Instructables
Picture of Make a Baritone Ukulele from a $10 Toy Guitar
My wife and I play in the Diamond Harbour Ukulele Band (DHUB for short) but I've always played acoustic bass.  Finally overcome with strumming jealousy, I decided to invest in a ukulele.  But, since I've got an old banjo and my wife has a Greek Bouzouki, I figured if I could learn the chords on a DGBE-tuned Baritone Uke, I could use the same fingering to play them all!

I started trawling TradeMe (New Zealand's too small for Ebay to bother) and ran into a problem.  New Zealand seems to be going through a Ukulele renaissance at the moment and second hand ukuleles are going for hundreds of dollars while guitars are going for tens.

Would it be possible to take 2 strings off a guitar and call it a ukulele?

Read on!
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Find the Right Scale Toy Guitar

Unfortunately, "Toy Guitar" doesn't really mean very much except for the shape.  Some toy guitars were meant to be played and others were meant to be played with (or used as a weapon).

Since you can't pick up and strum instruments online, it's always a gamble, but at least you can find out whether it would be possible to string it as a ukulele.

Here are some typical ukulele lengths.  I know I found them online somewhere but I can't remember where.  Scale Length (SL) is the distance of the strings, from nut to bridge (see photos).  Overall Length (OL) isn't as important as scale length but it is more likely to be in the description.

Soprano Uke - SL = 13"/33cm     OL = 21"/53cm
Concert Uke  - SL = 15"/38cm     OL = 23"/58cm
Tenor Uke      - SL = 17"/43cm     OL = 26"/66cm
Baritone Uke - SL = 19"/48cm     OL = 30"/76cm


The toy guitar I found was:

SL = 49cm OL = 74cm so I was confident it would be OK for a baritone uke.  It also had two missing tuning pegs which didn't bother me but is probably why it went for only $10.
millenniumtree made it!4 months ago

I got one of these cheap guitars for free from a friend. I wanted to get into Hawaiian slack key guitar (we already own 7 ukuleles!).
To make it a little different, I took off all the hardware, sanded it, and painted the Hawaiian flag on it with Rustoleum in 6 different applications, masking off the colors with masking tape and a LOT of patience. I also carved the headstock into a 'wave' shape.
The bridge was WAAAYYYY too high (strings way too far off the fretboard). This made it very difficult to play. I took the bridge off, and sanded it down to lower the action. Much easier now. Tuned to DGDGBD, it makes a neat little guitar for learning slack key! I had also thought of turning it into a 6 or even 8-string ukulele, but I have enough ukes for now. :)

hawaii-guitar.jpg
freeza362 years ago
heres the link
http://www.instructables.com/id/Old-Guitar-Convertd-to-Baritone-Ukulele/
freeza362 years ago
i am going to make an instructable about how I did it..
LucDaRocka13 years ago
i just made something like it with an old guitar, except i gave mine a new hippie paintjob
tewharau (author)  LucDaRocka13 years ago
Excellent! Post a pic!
alright sure will!
fyborg3 years ago
MAybe you must make a bigger holes for the two middle string holes then refill them with a wood dowell and make a new holes for the two strings making thegaps equal one to the other.
But a god job and a very good idea.. did you make a thinking about electrify that uke? it's an easy job with a ceramic disk from a telephone set.
Regards from Mallorca island, Spain
tewharau (author)  fyborg3 years ago
Both very good ideas! I have used piezo buzzers from alarm clocks as pickups...
hjasz3 years ago
Thanks for inspiring me to try this myself! I found a little first act guitar in the garbage and decided i'd do this to it. I have one question though, i need to purchase strings for it and i wasn't sure if baritone ukulele strings would be long enough to string it because i've never used them before. The guitar is 30 inches long. Do you think baritone uke strings would work?
tewharau (author)  hjasz3 years ago
That sounds like the perfect size for a baritone uke. The one in the picture is just over 29" so it was on the short side. Baritone ukulele strings should work fine. Guitar and ukulele strings are always much longer than they need be. Also the nylon ones stretch a lot.

More Inspiring words:
- Get those strings on!
- Download the DGBE Chord Chart from the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain
website
- Start playing songs from Richard G's Uke website.
hjasz tewharau3 years ago
I appreciate the encouragement on getting those strings, i did it and i'm so happy with how mine turned out! I attached a picture, excuse the writing (I did find it in the garbage). You might also notice it's stringed for a lefty, that's how i roll.
IMG_3031.JPG
How does this sound? I'm was thinking of buying a 25 to 26 inch toy guitar to make it into a tenor, for a summer project. Glad to see someone had the same idea that I did and posted a decent instructable on it. I was wondering if you could post a video of what yours sounds like before I invest some time into this as I'm not to confident in my building skills, and would be great to hear if it's worth it.
Logan D4 years ago
I was gonna make an ible for this too! I made mine out of a thrift store guitar. However, I took an extra nylon "high E" string as the top string, tuned to the Higher D above the regular baritone uke D. This gives the ukulele the bright reactant tuning of smaller ukes, while still allowing you to use baritone chord shapes.

For anyone who has an old kids guitar laying around, this is a fantastic way to give it new life!
Photo on 2010-11-29 at 19.13 #2.jpg
tewharau (author)  Logan D4 years ago
That looks great!