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Thread: Uke #2 : pretty much done

  1. #1

    Default Uke #2 : pretty much done

    My first build was a Martin style 0 soprano in walnut, so in this one I wanted to use koa and do some fancy MOP purfling. My plan was to incorporate as many new techniques as I could think of. In retrospect, maybe not the best plan but after many steps backward to fix mistakes, the final result sounds really good and the recipient isn’t going to notice the problems with the finish. I’m calling it "done" - except for some simple inlay to do on the headstock.

    The top and sides are koa that I got cheap from a guitar set with bad cracks/voids. The neck is sapele and the fretboard and bridge are Osage orange - which will turn the colour of the koa after a few months.

    I certainly learned a lot. The koa looked reasonably quarter sawn at the lumber yard but I didn't realize it was running out at about a 10 degree angle, so bending was a pain and I needed to make it a lot thinner than I'd planned. I used solid linings to try and beef them up a bit (with kerfed linings added). I had issues with the water based pore filler turning things green, which called for more scraping and sanding, so it all go a lot thinner than I would like but it still sounds pretty good and has nice sustain. The back sounds a bit dead when you tap it, so that's something I’ll hopefully rectify on the next one. I definitely won't be eyeballing the neck and string geometry in future. Also, I was not entirely happy with the LMI plans. I wish I'd really thought about the tuner hole and bridge pin hole placement, rather than just following what they had. I’m not too impressed with the Grover Champion tuners - they worked fine with a soprano but aren’t up to handling the string tension on this tenor.

    Last edited by Paul Bouchard; 06-23-2019 at 02:21 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2018


    Pretty much done and done much pretty. Lovely looking build Paul.

  3. #3


    Wow it looks great. So this is the 2nd instrument you’ve ever built? Double wow.
    Sopranos, Concerts, and Tenors

    4 Sale: Pineapple - MP Cali, Tenor: Washburn, Luna Tattoo

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Tampa Bay, FL


    It looks amazing....maybe you were a luthier in a past lifetime already?
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  5. #5


    Thanks for the kind words. I wouldn't have even tried it without this forum. Many thanks to the people who answered my questions.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Little River, California


    I second those words: a lovely second build.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2019


    Looks good but wish I could see it bigger.

    I have always been intrigued by Osage Orange. Some day I'd like to do something with some!

  8. #8


    The Google folder shots (first link) are all big-able.

    The one thing I've found of note about the Osage orange is that you have to be careful about water during the build. I used a damp rag to wipe it down after gluing the fretboard and a small amount of moisture got into the fret slots (seems like it reacted in some way with the metal) and seeped into the end grain, staining it. I don’t think it’ll be noticeable after darkens but it was very noticeable on fresh wood.

  9. #9


    After adjusting the saddle, I thought I'd post a sound clip before I pack this up to ship off to a friend in Vancouver.

    Again, thanks to everyone on this forum for the advice and more generally - for creating such a great resource for novice builders.

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