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October 5, 2013

Gourd Ukulele

Back in June, I returned to Atlanta for a couple weeks.  While there, I took advantage of all the woodworking hand tools I had access to, and made this ukulele.  The body of the instrument was made from a dried gourd.  The neck is mahogany, which was scavenged from the desk in my old bedroom.  The fretboard is burned oak, which was split off a stump in my back yard, and the soundboard was the bottom of a desk drawer.

The ukulele is about Tenor sized, and tuned with a low-G.  Fret positions were determined using this handy online fret calculator.  All of the construction except drilling a couple of holes was done with hand tools.  The neck was shaped mostly with a drawknife, except for the channel for the tuning pegs, which was chiseled out.

The ukulele's build thread can be found here.

I don't have any audio or video clips of me playing it, so you'll have to take my word for it that it sounds pretty good.  I think it does, at least.  Not that I have much to compare it to.

You can see three holes in the bridge.  These were from the original bridge and string mounting method, which started to pull apart from string tension.  My final solution was to have the strings pass all the way down the length of the instrument to be fastened at the end, rather than at the bridge.

The neck is pretty thick compared to a normal ukulele or guitar.  I could have (and still could, I suppose) thin it out more while keeping the smooth profile.  

I originally planned on making my own tuning pegs, but realized I wouldn't have time if I wanted to finish in two weeks.  I ended up ordering some cheap violin tuning pegs, and carving off some of the details.


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  2. pegs taking too long?
    check out Tim Anderson's peg shaver
    and peg hole reamer

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