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benzdrum
07-10-2014, 07:21 AM
68730

Hello all,

First time poster here. Long story short, I've only been playing the Uke for a little while now, although I've been a professional musician for 20 years (Im a drummer though, so not actually a musician, right?). Well, I recently decided that I would like to take on a solid body electric uke (concert) build with a buddy of mine, who happens to be pretty good at wood working. He's built himself a few beautiful exotic wood basses already(see photo above). Well, we've taken all measurements and are in the middle of deciding on wood types right now (I'm thinking bubinga with layers of birdseye with a neck-thru in a single cut away body shape) but, I really want to stick with nylon style strings so it's not just a mini guitar with weird tuning. I want as close to the traditional uke sound as I can.

With that being said, what are the best types of piezo bar under saddle pickups I can get. We're going with a passive setup and adding both volume and tone pots. Will this style of pickup still work with a solid body? It sems like the density will stifle the vibration too much. What say you?

PhilUSAFRet
07-10-2014, 02:49 PM
Solid bodied ukes with piezo's include those made by Ko'olau, Eleuke, Teton, Risa, and ????? Must work fairly well. Lots of demo's for these ukes on YouTube.

bnolsen
07-10-2014, 05:44 PM
The piezo is either under the bridge or the bridge itself making the body material not as big a deal. A piezo is very high impedance and may need a preamp of some sort.

benzdrum
07-11-2014, 04:21 AM
Thanks! Does adding an onboard preamp do away with the passive aspect of the project? I believe we are going to go with an under saddle type, so it'll be under the bridge. Also, we are using a rosewood bridge with a bone saddle, Is there a better material for resonance that we could use other than bone? Or, will it not matter?

bnolsen
07-11-2014, 05:41 AM
I think you should be okay with not having any active electronics. For fun I built a weed whacker cigar box bass "uncle crow style" and sandwiched a disc piezo between the neck and box body using a spade bit to make some room for the piezo. That does remind me, I need to pull that thing back out, add in a 3rd tuner string and play it now that I have a *real* bass amp (with builtin preamp) and real basses to compare it to.

here's an uncle crow style CBG:

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benzdrum
07-14-2014, 09:21 AM
Well, just a quick update on my little project. Almost all parts have been ordered and I just got back from the mill with some curly maple and a beautiful piece of bocote. This is getting a little more expensive than first anticipated. I'm really looking forward to starting this project and, although I'm not a luthier by any means, I'll try my best not to disappoint any of you. I would love to get some experienced insight from you lot as the project progresses as well. Cheers!

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benzdrum
07-16-2014, 07:10 AM
Todays update: Just finished my first dimension and cut sheets. No fret markings just yet, I have a template for that so that'll be a little down the road. I think I might go with a Bocote fretboard, though. Anybody have any experience using this as a fretboard material? Still have to measure out the position of the tuners too. But, I think I'm going to change the headstock a bit still; It looks to much like the Transformers logo. I should also be getting a bit of the hardware and other materials delivered today as well.

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benzdrum
07-21-2014, 04:09 AM
Update: I was able to get all of the wood for the neck thru and body planed down to rough size and I'm almost ready to start the glue up. I can at least glue up the neck tomorrow and probably the body on Thursday. Todays plans are to scan in and copy my cut sheets so I can get my MDF template for the body ready by the weekend. I still haven't figured out how to get the pictures to show up in the thread, so I will continue to just link them for now.

The first pick is of my neck woods planed and ready for glue up. The woods are curly maple, bocote, hard maple, bocote and curly maple. I cant wait to see those curly maple lines pop when I'm doing the finish.
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The next two pics are a rough placement so I can see what the neck thru will look like with the body. One has a few dry fitted components that will be used. The knobs and bridge are rosewood (I have to get the bridge nice and oiled up to match the knobs better, but it'll look sharp). The body will consist of a few different woods. I made the mistake of using the better looking maple for the neck thru, so I was a little short of supply in the body. No worries though, I solved this by using a gorgeous piece of bubinga. The layers in the body from top to bottom are bocote, bubinga, curly maple, bubinga and bocote. I may switch the grain orientation on the top bocote, it's a bookmatch either way, but the other orientation makes it look like it has faces. The overall dimensions of the body will be 8" x 11" x 1-1/2" with a style based on my take of a Gibson Les Paul single cut away. Also, I was planning on using the bocote for the fingerboard, but again I ran out of wood. So, the pictures show it with a piece of purpleheart just for a place holder (which I am actually warming up to a bit), it comes across a little flashy, but I think I'm diggin' it. What do you guys think?
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Todays lesson learned: Buy enough wood next time, 50% will end up as sawdust!

benzdrum
07-22-2014, 02:39 AM
Quick update today: Cutsheet has been cut out and attached to some MDF for cut out of my body template. Tonight I should be able to do the glue up of the body wings and the neck thru and cut out the MDF template for shaping. I have decided to go the active system route and I have gotten a wiring diagram from Fishman (they didn't want to give me this at all, but with some coaxing and convincing they sent me everything I needed) and I have ordered all of the supplies (potentiometers, endpin preamp, capacitors, resistors, etc...). Not sure if I'm going to use a separate battery box or just keep the battery inside the control cavity. Does anybody have some words of wisdom on this one way or the other?

This project is progressing pretty quickly, but I'm loving it. I'll have to take a two-week break starting this weekend due to gigs and my shop guy out of town. So, I think I'll only be able to finish the glue up of everything and then thats it until August. Once I can start back up, it'll be attaching the fingerboard to the neck and cutting out the neck profile and headstock for shaping.
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benzdrum
07-22-2014, 06:49 PM
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Busy day today after work. We got the body template cut out, and then I took a little time to treat the gluing surfaces of the bocote with acetone. Seemed to go pretty quickly and before long we were mixing up a batch of Resorcinol. Everything put in its correct order and we were ready to go.

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The glue up went well and we were able to get the body wings and the neck of the uke and an 11 layer neck that is part of a bass build my buddy is doing all glued and in clamps.

Does anyone have any experience using resorcinol with treated and untreated bocote?

benzdrum
07-24-2014, 02:37 AM
Well, So far so good. I got the neck and body wings out of the clamps, and everything seems to be holding up pretty well. No gaps and the glue lines are dead on. So far, I'm really liking this resorcinol 2 part glue / epoxy. We'll see if this feeling stays the same when I get it in the planer. I hear if the resorcinol fails due to oily wood or mistakes in the glue up, it'll do it in the planer. Heres a pic of everything still covered in the glue but out of the clamps. I may switch and flip the top wood to the other orientation. Like I said before, it'll still be a bookmatch, just trying to see what would look better. I'm really diggin' the grain lines in the bocote neck layers, and I cant wait to get this all cleaned up.

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For the next two weeks there wont be much progress other than getting the rest of my hardware. I have an IBEW guy at the engineering company I work at that wants to do the electrical work for me, so I am basically just getting the supplies he is telling me to get. I have the schematics for the preamp / pickup / pots connection, so it should go pretty smooth with his help. We're trying to come up with a way to test the system and find the correct bridge position before final assembly, so we may be rigging something up. I've been reading on other luthier forums that bone saddles don't work that well with piezo bar pickups due to inconsistencies within the bone itself, and that I should use something synthetic. Does anyone here have any experience with this either way?

benzdrum
11-05-2014, 03:11 AM
Hi all, Just wanted to update my build. I felt I wasn't getting the love here for building an electric solid body (maybe too far from tradition) so I actually finished my build thread on the talkbass.com forum. I know a few people over there, and the rest seemed to dig what I was doing. Here's a pic of the finished product. I haven't applied a finish yet, I basically just have it all set up so I could test the electronics. It sounds great through an acoustic amp, and I'm really happy with the way its turning out.

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The pic includes a wall hanger stand that I made with the scrap wood I had from cut off pieces of the neck. It will all be finished with a few coats of Teak oil and then a wipe on poly brought to a semi gloss shine. Hope you guys like it.

RAB11
11-05-2014, 03:44 AM
Hi all, Just wanted to update my build. I felt I wasn't getting the love here for building an electric solid body (maybe too far from tradition) so I actually finished my build thread on the talkbass.com forum. I know a few people over there, and the rest seemed to dig what I was doing. Here's a pic of the finished product. I haven't applied a finish yet, I basically just have it all set up so I could test the electronics. It sounds great through an acoustic amp, and I'm really happy with the way its turning out.

72581

The pic includes a wall hanger stand that I made with the scrap wood I had from cut off pieces of the neck. It will all be finished with a few coats of Teak oil and then a wipe on poly brought to a semi gloss shine. Hope you guys like it.

That looks really cool man! Once I get a bit of spare time and some wood together I'm gonna try a solid-body build, so any tips or lessons learned would be greatly appreciated. Dunno why I missed this thread but well done.

Any chance of a sound sample? And have you put it through any pedals yet?

benzdrum
11-05-2014, 05:17 AM
The one thing I learned the hard way was dealing with the electronics. I went high end with a fishman AGO-UKE piezo and a fishman powerjack preamp. Getting the schematics from fishman was pretty hard. I had to convince them that I was a certified repair tech before they sent me anything. Then, basically a crash course in resistors and capacitors so I could make sure I was buying the right parts. There was a lot of electronics and wires, and even the powerjack (about 3" longer than a normal endpin jack) was a nightmare getting it all to fit inside a very small cavity. Because this was a neck thru design, I was able to rout out a cavity in the neck before I glued the wings of the body on. This way I had room for the powerjack to fit. However, the install proved that even more material had to be removed, but I didn't realize this until the body was fully assembled. I have two other solid body builds in the making right now. One is a semi hollow body, and the other is more like this one. The semi will have a maple and blood wood top, and the other will be purple heart and maple top with padauk veneers. For those, I am going to keep the system passive and use an external preamp. The pickups will still be fishman.

I have not run it through any actual pedals yet, just the onboard chorus and reverb effects on my amp. They aren't the best effects in the first place, but it does sound really good. Tomorrow is my birthday, so I am expecting a TC Electronics Flashback delay/looper pedal and a Vox stomplab multi effects pedal from my wife. Ahh, the joys of marriage.

Other than that, it was all in the details. Getting the neck to feel and play just right. Getting the transition between the body and neck to look and feel right. Really spending some time with rasps, files and sandpaper and just tweaking the really small areas. It was very time consuming. Even taking my time with the glue up really helped. I've had trouble in the past with rushing glue ups, only to have a seam show or get a gap where I don't want one. I'm trying to figure out how to upload a video I took to show the electrician that helped me that it worked.

Phuufme
11-05-2014, 08:13 AM
The end product looks great. Any sound samples?

Is it a u-bass or a uke? My wife plays a Kala U-bass.

mvinsel
11-05-2014, 10:44 AM
Nice work!
If you're still keeping the neck through body design with hard wood like maple on your next tries, I'd suggest trying one with no additional bridge piece - just make a similar shaped swell in that area of the neck/body and rout the saddle slot right in it.

On one I tried with steel strings, mag pickup, solid maple neck through body and bone nut & saddle with strings through the body it makes for nice sustain.

Vinnie in Juneau