thinner wood, crisper tones, thicker warmer tones as a rule of thumb.) All this is from the perspective of a non professional as I mentioned.

ChuckBarnett
05-30-2018, 05:52 AM
As a luthier with about 20 years experience I would recommend you start with a kit such as StewMac's. Good instructions and you will learn the basic elements, tools, and techniques of building an instrument. Then you can proceed to select, thickness, shape, and bend your own woods with confidence that the techniques you learned building a kit with pre-shaped parts will transfer and help you produce a fine instrument.

Hijacking this thread for a second as another newbie builder...
Like you, I am not a woodworker, so I am learning two things at once!

I opted to build from scratch so as to totally immerse myself in the process. Also and probably more the impetus, I found some wood! :-) stumbled across a garage sale with a tabletop made of quilted maple (I didn't even know what it was called at the time, just look pretty.). It had just the right width boards to make a tenor ukulele. 2 years later I'm still at it...

So, I agree with Michael. If you want to have this done at the end of summer, buy a kit. :-)

mmn
05-30-2018, 09:36 AM
I just think a kit, a quality one, affords a better chance for success and is a confidence builder for a beginner. There're also less, and less pricey, tools involved. You don't have to search for good tone wood, thickness sand, bookmatch, carve and shape a neck/head stock, cut a soundhole, bend the sides, cut fret board and slots, cut and shape a bridge, nut and saddle, all of which provide ample opportunity for potentially expensive scew-ups!

You'll get a decent instrument out of it for not much money, some good skills and experience, and you'll know when you're done whether you want to jump into scratch building.

Tudorp
05-30-2018, 10:27 AM
I also think for a first time just get a kit. Ya might also think about just building one out of a cigar box (Cigar Box Uke). I thought about a kit once, but personally, I wanted to learn more about setting up the scale, etc myself, which a kit generally doesn't do because all that is done for you. I scratch built, but did A LOT of reading and research on scale, etc before I even cut my first piece of wood. Because, I think that is the most important part of it (is the scale, and figuring all that out). I cut and bent all my own wood, made my own necks, cut my own fret board, and hammered in all my own frets, inlaid my own markers. I just felt that was most satisfying. Making a custom length scale, and figuring out the fret spacing. To me, that was fun, but can also be pretty frustrating. Also, I found using Mahogany, because it steams, and bends easier than a more brittle wood like Koa. I found Koa was very unforgiving to work with. Fortunately, I personally like Mahogany better anyway (warmer tones). Somewhere, deep in the threads, I have a few posts on progress, and what I was doing. It was several years ago, but may still be on here. Some here in this area, and some in the Uke Talk area.

hoji
05-31-2018, 03:33 PM
Hey, nravic. Another new guy here, I am on my second "real" uke right now. I started with very limited woodworking experience about three or four years ago, making cigar box instruments, then moved on to using gourds for the bodies, and finally now I am getting into actually bending wood. It's taken a while to get my skills up to this point and acquired all the tools, equipment and various supplies that go into it. I guess it depends on where you want to take this.. are you looking to keep this up for years to come and continue advancing, or just looking to to have one uke that you built yourself and be happy with that. If the latter, a kit might be the way to go. Otherwise, it's a long journey of slow and steady progress. If you're in it for the long haul, I would recommend starting with a cigar box or gourd, and concentrate in the top and learn about wood stiffness, bracing, setup, and of course practice, practice, ...

A huge help for me in mapping out the fretboard and figuring out scale length is this site:
http://www.ekips.org/tools/guitar/fretfind2d/

This guy also has lots of great info on design and measurements:

http://www.liutaiomottola.com

Hope that helps...

hoji
05-31-2018, 03:39 PM
Also, forgot to mention, this is a really good beginning book, which will give you a good idea of all that you're in for:

https://hanalimastore.com/products/hana-lima-ia-ukulele-construction-manual