Monday, October 18, 2010

Bison's custom 'ukulele

Model# UMCTH10   Serial # K3BMT03

Curly Koa, top, back and sides. Neck is Sapele Mohagany and fret board is Bubinga Rosewood. This is going to be a 14th fret to the body, high G tenor 'ukulele with Paua Abalone rosette inlay and marker dots.

In addition, to make this 'ukulele stage worthy, it will have a pickup mounted under the saddle.

This koa is curly.....

Friday, October 8, 2010

First, decide how to use the wood...

After looking at the raw 'uke wood peices, it's important to determine how to orient them for the overall look of the 'ukulele. For example, the back. To decide what will be the top, bottom, inside, and show side(outside), place a template over the unglued pieces to imagine how it will look.

 Do the same with the soundboard.

Jointing the plates.....

before gluing the two bookmatched pieces for the back and soundboard, the edges need to be sanded flat and square so the create a good seal down the middle. To do this, a fence is used to sand and square the edge that will be glued together.
Sand until you cannot see any light through the joint when you squeeze the two pieces together. If there is any light seen on either edge of the pieces when they are connected, they will rock apart, literally.
This jig is used to glue the pieces together.
Always dry fit before gluing, and off set the pieces so the middle can be found more easily after they are glued together.

Marking the plates......

After the back and side pieces are glued together, the template outline is traces on the wood as close to how the finished 'uke will look, then a 1/4" line is drawn outside of that.   


The outer line wil be the line that is cut for a rough shape of the 'uke.

Spanish neck headstock construction.....

The 'uke headstock of this neck will have a 15 degree angle. (note: Traditionally classical guitars have a headstock angle of around 13 degrees. Since the tuners of this 'uke will protrude through the top inside of through the middle like a classical guitar, the 15 degree angle will compensate for the extra distance created by placing tuners from the bottom through to the top, creating a 13 degree angle.)

A 15 degree jig is used to ensure an acurate angle for this presice cut.

After the neck angel is cut, the pieces that were cut need to be sanded to ensure they are square and flat.
Dry fit the two pieces together before gluing. Clamp down to a flat surface so it doesn't slide around when gluing the pieces togther. (note: newspaper is placed under the pieces being glued so the glue squeeze out doesn't make the 'uke one with the work surface.)

Spanish neck heel construction.....

Since this is a "Spanish Style" neck construction, the sides of the 'uke will be slotted in the neck. The difference between this style and the popular "glued on" or "bolted on" method, is that the heel is less bulky. Theorectially, the connection between the body and neck should be structually stronger then alternative methods. Historically, this is how classical guitars are built.

First, glue blocks together that will create the heel and slot joint for the 'uke sides.
When clamping the block together, to make sure they don't slide, they are placed along a fence and clamped  down to a flat surface. 

Step one done......

These pieces are ready for the next step, which is to shape, glue, and scallop the braces, tone bars, and inlay the abalone around the soundhole. Then prep the neck before it is attached to the soundboard.
Please check back for the progress of "The Big Palangi's" 'ukulele.