Sorry for my absence everyone. Since last posting I have made two electric guitars, one for someone else and finally one for myself. I’ve also had a lot of interest in electric ukes since showcasing my daughters and set out to develop a prototype I can produce. That took a bit of time since I wanted to work from the ground up and have everything hand built including the pickups and knobs. The first uke prototype met an ugly end which was disheartening since it was looking awesome but that led to a better product so it’s lose was not in vain. I will post the whole process soon but I will give you a spoiler alert as to where the finished uke ended up.
Well, prototype number one didn’t fair well, I took too much wood out of the body cavity leaving the back to thin. Worked out some other details so wasn’t a total waist. It was looking pretty good before the failure
This started as me just seeing a beautiful piece of spalted red alder and saying “that needs to become a guitar” That was about 2 years ago and it has been sitting around waiting for me to be inspired. I decided it needed to be a flat top and further decided it was going to be mine! I am not a big fan of covering up gorgeous wood with big plastic pick guards so decided I wanted to make access to the controls through the back like an LP. This meant putting on a thin wood laminate on the back. I call this “the bastard” because I didn’t really have a plan for it but just went along with it as it developed. It ended up with a canarywood back and laminated canary neck. The spalted Alder had to go through some stabilization efforts to keep it from rotting latter on and give it some strength to handle hardware. I hand wound some humbuckers with a little more punch than normal. QS sycamore became the fingerboard with paduk position markers. Standard TOM bridge and tailpiece. I will replace the knobs with some wood ones once I get around to it.
This is the prototype for the run of electric ukes I wanted to build. My goal is to build 10: that’s enough to fund a Hawaiian vacation! I wanted to get some input and feed back about the prototype from someone who will push the envelope with the ukulele. I reached out to the person who turned me on to the ukulele: Victoria Vox and asked her if she could help. I was totally stoked when she said yes.
The plan: Something similar to a Gibson CS 336. A double cutaway design, mahogany or walnut body, maple top and neck. Twin custom humbuckers with a master volume and tone control. The body would be a routed semi-hollowbody and the top a carved archtop.
Finished. Added a clear pickguard and buffed it out. Ready for the uke fest. This thing wails, I wish I could play lefty. My daughter is working on Eric Clapton’ Sunshine…..
Had a little wiring snafu, not sure how it happened, maybe hot iron touched the coil but end result was we had a pickup go bad. After pulling it apart and running through the connections we found that one of the coils shorted out somehow. The reston Uke fest is only a few days away and my daughter really wants this thing to be functional for that so I decided I am going to rewind the one pickup and hope it is as good a new when done.
Turned out to have the same resistance measurements as original but since I never heard it before it shorted out I don’t know how close I came to recreating it.
End result though is they both sound great, a little hotter than what I expected but with a real gnarly sound, especially if you add a little overdrive. The combination of the pickups with the semi-hollow body design sounds awesome. At some point I hope to get my daughter to lay down some sound samples since I can’t play lefty.
d them about the project and what I needed and they basically custom make you a set. They use individual rare earth magnets under each pole screw and adjust the size of each based on the gauge string that will sit over them. Kinda cool, I’ve never worked with pickups like that before so I am curious to see how they will sound. Other than that they are basic open humbuckers. If I get into making more electric ukes I will probably wind my own since I started doing that recently. I don’t know if they would be as good as Almuse’s but I do love to make everything myself.
My daughter wanted to learn how to wire so I will use this project as an opportunity to teach her basic wiring skills. She will be doing all the soldering and wiring with some guidance from me.
A couple hours of sanding and then reapplying some more lacquer followed ny more sanding all the way up to 1200 grit and the basic finish is done and ready to cure. In the meen time I made some pickup covers out of birds eye maple and dyed them fushia.
The square fushia plate you see is for the bridge. My original plan to put a tune o matic style bridge on didn’t work out and I had to make a ramp for the single string ABM bridges. That’s the problem with doing something no one else has, they are basically a prototype and you have to adjust your plan on the fly. You will also notice the “F” holes are cut out as seahorses. All of my ukes have nautical themes, it’s the scuba diver in me:)
My daughter wanted a purple burst with some fushia in it. Of course that’s not an easy colour scheme to find in wood tints but I did some experimenting and found Ritt dye in an alcohol solution worked real well for the fushia, purple I was able to use my normal dye product. After playing with the burst it was on to straying on the lacquer.