Make Your Own Banjo Ukulele.




Introduction: Make Your Own Banjo Ukulele.

I had wanted a Ukulele banjo for some time but being unable to find one for a reasonable price I decided to make one under a budget of 30 quid . (Which I nearly did! About 32 all in all Inc. P&P.) All of my parts were sourced from ebay apart from the drum which i already had and the neck which was made from wood i had lying around.

Note. I will not be including the making of the neck in this instructable, which on hindsight was the most labour intensive part of the build. All it took was a piece if wood a few files lots of love and care and an incredible amount of time.

Step 1: Parts & Tools

The Parts you will Need are:
A Neck ( I built my neck out of a straight piece of wood that i shaped until i was happy with.)
A small drum. (I originally bought mine from here. Which was ideal.) Try to look for one with an uneven number of tuning pegs as then there will always be a space where the neck will be opposite a tuner where the tailpiece will go.
Tuning Pegs. (I used the cheapest friction pegs i could find from,
A Banjo Tailpiece. (From Here.)
A Bridge. (From here.)
A Ukulele Nut. (From here.)
Small Gauge Fretwire. (From here.)

And some strings.

You will also need some excess wood for finishing and some wood screws.

Small File
General woodworking tools

Step 2: Attach the Tailpiece

Firstly unscrew the previous tensioner on the drum rim and remove it. Then keep the part that attaches to the wood part of the drum.
Then replace the existing tensioner with the new one!

Step 3: Attach the Neck

I used a thick pine dowel which I cut to the inside size of the drum, and then sanded the other end to fit into the finger hole of the drum. I then secured it at the bottom with a small screw. I then drilled a hole in the pine support and glued in the dowel. I also drilled a hole in the bottom of the neck and then glued the neck onto the drum body. This worked well and it is very secure.

Note: The neck needs to be tilted slightly backwards so it is not completely flat with the drum. This will help solve action problems.

Step 4: Final Fit and "Teething Problems."

Even after i have altered it the action isn't very low, about a centimetre at the last fret. This doesn't really affect me that much as I don't use those frets a lot. I was able to lower it by sanding down the bridge and the nut and now it's easily playable for most ukulele songs.

Stringing this was a challenge as i appeared to have made it to my own scale length... This i was able to remedy intonationally, as the bridge is movable on the drum skin. But it also meant the strings weren't as long as I'd liked and only just fitted the instrument.

All in all i think this is quite good for a first attempt and sounds and plays reasonably well.

I may also eventually varnish the neck, but oiling it is a simpler and easier option.



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    22 Discussions

    Mine was a "Percussion Plus" If that helps, but the uneven number of pegs is important. You could get one with an even number of pegs, and remove one for the neck, but i'm not sure how that would affect the tension of the drum skin.

    Thanks :) Just bought a 10" hand drum. Will this be too big or will it be ok? Ps: love the look of yours

    Yeah that should be fine, as long as you make sure the scale length is correct so the intonation will be good and it'll all be in tune =]

    please, please post on how to make the neck!!  I don't have the money to buy the a neck... I really am interested in making this project.  Any help or direction would be much appreciated

    2 replies

    Basically my neck started out as square length of wood with two blocks glued on the same side of either end. Then with a lot of time and love I used a file and sanded it into a comfortable neck. Just remember to angle the headstock back and have a larger heel for a better join to the drum. =] Then buy some frets, mark out the measurements, i think there is one on the stew mac website add your frets add the nut and tuning pegs.

    Oh, how you keep me in suspense.  You left out the most important part.  I am planning on making my very own uke.  Do you have a diagram for the fret board?  I refuse to buy a uke kit to steal the fret board. Kind of defeats the purpose for me.

    3 replies

     What i did was measure the frets off an existing banjo uke, ill measure them for you, =] Give me about a day. I've been updating it actually, I've varnished the neck and angled it back slightly to improve the action, i'll eventually put some pictures up!

    Why cant you bringe the bridge closer to the tail and get rid of the unfretted part of the neck. Nice instructable

    2 replies

    the best tone comes from the centre of the drum head, so the placement of the bridge is actually really important.

    wow, this is a really beautifully crafted instrument! i'd buy one of these in a heartbeat.