Now for something completely different…


Well-known member
May 20, 2012
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Virginia USA
While I've not been very productive with ukes this winter, I recently completed a fun project for a fundraiser. The project is for the "Instruments of Art" auction in our area- to benefit a local music outreach organization. Each year they select artists and give them an instrument (ones that are donated, so usually old, broken, etc.) and have us "artify" them. This year, the instrument I was given was a tin toy drum from the sixties. Most of the art created front the instruments is decorative, but I thought of making something functional this year. So my idea was to create a working electric guitar amp out of the drum and a cigar box. It was quite a project and took some time to make it all work, but it came out great and actually sounds fantastic. Really kicks out some sound. I had a lot of fun making it and it was surprising to see how much ukulele building, and the skills I've developed from that, played a roll in the making of this piece.

It was very well received and brought in a cool $850 at the auction. A nice break from uke making. In fact I might explore this venue a little more.! Anyone have a toy drum laying around?? :eek:


I only wish I had a steel string electric uke to try out on it. :music:
Good use of an Acid cigar box damn they are sturdy though. I have a local cigar store any box just .99 cents I scored one last week. Mine only holds craft stuff so not as much fun.
A Very cool item. Good job.
If they were available to be bought it would be on my wish list.
Thanks for the nice feedback folks! Let me tell you it was hard to hand this over to the committee when I finished it. I really wanted to keep it! But yeah, making more is not out of the question. I just need to find some 8" drums.

I have a local smoke shop that sells cigar boxes for $2 each and I picked up a handful of them. Some are very cool. And yes Al, this one was an Acid Cigar box, but I did have to cut it down about 3/4" cuz it was a bit too tall. Also I made a new top for it that's a little more sturdy since it has to support the weight of the heavy magnet speaker. The speaker is a 6-1/2" Visaton whizzer cone full range. Made for an open baffle setup. So the back of the drum has a cutout a little larger than the diameter of the magnet, which sticks out a bit. Also, there's a 3/4" thick birch ply floor added to the box for stability, this thing is a little tank.

The 5 watt amp board is attached directly to the faceplate, which I etched with ferric chloride. I was familiar with etching brass for banjolele tailpieces, but this aluminum plate was so reactive to the ferric chloride that it got scary for a minute, I feared for the shop. So, we'll do that outside from now on.

I did computer-cut the vinyl resist for the faceplate graphics. I added the name of the event, and re-worded the overdrive button to "stank", which is fitting for the sound enhancement it adds. Also, the volume goes to 11. (of course) The amp is powered by a 9 volt battery and with the really high efficiency speaker you would be shocked at the volume it produces. There is also an input for power from a wall wart.

I had to look up the "Straight to the Pool Room" reference Allen, love that. Gonna start using that line.

I did take quite a few pictures of it before letting it go. I used my favorite technique of a tiny aperture, long exposure (8 sec), and just paint with light using a very bright flashlight. Some of the new LED flashlights are color balanced to the camera flash, so white balance is easy. The ones that have that sightly "blueish" light.

So yeah, the speaker grill is a cookie cooling rack that I attacked with a Dremel cutoff wheel. Then I formed it over a bowl to get the dish.

All in all fun. But did I mention it was a crap ton of work. ;)
That looks incredible!
As the Aussies say. "That's going straight to the pool room".

Well said Allen!

If you dont mind, i will share this pic on Facebook
Well, now that one drumhead has been removed and the other had a hole cut in it, it's true: you can't beat it.
Thanks again all. Yep I did use a donor amp for this. I wanted gain, volume, and tone, and the battery option so I found one that was red-ta-go.

Go ahead and share Beau, thanks.

Now I need to figure out how to reconfigure/mod for an acoustic setup. For piezo pickup Ukes!
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