Cutting the back off & thinning the sides to make a thinline uke


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Jan 12, 2021
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Richmond, TX
Hello everyone. I'm lusting after a thin baritone uke and it seems that the only mass market one was made by Kala and is sold out everywhere.

Having absolutely no instrument making experience but being an amateur woodworker, I was thinking about buying a cheap baritone, cutting the back off, reducing the side height, replacing the lining and either putting the original back on or making a new one.

Has anyone done this before? I tried searching but didn't have any luck finding evidence of such a modification.
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It might not be satisfactory, because you'll end up reducing the internal volume substantially. Which means the sound hole diameter is no longer correct to optimally reinforce lower frequencies. And a cheap uke might not be very good to begin with, so are you going to be happy playing it even without considering the work involved?

On the other hand, if it's cheap enough and you need a project to fill up some time, it can't hurt to give it a try.
Having just gotten my first ukes and seeing the difference in quality between a $50 and $300, you're right - I don't think I'd be happy sawing up a $60 baritone as the stock instrument itself it's the greatest to begin with. I think I'm just gonna have to keep my eye out for a thinline baritone.
Or just make your own from scratch! It's not as hard as it sounds (and probably easier than sawing up a completed uke like you were asking), there are good kits, books, and forums out there to help you with any issues, and it's very satisfying! If you're an amateur woodworker then you're halfway there already.
Yeah, like we would advise people not to build one.

But it is addictive. On modifying a cheap one, I did that to a cheap plywood guitar. It was thin sounding unplayable pos. I gave it a California neck reset, did the nut and saddle, fret leveling, shaved down the back braces. Plays and sounds not bad now. I did do a few body modifications to help with some physical limitations I have but a normal person would not do. I found a cheap nylon string guitar years ago before I built my first one and it did not sound half bad. Thought I could build one just as good. In the end I have built more than played. In some ways I wish I just stuck to playing, I might be pretty good by now.
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