View Full Version : Question for the luthiers

01-08-2012, 09:22 AM
I'm curious how long it takes to actually build a ukulele from scratch? Obviously there would be some variables for things like inlay, etc, but what's a ballpark? Or is it a trade secret? ;)

Pete Howlett
01-08-2012, 09:48 AM
Long enough to keep my attention!

01-08-2012, 12:24 PM
Not as long as it takes to inlay one, not counting the engraving, which can really take long.

I actually put together an 'ukulele in two days, bit took me the next 30 to finish it. And everything was already milled.
Haven't done that since.


01-08-2012, 12:46 PM
I took Rick Turner's build class and we completed a uke in two full weekends, roughly 24ish hours of working/learning. The neck was roughed out, the sides were pre-bent, the fret board was pre-cut and the saddle was routed.


01-08-2012, 02:16 PM
Depends on what you call scratch. And how hooked up you are with machinery. Are you resawing a board? Batch building takes longer, but less time per instrument. Not trying to dodge the question, just trying to say that it depends on lots of stuff, including experience. Call it two days, not counting finishing. I've also had mostly finished instruments sit around for years after losing interest. If I know there's a sale at the end it goes much faster. If I only built for myself I could crank them right out. A day job and age can really get in the way. If you have the drive to kick on through despite all the obstacles you should cherish it, whatever your degree of experience.

01-08-2012, 02:29 PM
My personal record is 3 days with a simple oil finish.
It ended up being about 40 hours of work...
my other builds generally take about that long with a little more time spent on finishing, i just spread that 40 hours out a little more...

The more I build I would definitely say I spend less time on the building and more time on the fit and finish.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
01-08-2012, 02:35 PM
I guess I'm slower than most. Takes me 40 to 50 hours to complete an uke. Finishing takes about 20% of that time. Throw in a couple of bells and whistles and I've added another 10 to 20 hours. Tack on another 10 hours or so for email communication and picture taking.

01-08-2012, 04:53 PM
A simple unbound soprano is around 20 hours with a TruOil finish. An arch top is about 4 times that long.


01-08-2012, 07:30 PM
Really depends on where you're starting from. Do you already have material suitably sized, or is their milling involved?

But lets just say we are talking about a simple unbound instrument and all material is in the ballpark of being ready to go, and a flat fret board. Not radiused. Then although I've never clocked on and off to have an accurate time because it doesn't matter that much to me, I'd guess it's between 30 to 40 hours with a satin lacquer finish and all set up ready to go.

When you start going into gloss finishes and adding binding and purflings, that can really add some time. Not only to install them. But the added time for drying, levelling and making sure everything is as spot on as you can possibly get it. Pore filling sessions and repeated levelling, spraying and buffing.

Makes one wonder what would posses anyone to want to take this up for a profession? Must be for the love of it. ;)

Liam Ryan
01-08-2012, 08:27 PM
I'm scared to work out how many hours it takes because then my brain will calculate the hourly rate I'd have to live off if I did this as a full time job

01-08-2012, 10:45 PM
Around about a week if I want to, and don't get too distracted. That is without a full finish, which can take a further two weeks!!

But, having said that, I could probably do five the same in less than two weeks (to the same stage.) That's 6 hour days, six days a week, including coffee breaks. ;)

01-08-2012, 11:27 PM
The Pallet uke I built last year was well documented and built with passion.. i've just had another look at that thread http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?46202-Something-I-ve-been-wanting-to-do&highlight=pallet and according to the dates, it took me 10 days to complete from scratch.