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Make a Ukulele? Why Bother?

I play the ukulele, a "cheap and cheerful" instrument, very affordable, and easy to play. So why bother to make one? To which I'd say "why not?". There's something very satisfying about making things, and making things you can use is doubly satisfying, I find.

Having trawled through the very many sites on the Internet under "cigar box ukuleles", I came up with a design which I was convinced would be an improvement on most of those simple ones I'd looked at, and off I went. I've now completed my first one, and it's playable! Not the greatest sound,  and not loud enough without amplification, but it stays in tune, and is certainly better than the super cheap ones which seem to be on sale everywhere. However, I've also learned some very useful lessons, which I'm trying to put into practice in my second build.

Firstly, if all the websites do things in a particular way, there's a good reason for it! Secondly, like any good project, precision is important - "near enough" doesn't work, and I had to spend time recutting bits of the ukulele to make sure everything fit together tightly. I also learnt a fair bit about how sound is made, and which parts of the instrument are crucial to a good tone - might seem obvious to many, but not to me!

Eventually, it would be nice to make more of the instrument, but this time I bought the fretboard, the machine heads and the strings. The photos show the bits at a midway stage in the project (right) and the finished article (left).

Garfield and Alan from the Shed are building similar, improved versions of this model, and I'm trying a different approach with my new attempt. I'll add to this short article once we see whether or not we're improving. In the meantime, if anyone wants to join us, let me know. 

Article by: Les Jones

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