View Full Version : I'm replacing the front of my uke. Looking for advice and modification ideas.

03-14-2012, 09:22 AM

I dropped my uke on the ground and the front split. I decided to take the uke apart and replace the front (see the attached picture). I'm looking for

Tips on creating a new front
Type of wood I should consider (original was a spruce top) -Anything that will increase the volume would be great. I could even use a metal top or some other unconventional material if it seems fitting. Where should I buy the wood (if it is a wood top)?
Suggestions for modifications - I'm planning on adding a K&K Big Shot passive pickup

Here are some details about my uke

I bought it for $50 so I'm just going to do the repairs myself
It is an applause UA10. Has great volume for a soprano but I would love to get more if possible.
The body is made of plastic
I currently don't have any tools but can probably find some somewhere

Thanks in advance!

Kayak Jim
03-14-2012, 10:33 AM
I think you'd be further ahead just to glue the top back together (with a reinforcement behind the split), and then back on.

03-14-2012, 11:31 AM
I agree you should probably just fix the spruce top and put it back on. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't have some fun in the process :)
along with the pickup you might put in a microphone with a blend pot.
or 2 or more strategically placed soundboard transducers with switches and/or blenders.
how about a gutted compressor pedal with knobs and bypass switch sticking thru the top.
add a reverb or analog delay to the comp!
and a built in tuner with the display facing up thru a cutout window on the upper bout!
as long as the top is off, how about drilling the bridge out for pins.
so much fun you could have with that $50 uku! :)

03-14-2012, 12:01 PM
wow, that is interesting. I had to look up what a blend pot is. Here is an interesting question for you then...I sometimes add rhythm to my playing by tapping on the body. With a transducer pickup, I expect this tapping to create an unbearable base drum. But with a microphone, I shouldn't have the same problem, right? Any recommendations on a mic for a uke? Can you tell me a bit more about bridge pins? I don't like how the strings are currently attached (you tie a note and slide them in a notch) but I don't know a lot about alternatives for the ukulele.

As for repairing the old top, I had been thinking about just gluing it back together with a support in back....however, the top has a little crack at the base of the bridge. The problem with the crack is it is very tight and doesn't seem to go all the way through and yet it buzzes horribly when I play certain notes. I want to get ride of that buzzing! I tried putting some glue to fill it but it is just too tight. I think I'm going to give up on it as a lost cause.

03-14-2012, 01:06 PM
I think K&K, LR Baggs and Fishman all make systems with integrated pickups and mics.
Bridge pins are the spike shaped pins with a round top that hold the strings in the bridge, available in a variety of materials like plastic, bone or wood, usually found on steel string acoustic guitars, some higher end uku makers have been using them.

Kayak Jim
03-14-2012, 02:06 PM
I tried putting some glue to fill it but it is just too tight.

CA glue (Super Glue) should wick in there no problem.

03-14-2012, 02:56 PM
I've thought about doing the same thing with a UA10. I'd love to see one with nice walnut or koa (like the special edition they did some years back woth the palmtree sound holes).

Good luck.

03-15-2012, 12:27 PM
As a side note, I can't believe how awesome the UA10 is. I bought mine used for $50. I don't really like how the strings are attached near the bridge and I had to adjust the saddle and nut but the uke sounds great. So loud for a soprano.

03-15-2012, 01:15 PM
Where did you find one for $50? I love mine. It is one of my fav. ukes to play (along with my Martin).

03-15-2012, 02:05 PM
I doubt you'll find more volume from any other wood than spruce.

If you've never made a top before, there's a 90% chance that what you make will sound worse than what you have already. Most builders make quite a few before they get one right.

You'd be better off glueing that top together - it looks like a clean break. Titebond I is easiest for beginners, and you will need to work out some way of clamping the pieces together so they are flat and in line. Not too much pressure, though, or you'll crack the rest. Reinforcement is by cleats, small cross-grain pieces, added after the top is back in one piece. Model shops sell 1/16 spruce, and 1/2 (along the grain) x 1/4 pieces, glued with the grain running 90 degrees to the top, are what you want, Five or six of them, I'd guess.

03-16-2012, 08:10 AM
@chris -> bought it off of kijiji. It had a lot of problems with buzzing and I managed to fix them all except one.

@profChirs -> Thanks for you knowledgeable reply. I have one problem with my old top in that there is a tiny tiny crack just under the saddle. It doesn't go all the way through and yet it still manages to buzz. I have no idea how to fix that particular crack. It is too tight for me to get glue into it. I figured replacing the top might be easier than fixing that crack. Why is it that spruce has the most volume?

Kayak Jim
03-16-2012, 08:13 AM
CA glue (Super Glue) should wick in there no problem.

Have you tried the Super Glue?

03-16-2012, 09:13 AM
Hi. I haven't tried super glue. However, I did try some wood working glue which is even less viscous than super glue and I had not luck getting it in. The crack is super tight, just a cm or 2 long, and only buzzes on certain frequencies. I'm a little weary of using anything other than hide glue now because someone told me that using other types of glue contaminates the crack if it reopens and glue does not stick well to dry glue.

03-16-2012, 12:46 PM
If you have hide glue, make up a fairly thin mix (like thin cream). Heat up the top around the crack with a hairdryer (carefully - stop when it feels hot to your finger). Then paint some glue along the crack and flex the top gently - this will work the glue into the crack. Wipe off the glue left on the top, and once it starts to gel, clean up the residue of the glue with a cloth damped (not wetted) with warm water.