About: A retired electronics engineer -motorola. delveing into new craft ideas and contest entries.

 How to make a mini-Uk  from readily found materials in craft supply stores. The instrument can be made in four nights by anyone  who can drill ,cut and tune a stringed instrument.The instrument is small in size and number of strings. It does not follow the construction of a standard ukulele  but uses 3 strings instead of 4.They are tuned  to the same pitch as a guitar high strings of GBE rather than  CEA of a Ukulele although they can be tuned to CEA if desired.  Basically the choice is yours as to what  to tune to.
Children will like the small size too.Chords can be played easily over 2 octaves. 



  FOR INFORMATION- refer to my earlier Instructable "Make a mini-harp from a plastic throwing disk.dated jun.28,2009".  That design goes into detail  on construction and materials that are used here. 
    For a quick review -
     Resonator Box- wood  jewelry box  approximately 5x7x 2 in. high. but can be rectangular as you can find  in the craft store for about $2.00  . Sand and lacquer as required.  Be sure the the bottom is 3 ply not over 1/16 in. thick for good  sounding.
      Stock and fret board- Can be found finished in a lumber yard . oak or pine. Length can be 6 to 8 inches long.[See Drawing. ] Bridge can be plastic or wood  hard board .
      Frets if used  - tooth-picks .075 diameter or smaller. can also be wire cut to length. 
      Strings. High polymer cord 1mm. diameterand stretchable to 300% without snapping.
      Tuner screws- 5/8 dia. brass plated steel. closed eye hooks.[closed with a plier].
      Crimps-Craft  jewelry findings- can be round or u-shaped for ease of crimping with a long-nose pliers.Can be 2mm Inside diameter beads.

TOOLS- See picture of above referenced Instructable. [ Pliers, a hemostat and Goop (R) GLUE.]
             DRILL BITS- For tuning screw use .093 Diam bit. For anchor holes  use 1/16 bit.

TUNING- Can be a Casio[R] or a C tuning fork. piano middle C. 


 STEP 2- Assembly- refer to the Drawing-
          Remember that  you can vary this outline by using a different  resonator box and stock materials. 
The  basics  is still the same. Length of the strings can be  to 9 inches  here and can still be tuned to the pitch shown due to the novel stretchability  of this modern day polymeric material.
       The stock can be glued to the side of the box with standard  industrial glue or Epoxy. The  advantage of this string is that  there is very little high stresses on the box unlike that  as found in guitars using steel strings.
        Spacing between strings- use .35  to .5 in.  for a 1-1/4 inch wide stock. 
        Tuner screws[. See ref.] Close the open hooks witha plier. Apply a spot of mineral or silicone  grease on the screw tip and start it into the  .093 holes . Turn it all the way to the collar of thescrew then 2 more turns down effectively stripping the thread of the wood. The torque remaining will be sufficient  to hold the string tension  even after rotating  the screw an additional 10 turns clockwise. Another advantage of this string type is low tension  so there will be no screw - detuning .
        Stringing- Use a crimp bead and attach one end of the string through the closed screw.Then rotate string counter-clock-wise around the collar and maintain tension and feed other end through the 1/16 inch holes  in the resonator top.Pull  untill the note is very close to the desired value. Then crimp inside. Cut off excess. Final tune upward to the desired note.The note will drift down ward in pitch for the first few hours and stabilize. After retuning upward  the note will stabilize at about 1/4 note drift after  5 days of use before retuning. 


Tuning- Assembly will be always slightly lower pitch than the final  desired note as indicated  above. For note drift stability- Retuning at least 3 times, 2 hours apart will  stabilize  note drift to less than 1/2 note down. All 3 basic strings will drift about the same downward. Final Tuning-
      Tuning- Use a piano or Casio . Tune  the basic open G in the octave under middle C. Same for the B string. Then the E in the middle C octave [two notes above  Cm.]
Finally marking all notes--at G string  place a finger nail  on the A aboveG note and mark with a pencil at the same time playing that note on the Casio. Continue for all 3 strings. Dont worry about the sharp notes {black keys} as these are found between the whole note marks. If Frets are added  then sharps are also frets but this makes the playing difficult due to closeness of the frets. So only use frets  for the E open string  but only for whole notes.  I like fretless playing. Mark the pencil marks when you have cross-checked them. Use an ink pen .Laquer coat the markings  so tha they dont wear off in use. Remember- the Middle C note on the G string should sound the same as the C m note on the B string. Same for the E note on the G string  should sound the same as the E note on the B string and same as the open E 3d string
  Sounding and resonance- The sound and volume can be varied by opening and closing the  Lid  under side. Have fun experimenting here.I used a one inch diameter hole on top side by making a circle then drill with a .o93 drill close as possible around the circumference then use
a sharp pointed   blade to cut out the disc.I laquered the cut edges of the hole. 



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    7 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Does this ukulele play five notes? If not, would your harp made out of a frisbee be a more appropriate choice to base my project off of it plays five notes or more? Pls reply ASAP I have to pick my instrument soon and I am still deciding between the Ukulele and Harp. Which ons is easier? I love all your project ideas by the way

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    true. I had to use bold to see the print on my old pc unfortunately. thanks for the ob.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    tried italics- my old pc still too light- will get new PC..-old one 10 years old.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I just got a new computer, to replace mine from 2001. it is 11x faster


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Addition to construction== I have tried tuning the E string down to D. Found I can now play all chords easily with pressure across all 3 stings  with index  finger simultaneously. Example C chord  across C-E-G . I added a one inch diameter hole on top  which greatly increased the sound volume.Opening the lid about 1/4 to 1/2 inch changed the sound to a banjo sound from a Uk sound. weird.