Building a Concert Ukulele

I built a plywood mahogany concert ukulele from a kit sold by a well-known tool company. I'll document what I did with some notes and pictures. Here are most of the parts:

I sanded the neck with 120 grit sandpaper, then 220 grit. It needed it:

I sanded the body as well. You can see alignment pins sticking out of the heel of the neck:

I marked the center of the neck and the body to make sure they lined up correctly:

Titebond wood glue oozing out:

Neck clamped with bungee cord:

Fingerboard glued and clamped:

Glue dried:

I taped the fingerboard and bridge region to protect these areas before finishing:

I finished the body and neck with spray can laquer, maybe four coats. I let it dry for over 24 hours, then rubbed paste wax into the laquer, let it dry and buffed it with a clean dry cotton cloth. This picture shows the bridge glued and clamped in the position indicated in the instructions:

I upgraded the tuners to these inexpensive geared tuners. I have not had good experience with the friction type of tuner that came with the kit:

All tuners on:

Ready to play for the first time:

This is when I discovered that the bridge position was incorrect. I followed the instructions in the manual. I suppose I should have double checked the numbers in the instructions but I didn't. Measuring after the fact showed that the distance given in the manual should have been from the 12th fret, not the 14th fret. I sent these corrected instructions to the company and they refunded my money:

Having spent many hours building this instrument, I decided to modify it by installing an extra bridge piece. Here is a piece of scrap mahogany:

I cut it to size and slotted it to hold the saddle:

Here is the finished ukulele, strung with Aquila strings:

It works. The sound is not as bright as it was with the lone rosewood bridge, but it is pleasant enough.

December 2013