View Full Version : Personal Soundhole on Ukulele - Makala Dolphin

Paul Cote
01-11-2011, 02:03 AM

I saw pictures and heard youtubes of two different ukuleles with personal soundholes, the Riptide and the Tall Grass Bamboo. I am very curious about the soundhole idea. I noticed that the Riptide has the soundhole on the lower bout of the ukulele while the Tall Grass has it on the upper bout.

I am thinking of putting a soundhole in my Makala Dolphin. I want to go to the hardware store and get a 1 1/8 or 1 1/4 " holesaw to make the cut. I don't know what would be the proper diameter for the hole to get the best tone.

Any thoughts on this operation?

01-11-2011, 04:07 AM
Sounds like a cool idea. Did you check out the comparison video (with and without the additional sound hole/port) that TallGrass did?

This thread might do better over in the Builders forum. Maybe one of the mods can move it...?

Paul Cote
01-11-2011, 04:29 AM
I did check out the video and also read articles about doing it on guitar and am thinking the upper bout 'bout now... idk if I have my old electrician's hole saw around.

01-11-2011, 05:30 AM
You might also look at Chuck Moore's- Moore Bettah ukuleles.
He has done many side hole ports. Post on the builders forum and he might respond.


01-11-2011, 05:39 AM
I'd go really slow and use a sharp cutter if its one of the wood dolphins. I know when I drilled the pickup jack hole in my Kala Spruce top (laminate sides) I was surprised at how thin the sides were and how easily they could have been damaged with a mishandled drill or saw. Fortunately, I was able to do it successfully, but it was a bit scary. If it is one of the plastic bodied ones, then you should not have much to worry about (I think lol).

I'd also try to figure out how to hold the uke in a vise on the drill press for this operation, since you are drilling a relative large hole with lots of opportunities for the bit to tear something. I don't think I would worry too much about what exact size to drill given that someone already sized the other soundhole, presumably to give the best sound for the chamber.

01-11-2011, 07:28 AM
Another option might be to mark for the hole and use a Dremel tool with one of those down-cutting spiral bits like they use to cut out holes in dry-wall.


Paul Cote
01-12-2011, 02:07 AM
the hole saw worked great. One hole has limited effect and two holes kills the dolphin. I don't see a huge advantage to the soundhole on the dolphin to tell you the truth. Does make a little more sound come out of the side but whooped dee doo. My son's white dolphin is still louder "without a hole". So, if you are picky, you can get an awesome dolphin, if you can get somewhere where they have a bunch on display. I suppose thats not a likely thing to happen. I will say that plastic back is pretty darn tough! And the way the top is attached, which is really visible when you cut into it, is real solid too. No braces in a dolphin so I guess thats one of the reasons they sound so good.

01-12-2011, 05:03 AM
I put a personal sound hole in a Kala baritone that I have. I used masking tape, two layers, marked where I wanted to cut, and used a dremel for the rough cut. I made a cross as my sound hole. Obviously, you really can make any design you want as long as there is enough opening to make a difference. The change in the Kala was dramatic. I'm not sure if I'll do any of my other ukes, but it really did make a significant change.

01-12-2011, 01:32 PM
To reiterate what xjumper said - any time you're drilling or cutting wood, taping the surface will go a long way to reducing splintering. If you're drilling a small hole (up to about 1/2") use a forstner bit.

01-13-2011, 03:43 AM
There was a great article in the Guild of American Luthiers mag where a guy built a guitar with something wild like 10 or 12 ports. Then he plugged them with corks and tried to choose the best sounding location. Verdict: it didn't especially matter where the port was, it sounded better both for the player and for the audience.

Don't know how much help it'll be on the Dolphin, but let us know!

Paul Cote
01-31-2011, 08:37 AM
The first hole was great but the second hole sort of ruined the tone and then I put duct tape over the second hole but that didn't seem to get the tone back. I think one hole is ok. The first hole was on the upper bout and that was fine. The second hole was on the lower bout.

Paul Cote
01-31-2011, 08:39 AM
also its cutting into plastic with a holesaw so its not too hard to do. I then painted over the plastic with some black paint because it was a black painted ukulele and it looks ok too. I don't think I would try it on another one though. If I did I might make a smaller hole.