Uke Build: Finished Sound

Here is a sound sample of the finished tenor ukulele.

Uke Build: String Up

(Prev: Bridge Install)

All that’s left is to cut the nut slots and make the saddle.

This ukulele plays extremely well and the intonation is superb! I like the traditional “look, sound, and feel” of it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on ukulele construction. If you’ve read to this point and have further questions, or would like […]

Uke Build: Bridge Install

(Prev: Tuner Install)

Here are a few pictures of the bridge being glued in place.

The tape came off without a problem and left a nice gluing surface for the bridge.

At that point I set the bridge in place with the tooling and, with masking tape, taped off the location of the outside bridge perimeter. I marked […]

Uke Build: Tuner Install

(Prev: End Pin Install)

Here you see the four tuners being located and installed. I like sealed tuners for less maintenance.

Oh, some questions seem to always arise about how the tuners are installed so as to sit parallel. Simply take a small straight edge and place it across the top of the tuner bodies. That procedure […]

Uke Build: End Pin Install

(Prev: Tru-Oil Finish)

With the correct reamer this is an easy job! I like wearing a strap with my instruments – this is about the only aspect of this ukulele that’s not traditional, short of the neck bolt assembly.

(Next: Tuner Install)

Uke Build: Tru-Oil Finish

(Prev: Bridge Gluing Position)

Here are some shots of the Tru-Oil being applied. It is so easy to work with – just apply small amounts with the finger tips and rub the oil on the surface. No sanding was needed, I didn’t use a grain filler on the body as I like the look of the […]

Uke Build: Bridge Gluing Position

(Prev: Bridge Tooling)

The tooling allowed me to set the bridge in position and put some masking tape under the bridge location. This way I could finish the top on the instrument without having to worry about the bridge being in the way!

(Next: Tru-Oil Finish)

Uke Build: Bridge Tooling

(Prev: Heel Inlay)

I had to lay out the distance between the front edge of the nut and the centerline of the saddle to create tooling for the bridge location. I did this on paper using the table saw’s flat surface (shown in the picture). Then I used the One Two Three blocks as a guide […]

Uke Build: Heel Inlay

(Prev: Neck Bolt View)

Just to be different I used an abalone dot to enhance the heel of the neck. I felt the wood grain alone was a bit too conservative. Abalone’s grain is directional, but difficult to establish, because it has to be sanded to the surface of its surrounding inlay material. Meaning, that at […]

Uke Build: Neck Bolt View

(Prev: Heel Sanding)

Here’s a picture of the neck bolt’s nut tightened in position.

While not “traditional” this design allowed for a better “lock-up” of the neck to body joint. Blind tradition is not a good thing – sometimes newer design parameters are better!

(Next: Heel Inlay)

Uke Build: Heel Sanding

(Prev: Nut Nose)

This is the final sanded surface of the neck heel. It takes on the same 15 foot radius as the back. This being a more traditional instrument, a heel cap seemed out of place …

If I make a ukulele with a heel cap it will sit below the back’s surface and become parallel with […]

Uke Build: Nut Nose

(Prev: Nut Install)

This is the point at which the “run out” occurs on the sanded surface of the headstock overlay. I elected to do this step as you see in the picture.

The other method is to calculate the break point of the “run out” to coincide with the front edge of the nut, making the […]

Uke Build: Nut Install

(Prev: Neck Glue-Up)

The nut and saddle are bone, not plastic. I find plastic to be a detriment to good sound on musical instruments. Tusk is not a bad choice and tends to soften an instrument with a longer scale length. Tusk is a synthetic, but I find it a good second choice, if bone is […]

Uke Build: Neck Glue-up

(Prev: Finished Neck)

With all the centerlines aligned and the heel to body joint double checked it’s time to glue the neck to the body. One of these pictures shows the only clamp necessary to glue the neck in position. The neck bolt holds the neck joint firmly in place and the clamp on the fret […]

Uke Build: Finished Neck

(Prev: Fret Board Glue-Up)

These shots are of the finished neck. I tried a new water-based filler and liked it! All of the grain filling worked well and finished superbly.

You can see the 14th fret attachment location on the side view of the neck, that’s a critical point in the assembly of the ukulele.

With the neck […]

Uke Build: Fret Board Glue-up

(Prev: Fret Board Crowning)

This can be one of the trickier aspects of instrument building because Tightbond adhesive is very slippery until it begins to set up! Trying to hold a centerline on two ends gets interesting as the viscous nature of the adhesive rears its ugly head. All one can do is allow the glue […]

Uke Build: Fret Board Crowning

(Prev: Tuner Bushing Holes)

The frets will cause a little back bow in the fret board as the tangs push the slots apart – a little mist of water and some weight relieves the back bow! The picture doesn’t show that the fret board is being held up by each end so the “sag” is set […]

Uke Build: Tuner Bushing Holes

(Prev: Neck Bolt Installation)

There are two reasons for a headstock veneer. First, it looks cool, and second, it allows the bushing for the tuners to have a bearing surface.

The holes for the tuners are .500 and the bushing holes are .375. This assembly locks in the tuners nicely and accurately.

(Next: Fret Board Crowning)

Uke Build: Neck Bolt Install

(Prev: Filling Fret Slots)

This next series of pics is the neck bolt installation. The hole through the neck block is used for locating the neck bolt, then the bolt is trimmed so as not to split the heel (and measured for depth). Then it’s glued in place with 5 minute epoxy. I ended up filling […]

Uke Build: Filling Fret Slots

(Prev: Fret Nipping)

Whenever I sand a hard wood I keep the dust and store it for purposes such as these.

The fret slots are filled with a paste I make up from the dust and Tightbond Wood Glue. I simply fill the fret slot with this paste and allow it to dry out overnight. There tends […]