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Thread: Violele/ old wood

  1. #1
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    Default Violele/ old wood

    I have been toying with the idea of making a ukulele using the body from an old viola. I think that it would be comperable in size to a tenor uke.

    Does any one have experience with this sort of thing? Or knowledge of whether it could even be possible based on the size and dimensions of a viola or violin?

    Has anyone tried making new instruments out of old wood from broken instruments, i.e. the back wood, sides and sound boards from old guitars could be cut down and re shaped into a ukulele, or is this impossible once the wood has full cured.

    I have wood-working skills and have done some instrument repair, but never attempted a full luthier project before. I know there are kits available to make new instruments, but I'm more of a figure it out for yourself type of guy, and I want to end up with something unique and different.

  2. #2
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    That might be a fun project

    The proportions are totally different... I'm looking at a full size violin compared to a soprano ukulele: approx the same scale length, but the body of the violin is much longer (comes to about the 8th fret, so to speak, assuming that the bridge stays in the same place). It would be unique, that's for sure

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukulelebadass View Post
    I have been toying with the idea of making a ukulele using the body from an old viola. I think that it would be comperable in size to a tenor uke.

    Does any one have experience with this sort of thing? Or knowledge of whether it could even be possible based on the size and dimensions of a viola or violin?

    Has anyone tried making new instruments out of old wood from broken instruments, i.e. the back wood, sides and sound boards from old guitars could be cut down and re shaped into a ukulele, or is this impossible once the wood has full cured.

    I have wood-working skills and have done some instrument repair, but never attempted a full luthier project before. I know there are kits available to make new instruments, but I'm more of a figure it out for yourself type of guy, and I want to end up with something unique and different.
    UkeBA, sounds like the viola uke would be a fun project. You'll most likely need some internal support for the neck. You could go with a Gibson 335 setup where it's a hollow body instrument but has a middle (2X4) type support running through the middle of the body. Just carve out the neck from some of mahogany or spanish cedar. The length of the neck (for a 17" tenor uke) would have to be thought out though. Try to draw out a line from where the front of the nut would be to where the front of the saddle would likely be on the viola body currently. This length should be 17 3/32". This will dictate your overall neck to body distance. Also, it might be easiest to make the neck and the internal body support wood the same piece. But again, think it through. It would be very cool if you could pull it off. But keep in mind, there are many different ways to skin this cat. Mine is just one approach to your project...e.lo...
    Last edited by E-Lo Roberts; 05-28-2009 at 10:22 AM.
    Dude...it's a ukulele! www.dudeitsaukulele.com

  4. #4

    Default Using old wooden instruments

    I think its a great idea to re-cycle old unplayable instruments by using the wood that they 're made from to create something new. Think about it... an old guitar in a junk-shop might cost $10 but the spruce from the sound board and the wood from the neck might be worth more than the old instrument to a capable wood worker.
    My word of caution is try not to destroy that which is good to replace it with that which is mediocre. Try to make something really clever.

  5. #5
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    Default recycling old wood

    I bought a 80 yr old zither on ebay it was so warped that it was un-tuneable and un-playable. I took it apart and use the spruce and maple for sound hole re-enforcement and braceing.

  6. #6
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    Yes I've done a lot with using parts from old instruments that were beyond repair to make things like sound hole covers, or even non musical related items, my new idea is to use them to make completely new instruments. My thinking here is that in doing so, one would lend the matured sound of older instruments to new ones....

    Regarding the violele, I have more for e-lo....

    My research thus far leads me to believe that the 12" body from a violin will make an excellent tenor uke body. I was thinking along exactly the same lines that I would use a construction similar to that of a semi-hollow body guitar.

    I had thought that the placement of the bridge and saddle would be determined by the length of the neck, and fret board, not the other way around...

    In other words If I have a 12" body and I want my nut to bridge length to be 17 1/4 ", I would use a standard lenght neck of 9 1/2", and an 11 1/2" fret board that extends 2" past the edge of the body, which leads me to a couple of questions (assuming that you don't think its folly moving the location of the saddle from where the violin maker put it)

    1. The soundboard of a violin is arched rather than flat as on a uke, so (I think) that means I have to have the fretboard and saddle higher than the soundboard so that the strings can clear the center. Correct me if I'm wrong... Should I be fabricating my neck that it is the same thickness as a normal uke neck but extends the additional two inches, and then gets narrower and goes back under the soundboard and turns into my support, in which case I would have to cut a (roughly 2" x 1 3/4") notch out of the soundboard, or should I have the neck go straight through, and then use a third piece between the neck and the fretboard to fill in the space? (if any of that makes any sense at all?)

    2. How much space between the strings and the soundboard is too much to the point where I'm losing sound, or is it really the thickness of the saddle I need to be concerned with here? What type of saddle would you suggest?

    I'm thinking someone with some experience working on arch-tops might have a good idea of how to tackle this problem...

    Thanks very much to everyone for their thoughtful and informed replies!

  7. #7
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    The people behind Mahalo ukes (who also make violins) have a hybrid like that in their product catalog.

    I posted about it a while back. I think it's cool idea. Go for it!

    JJ
    "Talent is just a pursued interest. In other words, anything you are willing to practice, you can do." -- Bob Ross

  8. #8
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    Hmm... So they put the bridge in the middle like a violin and used a violin style saddle, interesting I hadn't of that it certainly would make the project a lot easier than what I had been thinking... anybody know what the dimensions on the Mahalo are?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukulelebadass View Post
    Hmm... So they put the bridge in the middle like a violin and used a violin style saddle, interesting I hadn't of that it certainly would make the project a lot easier than what I had been thinking... anybody know what the dimensions on the Mahalo are?
    UkeBS, yes the Mahalo uke is quite nice. You might want to just copy their specs. The only downside is your excitment level probably just dropped knowing your concept has already been covered...let me know if you still need your questions addressed though. I'd be glad to help you hash it out, time allowing on my end..thanks, e.lo...
    Dude...it's a ukulele! www.dudeitsaukulele.com

  10. #10
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    I'm definitely still going to do it, what else am I going to do with old violin parts? Half the fun is in the challenge any way, I think I'll still try to figure it out.

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