Introduction: Electric Uke
Suave and sexy looking compact tiny uke. But let not its size deceive you , its got some powerpacked performance capabilities hidden within. With its sturdy steel strings and the loud magnetic pick ups it could put any of its gigantic cousins to shame. So come on board to experience its ukelectric performance.
Sounds good when connected to amps. The soundboard that is used isnt acoustically too good, so the sound isnt too loud unplugged.
If you wish to see it in action check out this video :
Wood : Ideally instruments need expertly selected wood with high resonance etc, but since this one is electric and the ideal wood type ( spruce , maple etc ) wasnt available , I used teak and it had good strength. Its very important since you dont want your uke to buckle under the stresses that the steel strings are creating.
for Fret Board : 4 cm X 3 cm X 31 cm
for the Body :
1 cm X 30 cm X 30 cm > top and bottom
5 cm X 10 cm X 30 cm > we cut out our sides from this block and also the reinforcing frames..
for the head : 1 cm X 6 cm X 12 cm
Fret wire : 40 cm long ( depends on how many frets you want on your uke , 6 or 7 frets work just fine )
Acrylic sheet 3 mm thick , 10 cm X 10 cm for bridges , etc
4 Tuning pegs ( be sure to check the right hand and left hand ones )
Magnetic pick up : ( http://www.amazon.com/Electric-Guitar-Pickup-Singl... )
Strings 1 to 4 ( try to use a lighter gauge )
Screws to fasten the entire unit : Head to fret board , fret board to top panel , entire body to back panel. Maskin tape etc.
Tools used :
Saw ( jig saw , band saw , hand saw ) , Sander , Cutter , Driller , C-clamps , Soldering gun
P.S. if you dont want your phone camera to be screwed with all the dust , keep it away from the workshop. I had no other option but to use my phone that explains all these specks on the images.
Step 1: The Fret Board and the Head
The PDF provides the measurements where the frets will be located.
Print the the PDF on an A4 sheet and securely stick it on the wood you've selected for the fret. Make sure the surface of this wood is properly planed before you stick it.
Keep a distance of 3.5 cms or 4 cm from the top to fit in the head.
with a coping saw , accurately saw over the marked fret lines. refer this if you are really unsure how to do it >>
Another tip , you need not saw all the frets , usually most of the standard uke chords can be comfortably covered within the top 5 frets , so having around 7 frets makes it workable and also the further frets beyond 8 are very small an can be painful to play. So they're kinda redundant.
Above the first fret , make a 1.5 cm cut and cut away the top section and a cut out underneath upto the mark of the 12th fret as shown below in the hand drawn sketch ,
For the HEAD :
Print the layout of the head on an A4 sheet and cut it out from the 1 cm thick section of wood.
Drill four holes on the head for the tuning pegs. The size of these holes and the distance between them will depend on what kind of tuning pegs you've purchased. Insert the tuning pegs and mark where the screws to secure the tuning pegs will be placed.
Stick the head over the fret , keep a distance of 3mm from the first fret ( this gap will be used to hold the acrylic bridge in place ) and screw it.
Step 2: Body.
Print the files TOP , BACK , SIDE walls, and the profile of head on A3 sheets ( provided in PDF's) ( make sure there's no scaling during printing).
For the BODY :
Stick the top and bottom on flat 1 cm thick wooden piece.
And cut out the sections carefully and sand the sides.
Do the same for the sides. Stick the thin side profiles on 10 cm X 30 cm section . So the wall height is 5 cm .
So now you have all the components in place ,
the 4 walls ( make a cut out in the wall for the fret and drill a 8mm hole as shown in the 5th image) ,
top ( it should have a large hole about 6 cm in diameter for the sound hole and four small 1 mm holes for the strings to pass from) ,
fret with the head.
Place them all and check if all fits in nicely.
Stick the sides. Use some strong glue suitable for wood and clamp it for atleast more than 2 or 3 hours.
To strengthen the entire frame and to screw the back panel into place, we cut out a few sections of wood as shown in the photo and stick it over the frame to reinforce the structure.
Apply some glue and insert the top panel in the groove made on the fret and screw this tightly into place.
Align the top panel and side walls and stick them together. Flush out the sides with sandpaper if needed.
The back panel must not be glued , as it will have provision to be screwed to the frame. We need to open the back panel incase we need to change the strings or check if something goes wrong with the pick up.
Place the back panel over the frame , align it properly and drill 4 holes through the back panel into the reinforced regions of the frame.
Step 3: Nut and Bridge
cut the 3mm acrylic sections as shown in the messy hand drawn diagrams.
Place the nut in the gap provided between the head and the fret. As shown in the image
And exactly 43 cm away from this nut place the bridge. Dont stick it yet, for the final tweaking and fine tuning we stick it in later after we have the strings in place.
Step 4: Frets and Coat and Make It Shiny ...
Cut the fret wire into 4 cm long sections and sand the edges. Dont stick it yet.
We can now spray paint the body.
After you've spray painted it , we lay in the fret wire. we wont be spray painting the fret wire as it can chip off easily by the wear and tear of the strings.
Apply some super glue on the base of fret wire and lightly hammer it into place. Place a piece of cloth over it before you hammer it, so you dont damage the surface of the fret board. and do it lightly , VERY lightly, just so that the frets are nicely fitting in the groove.
Place the tuning pegs in place and screw them securely.
Step 5: The Crucial Part Now : Bridge.
Place the bridge , 42.8 cms from the nut. Keep it there with help of some masking tape.
We string the uke at this stage. To prevent the strings from cutting into the wood , you have to cut out two acrylic pieces like this and stick it underneath the holes and on top as shown in the image.
For finalising the exact location of the bridge we string the guitar and make final adjustments to the placement of the bridge by slightly pushing or pulling the bridge depending how clear each note that is heard. This can take long , but is very critical.
best way to test it is play the lead of smoke on the water ( 0--3--5--0--6--5 ) , and see if every note on open fret 3rd fret and 5th fret sound good. if they do ... Bingo ! you've gotchya sweet spot. Mark it and super glue the bridge into place.
Step 6: Set Up the Pickup
Screw in the jack in the hole provided. and solder the cables in place.
Place the magnetic pickup inside and stick it with some double sided tape. ( you may need to raise it higher to get it the pickup closer to the strings ).
Once every thing looks good and sounds good. screw the back panel into place.
Step 7: Tuni It. GCEA
the standard tuning for a uke is GCEA. and if you are impatient and want to start playing your brand new selfmade uke rightaway ive included an image with the basic chords.
So plugin and enjoy your electrikuke