View Full Version : Ono "School Uke"

05-05-2013, 03:20 PM
I was enjoying the morning paper when this article caught my eye:


It must have been a very slow news day here in Southern Oregon because Eugene is about 180 miles away. Nevertheless, the article reminded me that a friend in Eugene had mentioned some time ago that these kids were looking for spare instruments because the number of kids exceeded the available ukes. So, the wheels in my little head started turning. Could I come up with a design that would be relatively easy to build while retaining the two non-negotiable requirements of good tone and playability? This is what I came up with: a more or less concert-sized body with a 16" scale. Of course, I tip my hat to the Fluke/Flea concept, Brad's Youthele and Pete Howlett's Marmite design.


No heat bending is necessary. The side assemblies come out of the mold with negligible spring back. The top and back are flat rather than radiused. These two simplifications go a long way toward making construction quicker. I had a nice perfectly vertical grain sapele board that yielded tops, backs and sides for four instruments. The end pieces are bubinga.

The bracing is pretty much standard for a concert.


One of the four was finished first as a proof-of-concept prototype. It got binding, but only because there was an unfortunate tearout while routing off the edge of the top and it couldn't be invisibly repaired. As we used to say in my boat building days, the difference between a good boat builder and a not-so-good boat builder is that one knows how to keep the mistakes from mattering.


Both sound and playability met the standard so I'm now working on the other three.


Here are a couple of links:



I've got the CD and it's pretty perky. These kids are an enterprising lot!

05-05-2013, 04:31 PM
They look great! I love the wood you used on the fret-board, actually all the wood choices are tops. This uke looks high-end to me.

Hippie Dribble
05-05-2013, 05:29 PM
Immaculate work, David. And another lovely rosette design, is that bubinga/rosewood strips?

They seem like an irrepressible bunch of kids, would love to support them and buy their CD. How exactly do you do that? I guess a FB message would be the place to start...

05-06-2013, 04:14 AM
Yep, EIR and bubinga. Since this project is supposed to be governed by the KISS principle, the rosettes are a violation of the rules but I couldn't help myself. :)

05-13-2013, 06:12 AM
The School Ukes are finished and ready to go. My friend in Eugene contributed new gig bags, which was a very nice gesture.

These may be a bit unconventional but they nestle nicely in the arms and have a pleasing and loud tone.





Jim Hanks
05-13-2013, 08:11 AM
Sweet! Can you do that in a baritone size? :cool:

05-13-2013, 08:13 AM
That is a really nice thing to do, and they look great. Love the wahoo/Ono.:D

05-13-2013, 12:12 PM
Sweet! Can you do that in a baritone size? :cool:

Sure, if there is enough interest.

05-13-2013, 12:21 PM
very nice. just curious, what type neck attachment?

mm stan
05-13-2013, 12:28 PM
Wahoooo they look sweet.... nice job :) you have any shop extras... hee hee :)

05-13-2013, 12:28 PM
Man these are cool. Not only a great/generous project, but these look (and I'm sure sound) amazing. Anyone would be privileged to play one.
Well done!

05-13-2013, 12:38 PM
Awesome! Lovely ukes, wonderful cause.

05-13-2013, 12:49 PM
Those are indeed quite pretty. If they sound as good as they look, you have a winner.
Mark me down as interested if you run a baritone batch.

05-13-2013, 12:58 PM
Thanks for the nice comments, folks! This has been a fun project, and what are hobbies for?

Strumsilly, it's bolted on just like I do all of them.

Jim Hanks
05-13-2013, 01:10 PM
Mark me down as interested if you run a baritone batch.
If there's a 19" scale option, I'm probably in too - even though I'm trying to line up a Bruko as we speak.

05-13-2013, 01:30 PM
Really nice work and a great project! Thanks for sharing this!

05-13-2013, 03:18 PM
I'd be interested in a build it yourself kit. I'm not a great woodworker but this is one fine looking ukulele.

Pete Howlett
05-14-2013, 11:15 AM
Great stuff - much more sophisticated than my builds...

05-22-2013, 02:22 PM
Here are some members of the North Eugene High School Ukulele Orchestra doing their thing with their "School Ukes."


05-22-2013, 02:55 PM
Very nice. That must make you feel really good.

05-22-2013, 03:39 PM
Yep. Kids making music - that's all upside and no downside.

05-22-2013, 04:18 PM
Here are some members of the North Eugene High School Ukulele Orchestra doing their thing with their "School Ukes."


That's great!!

Hippie Dribble
05-22-2013, 06:02 PM
The dude up the back left got the one with the binding and headstock stripe. His smile is slightly wider than the others. :)

Seriously, that's just fantastic David. May good things follow you! Have they let you know what they think of the sound and playability yet?

05-22-2013, 06:18 PM
The teacher who is in charge of the orchestra chose the recipients so I suppose he had good reasons. I did note that this guy was a pretty good picker. Actually, I prefer the appearance of the plainer ones. This is a design where simple counts.

The teacher seemed pleased with the sound and playability. If I do another batch, I'll certainly do one for myself.

Colonel Uke
05-23-2013, 11:17 AM
Those turned out great! I would be interested in a tenor size.

we tigers
05-23-2013, 07:21 PM
Cool bunch of ukes! Lucky kids.

05-23-2013, 08:21 PM
Coolness indeed. I wish this would have been around when I was in high-school!