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View Full Version : Boredom+ Dremel + Koa Pili Koko = modifications



MARCOVGV
10-19-2012, 09:42 AM
So i was bored the other night and Ive been wanting to mod this Koa Pili Koko cutaway tenor i have.

One thing i like all my guitars and ukes to have is a Sound port! so i took it into the garage and used dremel cutting wheel to cut a square hole on the side of the uke. i followed up with a tiny sanding drum on the dremel and gave it a oval shape. I then hit it with some fine sand paper gave it a quick spray with some canned lacquer and boom instant sound port. took me like 15 mins. I love how this sounds! night and day. 80% of the time i play for my self so thats why i love the sound ports it shoots the music right in your face an d makes playing much more enjoyable.

I ordered a unbleached bone nut and saddle from stew mac and those will go on next.

now to get rid of those cheapo tuners this thing comes with. i have my eye on waverly open gear ukulele tuners but man are they expensivo! more than half the price of the KPK uke. i have a set of grover minis laying around i might just drill out the holes and pop those in. we will see. ill save the waverlys for the Brad Donaldson Ukes i have coming!

I love the koa pili koko uke. it really does sound great and for the price and i dont mind modding it since it was inexpensive so far so good.

http://i217.photobucket.com/albums/cc286/marcovgv/pilikoko_zps5c9cf636.jpg

pulelehua
10-19-2012, 10:30 AM
Wish I had that skill. If I had a Dremel and was bored, I'd probably end up adding a glassless window to the front room, putting a second drain in the sink, and killing the neighbour's chickens.

Well done, you!

MARCOVGV
10-19-2012, 10:47 AM
i love my dremel! replacement blades and bits are expensive tho.

lennymac
10-19-2012, 10:52 AM
Wow, that's impressive!! I'm not nearly as practical as you but am wondering if my local luthier could do something like that for me on one of my ukes. Does the sound port really make a difference?

MARCOVGV
10-19-2012, 11:09 AM
the best way i can describe it is letting someone play your ukulele while you sit directly infront of them a foot away. im always amazed when i let other people play my instruments while i sit in front of them the sound projects directly at you and it just sounds so much better. For me having a sound port just directs the sound right at you and it not only sounds better but you can feel lower notes bass in your ears. if your getting a custom uke order a sound port if you have a cheap uke cut one out or have your luthier do it. on a expensive uke, hmm i dont know if i would do it as the resale might be affected.....

KoaDependent
10-19-2012, 11:10 AM
Music! For you! In your face!

MARCOVGV
10-19-2012, 11:18 AM
Yea.. Im sitting here strumming this KPK alternating between covering the sound port with my hand and then leaving it open.... yea theres a big noticeable difference. I like it!

I think on my steel string acoustics its even more noticeable, but it worked wonders on this inexpensive KPK. I paid 175 bucks for this thing and with the sound port TO ME it sounds better than most uke ive played in the 300 dollar range. when i get the bone nut and saddle it might even be better. overall its a great beater tenor uke that i dont mind handing around to friends at a party taking it on the road etc... now will i do that with some of my other instruments nah i dont think so.

OldePhart
10-19-2012, 11:58 AM
You do want to be careful though because size and positioning of the extra hole can have a big impact on the overall response of the uke.

I'm sort of puzzled by the ukes (Riptides and a couple of others) that have a large sound hole in the bass bout (instead of in the treble bout, where the OPs is). Conventional wisdom has it that that should significantly reduce the low end. I've only played one uke like that (hole in the bass bout) and it was pretty ho-hum to my ear.

I'm tempted to get a cheap uke, cover the main sound hole, and then add a fairly small hole in the top offset from the strings in the treble bout, with another smallish hole on the side near it, just to see what happens (I'm a hopeless tinkerer). If the cover over the original sound hole is done right it should actually increase the size of the vibrating part of the soundboard and make the uke louder as well as directing some of the sound to the player. Worth messin' wit a bit, anyway.

John

808boy
10-19-2012, 11:59 AM
Nice job and yes it does make a difference. Hmm, I have 2 KPKs...............

MARCOVGV
10-19-2012, 12:06 PM
You do want to be careful though because size and positioning of the extra hole can have a big impact on the overall response of the uke.

I'm sort of puzzled by the ukes (Riptides and a couple of others) that have a large sound hole in the bass bout (instead of in the treble bout, where the OPs is). Conventional wisdom has it that that should significantly reduce the low end. I've only played one uke like that (hole in the bass bout) and it was pretty ho-hum to my ear.

I'm tempted to get a cheap uke, cover the main sound hole, and then add a fairly small hole in the top offset from the strings in the treble bout, with another smallish hole on the side near it, just to see what happens (I'm a hopeless tinkerer). If the cover over the original sound hole is done right it should actually increase the size of the vibrating part of the soundboard and make the uke louder as well as directing some of the sound to the player. Worth messin' wit a bit, anyway.

John

But are you talking about on the actual sound board (top) or the sides? ive seen holes on the bottom bout of a sound board before but i dont think that does anything to direct the sound at the player. Now if you really wanted to build a guitar with just the players listening pleasure in consideratio. I would have a completely solid soundboard/top and have sound holes/ports only on the side that faces the player. that would bee a cool experiment.

MARCOVGV
10-19-2012, 12:07 PM
Nice job and yes it does make a difference. Hmm, I have 2 KPKs...............


do it man easy as pie...!

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-19-2012, 01:14 PM
You do want to be careful though because size and positioning of the extra hole can have a big impact on the overall response of the uke.

I'm sort of puzzled by the ukes (Riptides and a couple of others) that have a large sound hole in the bass bout (instead of in the treble bout, where the OPs is). Conventional wisdom has it that that should significantly reduce the low end. I've only played one uke like that (hole in the bass bout) and it was pretty ho-hum to my ear.

John

You are correct John. I've experimented with with side sound ports on the lower bout and you really do lose some of the lower end. Making the SSP too large at any side location can have a similar effect. When installing a SSP I will make the main sound hole a bit smaller.

From a mechanical standpoint, for those of you considering doing this modification yourself, know that you take a chance that the bout where you are installing the SSP may be thinner than you think, making that area vulnerable to splitting or cracking. The correct way of doing it is to glue a backing plate to the inside of the bout before cutting (with the grain running in the opposite direction).

OldePhart
10-19-2012, 02:05 PM
But are you talking about on the actual sound board (top) or the sides? ive seen holes on the bottom bout of a sound board before but i dont think that does anything to direct the sound at the player. Now if you really wanted to build a guitar with just the players listening pleasure in consideratio. I would have a completely solid soundboard/top and have sound holes/ports only on the side that faces the player. that would bee a cool experiment.

In the case of the experiment I'd like to try I was talking about one offset hole on the top and one on the side (both in the treble bout).

When I was talking about the ports on the bass bout they were on the side.

oldetymey
10-20-2012, 09:11 AM
That kind of modification takes guts, been wanting to put a strap button on my uke for awhile now, but cant bring myself to drill a hole in the side of it.....;)

MARCOVGV
10-20-2012, 02:18 PM
You are correct John. I've experimented with with side sound ports on the lower bout and you really do lose some of the lower end. Making the SSP too large at any side location can have a similar effect. When installing a SSP I will make the main sound hole a bit smaller.

From a mechanical standpoint, for those of you considering doing this modification yourself, know that you take a chance that the bout where you are installing the SSP may be thinner than you think, making that area vulnerable to splitting or cracking. The correct way of doing it is to glue a backing plate to the inside of the bout before cutting (with the grain running in the opposite direction).

I agree now that i thing about it i think i might reinforce the are from inside! For me its a uke i beat around alot so messing with it brings me pleasure of experimentation and hopefully improving on a good cheap instrument. its been ok for about a month but why risk it...

1300cc
11-30-2013, 06:26 PM
do you have a before snd after sound sample

PhilUSAFRet
12-01-2013, 12:34 AM
Looks nicer. Someone put friction tuners on my KPK and the top two are too close together for comfortable use. Going back to geared. I like the idea of the personal sound port, but I'd be afraid of altering it's wonderful tone.

kohanmike
12-01-2013, 06:46 AM
I've put strap buttons on five of my ukes, and also added preamps in the sides with the same method as making a sound hole (no refinish necessary). I use a Ryobi One Plus 18v speed cutter with Dremel bits. It's much larger than a dremel, but it got the jobs done very well. I have no reservations drilling or cutting my ukes, I like making them better.

steel rider
12-02-2013, 04:51 AM
I think I will do this to the Pono AT after getting some practice with my new to me Dremel. Previously I only had a hand held Dremel, which I imagine will work fine as well. Seems simple (famous words!) as long as you go slow and don't crack the wood.

TheCraftedCow
12-02-2013, 08:29 PM
Something which adds a finishing touch to a side port, is to glue a piece of fabric to the inside edge. The sound is not impeded, but the view is much nicer. The Beaver (Go Beavs) was a fuzzy brown piece. The Honu was a piece with a swirling stitched line that looks like the scutes on a turtle.

Brad Donaldson made a Myrtle (all) pineapple with a ( shaped sound hole at the front lower A corner, and a side port on the decreasing arc of the G side. He also put PEGHEDS with a 19mm shaft. With a 12mm headstock, there is only 7mm of shaft out the back. Total weight, even with a solid Myrtle neck for a concert ....17 ounces.
PEGHEDS are warranted by the maker to perform well, or he will replace or repair them just for the price of shipping.
A set of 4 is $54.00 and $5.80 to ship them in the USA by Priority Insured Mail.