Advice Requested: Convert a guitar into a uke

Jerryc41

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 4, 2015
Messages
10,452
Reaction score
3,626
Location
Catskill Mountains, NY
I like experimenting, and I want to convert a guitar into a uke. The cheap one I bought from Amazon is a bit large - 36".

Pyle Beginner Acoustic Guitar Kit, 3/4 Junior Size All Wood Instrument for Kids, Adults, 36" Natural Wood Gloss


I have two possibilities: I can remove two strings; I can turn it into a 6-string uke, and that appeals to me. I would have to buy another set of strings and install them very close to the existing strings. The guitar doesn't have pins holding the strings in place, so that makes it simpler.

Yes, I know I can put a capo on the fifth fret, but how challenging is that? 😁

All ideas gladly accepted.
 
Haha depends on how liberal your definition of uke is. I am fairly conservative and say uke is defined by short scale 14 to 17 inches, strings in four courses, and re-entrant tuning. So if you want to do 6 string you need to modify nut and saddle so that two of the strings can be unison or octave. For getting the scale use of capo is probably best option.
 
Haha depends on how liberal your definition of uke is. I am fairly conservative and say uke is defined by short scale 14 to 17 inches, strings in four courses, and re-entrant tuning. So if you want to do 6 string you need to modify nut and saddle so that two of the strings can be unison or octave. For getting the scale use of capo is probably best option.

I converted an Enya Taimane uke into a 5-string and saved over a $200 by adding a second G-string. Converting a guitar will be a challenge. I don't know if I want to be fretting double steel strings with my dainty fingers, though. Maybe I'll use nylon. I have 127 items on my To Do list, so I don't know when I'll get to this.
 
If the scale length is say 20" isn't it equivalent to a big body baritone?
 
I like experimenting, and I want to convert a guitar into a uke. The cheap one I bought from Amazon is a bit large - 36".

Pyle Beginner Acoustic Guitar Kit, 3/4 Junior Size All Wood Instrument for Kids, Adults, 36" Natural Wood Gloss


I have two possibilities: I can remove two strings; I can turn it into a 6-string uke, and that appeals to me. I would have to buy another set of strings and install them very close to the existing strings. The guitar doesn't have pins holding the strings in place, so that makes it simpler.

Yes, I know I can put a capo on the fifth fret, but how challenging is that? 😁

All ideas gladly accepted.
For someone who whose acquisition skills are nearly unrivaled, I am surprised you don’t have a baritone guitar!! A to A is the way!!
 
For someone who whose acquisition skills are nearly unrivaled, I am surprised you don’t have a baritone guitar!! A to A is the way!!

I have enough trouble forming ukulele chords. I'm not about to learn something new. I'm an old dog, and a baritone anything is a new trick.

I just received a 30" guitar today, and that looks like the perfect size for a conversion - one of these days.

Now, I have to get rid of a Donner 3/4 (41") guitar.
 
Sir, A to A tuning would be right up your alley. Baritone guitar is just a slightly longer scale than regular guitar and the chord forms on the four highest pitched strings are exactly the same.
 
Okay, so let's define ukes specifically as four strings with the allowance that some may be doubled, just for the sake of argument. So can you turn a guitar into a super-baritone-scale uke strung octave GCEA? Of course. Do the math, calculate the strings you need. You have plenty of space on the nut to go gGcCEA octave which would be a sweet 6-string jumbo baritone ukulele. Would that have to be a custom nut you cut yourself? Probably. Is that impossible? No. Go for it!
 
Okay - next step. The nut-to-addle distance is 19" with the 12th fret midway (9.5"). I was able to tune three strings to G, C, and E. I'd like to run the strings from the nut to the saddle, rather than making them shorter to get the tuning right. I received an extra set of strings, and I'd like to make this a 6-string uke, with each string doubled, either high or low.

Steel strings? Nylon strings? I know that one brand of strings are delivered double length, so they would be fine.

The bridge is the standard type with a hole drilled right through, like most ukes. Each string has a little ball to hold it on the saddle, but I could also tie uke strings to it.

Any and all suggestions would be appreciated.
 
This is an enormous can of worms. From an earlier post, I believe that you want to tune the converted guitar to G-C-E-A.

If you are tuning to a standard ukulele tuning that would be G3/G4-C4-E4-A4. There are nylon string sets that are made for baritone ukuleles that will give you this tuning. With your 19" scale that would probably be your best route. Personally I would find C tuning on a baritone a bit too high, my tenors are tuned to B/Bb. Likewise, dropping an octave to G2/G3-C3-E3-A3 might be too low.

I actually tried steel strings on an 18" scale tenor ukulele, after calculating string tension. It was okay, but the the strings were too thin and the result was too tinny sounding.

If your converted guitar was made for steel strings, truss rod, that might be a better option. Heavier strings might be able to carry to the higher pitch (guitar capo 5th). You would need to calculate the string tension first.

John
 
This is an enormous can of worms. From an earlier post, I believe that you want to tune the converted guitar to G-C-E-A.

If you are tuning to a standard ukulele tuning that would be G3/G4-C4-E4-A4. There are nylon string sets that are made for baritone ukuleles that will give you this tuning. With your 19" scale that would probably be your best route. Personally I would find C tuning on a baritone a bit too high, my tenors are tuned to B/Bb. Likewise, dropping an octave to G2/G3-C3-E3-A3 might be too low.

I actually tried steel strings on an 18" scale tenor ukulele, after calculating string tension. It was okay, but the the strings were too thin and the result was too tinny sounding.

If your converted guitar was made for steel strings, truss rod, that might be a better option. Heavier strings might be able to carry to the higher pitch (guitar capo 5th). You would need to calculate the string tension first.

John

Thanks!

What do you mean by G2/G3, etc?
 
The G2/G3 is the associated octave number; basically the frequency. The lower the number the lower the frequency/note.

It is easier to visualize notes on a piano. Middle C (C4) divides bass and treble scales.

When you tune a uke to C, the 3rd string is C4 (middle C). Low G is technically bass scale and high G is treble scale.

John

Edit Added: Just for reference, low E on a guitar is E2, (G2 is 3rd fret).
 
Last edited:
Okay, so let's define ukes specifically as four strings with the allowance that some may be doubled, just for the sake of argument. So can you turn a guitar into a super-baritone-scale uke strung octave GCEA? Of course. Do the math, calculate the strings you need. You have plenty of space on the nut to go gGcCEA octave which would be a sweet 6-string jumbo baritone ukulele. Would that have to be a custom nut you cut yourself? Probably. Is that impossible? No. Go for it!
Unclear to me why this you describe or a baritone are considered ukuleles? Is a Nashville tuned guitar still a guitar, or is it another thing?
 
Just put on concert gauge strings and you’ll get GCEA. I have that on one of my Pono Baritone. la bella 2001 light gauge classical strings work too. Getting a high and low G is easily done. Which other strings do you want to have an octave apart? I have seen different 6 string combinations. If you want a low/high C pairing I think the string will be very thin, maybe 0.018 might a a bit too tight. If I had to guess I would say 0.016 gauge Flourocarbons. E and A strings are usually of the same course. A guitar neck is rather wide. Some of those narrower ones are around 46 to 48mm. The widest I have seen on ukes are 38mm
 
Unclear to me why this you describe or a baritone are considered ukuleles? Is a Nashville tuned guitar still a guitar, or is it another thing?
to avoid unnecessary arguments but you know some people just can't help themselves
 
The tenor strings arrived today: two sets of AQ23U and one AQ16U Low-G. Those were recommended by several people online for converting a baritone into a tenor. The baritone has the same dimensions as this guitar, so it should work.

Trying to drill four or more holes in the bridge without removing it is not going to possible without a 12" 1/16" drill. 😁 Instead, I think I am going to drill through the bridge and the top of the uke. There will be no stress at all on the bridge. I removed the original strings, so I'll have to mark the location of the "ukulele" strings.
 
Top Bottom