Covid inspired Ukulele.......The Covilele???

Jim Hanks

Active member
Joined
Mar 13, 2013
Messages
5,411
Points
38
quite an ambitious first project :eek:
Yes, 20" is baritone scale.
Nylon or steel strings?

Pandemilele?
Quarantinelele?
:nana:
 

Jerryc41

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 4, 2015
Messages
8,281
Points
48
Have fun with it, and ask questions here if you are uncertain. I began a tennis racket uke in April, and I'm still working on it. :D
 

Uke-alot

Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2019
Messages
156
Points
18
Looks like a great project. I want to build an electric uke someday, but have many other projects in the queue.

As far as the fret board goes, you'll want to make sure it's a pretty hard type of wood, especially if you're going to be using steel strings. Otherwise, it will wear quickly. I can't give you any guidance except that maybe you should try to identify what you have (I know almost nothing about Australian timbers, so can't be of assistance there), and go with something else if it's not suitable.
 

lauburu

Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2012
Messages
548
Points
18
Does anyone have any suggestion how to go about identifying what type of wood it is?
1. Go along to your local timber merchant (not Bunnings etc)
2. Ask at your local Men's Shed
3. Find a local luthier to ask
Good luck
Miguel
 

sequoia

Active member
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Messages
2,823
Points
38
. There is a good chance that it is some type of Australia hardwood flooring timber

If it is flooring wood it will be plenty hard enough for a fretboard... My advice would be to not get too hung up on the details like what kind of wood you are have and just start cuttin' wood and making sawdust. Many times people tend to try and work out all the tiny details before they start and they never end up starting. Carpe ukulele!
 

dwizum

New member
Joined
Jun 23, 2020
Messages
414
Points
0
Pretty much any stable hardwood will be fine for both the neck and the fretboard, I agree that something meant for flooring will probably be fine.

I would skip the truss rod. Even with steel strings, there's really not much tension on a ukulele neck, and also - the neck is so short that there's not much "leverage" for the strings to pull it out of shape. I've built a number of steel stringed tenor guitars, ukuleles, and short scale 6 string guitars in roughly the size you're aiming for, and have never had a problem without a truss rod. I generally build them with typical hardwoods (maple, walnut, cherry) and make them dead flat. The minute amount of curve pulled in by the strings ends up just about right for the tiny amount of relief you want on a neck like this.

What are you planning for pickups? On my early electric steel stringed ukes I used a precision bass pickup, with each half positioned and wired separately as if it was a pair of single coil pickups. The precision pickup halves are just about perfect in terms of width and pole spacing for a uke. But these days there are a lot of pickups to choose from, meant for cigar box guitars and other smaller guitar applications. I've also used blade-style guitar pickups which work fine but they're a bit wide-looking...
 

dwizum

New member
Joined
Jun 23, 2020
Messages
414
Points
0
I do a ton of work with a router - including thickness planing on a jig - even though I have the "right" tools, too. Routers and jigs can be the instrument builder's best friend!

Bass pickups are made differently but in ways that don't really play out negatively for an application like this IME. They're typically fuller-frequency in their response as opposed to guitar pickups with usually are more mids-focused. When I plugged my first (p-bass equipped) electric uke in for the first time, I was really surprised at how uke-like it sounded! The bass pickup actually helped it sound more like a uke, doing an a-to-b test with a pickup meant for a guitar results in the bass pickup sounding like a ukulele, and the guitar pickup sounding like an electric guitar. The one downside to that approach is that, although you end up with two pickups, they're both single coil, so it's only hum-cancelling when both are on.
 

Uke-alot

Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2019
Messages
156
Points
18
Spent most of today tidying up the garage and clearing my workbench. More time was spent cleaning than I wanted because I think I was trying to avoid making that first cut. So, before calling it a day, I made sure to make that first cut and cut out two body pieces. They are slightly oversize and will be trimmed with the router following the guide template. I don't know whether to trim the pieces first and then glue them together or to glue them and then trim as one piece. I'm thinking glue first then trim, what do you experts recommend?

View attachment 130309

I would glue first, then trim, assuming your router bit is long enough to do the full thickness. Although if it's not quite long enough, you might be able to trim the bottom first and then the trimmed bottom becomes the "template" for the top (assuming you're using a flush trim bit and not a regular straight bit with a template guide bushing).

If you trim first and then glue, it's really hard to make the pieces perfectly align when the glue is on and you try to clamp them. In that case, you could use a couple wood dowels installed through the back to keep them aligned during clamping. Then you can cut/sand them flush later. Or, if you will have cutouts in the back to access electronics, and/or if the neck join will cover the back or need a cut out, you could put dowels in those locations.
 

dwizum

New member
Joined
Jun 23, 2020
Messages
414
Points
0
Definitely glue then trim. I deliberately use a "too short" router bit when trimming solidbody instrument bodies to a template, and take multiple passes. You are less likely to get tearout or have the router try to climb away from you by taking multiple shallow passes than trying to push a big bit through the whole thing at once.

If you need channels for wiring (i.e. from pickup cavities to a control cavity) you can cut them on the "inner" faces of either panel prior to gluing, then you don't have to try to drill long through holes in the completed body.
 

sequoia

Active member
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Messages
2,823
Points
38
Yes, another vote for glue then trim... Be prepared for those plates to skate like crazy when you try to join them. You might even consider a couple locator pins to tame the beast. Oh and don't use too much glue. I would use Titebond 1 for the job. Don't know what kind of glue ya'll use down there down under. Probably dingo glue :rolleyes:
 

Uke-alot

Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2019
Messages
156
Points
18
Definitely glue then trim. I deliberately use a "too short" router bit when trimming solidbody instrument bodies to a template, and take multiple passes. You are less likely to get tearout or have the router try to climb away from you by taking multiple shallow passes than trying to push a big bit through the whole thing at once.

If you need channels for wiring (i.e. from pickup cavities to a control cavity) you can cut them on the "inner" faces of either panel prior to gluing, then you don't have to try to drill long through holes in the completed body.

Multiple passes are good. When I said "long enough to do the full thickness" I meant long enough so that it could finish the job, considering how far the bit could extend out of the router, thickness of the template, etc.
 

Timbuck

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 10, 2009
Messages
5,862
Points
48
Judging by the squeeze out and bubbles the Durabond is not the one...it looks like a Polyurethane glue to me.
 

sequoia

Active member
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Messages
2,823
Points
38
The "Interior Wood Glue" on the left is new and fresh, the "Durabond" and "Titebond II" are several years old (maybe 5-6 years) which may put them beyond their best before date. There is no date printed on the bottles. @sequoia is there much difference between Titebond 1 and Titebond II, or is Titebond II just a newer version?

Ah, my favorite subject: Glues

First of all ditch the old glues. These things have a shelf life and you don't want to ruin your project because you used old, tired glue... See chart below for the specs on the Titebond glues:

GBB_Chart2.jpg

Basically Titebond II is designed for outdoor construction projects. It is also a PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue which is more water resistant. Note the vinyl in the word. This makes the glue slightly "rubbery" which is what you want when working with exterior wood because wood moves due to moisture and you want the glue to move with it.

Titebond I is an aliphatic resin glue which is designed for indoor wood projects like making ukuleles. It also has a slightly longer "open" time which is desirable when assembling ukulele pieces. Also because it is less water resistant which can be a good thing if you have to unglue something you goofed on.

Verdict: Fresh Titebond I
 

dwizum

New member
Joined
Jun 23, 2020
Messages
414
Points
0
The durabond says polyurethane right on the bottle too! Out of those three I'd use the titebond II. Although ultimately among mainstream products (at least here in the US) I think original titebond is better. I've had issues with TB II in the past and now only use it where it's qualities (water resistance) play out beneficially (so, something like a stool for the mudroom where it might get wet from time to time etc). It sometimes tends to leave a dark glue line on lighter woods and I've had it creep. So I don't use it on instruments any more. But those issues were not super frequent and might not even really matter in your application. I wouldn't expect creep when laminating like woods as you're doing, at any rate. And the glue line should be invisible on a joint like that (versus, say, on a joint that's exposed at a slope such as with a scarfed headstock).
 

dwizum

New member
Joined
Jun 23, 2020
Messages
414
Points
0
My personal favorite glue is LMI's instrument glue but I'd bet that's hard to get overseas. Titebond I is great too.

I like the Freud 16-106 router bit for planing. It's a 1 1/4 diameter mortise bit with a very slight downshear angle which helps control tearout.
 

dwizum

New member
Joined
Jun 23, 2020
Messages
414
Points
0
Having a string equidistant between two poles actually puts it in a very strong portion of the magnetic field - that's why Leo did that on his basses. But of course it also works fine to have the string right over the pole. Or anywhere else really, as long as it's "near" the magnetic field. The risk you get with unevenly spaced strings-versus-poles is slight differences in output between strings. Some people get really tweaked out about string alignment versus poles, but IME it's not as critical as it's made out to be. Although, I would be nervous about using a 6 string guitar pickup unless I could check the pole spacing and know it was going to roughly work out. Pickups with blade style magnets avoid all of that, which is convenient. So if you use a pickup that doesn't work because of spacing issues you can always switch to a blade style.

Bridge and tuners from that bass would have been pretty wrong for your uke, the tuners would be much too big for a uke headstock and the bridge would have the string spacing way too wide. There are some bridges on ebay and elsewhere for digar box guitars which have OK spacing. Or you can make a typical acoustic-style wood bridge with bone saddle.

One consideration for pickups is that once you route holes in the body, you're pretty much stuck with that size/shape. If you use the half-a-precision pickups or single coil guitar pickups, it might make sense to use two so you can have hum cancelling. If you want one pickup I'd go with a humbucker.
 

Tom Snape

Member
Joined
Nov 8, 2015
Messages
50
Points
6
I have drawn up a plan to make a solid body electric tenor ukulele, but have had the same problem identifying the pickups and hardware. My problem is that I based my intended string spacing to match acoustic instruments, which I think are mostly in the range of 40 to 43 mm at the bridge (across all four strings). The CB Gitty parts have a total width of only about 32 mm. The center to center spacing across the four poles of one-half of a P-Bass pickup is only 28 mm. I have seen some instruments where a 6 string guitar pickup was used on a ukulele, but I don't like the look of the ends of the pickup extending outside of the strings. I spent a bit of time last year trying to find available parts that matched the 40 to 43 mm string spacing and came up empty.

In my case, I either need to go with the closer string spacing for an electric uke, or make some custom parts.