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View Full Version : Ukulele modification/repair



aMawds
01-02-2011, 10:24 AM
I'm new here, but this seems to be the right place to post this question. I have an older ukulele from "Universal Worldwide Trading Inc." I know it's an extremely cheap ukulele, but I just bought a Badaax soprano in black, so I wanted to do some modifications to the cheap uke I already had basically for fun, as well as the experience. I got it for free from a friend who got it on a trip to Hawaii, so if I screw up, it isn't a big deal. It is the uke that got me started though, so I would like to keep from destroying it. That said, I have good common sense, and I'm good with fiddling around with things until they're perfect.

Now, for starters the neck seems to be ever so slightly separated from the uke at the back. I would like to take the neck off, and reset it to get proper intonation in conjunction with modifying the bridge for final adjustment. I was also thinking about replacing the sound board but that depends on the material it is made from. Looking inside, it does appear to be real, not veneered wood at least on the back so I'm hoping the sound board is as well. The neck is solid and heavy, but they did a crappy job of staining so I want to redo it.

I know this probably sounds like a major waste of time to mess with such a cheap ukulele, but as far as I can tell it is a good base to start with and I really want to do it. Frets are spaced perfectly, and it already sounds pretty good for such a cheap little ukulele. I have access to a dremel and plenty of tools for it, as well as wood glue, stain, clear coats, and I have a steady hand. I know a picture is worth a thousand words, so here's two grand worth.

http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/th_IMG_20110102_131256.jpg (http://s183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/?action=view&current=IMG_20110102_131256.jpg)
Here you can see the angle of the neck in relation to the body.

http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/th_IMG_20110102_131609.jpg (http://s183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/?action=view&current=IMG_20110102_131609.jpg)
And here is just an image of the uke.

Thanks in advance for anyone willing to help me out :p

ksquine
01-02-2011, 10:55 AM
Yep...major waste of time but what the heck. The soundhole is cool anyway
I don't see any neck separation in the photo. You can probably fix it without removing the neck. Just take the strings off, apply some glue in the gap and clamp it back together.
Removing the neck and top would be pretty drastic surgery....almost more work than building a new one. Maybe you should think about building one or a stewmac kit?? Keep a tracing of that sound hole though...it is pretty neat.

aMawds
01-02-2011, 11:01 AM
Yep...major waste of time but what the heck. The soundhole is cool anyway
I don't see any neck separation in the photo. You can probably fix it without removing the neck. Just take the strings off, apply some glue in the gap and clamp it back together.
Removing the neck and top would be pretty drastic surgery....almost more work than building a new one. Maybe you should think about building one or a stewmac kit?? Keep a tracing of that sound hole though...it is pretty neat.

The issue with the gap is it is covered with lacquer that sort of stretched with the movement of the neck. I'm thinking I'll just sand it down and try what you said about putting glue in and clamping. Is the fretboard supposed to be parallel with the sound board?

Bradford
01-02-2011, 12:09 PM
The problem with removing the neck is determining how it was joined to the body in the first place. If it is just a simple glued butt joint, that is not too bad, but it could be dowelled, tenoned, bolted or dovetailed, all of which may increase the difficulty of disassembly. Ideally the fretboard should be parallel to the soundboard, but the neck angle, bridge/saddle height and heght of the action are all related, so the neck angle may need to be different. Good Luck.

Brad

aMawds
01-02-2011, 03:44 PM
So I ended up just pulling off the bridge and sanding the bottom down. Cut deeper notches in the saddle, and reinstalled it all to correct most of the problems. Intonation is actually surprisingly good now. I'll most likely take it back apart, and sand it all down to refinish the whole ukulele in a nice stain but I'll probably have to take the fingerboard off and well... I'll post a new thread when I get to work on it because I have a few questions. Until then, Happy New Years and I'll be following the threads to see what some of you are up to. Thanks for the help.