My local music store has a ukulele club that I would like to try as I have never played one and they seem fun. I want to make my own since I already make CBG's.
First question, I use a neck through the box design on my guits and put sound holes above and below the neck. Will this work with a ukulele? I get very good sound with this design but would like your thoughts.
Next, I was thinking something a bit larger than a soprano uke, what would be the scale from nut to bridge on the next size up?
Lastly ( for now), proper tuning for a uke? Never played one before so unsure.
Okay, one more. I typically use a 1/4 inch threaded rod for my nut and bridge, will this work with the nylon strings or should I go with wood on both ends. If so, what would the string spacing be on these.
Thank you in advance for all the tips and advice I know I will get in the next few days!!!
I bought a couple of those knock down bolts this AM, and tried a joint on scrap wood. It seems like the hot setup. Just drill 2 holes fairly accurately and Bob's you uncle.
Thanks for that tip.
Oh, I have a question/comment. I find that if I put in 2 or 3 degrees of neck drop, by the time I string 'er up and tune up, I have zero neck drop. I am going to try doubling the neck drop I want and see if that works.
Glad they worked for you. Once you build a bolt-on neck with this method, you'll never go back!
Nice work, hal.
...now i'm trying to figger your jigs for making those nice cuts...
will the bigbox ash and alder be hard enough for fretboard stock?
for the op, i think a steel bolt would be pretty harsh on nylon strings.
maybe a piece of a plastic coat hanger for the nut? or cut it from a beef rib bone ??
a small scrap of hardwood molding should be fine for a bridge, nut a hard piece atop it could make the tone brighter ??
get a 2nd opinion. :-) rc
Not familiar with Ash and Alder from Home Depot or Lowes. Mine only carry Poplar (ugh), Red Oak (too open grained IMHO), and something they call White Wood (too soft). Maybe that's what they're calling "Alder" now. I usually get my fretboard stock from Rockler, Craftwoods, or a couple of Houston-area millworks where I can get different varieties of Rosewood, Ebony, Wenge, Bubinga, and other exotics. They're more fun.
BTW - The almost-finished neck in the picture (4 tuners on one side) was made from Cherry with Birdseye Maple veneer on the front and back of the headstock. The other blanks were done in hard Maple.
I've only made a very few Uke's to date myself, but I can tell you what little i've learned:
- Common tuning for the Soprano, Concert and Tenor Ukes is G C e a, but there are numerous alternative tunings, just use the ones that your club is comfortable with.
- Stick-thru designs are just fine if you are comfortable with them-and it let's you use lots of sound chambers like this gourd here...
On the other hand, a fitted neck gives you room to do interesting things such as adding a resonator like so...
...keep in mind that all I did was cut a hole for the neck, glue it 1" in then cut some spacers to fit tight against the neck and top-I have a neighbor who swears by dovetail joints, screws to hold until the glue sets and then wooden pegs glued into the holes when he removes the screws...
I don't think that there is a 'wrong' way to make a Uke...four strings, four and a 'drone' string like a banjo, two courses of four like a mandolin... Use Aquila strings, light banjo strings, fishing line... go nuts! Want to carve one out of a solid plank, fit eight strings of fishing line, chisel a funnel in it with the soundhole in the back? Here's one:
(Lord I want one of those-can't wait until Spring when I can make sawdust outdoors again...)
As far as bridges and nuts, i've found that carved Oak works wonderfully for nylon and wire alike-but if you're sticking to Nylgut and the like I find that Bamboo chopsticks are really easy to carve and fibrous and tough enough to hold up well. In fact, i've 'cooked' a few with a heat gun and the resulting material (with the sugars cured into the lignin to nearly double the rigidity and toughness) has held banjo strings for nearly two years now...
Can't wait to see your Uke builds...you know you won't stop at one!
Some of this may repeat earlier answers. (And some may contradict other replies... No disrespect intended... just my experience!)
Scale lengths for Ukes (roughly... not etched in stone!):
Personally, I like Concerts and Tenors.
Standard Tuning for Soprano-Concert-Tenor (From the TOP string to the BOTTOM) is:
g C E A
"Top" and "Bottom" here refer to the physical locations of the strings when playing.
Good way to remember Uke tuning: Goats Can Eat Anything
It is typically re-entrant tuning. That is, the top "g" string is an octave up (it is actually higher in pitch than the C and E strings.) That is part of what gives the "Ukulele" sound. (It's also why the first "g" is sometimes written in lower-case.)
Baritone uke tuning is different. It is typically D G B E (same as highest 4 strings on a guitar). Baritone uke tuning is usually not re-entrant.
Uke clubs are a blast! Personally, I have found no snobbery whatsoever in the Ukulele community! Cigar Box (or any other construction you can think of) is welcome with open arms! I sometimes bring my homemade electric Telecaster uke to meetings and outings with my uke club (the Kansas City Ukesters - http://kcuke.com if anybody is interested).
Just about any construction method you can use for a CBG can also be used on a Cigar Box Uke.
Have fun and welcome! I'm sure you will fall in love with the Uke!
I've built two cigar box ukes...one neck-through (tenor), one bolt-on (soprano). Both have sound holes on each side of the neck (see the photos on my page here.) Sounds great like that.
I've used bone and hardwood for nuts/bridges. If I can find a nylon bolt at the hardware store, I'm going to try that on my next build just to see how it sounds. I use fretfind2D to lay out frets on the fingerboard and it prints string spacing based on the neck width I feed in to the calculator.