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View Full Version : Building my first solid body uke!



jermlilly
10-26-2013, 03:50 PM
So since I can't afford to buy one I figured I give building one a go. Here's what I got so far! Glued some pine together, drew out my design, cut it out and then shaped and rounded it up. I've only starting working on the body thus far. I'll try and keep posting pics as I finish more.

DanielHulbert
10-26-2013, 05:13 PM
That's very cool. Are you going to use nylon or metal strings?

jermlilly
10-26-2013, 05:19 PM
Nylon. From what I understand steel string would need a truss rod and I dont feel like messin around with all that. I've never built any instrument before so im just kinda wingin it.

tangimango
10-26-2013, 10:54 PM
if you do go steel

http://www.ebay.com/itm/4-STRING-GUITAR-BRIDGE-GOLD-CIGAR-UKULELE-TENOR-BASS-/190513768143?pt=Guitar_Accessories&hash=item2c5b8166cf

jermlilly
10-27-2013, 04:56 PM
If this thing ends up working at all I'd love to try and make a steel string. Have any of you guys ever built one?

DanielHulbert
10-28-2013, 04:06 AM
I've built about a dozen steel string electric ukes.

This site has a bunch of great resources. http://ukeland.co.uk/

jermlilly
10-28-2013, 06:00 AM
That's some good stuff there. (Man I'd love to build a ubass too!) Got any pics of the solid bodies you've made??

jermlilly
10-28-2013, 03:27 PM
A little more work on the neck and headstock. Still some more to go but I'm getting closer. Big thanks to mike at mainland ukes for the fretboard, bridge and bone nut and saddle. They're still not glued down but ya know. 60356

DanielHulbert
10-28-2013, 05:13 PM
60358

Here's a few I've made.

jermlilly
10-29-2013, 04:23 PM
Those are sweet man! Looks like you've been at this a while huh!! So quick question, I've done some wood work before but never an instrument which is why I've gotten thus far. I don't know very much about the "musical" aspect of building an instrument other than doing some web research. The whole thing is flat and level down the middle from where the nut is down to the saddle. I've got everything measured out correctly I believe. If I can get everything glue on straight, etc. do you think if I took it to a local luthier, he could set it up well enough to make it sound decent?? I've been putting in a lot of time on this thing and I'm worried about it sounding like crud. So any tips would be grateful. And the steel strings are making me drool a little ...

DanielHulbert
10-30-2013, 08:31 PM
If the bridge is in the exact right position (remember to add compensation) and the frets are right, then the intonation should be okay. The action would be the other thing to work on, and that can be adjusted at the nut and the bridge. You could have someone make the nut, but you'd learn a lot by doing it yourself. I've found that if you slowly sand the saddle and nut, you can get the the action to a comfortable level.

jermlilly
10-31-2013, 03:03 AM
Probably a dumb question but what do you mean add for compensation. I still have not glued down the bridge. I've got it marked by measuring 17 inches from the top of the fretboard to where it's exactly 17inches to the middle of where the saddle will be. Hope this question makes sense. Basically at this ill have 17" from fretboard to middle of saddle. Should this work or do I need to compensate for something somewhere?? Thanks again DH!!

orangeena
10-31-2013, 03:23 AM
Go to the Stewmac fret calculator and put your measurements in. It will give the a compensated bridge position. It will be a few millimetres further from the nut than you think. It is something to do with strings stretching when you push them down on the fret. All I know is that the ukes i built before I learnt about this are not as sweet sounding as those I now make.
Max

DanielHulbert
10-31-2013, 03:44 AM
I put in your variables into the Stewmac fret calc (17 inch scale length with 18 frets) http://www.stewmac.com/FretCalculator
It came up with this: 17.1003 " (0.030") for the "break point" of the string at the bridge. .1 inch is about 2.5 mm, That's around what i normally add for a tenor scale uke.

jermlilly
10-31-2013, 04:37 AM
60414Awesome. Really appreciate the help guys. I almost glued it on last night. Glad I didn't now knowing whst you've told me! Whew. I was able to do some more work on the neck last night though.

orangeena
10-31-2013, 05:11 AM
at the moment it looks like one of those 80's jazz-funk bass guitars.
should be cool.

jermlilly
10-31-2013, 02:39 PM
A little more sanding and I decided to change the whole headstock. I thinks it's a little more balanced now.
Alright ... I'm gonna glue the bridge on either tonight or tomorrow( or until I hear back from y'all! Ha!) So with the compensation the saddle should sit 17" and a about 2.5 millimeters from the nut? Sorry just want to get it right!60444

DanielHulbert
10-31-2013, 04:48 PM
So with the compensation the saddle should sit 17" and a about 2.5 millimeters from the nut?

Yep, you should get good results with that. If the top of the saddle is round, have the middle of the saddle 17 inches plus 2.5 millimeters from the inside edge of the nut.

jermlilly
10-31-2013, 05:46 PM
Will do! You are the man. Thank you so very much. All the stuff I needed came in today tuners, pick up, etc. it felt like Xmas. Well except for you know that feeling when you open a present and realize it needs a special battery or something ... well ... no battery disappointment due to the misi but I realized my tuner machine pegs were too short. So I ordered some with longer post. Should be a busy weekend! Thanks again DH!!

jermlilly
11-04-2013, 01:12 PM
So I went ahead and did it. I hollowed it out from the back ( I didn't think I was gonna do it or I would have have hollowed it out before hand and then put a nice flat piece on top but you gotta love a little improv ya know). Cut some f holes in it and made the back piece.
60604
60605
60606

DanielHulbert
11-05-2013, 05:28 AM
It's looking really good. :)

jermlilly
11-05-2013, 09:05 AM
Thanks man! I just hope it sounds good now! Still got some more to go but still getting closer.

jermlilly
11-08-2013, 04:15 AM
Stained and ready for clear coat. Then all I gotta do is put in the pickup and then add some strings and she should be ready to rock!!

60709 60710

jermlilly
11-14-2013, 04:14 AM
First few coats of lacquer. Have not level sanded anything yet nor buffed or polished. Waiting for 2 weeks for this stuff to cure is gonna kill me!!
60887

DanielHulbert
11-14-2013, 04:50 AM
Very nice. You will be rewarded for your patience. :)

finkdaddy
11-14-2013, 12:42 PM
It sort of looks like a Mosrite guitar.
http://rock.webbuilder01.hostbasket.com/images/NoName%20Mosrite%20copy%202pu%20vibrato%20Japan%20 90%20lb.JPG

jermlilly
11-26-2013, 04:08 AM
It's finally done. Well some more tweaking but I'm calling her a finished build. I plugged her in last night and she sounded surprisingly nice. I've got some tweaking to do but ya know. My "a" string is not near as loud the three? Maybe my saddle is completely flat?? Ill try and post some more photos. Big thanks to all who helped! This was a pretty awesome experience 61252

DanielHulbert
11-26-2013, 05:02 AM
That uke turned out sweet. I think we need a demo video now. :)

jermlilly
03-03-2014, 11:11 AM
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-0aORV2Walk&feature=em-upload_owner

Ok finally got around to putting this thing in front of a video camera. Sorry it took so long.

tomas13
03-03-2014, 05:19 PM
Excellent! Great job.
Tomas